Broken Wings (Broken Wings 1) - Page 126

Mr. VanVleet opened the door, and I looked in at a dozen remedial reading students. There was an expression I had heard at my old school whenever teachers referred to students like this, I thought. They called them mentally challenged. We called them retards.

“This is a new student, Phoebe Elder,” Mr. VanVleet announced to the group. Some looked as disinterested as they had been the moment before we came. Some brightened slightly with curiosity, and one girl with a caramel complexion and long, reddish brown hair broke into a wide, happy smile.

I looked at them all and felt as if I had been forced to look into a mirror that hid no blemishes. Was this really where I belonged?

Mr. VanVleet saw the expression on my face.

“You’ll make fast progress here, I’m sure,” he said, “and get back on track quickly.”

The only thing that kept me from turning and running was the realization that I had no place to go. Mama hadn’t left a forwarding address.

“Welcome, Phoebe,” Mr. Cody said. He was a short, stout man with balding curly black hair, a thick nose, and soft, almost feminine lips. His chin cut in so sharply, it was practically nonexistent. “Sit right here,” he said, pulling the chair out a bit at the desk near the girl with the wide smile. She was still smiling at me that way. Is her face stuck? I wondered.

Mr. VanVleet pulled Mr. Cody aside, spoke to him softly, and then handed him my file.

“Okay,” Mr. Cody said. “While the rest of

us work on these exercises, Phoebe, I’d like you to take this little test I’ve designed. It will help me understand how I can best help you, okay?”

Everyone is so eager to help me, I thought disdainfully. The truth was, they probably wished I never had come.

He handed me the test, and I reluctantly began to do it.

“You can’t fail,” Smiley whispered to me.


“No one ever fails Mr. Cody’s tests. ”

“I’ll try to be the first one,” I told her. Her smile finally faded.


“Quiet, Lana,” Mr. Cody told her. “Don’t disturb Phoebe. Just work on your reading exercises.”

She pulled back into her chair and squinted, looking like she was going to cry.

Because I had arrived late and all, there wasn’t much time for me to do any more than take the test. I heard bells ring at the end of periods and heard students pass through the hallways, talking loudly, laughing, but none of the remedial reading students got up to go anywhere else. It was clear that all we left this room to do was go to the bathroom and to lunch. I hadn’t understood.

“Don’t I go to a science class or a history class?” I asked Mr. Cody after the first change of classes was over.

“For a while you’ll have all that here,” he said. “I divide the day into the subjects and work on the reading that applies to each subject. Everything involves reading, Phoebe.”

“This is like grade school,” I complained. “I guess they just dumped me somewhere.”

“Oh, no, no,” he assured me. “We give you and the others here very individualized treatment. You’re very special.”

“I don’t want to be special,” I muttered.

The others listened to my complaints with some interest. I was sure most of them felt like saying what I was saying.

“For now, it’s the best way,” Mr. Cody insisted.

How was I supposed to meet anyone or get to know anyone, locked up in here like this? I thought. And when I did get out, they would all know I was one of the mentally challenged. I remembered how those students were treated at my old school. They might as well have had leprosy.

All of this just added to my sense of entrapment. Daddy had thought I’d be like a mole coming up into a world of bright light and hope, but all I did was go deeper into the darkness. At least, that was how I saw it.

It took me hours to finish the evaluation test. Mr. Cody let me go to the bathroom once, and I left hoping to meet someone maybe smoking in a stall and borrow a cigarette, but there was no one else there and besides, I saw they had a teacher monitoring the hallways, checking passes, and making note of the time a student left a room and returned to a room. To my further surprise, the teacher already knew my name. What, was the whole school warned about me? I wondered.

Tags: V.C. Andrews Broken Wings Horror
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