Sunny New Day


In the world ye shall have tribulation (John 16:33).

I had a really bad day yesterday. When I got up, Lisa, my gerbil looked awfully sick. I was afraid she’d die while I was at school.

Then, at breakfast, I was just reaching for my juice glass and somehow my elbow knocked my bowl of cereal all over the table. To top it off, I missed my bus. Mom wasn’t exactly thrilled about driving me to school. And all of that happened before school.

After I got there, things went steadily downhill. I failed my spelling test, and I struck out at softball during morning recess. Then I found out that Alicia, the class brain, was furious at me for getting a higher score than she did on the last science test—for the first and last time ever.

At lunch we had my least favorite meal: macaroni and white stuff (I don’t dare call it cheese) with lima beans!

In the afternoon our seat assignments were changed. That’s something I usually look forward to, but the way things were going, I should have figured what would happen. You guessed it—my new seat was right next to Alicia! She just sat there glaring at me.

At afternoon recess I finally got a hit in softball but was called out at first base, even though I thought I was safe. I trudged back to the sidelines, mad and crabby. There stood Alicia with a big grin on her face. She handed me her pocket calculator. “This might help you get a math grade half as good as mine. But,” she added with a smirk, “you don’t need it to figure your batting average—not when it’s zero!”

I pushed the calculator away. How was I to know that she would drop it or that “Moose” Williams would walk by just then and step on it?

Alicia started wailing like an off-key fire siren. It was just my luck that Mrs. Harmon, the strictest teacher at school, was on playground duty. The calculator wasn’t even broken, but she hovered over Alicia like she was a poor, injured bird and sent me in for the rest of recess.

If it hadn’t been for my teacher, Miss Sweeney, I don’t think I would have made it. When I came into the room, she asked me what was wrong. When I told her everything that had happened, she put her arm around my shoulders. “I know how you feel, Bradley,” she said. “We all have bad days. But tomorrow when the sun comes up, it will be a brand-new day, and things will probably go a lot better.”

After she said that, I started feeling better. She let me feed our class’s rabbit, too—my favorite thing to do.

Well, when I woke up this morning, I found that Miss Sweeney was right. It was a better day. When I checked on Lisa, I discovered that she hadn’t been sick—she’d given birth to Alfie, Gretta, Susie, and Robert! I didn’t spill anything at breakfast, and I was five minutes early for the bus.

When I entered Miss Sweeney’s room, I was almost knocked over as Mrs. Harmon came stomping out. She slowed just long enough to scowl at me, then went quickly down the hallway.

I gave Miss Sweeney a smile and a cheery “Good Morning.” She greeted me, but her smile wasn’t as bright as it usually was. I think Mrs. Harmon must have complained to her about our class.

I felt sorry for Miss Sweeney, but when the bell rang, I had other things on my mind—how to survive another day sitting next to Alicia. But when I sat down, Alicia didn’t even notice me! She was staring dreamily at her latest math paper with “100%” written at the top. What luck! Things were certainly going much better for me today.

At the end of morning recess, we had more excitement in our room, Sandi came running into the room, screaming. The whole front of her blouse was stained red, and blood was gushing from her nose. Miss Sweeney grabbed her and rushed her to the girls’ bathroom.

It wasn’t long before the class took advantage of the situation. Nick started a chalkboard-eraser war. Our side was winning, when the door opened and Miss Sweeney stepped in, only to have a Nick-thrown eraser bounce off her forehead.

What a pitiful sight—there she stood with a blotch of white on her forehead, her pretty pink blouse polka-dotted with blood splatters, and an eraser lying silent at her feet. Nick hustled up to the front of the room, returned the eraser to the chalk tray, and stood in his usual spot in the corner, all without saying a word. He didn’t even turn around once all morning to pull faces at us.

Finally, near the end of the day, things seemed to be returning to normal. Then the door squeaked open, and in stepped Mr. McGruffen, our principal. He walked to the back of the room, found an empty chair, and sat down. Miss Sweeney looked a little nervous. I wondered if Mrs. Harmon had complained to him, too, about our class.

Everyone worked pretty well for the hour Mr. McGruffen was there—even Nick, who had been allowed back in his seat for the afternoon. Mr. McGruffen was just getting up to leave, however, when Alicia let out a howl of anger. We had traded history quizzes to grade, and Russell had put a zero on hers as a joke.

I laughed so hard that I fell out of my chair, which made the rest of the class laugh even harder. Poor Miss Sweeney just looked from Mr. McGruffen to Russell, to Alicia, to me on the floor, and back to Mr. McGruffen again. Fortunately the final bell rang just then, and the class stampeded out.

I was about halfway home when I realized that I’d forgotten my spelling list for tomorrow’s test. I figured I’d better go back to get it so that I could make up for yesterday’s failure.

When I got back to the room, Miss Sweeney was still sitting at her desk. She didn’t say anything to me when I came in, which was really unlike her. She was dabbing at the corners of her eyes with her handkerchief.

She suddenly looked really down in the dumps. That was when I knew what I had to do. First I glanced toward the open door to make sure that none of my friends were still hanging around. Then I walked up to Miss Sweeney’s desk, put my arm around her shoulders, and said, “I know just how you feel, Miss Sweeney. We all have bad days, but tomorrow will be a sunny new day.”

I know that wasn’t too original, but it didn’t seem to matter to Miss Sweeney. She got teary-eyed all over again but smiled and said, “Thanks, Bradley, I really needed that!”

I know the guys would never let me live it down if they saw what I did, but I’m glad I did it. After all, I guess teachers have bad days, too, just like the rest of us.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh