Saturday, January 29, 2011

the first of it


Third grade coat closet, jacket in hand, mind already on the playground. She's at my side.

Can I play with you guys?

I'm filled to the brim with not wanting to.  But no gets stuck in my throat. I wiggle out of this tight space.

I don't know. Go ask her. I point her in my playmate's direction. Let someone else deal the blow.

She cries. I never forget her face.

{{{flash forward}}}

We walk home from the bus stop. She likes to stay several paces ahead, pretending she's on her own. I talk to her back and strain to hear her answers through my hat. I ask the usual questions -- how was the day, anything new, what did you learn. A story tumbles out. I don't quite understand at first.

Playground. Friends walking. Can I walk with you? They didn't want me. I'm sad.

I don't know what to say.

She gets a hug and a freshly baked muffin and as she steps back into our home circle. She leaves those hurts on the front step.

{{{next day}}}

Different kids. Different injustice. Inconsiderate words. An even sadder face.

The stuff on the doorstep is starting to pile up. And this is just the first of it. The least of it.

{{{flashback. oh no -- flash forward?}}}

I'm lying on my mother's bed, face buried in the pillows, all the sobs dried up for now.

I'm more than a child but still in the middle of a growth spurt. I'm shooting up too fast, I think, and the growing pains really hurt.

It's not going to be alright. It'll never be alright.

There was a note, I explain, some mean words from both sides. Them against me. Now I'm alone. I feel so heavy.

{{{and here I am}}}

I made it through those days. Patched up those hurts and made it through girlhood and into womanhood. But growing up was hard. I was relieved to make it to the other side.

But now I'm leaning over the fence, reaching, stretching, craning for her hand. I can't pull her over. She has to make it on her own.

I'll throw every rope I can think of, though, and stones that she could stack. But she'll fall. She'll feel heavy. These struggles will be hard to watch.

Harder than I thought. Harder than my own.

But what she unfolds into -- I can't wait to see.