We return from break to a very unpleasant sight indeed -- Rachel and Mark, positioned at the end of a very long hallway and headed straight for us. We should run. "Scissors, Rach?" he asks, disbelieving. "It's not like they said," whines Rachel. Apparently, she's being accused of threatening to stab Natalie Curtis with a pair of scissors, but Rachel helpfully explains that she was really just threatening to hack off the girl's dreadlocks. Mark doesn't take much comfort in this clarification, wondering aloud why his child would behave so monstrously. Mark, have you met yourself and Vulcan Jen? Her mom's a big bitch and her dad's a soggy rag of a man. Of course she's going to have enormous problems. Rachel complains that Natalie has been trying to steal Andrew away from her by sending him notes in class and inviting him over for study groups. "This is over a boy?" Mark gapes. "Trust me, Rachel, boys aren't worth the trouble. I should know." Except I think he only said that last bit to me, telepathically. Rachel blows off the situation, and manages to spit out a sassy remark about Gym class that rips a bit on how far removed Mark is from kids today. "Don't get smart with me, Rachel," he warns. Um, no real fear of that, I don't think. "You've been suspended," he reminds his daughter. "Next time, you might be expelled permanently." He takes great pains to emphasize "permanently," like, Mark, since when is an expulsion not permanent? Not many schools renege on those. That's why they differentiate expulsions from, say, suspensions. And, for good measure, shut up. Anyway, Mark puffs up with the sweet air of delusional courage and tells Rachel that this is the dawn of a new era, with a fresh set of rules. By my calculations, this era will last about 7.3 days. Even Rachel can't contain her disdain for Mark's proclamations of discipline. As they descend the school stairs, Mark forbids her from getting rides to school from anyone but him or Elizabeth, and grounds her for a month. He also assigns her chores. "I have chores now?" she squeaks. "She didn't have chores before?" I yelp. "You're Cinderella and I'm your evil stepmother," Mark announces. "I've already got one of those," she grumbles. Ha!
Mark and Rachel exit the school. Students flow in and out of the door because no one could decide what time of day it's supposed to be. Mark threatens to ship her back to St. Louis, which must be a fate worse than death, because Rachel stops trying to fight him and instead switches to whiny protestations of his treatment of her. "Why are you doing this to me?" she whimpers. Mark sighs, weighed down by the gravity of the lessons life's taught him, and imparts to Rachel that he's seen teen girls in the ER who are drug addicts, suicidal, pregnant, homeless or victims of gang rape, all because no one in their lives cared enough to protect and guide them. Keep it up, Mark, and the Trite Police will slap you in jail for a month. He passionately blathers that he cares too much about Rachel to let her waste her life. "You may not like it now, hell you may never like it, but this is how it's going to be," he finishes, having arrived at the car and backed a pouty Rachel up against it. She broods energetically.