“Eye!” I announced. Blank stares of my classmates complemented the sickening silence.
“Eye!” I tried again. What's wrong with me? Say the word.
“EYE!” My brain won’t work.
“EAR-ICK-COY” my friend and project partner hissed.
“IROQUOIS!” I yelped.
I don’t remember anything else about the Iroquois. 5th grade wasn’t bad, but unimagined fears had begun to creep in. For my social studies presentation, it was like trying to scream in a dream.
I once witnessed this at a wedding; the bride could not speak.
114 days til my vows.
The first day of kindergarten I walked to the bus stop with my mom, who stood with two other moms. Five kids sized each other up. Then we got to work: parading in a circle, stepping on five large rocks that edged a yard.
I can feel the repetitive march: two smaller rocks, the long “boat,” one more small, then a big jump to the largest.
There were the twins, the girl who would become my best friend, and her brother.
I later learned not every bus stop had rocks for stepping. I wondered what those kids did. Boring.
In Saving Private Ryan, tanks approach at a snail’s pace in the town of Ramelle, France. But the earth shakes long before the soldiers hear. When the sound shook me in the theatre, it wasn’t in fear of panzerkampfwagens.
If I heard the growl of the school bus while putting on my coat, it meant running. It meant I was late before I started. It meant waking mom up. If the driver saw no kids, she’d accelerate downhill. My window was narrow, but open.
The temptation to stand still grew stronger than the reward for succeeding.
I rode the school bus from 1983 to 1992. The seats went from dark green to tan puke, and seatbelts appeared. But it's hard to wear a seatbelt when you're standing, so they were weapons or tools with which to bury candy wrappers into the seats. The made for TV movie Long Journey Back had proven that 1970s school buses were in need of additional exits, not seatbelts. However, train tracks weren’t my concern. Wheels too close together, the sides stuck over cliffs as we crawled up narrow hills. They’d close the school if we tipped over. Right?
In kindergarten, I had Mrs. Richards until she got sick. My friends and I searched for her every morning: "Investigate for Mrs. Richards," we'd declare as we hunted around the room, holding invisible magnifying glasses.
In fifth grade, we studied myths, so we ate pomegranates. I didn’t understand how or why anyone would eat them but I liked how they burst in my mouth. I don’t remember why we ate fruits one day in Mr. D’s class. He taught science and social studies. We all had to bring in a fruit and share it with the class. I was assigned mango.
Everyone sliced up their fruits and distributed them. My mango was like pumpkin guts, and it slopped onto each classmate’s plate, stringy and orange. It wasn’t my fault.