Helga crossed her eyes, focusing them on a stray tuft of hair that fell in over the curve of her nose. She instantly regretted telling Miriam what the day entailed or letting her come within four feet of her hair. Blowing a breath toward her forehead, Helga rested her chin on her hands and awaited the inevitable. She knew the day would be terrible, but there was nothing she could do, except surrender.
Looking lethargically around the classroom, she smiled enjoying the sight around her. Each member of the class looked equally ridiculous, dressed in their best, and clutching white envelopes with their names on it. Whether it was Stinky's fringed jacket, Harold's exposed belly in a tragic ruffled shirt and tie, or Rhonda, expanding her carbon footprint with a can of hairspray, it seemed that she wasn't the only one dressed to the nines.
School Picture Day was proving to be a horrible, yet comedic event, so far.
A the minutes ticked by, Helga held a glimmer of hope. The class had to head down around 10:30 AM and it was nearing 10:28. Maybe Mr. Simmons would forget. Maybe they'd go about their class as usual. Maybe they'd be the only class that-
"Alright class, it's time to head down!"
Once inside the auditorium, Helga approached the stage much like one would approach a guillotine. She knew what was going to happen, and she knew that she could not avoid it.
'Grin and bear it', she told herself, only, she realized that was probably going to be the problem.
She watched everyone in front of her disappear behind the black curtain, and come out of the other wearing either a grimace, or a smile. She surmised that her future would involve the first of the two. When her turn arrived, she heaved a sigh and presented her name card to the woman approaching her. She wore a navy blue polo and black pants, and kept her dark hair in a high ponytail. Her eyes were the exact shade of her skin, warm brown, but Helga couldn't help but notice that she looked tired and worn out. She willed herself to be a decent subject and sit still for her. In Helga's mind, she figured that they had at least one thing in common: they certainly weren't where they wanted to be.
"Hi…" she began, reading Helga's card and reciting her name. "I'm Toni." Helga smiled briefly and took her seat on the stool that the woman pointed her toward. She listened as Toni tol her to sit up straight, turn her head in one direction and tilt her head. The hard part came when she was asked to smile.
Helga stared at the black camera in front of her, hoping that she could get away with a straight face that year. Her hopes were dashed when Toni stood up straight and looked at her, puzzled. "Something the matter, Helga?"
Shrugging her shoulders, she tried not to smile at the woman's tone of voice, or the fact that her first anme was used. She asked the question, not in a condescending, or bored manner, but in a way that denoted that she was truly concerned.
"I hate picture day." Helga confessed, expecting a shocked reply. Most people didn't take it too well when you told them that you hated the reason for their profession.
"Me too." she answered, leaning on her tripod.
"Sure. Your parents dress you up in goofy clothes, and everyone so nervous. And then, when your pictures come, everyone wants to see if you blinked or not. It's torture." she told her. "But, hey, I'm not going to force you to smile."
Helga merely blinked at the woman, before turning to look at her classmates, seated in front of the stage. Peering in between the sheets of the background, Helga could see that they were eagerly waiting for her to emerge. The whispers of her classmates did not fall on deaf ears. She knew that they were waiting to torture her as soon as the flash bulb went off.
"I really hate picture day." she repeated, crossing her arms.
"Just think of something that makes you smile." she suggested.
"I don't like to smile."
"Think of something funny that happened to you."
"The things that happen to me are rarely funny from my standpoint."
"Okay…think of that kid over there who's smiling at you." she said, motioning with her head to Helga's classmates. "Yeah, that one…the one in the skirt."
Helga turned so quickly, that the long braid Miriam formed out of her hair whipped around her head and smacked her in the face. Helga furrowed her brow, knowing automatically whom Toni was talking about (especially since Iggy was absent that day). "He is not."
"Is too. He's probably going to ask for one of your pictures."
"He won't. And it's not a skirt."
"Alright, the kilt. Whatever you want to call it." she said, laughing. Helga shook her head and turned back to face the camera, when a bright flash went off in her face. She immediately began rubbing her eyes and asked what happened.
"Don't worry, I got it."
"Trust me. I am a master."
Helga almost came back with something regarding the fact that she didn't know w skirt from a kilt, but remembered that she didn't care about her picture at all, and saw little use in fighting over it. With any luck, Wartz would see the picture, deem it unfit for human eyes and in her place in the yearbook, position some lousy clipart where she should have been.
After everyone was done getting their photos taken, Helga walked back to class, listening to Phoebe go on and on about some summer program she wanted to pursue. When everyone returned to class, she found Arnold sharpening his pencil suspiciously close to her desk, and decided to save a monologue for later. She pretended to listen to the rest of Simmons lecture while she waited.
"Hey, Helga?" came a nervous voice from behind her.
She turned slowly, shocked that he was initiating conversation with her, without having to be taunted or teased before hand. Regardless of her amazement, she still wore a scowl on her face. "What do you want, Bucko?"
"I was just wondering if I could have one of your pictures…when they come out and everything." Arnold said, fingering his newly sharpened pencil.
"My parents never order 'em. Say if they wanna see what I look at, they'll come and find me." Helga remarked, sitting back in her, carelessly. In her head she was already formulating a plan as to how she was going to convince Big Bob that he absolutely had o buy pictures that year.
"Well, they should. You look kind of…nice today." he said. And with that, he left, taking his seat three rows up.
Helga sat up a little straighter in her chair, and allowed a tiny smile to grace her face for the remainder of the class.
Yeah, yeah, I know, this was…not that great. Whatever. I wrote this because A) I found it on my computer and I hate leaving things unfinished B) I can't get to sleep and C) I used to be a school photographer. And I'd watch my coworkers try all these tricks to get kids to smile against their will, and I'd just say, "Who in your class tripped and fell this week?" Or, if they were just stubborn and rude and annoying, I'd let them sit there. Because I get paid by the hour. Anyway, I'm a seasonal worker, and I start working there again in…four hours. I should probably try and get some sleep now. Goodnight, loves!