Today and way back when

Although I’d looked forward to school adventures, that season of beginnings in Moore, Oklahoma, altered my ego. My style became one of adherence. It started, I think, one afternoon at recess.

A group of us first graders had learned to congregate at the far edge of the playfield, up a small, grassy mound layered red beneath. Spring’s zephyrs carried to us orange butterflies, baby grasshoppers, tinges of dust on our tongues. Imaginations swelled, and we became birds – eagles – soaring and crying into harsh breezes. Other days as horses we galloped, sweat flecking our withers.

Our schoolroom vaguely existed at such times, far away, reminding us of its presence only when the recess-ending bell pealed. We knew well enough to hustle back inside before the ringing of the second bell.

A bright day, all of us in sleeveless shirts, the young dogwoods along the rise rustling dark leaves as we swooped and danced between them, until my neighbor Kerry noticed. “Stop!” he commanded, and we turned to look.

The playground was empty. We’d failed to hear the first and second bells.

If I could’ve started school as an older kid, maybe I’d have assessed the situation and realized I must get out, now. Flee, across vacant lots through briers brimming goat-head burs toward home. They oughtn’t shove me into a mold that squeezed my stomach so hugely at the hint of slightest infraction. Fear like this shouldn’t be planted in my budding heart along with three plus three.

Our teacher scowled when we entered class and said firmly, “You’re late; sit.”

But it was the endless, heads-down march with my friends across the deserted playground that shaped my future.


Cecily said…
Oh no... Deanna! You can't just leave it hanging there! Bother.

Deanna said…
Thanks, Cecily, for lifting my spirits with all your comments!