A Story
October 4, 2005

I just hate these divided up entries like the one I'm about to post. It's just a personal preference, but I don't want to have to click a link in order to read the article. I already clicked a link to get to the page and you're telling me I gotta click another one?? That's generally a fast way to send me surfing again.

But ...

There's always a but, isn't there? But in this case, I also have to say that I generally don't like fiction blogs. Generally speaking, by the time I stumble across one, I'm coming into the middle of a poorly written, grammatically nightmare-ish autobiography thinly disguised as the best fiction story ever.

So ... if you want to check out a piece of short and unfinished fiction, click the link for the story. If you don't, you can scroll down and read some of my articles. Call this post me getting ready for NaNoWriMo. :)

Untitled, a short story in progress
(c) 2005, all rights reserved

The playground grass was never green. Not in Texas. Not in September. Maybe in the spring, for a few weeks before the heat burned it all to a uniform, creamy tan again. We loved outside recess anyway, though. Except for kickball days � those were the worst. School was regimented enough as it was. We couldn't do anything but sit still and do our work and that barely took half the day. If I was lucky, I'd be allowed to go to the library and check out a book after proving that all my schoolwork was done already. But the librarian wouldn't let me check out anything from the big kid's section. Rules and regulations. Conditions and terms. Restriction.

So kickball days when we were herded onto the blacktop with the enticing basketball goals hanging out above us, their nets blowing free in the breeze, were particularly painful. It just wasn't fair to make us play an incredibly stupid and regimented game during recess. I wanted to be more like the net, blowing freely around the schoolyard.

I wasn't quite a year old when Neil walked on the moon, but the space bug bit me awfully early anyway, so of course, my favourite piece of equipment on the playground was a huge rocket ship made of steel bars. There was a slide coming out of the middle and ladders that took you all the way to the top. I would spend most of recess in that rocket ship (or trying to fly on the swings if they happened to be open). The rocket ship was the perfect metaphor for my childhood. Completely free and full of imagination. Completely trapped inside the bars and longing to be out.

***

"Michelle, can I talk to you for a moment?"

Michelle looked about in panic. She hadn't done anything wrong. She'd done all her schoolwork on time (early, actually ... and finished her homework already, too).

"It's okay, you're not in trouble," the teacher murmured quietly.

She gave one last longing look at the double doors to outside, freedom, recess and sighed. "Yes?"

They walked back into the classroom and Michelle sat back down at her desk, like she was supposed to. Miss Burciaga pulled out the small chair and sat down next to her. "Are you doing all right here?"

Michelle shrugged. What an odd question for an adult to ask. "Yeah. I mean, I'm doing all right in all our subjects and everything." Her shoulder twitched again. "It's easy."

"Well, I've just noticed that since you came back to Pillow from your other school, you seem ..." she trailed off. "It seems like you're by yourself a lot. Are the other kids teasing you?"

***

I loved that school, Pillow. I thought it was the best of the three elementary schools I attended. This library had better � and more � books than the one at the private school. And the classroom set-up was far better than what I would become lost in later on, in my last elementary school. We stayed with one teacher all day, every day. She was given any 30 kids, but then she divided us up into small groups for reading and math. Sometimes there'd only be two of us in my math group. Sometimes there'd be four. It just depended on how fast you got the concepts or if you had to stay home from school due to illness.

And in the third grade, we'd added some Spanish since our teacher was Latina. Every Friday we played bingo in Spanish. I loved school.

***

Some of the boys were climbing all over the rocket ship, forbidding the girls from getting to the slide. Michelle couldn't play on the rocket ship today, anyway. She was wearing a stupid dress that she hated.

Across the playground, away from the swings, the teeter-totter's ragged blue peeling paint, the caterpillar that wasn't really monkey bars and the regular slide were several concrete tubes. Probably meant to form a sewer system at the school, but leftover for whatever reason. It was cheaper to let the kids play in them than for the construction company to haul them away again. Michelle sat in the furthest one, back pressed tight against the curved wall, feet braced against the opposite curve. Looking out onto the schoolyard. Observing. Watching.

***

An athletic child, I rarely stopped moving. I was always up for a game of touch football or running races. Despite being a scrawny asthmatic (or maybe because of it), I was in constant motion, pausing only momentarily to use the nasty inhaler if I absolutely had to.

In the schoolroom, that constant movement was sated somewhat if I had something to occupy my restless brain. It didn't matter if it was studying my spelling words, working on my math homework during work periods or finishing our reading text. So long as I was busy, I was quiet and behaved. Let me run out of work to do or books to read and I would devise my own amusements, and like most grade school children, those generally weren't school sanctioned activities.

***

"David," called Miss Burciaga. When he walked up to her desk, she handed him his report card. He didn't bother looking at it as he went outside to his bus. "Michelle." She didn't look at hers either, none of the children did. The little Ss and Es didn't much matter to them.

She ran outside to catch her bus and discovered Tim Balcezak bullying one of the younger kids, trying to get the kid to stand on one leg and recite the alphabet backwards. He couldn't have been more than a kindergartner and probably barely knew his alphabet as it was.

"Let's hear you recite the alphabet backwards, Tim," she called out loudly enough for the bigger kids to hear. The sly grins on their faces was all it took.

"Awww, you're just a baby, anyway." He started to shuffle off but the hand of the vice principal caught him gently on the shoulder.

"Guess I'm riding with you today," he announced to the schoolyard.

***

We lived way out in the country, on the far north side of Austin, beyond the quarries. It used to scare me a little, all of the signs that warned of blast zones, and the huge crack of the dynamite as we'd pass through doing 55 on the highway to get to our quiet little suburban neighborhood.

Where we lived wasn't quite a closed-gate community, but it wasn't far off, either. Stone walls flanked either side of the single entrance to the neighborhood, proudly proclaiming Balcones Woods � and they'd had to strip down a fair number of trees to make those stone walls readable from the highway.

Let me put it this way, it wasn't at all unusual for us to see deer, 'possums, raccoons, and all manner of wildlife wandering the streets. It was a beautiful place to grow up, the hill country of Austin. Everything a kid could ask for.

***

To be continued ....

(providing, that is, there's any interest in it at all)

Posted by Red Monkey at October 4, 2005 2:41 PM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

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