The teacher handed Anna the historical fiction story with a disgusting B+ blazing.
Anna read the hateful comments. Her hand rocketed into the air. Anna had spent four nights pouring her soul into the story, and now fascist X's violated her sentences? Only a B+? No, no, no! When the teacher didn't catch her raised hand, Anna rattled her bracelets and the classroom went silent.
Even from behind, the teacher recognized the huff and clanging. "Yes, Anna?"
"Why did you lower my grade?"
"You refused to follow proper conventions as outlined in the rubric. You knew it was a big part of your grade. I also explained on your rough draft that you need to stop capitalizing everything."
"I can't even capitalize Eternal Love? Seriously? That's not EVERYTHING. That's important."
"You don't capitalize Eternal Love or Divorce in this type of writing assignment."
Anna snapped to her feet, tilting high on her toes. "But I capitalize America... right?"
The other 8th graders giggled in anticipation.
"Correct," said the teacher.
"But ETERNAL LOVE is way older and way bigger than America, right?"
"Sit down, Anna."
"How is Congress capitalized but FREEDOM isn't? How is Army capitalized but LOVE isn't?"
"I agree," said another girl. "It actually doesn't make sense."
"The grade is final," said the teacher.
"Unfair!" Anna stomped. "You make me capitalize my flag but I can't capitalize my FEELINGS?"
The teacher thought about it. "I'm afraid that's technically correct."
Anna glared and softly asked, "What if I called it the Star Spangled Love instead of Eternal Love?"
The teacher gave Anna one of those please-don't-flip-out looks.
Anna waited a few seconds before exploding. "Maybe if adults capitalized MARRIAGE and FREEDOM and RESPECT and ETERNITY... then you wouldn't all SUCK so much!"
The classroom burst with laughter.
"I know you have a lot going on in you life," said the teacher, "but the grade is final."
"So basically," hissed Anna, "you lowered my grade because I didn't put Love on a flag? Now I can't get into a college that requires straight As? That's capital-F... Fascist."
"This isn't a joke, sit down."
"I'm not joking! I'm starting a petition." Anna stormed out of the room.
(C) Jude L Hollins April 2014
[Those years: Seamless emotional landscapes. We groan through the days. Sing to survive. Big Ideas come reckless at us like playful romance. Stun us silly. And over time maybe it gets too easy to forget that the unadulterated capitalization of Love may not be Right - but is Always so True.]