Dottie is the one who came looking for me. She told me, in an exasperated and breathless way, about how I needed to come and open the custodian's closet because Annie's phone had "bounced underneath" the door. Not slid. Bounced. I asked Dottie, "Bounced."
Becoming more agitated by the second, just a second before rolling her eyes, "Yes. Bounced." She was emphatic.
I told my fellow teachers that I would be leaving my post at the front of the school for just a moment while I solved the problem. As I followed Dottie upstream through the throng of children walking out of the school as we walked back in. We met up with Annie at the top of the stairs. "I hear your phone went under the door of the custodian's closet."
A quick glance at her fellow fifth grade girl and Annie assured me, "Yes, Mister Caven. It bounced right under the door."
Now we were standing in front of the custodian's closet. The end of day rush was subsiding around us. Before I put my key in the lock, I turned and faced these two young ladies, remembering that I had known them since Kindergarten, and I felt the need for just the tiniest bit more explanation. "That's a pretty small space for a phone to slide under," looking at the half inch space between door and floor.
"It bounced under there," insisted Annie, "you always think I'm lying."
Well, not always. There was a time when I believed most everything that Annie and Dottie told me. That was before the second half of their third grade year when the two of them conspired to sneak off campus after school instead of going to their scheduled after school program. They went to the store and bought a bunch of candy and then headed over to Dottie's house because her mother didn't get home until late. When their parents arrived to pick them up at five thirty, they were not at the school. There was some trouble.
Then, the next year in fourth grade, there was a little more. Not a lot, but Dottie and Annie never fully distinguished themselves as completely trustworthy. It made sense that the two of them were playing around as school let out and Dottie knocked Annie's phone to the floor and somebody kicked it underneath the door. Accidentally. I suggested this to the girls who looked at each other for some sort of silent confirmation, and both vigorously denied that any such thing could have happened. I was stuck trying to figure out how a smart phone could defy the laws of physics and slide neatly through that narrow opening. When I unlocked the door, the phone was there, a little worse for wear and tear, what with all that bouncing around. I picked it up and handed it to Annie. After an awkward pause, I said, "You're welcome."
"Thank you," Dottie called over her shoulder. She and Annie were already on their way back outside, ready to test the laws of nature elsewhere in the universe.