Thursday, April 7, 2022

The Mary Nose Mysteries: The Story of Nosy Mary

             “Smile!” called 14-year-old Mary Nose, who loved to take pictures with her magic camera, inherited from her maternal grandmother Louise Jenkins, a famous photojournalist who took pictures all over the world. 

“Don’t miss the moment!” Louise would always say. “Make sure it lives forever. A smile is happiness you’ll find right under your nose.”

Mary tried to do just that, but not everyone appreciated her enthusiasm.

“Oh, Nosy Mary, you’re taking pictures again!” moaned her mother. It seemed that Mary’s friends and family always teased the gawky girl. “Please take someone else’s photo. I don’t like to be in front of the camera. Why do you have to stick your nose into everything?”

At least this time, her larger-than-average nose hid behind a magic camera, and she now had a reason to feel special. 

“What’s this?” Mary asked, holding up a developed picture in her secret darkroom. With the very first photographs that Mary took from her grandma’s camera, extra people and things mysteriously appeared in the pictures when developing them. “I just don’t know how that person ended up in my photo. He wasn’t there when I took the photo! I wonder what it means?”

Despite the unusual additional people and things that magically appeared in Mary’s new photos, she had obvious talent and a keen eye for what other people missed. 

“I see you!” Mary declared, taking a picture of Mr. Rockwell, her eighth-grade English teacher at Lancaster Valley Middle School.

“Well, since you see me, why don’t you apply to be yearbook editor? I think you have the nose for it!” he suggested to Mary, looking into her camera. “It’s my first year overseeing the yearbook, and I don’t know much other than how to teach English. You might know more about photography than I do. It’s time for you to shine.”

“I’m not your best student, Mr. Rockwell,” Mary argued, unsure of her capabilities. “I’m more of a geek with a camera.”

“I need you to be a leader, Mary,” Mr. Rockwell decided, giving her the school’s yearbook camera. “Your pictures are wonderful. Finish the yearbook by March 1st, so it can be ready for graduation. No excuses! Get the job done, and keep your nose clean, Nosy Mary!”

The next day, Mary biked to school, forgetting the school camera at home, so she took pictures with Grandma Louise’s camera, which she usually carried in her backpack everywhere. A camera is a camera, she thought. 

“Smile, Hank!” Mary laughed, snapping a shot of Hank the janitor at lunchtime.  

“Put that stupid camera away!” Hank yelled at her, holding up his fist. 

Ignoring Hank, Mary took his picture anyway. Later that afternoon when she developed the pictures, Mary noticed a strange, ominous glow around Hank. 

“What is wrong with him?” Mary wondered aloud. “I have to figure this out!”

During the next week, Mary followed Hank around the school, taking more pictures.

“Give me the film from your camera!” Hank demanded. “I told you to stop taking my picture. Stop putting your nose where it doesn’t belong!”

“It’s my job to take your photo, sir!” Mary blurted out. “Mr. Rockwell put me in charge of the yearbook. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to return to my office.”

During the next few weeks, Mary noticed that the yearbook office—a glorified closet—was not always found the way that she left it. The closet was down the hall from Mr. Rockwell’s classroom, and the best office that he could find for the school’s yearbook editor. 

“Where is my radio?” Mary asked Mr. Rockwell one day after school, confused, looking under the office table. “I was just playing it. Oh, where are those pictures I developed yesterday?”

“I don’t know, Mary,” he replied, rolling up his plaid sleeves. “No one else uses the closet, but you. I hardly even come in here because I am too busy.”

“I’m going to develop my pictures in my secret dark room at home tonight,” Mary explained. “That way, I can keep track of my photographs until we find out where the missing items went.”

Over the next few months, Mary photographed middle school dances, basketball games, cafeteria lunches, band practices, special assemblies, ski trips, swim meets, and more—even when students did not want their pictures taken. 

“Don’t turn up your noses!” Mary called to her classmates. “You’ll thank me twenty years from now that you have pictures of yourselves from your younger days.”

The magic photos revealed all kinds of things, like who had a crush on whom, who was thinking of their dog, and who was worrying about their science test. She also oversaw Picture Day with a cranky photographer from School Pictures USA named Frans Robert. 

“Oui, oui, if you don’t want to smile for the photo, fine,” Frans snapped as he took pictures. “It’s no skin off my nose if you look unhappy in your lifelong portraits!”

After hours alone working on organizing the perfect selection of photographs for the yearbook, Mary decided she had completed the keepsake. 

“The yearbook is finally finished!” Mary announced, showing Mr. Rockwell in early March.

“This is fabulous, Mary!” Mr. Rockwell exclaimed, hugging her. “I’m so proud of you! You’ve given your student body a wonderful reminder of this glorious year of school! I’m sending it to the printer tomorrow afternoon.”

Then, Mr. Rockwell left the masterpiece on the desk in the yearbook office to show the principal the next day. In the morning, when he returned to the larger-than-life closet, the finished product was gone. 

“The yearbook has been stolen!” Mr. Rockwell announced over the school intercom. “If anyone finds it, there is a reward waiting for you in my office. Bring it to me immediately!”

“What do you mean the yearbook has been stolen?” Mary cried, running to her office. She rummaged through the desk and shelves, to find nothing but paper scraps and empty film canisters. “I’m going to search the school! The yearbook has to be right under my nose.”

Distraught, she searched through the entire school, taking pictures with Grandma Louise’s camera, looking for clues as to the whereabouts of the missing yearbook.

“All the clues lead back to Hank the janitor,” Mary quipped, as the magic pictures came together. Oddly enough, Hank’s mop and bucket appeared in every photograph that Mary developed. “I’m going to try to talk to him tomorrow after school before I come to any conclusions.”

“Hank, can I please speak to you for a minute?” Mary asked in a confrontational tone. 

“What do you want?” Hank raged. “I have had enough of you and your camera.”

Hank pushed her into the yearbook office and locked the door with his key.

“Wait! What are you doing? You can’t lock me here overnight!” Mary yelled, flipping on the light. “Help! Someone, help me! Hank is a thief! Oh, I wonder what Grandma Louise would do in a pinch like this?”

Mary curled up in a ball on the floor and cried until she fell asleep. 

The next morning, when Mr. Rockwell opened the yearbook office door, Mary burst into tears again. “What are you doing here?” Mr. Rockwell cried. “You look awful.”

“Hank locked me in the closet last night!” Mary mumbled. “He stole the yearbook. After I call my mom, I’m calling the police. My mom must be worried sick as to where I am.”

Later that morning, Mary’s mother charged down the hall, throwing her fist in the air. 

“Mom, what are you doing?” Mary questioned. “You can’t beat up Hank! I called the police. Please, go powder your nose and calm down.”

“He deserves a good reality check!” Mrs. Nose demanded. “What was Hank thinking? Mary, taking all these nosy pictures got you into a lot of trouble, young lady. Please give up photography. You could be a cheerleader instead. I was a cheerleader in high school!”

“Enough, Mom,” Mary insisted. “I am a serious photographer like Grandma Louise.”

When explaining how Mary figured out that Hank was the perpetrator, Mary left out the part about the magic clue-giving pictures that her grandmother’s camera made. She did not want anyone to think that she was imagining things. 

“Mary did a wonderful job on the yearbook,” Mr. Rockwell explained to Mrs. Nose. “I’m so sorry for this nonsense. I had no idea that Hank was so destructive. Everything is going to be okay.”

By noon, the police arrested Hank the janitor. Sadly, he had been homeless for months and had to sleep in the yearbook closet from time to time, which explained Mary’s missing items from the office. 

“Last night, I slept next to the school’s dumpster since I locked Mary in the closet,” Hank explained. “I just liked the yearbook so much that I took it with me,” he whispered, twisting the truth with a straight face. 

“Well, that’s a bit of a stretch,” the police officer declared, putting Hank in handcuffs. “Don’t cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face. Give Mary back her yearbook now!”

“I’m sorry, Mary,” Hank pleaded, returning the yearbook to its editor. 

“I forgive you, Hank,” Mary whispered. “At least you took good care of the yearbook. I don’t see a scratch on it,” she decided, examining it closely. “I didn’t know you were homeless. I’m going to hold a fundraiser for you through a special photography exhibit. Hank, you need a home.”

“Please let Hank go,” Mr. Rockwell explained to the police. “We don’t want to press charges. We just want Hank to promise to never steal again. Definitely never ever lock anyone in a closet again. Do you promise, Hank?”

“Yes, sir,” Hank agreed. “I promise.”

“Ask for help next time,” Mr. Rockwell instructed. “Hank, you need to speak to the principal to see if the school will allow you to keep your job.”

“I’ll try to do better,” Hank mumbled as the police took off the handcuffs. “I acted really stupid. I’m sorry. Try not to rub my nose in it.” 

“We love you, Hank!” Mary announced, snapping his picture for a special addition to the completed yearbook. “I just got your mug shot, and it’s going in the yearbook as one of my favorite memories.” 

Then, Mr. Rockwell hurried to the school’s loudspeaker to make an announcement.

“The yearbook has been found!” he cheered. “Mary solved the mystery on the nose! Nothing gets past her! Nosy Mary’s yearbook is the best yearbook ever. Order your copy today!”


Copyright 2023 Jennifer Waters

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