Jane dropped her forkful of lawn-coloured breakfast. “What?”
“Yes, you’re enrolled in Snicket High School now. It’s a public school, dear. Oh, and you’ll be taking the bus there, I forgot to mention that.”
“We wanted it to be a surprise, darling! You’ll have much more fun at public school than at some stuffy old private school.” Mrs. Hale explained.
This was a lie.
Jane’s parents believed that high school was a prime opportunity for personal growth, tacky haircuts and life-long emotional wounding. To that end, they’d quietly enrolled their daughter at Snicket High School, a large public institution across town that boasted the fifth worst test scores in the region. Snicket High was noisy, crowded and exactly 7.6 kilometres from the Hale home, ensuring that Jane would have to take the bus to and from school for maximum trauma.
Mr. and Mrs. Hale were pleased. Jane was not.
“But Mom, I’m not even dressed for… you didn’t even tell me… I have to go change!” Jane sprung up from her seat and turned for the stairs. Mrs. Hale grasped her wrist and gently pulled her back down into her seat.
“Oh, I don’t think you have time for that, dear. There’s a little something else that your father and I need to discuss with you.”
Now, the Hales weren’t foolish enough to think that public high school would solve all of their problems. Oh, no. Jane was a special kind of boring, and they knew that nothing less than drastic measures would be required to change that. They had an extra trick up their collective sleeves, and they’d decided to hold onto it until the last possible moment.
Whatever her parents had to say, Jane was almost certain she wouldn’t like it.
Look at me for a moment.” Mrs. Hale continued, “You know your father and I have been very patient with you all these years. We’ve dedicated an unreasonable amount of time and money to solving your little problem.”
“Problem? Mom, I don’t have a problem. I’ve never failed a class, never been in trouble at school, never said yes to drugs–”
“Drugs! Oh, those would be a wonderful start, don’t you think?” Mrs. Hale actually clapped her hands.
“Drugs. Very good,” mumbled Mr. Hale from behind his paper, and turned the page to a rather fascinating article about kidnapping.
“You can’t be serious.” Jane gaped at her mother.
“Oh, but of course I’m serious! Do you remember the time we smuggled that hyena into the country for you? Or when we signed you up for crocodile wrestling lessons? Or that time we dyed your hair blue, dear?”
Jane’s eyes went wide. “Wait, you’re firing me as a daughter? Can you even do that?”
“Oh, darling, with enough lawyers on your side, you can do anything. But we hope it doesn’t come to that. We’re not unreasonable people – we’re giving you one last chance to hold on to your place in this family. You just need to do something remarkable. It doesn’t matter what it is. Be creative. Impress us, Jane, and we’ll happily continue to acknowledge that you sprung from our loins."