by Kass

Written for Days of Awesome 2013.

The knocking surprised her. Tami never scheduled appointments until eight. On the rare occasions when she could get Eric to agree to bring Gracie to daycare and Julie to school, she scooted out of the house as fast as she could. If she could manage half an hour at her desk before the day got started, everything would go more smoothly all day long. Tami loved having a little bit of time to herself before school started.

Today, apparently, she was not going to have that luxury.

"Who is it," she called through the door, trying not to sound annoyed.

"Kendra Hernandez," said an unfamiliar voice from the other side of the wall. "I need to talk to you about missing school. My mom left a message...?"

That rang a bell. A muffled, quiet bell somewhere in the recesses of Tami's memory. "C'mon in," Tami called in response.

The door swung open. Kendra was Hispanic, which wasn't surprising given her name. Tami guessed she was about Julie's age. Modest earrings. T-shirt that covered her whole midriff, and a bluejean skirt that went all the way down to her knees, which was nice. Not a lot of makeup. Tami approved of that. Some of the girls looked like they were trying to give Tammy Faye Bakker a run for her money, but Julie Taylor was not going to do that, not if Tami had anything to say about it, which she did. Apparently Kendra's mother felt similarly.

"Take a seat," Tami offered, gesturing toward the couch. Kendra perched on the edge. "What can I do for you?"

Kendra handed her an envelope. "Ms. Tami Taylor" was written on the front cover (Tami liked that they'd had the good sense to call her Ms.)

Inside was a letter from Mrs. Hernandez, typed, on law firm stationery. Please excuse Kendra Hernandez from school on the following dates... Tami scanned the list. Two days next week. Another day, about a week later. Another day, four days after that. And another one, a week after that. Tami raised an eyebrow.

"That's a lot of missed school," she pointed out.

"Yes ma'am," Kendra agreed. "I know it is. I'll get all of my homework done, I promise."

"You'd better," Tami said, on autopilot. "It's way too early in the school year to get behind."

Kendra nodded. "The holidays aren't always this early, but we haven't had a leap year in a while."

"A leap year? As in, February 29th?" What difference did that make? Maybe Tami needed another oversized iced tea, because this conversation was not making a ton of sense.

"A Jewish leap year," Kendra explained. "Seven years out of every...nineteen, I think it is, we get an extra month. It moves the Jewish holidays forward. On the regular calendar."

Suddenly all of the pieces clicked into place. Tami felt a wash of embarrassment that she hadn't understood in the first place. She'd known a few Jewish people at college, but they'd all had last names like Goldstein and Schwarz, not...Hernandez. "I didn't realize you were Jewish," she said, sheepishly. "There aren't a lot of Mexican Jews in Dillon."

Kendra gave her a little grin. "There aren't a lot of Jews, period."

"Fair point," Tami acknowledged. "Where's the closest synagogue?"

"Odessa." Kendra grimaced. "The drive is kind of a pain."

"I'll bet it is."

"My parents are from Argentina," Kendra offered. "I grew up in Laredo. We just moved here this summer."

Tami took a deep breath. A few of Kendra's teachers were not going to be thrilled to hear that one of their new freshmen was going to be missing so many days of school, but that was going to have to be their problem.

"Okay," Tami said briskly. "So here's what I'm thinking: I'll get a list from your teachers of any tests or quizzes scheduled for these days. You can do make-ups two days after your scheduled absences. Does that sound fair?"

"That sounds great," Kendra said. "Thanks, Mrs. Taylor."

"Anytime." Tami reached for a manila folder and wrote Kendra's name on the tab, then tucked the letter inside it. "You let me know if there's anything else I can do for you."

"Will do," Kendra said, and stood up, smoothing her denim skirt down to her knees. "Okay, I'm off to Geometry!"

After she left, Tami spent a while staring into space. What would it be like to have the kind of life where Fridays meant candles and family dinner instead of the eager anxiousness she felt in the pit of her stomach every time Eric's boys tried as hard as they could to win?

Just then she heard Eric's familiar knock on her door. "You busy, hon?" he called through the wood.

"C'mon in," she called, and he pushed the door open. He was holding a coffee frappe from the Alamo Freeze.

"The kid working the drive-through window gave me this," he said, by way of explanation, and held it out to her. "You like these frozen things, right?"

A wave of fond endearment washed over her. "Sure," she said, reaching up to take the cold cup from his hand. "You know I do."

"Thought so," Eric said, and grinned. "Have a great day, hon."

"You too," Tami said, blowing him a kiss as he walked out. He left the door open, but she didn't mind; it was close to eight, the halls were filling up with kids anyway.

"Morning, Mrs. T," Tyra called as she walked by.

"Morning!" Tami yelled back, and took a long pull on her frappe's tall straw. It was cold and sweet and delicious.

Truth be told, she didn't mind the craziness of their life. Even if it meant taking Gracie Belle to football games in the umbrella stroller and sitting on pins and needles through every single game. But maybe when the season was over, she'd see about inviting Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez over for dinner some Friday. A different kind of Friday Night lights.

The End