Chapter 1

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I've finally revised all the old chapters and "The Middle Passage" is an entirely new story. I'm so pleased. That also means I can number chapters normally from now on, without the need to differentiate between the old and new ones. Cause the old ones are all gone! Yay!

Sooo deeply grateful for to those of you who've been reading along and offering such delightful feedback and encouragement. Wattpad AMAZES and inspires me every day. Blessings to you--hope you'll stay with me and Ida to the very end.

People want to know how it happened.

I don't know how it happened. I think God just finally smiled down on me and I thank Him/Her every day. And I try to be worthy.

I guess it all began on the last day before summer vacation, a year ago. Pretty typical last day at that school.

Pizzas were flying like Frisbees in the cafeteria. Looked like a crime scene: tomato sauce splattered like blood on the tables and benches. And all over the damned kids running across the tables and over each other trying to get away from the administrators and monitors chasing after them.

Started with a cat fight in the serving line at first. I don't know if it's hormones or what, but these little middle school heifers are always fighting over boys. And the boys just stand there laughing at them.

We start young, us women. Making fools out of ourselves over men. It's a shame.

Anyway, I got hold of one of the two girls and one of the assistant principals got hold of the other, but the food fight was already out of control by then.

Girl I grabbed was the one threw the first punch. She tried to swing on me, too, when I got her around the waist. But I wrestle with my grandbabies every day so a skinny little thing like her wasn't gonna break my grip.

And I said, "Annika, you slap me, I'll slap you right back'n' call up your mother'n' tell 'er I did it!"

And that little piss ant had the nerve to say, "And she'll come down here and whup your ass, too!"

Now, normally, I would've called that girl everything but a child of God, assistant principal or no. I don't allow these kids to talk to me the way some of these teachers do. That's why so many teachers bring the ones they can't handle to me all day long. Like I'm a principal.

I put them to work. They clean tables, mop floors. But most of all, they do not sass me back. And once we understand each other, I give them a bag of chips or cookies or whatever we have left from lunch and tell them I'd better not see them back here again.

I tell them they're just acting the way the world thinks we act. We've got Black and Hispanic kids, mostly, at Douglass. Native Americans, too. Worst test scores in the district. Highest drop out numbers. Suspension, expulsion--worst numbers, there, too.

But for me, they try. And they don't come back, as a rule. Yes, I have a few regulars, but sometimes I think they get into trouble over and over again so they can come see me.

They like to work. Want to work. The structure calms them down. They're kids who never know what the hell's going to be going on at home, most of them. I give them a place where they feel safe and useful. We all want that.

Anyway, I knew Miss Annika's mother. And the ass that got whupped wouldn't be mine, believe me. She's Old School like me.

So I yanked her little tail into the kitchen and she snatched away trying to look all tough. But the tears had started rising up in those big old hazel eyes, too.

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