Ms. Melancon’s ToyBox (PART I)

One of the dark days of Christmastime Past,

I was sitting in the back of Ms. Melancon’s 6th Grade class.

I was focusing really hard on something weird in the trash,

It looked like a wad of hair, in a tangled-up mass…

“DREUX! You better answer me, and answer me FAST.”

I mumbled, “Sorry Ms. Melancon, I didn’t hear your question…”

She said “Well, look here, I have a suggestion: WHY DON’T YOU PAY ATTENTION?”

“Okay… Ms. Melancon… Um, can I go to the restroom?”

I sunk a little in my seat.

“No.” she said without moving her lips.

She strutted over to her aluminum desk,

And rested her hands on this old oak chest.

“Look here, children. This is our ToyBox, and if y’all are good…”

The class froze in anticipation…

“Somebody will receive a special toy, this Christmas Eve.”

Evan called out “That’s the day after tomorrow!”

She coldly spoke, “Mhm, I’m glad you follow. So in other words, y’all best be good,

Or I’ll just keep my treats to myself, like I probably should.”

We all looked at each other, and knew we had to be cool.

Something not easily done, in the unrelenting Sun that hung

Over Avery Alexander Middle School.

During lunch that day, my friend Trina sat by me.

Her long, pretty hair was in a bun, tied so tightly…

She straightened her skirt, gave a smirk and said nicely

“If you give me your patty, I’ll give you some ice cream.”

So I did, and we ate, but when lunch was over

I saw Ms. Melancon tap Trina on the shoulder.

Then she pulled her by her uniform into a far corner,

To scold her…

I saw Trina hand over her knotted red hair-tie,

Then like a cold breeze, Ms. Melancon blew back out of sight.

At recess, Ardel and Evan got into a fistfight.

It was brutal, over nothing, but a hell of a show.

All the kids were cheering, and I was laughing my ass off, in the front row.

But suddenly, I felt this warmth on my cheek. I looked up and to my side…

Ms. Melancon was watching from the classroom window,

And… something just didn’t feel right.

On the walk back to class, Trina caught up to me,

And it turns out, we both saw her watching.

We took our time walking, Ms. Melancon far in front…

“Dreux, I think Ms. Melancon is planning to kill us.”

I was blunt;

“That’s ridiculous.”

“No, for real!” Trina protested,

“At lunch she snatched me so fast, I think I have indigestion!”

I blew her off, “Trina, Ms. Melancon is ALWAYS mean…”

And the line stopped.

Trina’s jaw dropped.

As a shadow rose over us both,

It was Ms. Melancon.

“Dreux. You think I’m mean?”

“No, no, Ms. Melancon…” I whispered, “Just… sometimes, you kinda scream…”

She knelt down, and her black hair, still blacker eyes, felt as though they were

All I could see.

“That’s okay, lil sucka. I’m gonna show you what’s mean.”

We marched back to class, and I just stared at the hair flowing down Trina’s back.

Time passed by, and slow it was,

There was no shortage of trouble

And the whole class was making a fuss…

Wilborn was teasing Iesha, and Aquanetta was punished for cussing;

Ardel had lost a tooth in the earlier scuffle…

Every kid in there was ready for the afternoon bus.

Ms. Melancon was sitting quietly at her gigantic desk.

She stood up, and slowly stepped to the door, at the sound of the bell.

“I want y’all to know, I’m very impressed.”

We all looked at each other. She was making no sense.

“Your behavior today was excellent. Do the same thing tomorrow,

And y’all will surely get some goodies from that chest.”

We lined up, and shuffled out, and the whole time, I was holding my breath…

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