Although Soggy Sandy earned her nickname in Pre-K because of her tendency to pee her pants, it was the perpetual globule of snot hanging from the tip of her nose that made the handle stick.
This was extremely disconcerting to anyone who sat anywhere near her and since her name was Sandra Glass and mine was Kevin Gillespie, we were joined at the hip until the sixth grade when they separated the girls from the boys.
In the fifth grade, Soggy sat next to me instead of in front or behind, so I got a full view of her profile, her nose, and her nasal mucus.
For this sin alone, I felt vindicated when Sister Leilani got booted out of the nunnery for screwing the kickball coach in the boys’ lavatory at St. Vanessa of the Blessed Grotto. We called her Sister Lei, with smirks and sniggers — because, of course, we all played kickball and we weren’t blind or stupid. Occasionally, I still wonder if the fifth-grade kickball team was actually responsible by calling attention to her indiscretions.
Anyway, before all that blew up, Sister Lei used to walk the aisles between our desks, smacking the palm of her right hand with her stapler, trolling for cheaters. And although I wasn’t very good at math and Soggy was, I NEVER once cheated. It wasn’t her answers I found fascinating; it was her snot.
It was mesmerizing. There it was in the morning glistening in the slant of sun coming in through the window, the loose roundness of it seeming right on the edge of dropping.
There it was just after lunch, the same one or a new one, I was never sure. But I couldn’t help but wonder how she could eat that gigantus vegetarian sandwich her mother made every day with all that leafy curling lettuce and not end up with the snot ball getting chewed up with the bean sprouts.
And there it was, in the afternoon, bigger than ever, that damn bulb of nasal discharge actually swaying when Soggy raised her hand.
It was like this day after day, all day long, Soggy Sandy and her slimy booger, me just waiting to see it let go and slop onto her test paper. It thrilled me to think that Sister Lei would be locked up in the convent at night grading Soggy Sandy’s math quiz, her ferocious nun hand sliding over the very spot that held snot.
“Cheater! Cheater!” Sister Lei’s industrial-sized Swingline stapler snap-snapped at the end of my nose. I jumped, got tangled in the metal legs of my desk, and in my attempt to twist away, the chair part jammed into Sister Lei who started to fall into Soggy, and then as if in slow-mo she grabbed Soggy’s wet nose, mucus globoid and all.
A loud “Eee-yewwww!” slithered through the class room. I was terror-stricken. What was my mom going to do to me? Nuns were like virginal demi-gods to her. And I’d actually pushed one into a juicy booger. I stared at the penguin’s red and puffy face, then looked for Soggy who was lost somewhere under Sister Lei’s black habit.
Between us, Mike and Bobby and me got the sister to her feet and pulled Soggy free.
The thing was, I’d always been so enthralled with Soggy’s nose, I’d never really looked at her before. She was pale from her ordeal, her dark eyes wide and kind of luminous, and the band holding her pony tail had broken and all this soft brown hair was pushing against her face. And the infamous red snout with its spectacular snot was gone and in its place was a freckled little — and surprisingly clean — nose.
It wasn’t long after this incident that Sister Leilani was ordered to turn in her habit because of her other habit with the kickball coach, who, by the way , was allowed to keep his job, and by the beginning of sixth grade, after they split up the boys and girls, everyone started calling Soggy Sandy “Sandi” with an “i”, including me. Turned out, I was the one lucky enough to eventually marry her.
Gay Degani has been published in THEMA, The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008 and The Best of Every Day Fiction Two, and two mystery anthologies well as on-line at Every Day Fiction, Night Train, 3 A.M. Magazine, 10 Flash, Flash Fiction Online, Tattoo Highway, and Salt River Review. Stories forthcoming will appear in The Battered Suitcase, 10Flash, and W. W. Norton’s Hint Fiction Anthology. She is still working on her mystery novel.