Kirsti – Illini

The presence of Principal Destrampe in the teacher’s lounge doorway put a quick end to the lunch time conversation. The dour faced principal surveyed the lounge and upon locating Kirsti Maki motioned for her to follow.

As Kirsti followed the gray haired senior staff member down the hallway of Tapiola Elementary, her mind raced. Had she done something wrong? Was there some type of parental complaint? What did Mrs. Destrampe want?

Entering her office, Principal Destrampe gestured for Kirsti to sit at the round conference table and delicately closed the door. “Mrs. Maki, Kirsti, this has nothing to do with you. Well it does, but you haven’t done anything wrong.”  Destrampe sat across the table from Kisti and slid aside the African violet that separated the two. She adjusted her grey blazer, leaned forward and folded her hands. “I’m sure you’ve noticed that Illini Isaacson has been in and out of school lately.” She paused. “Her father was in and Illini is out for the remainder of the year.”

“Oh?” Kirsti pictured the unpopular, slightly pudgy third grader that sat in the third row fourth seat. “Is everything ok?”

Destrampe looked away, “Not exactly. Seems that the girl has an advanced stage of cancer.” She took in a deep breath. “The doctors have given her a bad prognosis. The father mentioned weeks.”

Kirsti inhaled.  The shock hit her like a bucket of ice water after a hot sauna. She started to hyperventilate.

Destrampe reached across and placed a hand on Kirsti’s. “Do you need some time? I can get someone to watch your class for you.” The principal’s dark eyes glistened.

“No, no. I’m ok. I’ll just sit a minute and catch my breath.  I’ll be fine.” Kirsti said as she fought back tears.

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