In Mrs. Hall’s third grade class, only the best and brightest students got to sit in the back row. Each year, Mrs. Hall would pick the top boy and the top girl to sit in what she called the “honor row”; being picked to sit in the back meant extra privileges. When the rest of the class was assigned busy work, the honor students watered plants, cleaned the back chalkboard, and any other little odd-job Mrs. Hall might have. On the first day of class, anticipation would fill the room until Mrs. Hall announced her final decision. As expected, Mrs. Hall picked Corky and Peggy.
Corky was always good in school and everyone loved him; he was also a good athlete. Corky just had one of those swaggers; everybody knew he was special. Peggy was short, with black curly hair. More often than not, Peggy would wear little dresses: yellow, pink, red, blue, always bright colors.
Corky liked that Peggy wore dresses. On rainy days, when Peggy’s hair seemed more curly than usual, Corky thought she looked like the little Indian dolls his parents had brought back from the west. Corky would spend hours watching Peggy from the corner of his eyes. When his friends started to notice the attention Corky gave to Peggy, they would remind him that she was a girl, and in the third grade girls were the enemy.
Corky didn’t always think of girls as the enemy. Secretly, Corky adored Peggy; in front of his friends, he would hardly speak to her. Chris and Ed were always riding Corky about Peggy and for being a teacher’s pet. Chris had extremely wild hair that was always out-of-place and he would crack Corky up with his antics from the front row. Ed would just look back and forth between the two and laugh, until Mrs. Hall would notice. The whole class would get busy work; Corky and Peggy would water and arrange the plants.
Mrs. Hall had many rules about her plants; she had collected most of them on trips around the world. Colored stars, to indicate where the plants had come from, were placed on the maps that covered the back wall. Most of the older plants were in fancy pots that Mrs. Hall had gotten from her mother and Corky and Peggy were well versed in the proper care.
Occasionally, Corky would finish his homework while Peggy watered the plants and cleaned the chalkboard. Peggy would clean a little, flirt with Corky a little and clean some more. The classroom seemed unnaturally long on those days, with most of the students way up-front, with rules and Mrs. Hall. Corky would laugh at Chris and Ed from the back, while they were busy on some problem set.
It was on one of those long-room days that Corky and Peggy’s relationship changed. Corky was working at his desk when he heard some noise behind him. There was a small crash, followed by the sound of water hitting the ground. As Corky turned to see what had happened, he noticed Peggy standing on a chair. She had dropped the eraser, and tears ran down her face. Peggy looked down at Corky with her doll-like eyes and said, “Don’t tell.” It was only then that Corky noticed a liquid pouring down Peggy’s leg.
Time seemed to slow to a stop as Corky looked back and forth from Peggy to the front of the class, where Chris and Ed sat. There was only one thing to do. With a flash, Corky was standing on his chair and as the class slowly turned to see what the noise was all about, Corky yelled, “Peggy’s peeing.”