“Have fun sweetie!” Her Step Great Aunt Marigold said as she kissed her on the cheek.
“Don’t call me that,” Prudence quietly snapped back as she wiped off the 99 cent, deep fuschia lip tar residue.
“Have fun and don’t forget to keep your lunchtime Ocelot milk cold!” said her great uncle Herbert.
“I know,” Prudence huffed
“Well, sweetie, your Great Uncle Herbert was just reminding you!”
“Well he doesn’t have to! I’m about to start 3rd grade, remember? And stop calling me sweetie!”
“Well alright, honey bunches.”
“Ugh. Do I have to go Great Uncle Herbert? You know how much I hate big crowds and other children.”
“Prudence, You know the answer to that. I’m sorry you have to go to a public school but ever since the big demand in Ocelot products we just don’t have time to homeschool you any more.”
“Well you’re getting a lot of money right? Couldn’t you hire me a private at home teacher?”
“Oh, heavens no! It’s not THAT much money, dear.”
Prudence gave her Step Great Aunt Marigold one last glare before she got on to the Corn Yellow bus reading: The Gibson Elementary School of Great Achievements.
She caught a whiff of smelly gasoline as the doors of the bus closed behind her.
“C’mon lil’ lady, I got places to go!” the bus driver snapped. “Hurry up an’ choose a seat!”
“You’re a bus driver. The only places you have to go is to five more kid’s houses. And they’re all in a row in the same neighborhood. It’s only 7:30 school does not start until 8:00. And we’re about, hmmmm, 10 minutes away from school. You have plenty of time. And please, worry about yourself next time,” Prudence snapped back. The bus driver stared at her, not saying a word.
“It is not polite to stare, Ms. Layla Jones.”
“How do you know my name?” Layla squeaked. Prudence only stared at her in a pitying way and said to her quietly, “Your name tag.” Then she took a seat in the back of the bus.
Prudence always sat in the seat next to the emergency exit. “You never know when something bad could happen,” quoted the Almanac of quite disturbing things. Prudence lived by The Almanac of Quite disturbing things. She carried it around with her everywhere she went. She did have it with her now so she decided to pass the time by reading volume 5, chapter 22, section 7, on the many ways you could be impaled.
“Alrigh’ ery’ one off! We’re at the place to get schooled er whateverz.” On the way out of the bus Prudence was pushed, her dress crinkled, and her hair tugged. She then vowed that from this day forth she would forever and always despise riding the school bus.
At the main entrance they were checked in and given their class number and told to go there as soon as possible. Prudence looked at the one she was given: Miss Gordon’s 3rd grade class, room M-22 on the 2nd floor. “Ummmmm excuse me?” Prudence said as she tapped on the back of one of the chaperones handing out classroom numbers.
“Yes?” The lady said as she turned around.
“Uh yeah, hi. Well I was wondering where you might have a ocelot milk cooling satchel.”
“A what?” The lady looked confused.
“I said an Ocelot milk cooling satchel.” Prudence was starting to get agitated. How could she not know what an Ocelot milk cooling satchel was? Everyone that was on the farm at home did.
“Um sorry sweetie I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Prudence tried asking some other people but they all told her the same thing. Finally she decided just to give up. There was always school lunch if her milk was spoiled. After quite a lot of people and stairs she made it to the 2nd floor of the school.
The hallways were quite confusing and she wasn’t sure where to put her stuff. She decided it would just be best to follow the other children that looked about her age. As she was quietly following a group of children she passed a big metal door with her name on it. She stopped and looked at it. “Prudence Higabee locker number 1366.” Prudence had an idea of what a locker was but wasn’t exactly sure. She decided to pull on the thing that looked somewhat like a handle. “GRRRRRUHHHH!” The handle wasn’t budging. She tried again. “GGGGRRRRRRUUH-” All of a sudden it popped open sending Prudence flying right into a elderly man carrying a stack of books. “Oh! Um sorry.” Prudence said as she started to collect the pencils and other supplies that had fallen out of her satchel. The old man simply just smiled and kept on walking. Prudence started to leave but stopped when she saw a dusty old book that the man must’ve dropped in the collision. “Um! Hello? Mr. man?” She started to say but then saw that the old man was nowhere to be seen.
She walked into the classroom as soon as the bell rang. “Oh! You must be Ms. Higabee!” The teacher said in a sing-songy voice. “Well, go ahead and take a seat!”
Prudence looked at where the teacher was pointing. There sat other children in neat little rows of wooden desks. One girl with perfectly braided hair and a disgusting frilly dress in an equally disgusting shade of pink was filing her nails and applying some sort of shimmery lacquer to her lips. Another boy across the room was picking his nose and scratching his rear. "Well, there is certainly variety" Prudence thought to herself.
Prudence decided just to sit in the back. As she was walking down the aisle she heard a group of girls giggle behind her. She stopped for a moment. The girls whispered and then giggled again. Prudence just started walking faster.
After what seemed like centuries it was time for lunch. "alright class! line up and go on down to the cafeteria! Oh, and if you bought your own lunch they'll be in the bin outside of the classroom!"
Prudence checked her milk. Sure enough it was spoiled. "Ugh." Prudence sighed. "Looks like I'll be having school lunch."
As Prudence was standing in line she saw an old dusty room across the hallway. She decided that when she got her lunch she would check it out. The cafeteria was much too noisy for her taste.
She peered inside. The room was dimly lit and was very dusty. "Uh hello? Anybody here?" She was now standing in the middle of the room. From what she could tell it appeared to be a library. "Um I was just wondering if I could have lunch..." still no reply. Then there came the sound of what seemed to be an old man coughing.
"You may dine with me if you like mad'am." It was the man from earlier that morning.
"Oh! It's you." Prudence said
"I...I seem to remember you too! Come, come! have a seat and we may eat."
Prudence and the old man talked for the whole lunch period. She found out that his name was Charles and he had come to the school because he loved children and didn't really know what else to do with his life. At the time the library had been beautiful and was always occupied. But times changed. Everyone got a phone, or some other piece of technology. No one had any interest in books. Charles said that almost every day he sits in his library waiting for someone to stop by. But no one ever did. Until Prudence.
"BRIIIINNG!" Prudence jumped at the noise of the bell. "Oh well, mad'am Prudence. Nice seeing you! come back soon!"
"Oh, I will, Prudence said. And with that she hurried off to class.
It had been a few months since she first met Charles. They had become quite good friends. They had gone many places together such as the Almanac of Quite Disturbing Things convention (they were both huge fans), on the weekend sometimes they even went to lunch. Prudence had also taken him to her ocelot farm.
Prudence woke one lovely morning to her uncle Herbert shoving a phone in her face. "Uncle Herbert? But schools not for another two hours."
"Prudence, something has come up with your friend, um, Charles." Prudence sat straight up and grabbed the phone!
"Um hello? This is Prudence Higabee speaking."
"Ah yes Ms. Higabee. This is Arnold calling. I'm the landlord of the apartment where Charles lives. And I'm afraid to tell you that um well, when I came by for rent money today, sadly I found him passed out on the floor."
Prudence choked, "on...o-...on the floor? Passed out?"
"Um yes. Anyways I called 911 and he is currently in the hospital. We tried to find relations but he really doesn't have a family. So we called the school he worked at and they gave us your number."
"Wha-...what do you want me to do?"
"Well for starters it would help if you could possibly come to the hospital on 715 Huckleberry Drive."
Prudence jumped out of her bed, ran down the hallway, out of the house, over the hills of Ocelots being milked, and finally down to the tractor.
“C’mon Uncle Herbert! Hurry up!”
“I’m coming! Remember I’m old, can’t run as fast as you!”
They were still panting by the time they got to the hospital.
“Um, huh huh hello. We are huh huh here to see a Charles,” Prudence huffed.
“Oh yes, Charles. Go on ahead down to room 104.” The receptionist pointed down the hallway.
Prudence slowly opened the door. There lying on a bedraggled cot was Charles. Her good friend Charles, in fact her ONLY friend. Who she had gone to countless conventions with, spent all of her free time in his company, at the beginning of the school year she would’ve never believed it was possible for a cynic like herself to even come close to having a somewhat decent relationship with a person, nonetheless a extremely amazing one! And now, here before her he was simply dying, wasting away, in fact the doctor told her he probably wouldn’t even exist in an hour. Prudence ran over to the bedside.
“Oh Mad’am Prudence!” He croaked. Prudence smiled.
“Hello, Sir Charles.”
“What a lovely day it is! The birds are chirping, the sun shining!”
“Indeed.” They rambled on about lovely things for at least two hours, until the moment came that Charles closed his eyes and the heart monitor let out a faint “Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
Prudence and her uncle were escorted out of the room.
About a week later Prudence and her family were attending Charles’ funeral. “Charles was a very good man,” Prudence said “When I first attended school I had no idea what to do. Charles helped me along the way. He and I became very good friends, something I never thought I would ever have. Today we are gathered here in memory of him. To celebrate Charles. Thank you.” With that Charles was buried. The audience smiled. The audience that consisted of her Step Great Aunt Marigold, her Great Uncle Herbert, and some other guy sitting closer to the back.
“That was a lovely speech.” Prudence turned around. It was the man that was sitting in the back.
“Oh pardon me! My name is Edmund, I’m the one handling the legal matters of Charles’ death.”
“Oh nice to meet you.” Prudence replied.”
“Listen I wanted to talk to you about Charles’ will.”
“What’s the matter with his will?”
“Oh! Nothing is wrong. You’re just mentioned in it as the one who will be taking all that is left in his bank account.”
“He left all his money to me?”
“Yes Prudence he did. I was A little worried at first leaving such an amount to a child but now that I’ve met you I believe you’ll handle it just fine.”
“I don’t mean to be rude but how much has he left to me?”
“Oh don’t worry you’re not being rude at all! It is now your money after all. To answer your question I believe his final bank account balance was in the range of about 1,000,000,000.”
“Well Prudence enjoy the money. I’m sure you’ll do something good with it.”
About a year later Prudence was opening the doors to the new Charles & Friends Public Library.