Bobby Smith was the first to privately hazard a guess about what she might say. His unlikely conjecture was that since she was from Florida, she must have lost her leg from a shark attack. A number of fellow classmates scoffed at his ‘Jaws’ theory but it was just as valid as any other. There was no evidence to the contrary.
Teresa Clemente suggested that Shelly once had a malignant tumor in her missing limb. At some point it was amputated to save her life. She had seen her aunt Margie lose one of her arms the same way; and it was something she would never forget. She sensed the same ‘survivor spirit’ in Shelly.
Tracey Kwan’s vivid theory was that a violent automobile accident claimed the lost appendage. She conveyed to her captivated audience a traumatic pile up on the highway with twisted metal and a life-force helicopter rescue. The expressive way her version came across was more-than-enough to win the lion’s share of believers. Still, there were several other splinter groups.
Robert Brown had secretly watched his older brother’s collection of “Faces of Death” documentary tapes. There was a gory segment where a family accidentally filmed the mauling of their father by a wild bear. One person hearing Robert’s creative (but highly unfeasible) idea pointed out that Shelly often carried a stuffed teddy bear to school. That wasn’t a logical action from someone who had been brutally maimed by a similar wild bear! After hearing the well stated argument, he eventually conceded that his idea was unlikely at best.
All of the ideas dreamed up by Shelly’s new classmates were at least possible, if not probable but the real truth would be revealed soon enough. They would all have to be patient until then.
Thursday afternoon came faster than many of them hoped. It was necessary to have all of the essays finished, in case they were picked to read aloud the first day. It was no picnic to dredge up unpleasant memories to painfully recount in front of their peers. ‘Show and tell’ was based on giving an informal speech about something that each person was interested in. The inverse purpose of this assignment was to reveal something about each student which none of them wanted to remember.
Several students wondered if the real purpose of the assignment was to satisfy Ms. Johnson’s own curiosity about Shelly’s leg. No one could be certain but it wasn’t such a ridiculous idea. Ms. johnson was human as far as anyone could tell.