During April, many bloggers participate in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. This is my first year. I'll post twenty-six excerpts from Loved As If one for each letter of the alphabet, every day except Sunday. Please enjoy and share. Thanks.
I took a book to a big cushion in the rest area, Run, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me! I’m the Gingerbread Man! The salty well began to spill over. The words of the book fell away; I sang quietly to my Friend, Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so. Mrs. R’s gentle voice interrupted, What’s wrong? She looked at the book I read. Why don’t you try this one, she held out The Golden Book ABC’s. That’s a baby book, I told her, sniffing to prevent my nose running. What about Goodnight Moon? she asked. I’ve read that one too. The pictures are pretty but there aren’t very many words. She looked intently at me, Aren’t very many words? I like books that have a story, I told her in a small voice. Will you read the story to me? she asked with the same look the man and woman had on their faces the night I told them I could read. I ran away from the old woman. I ran away from the old man. I ran away from the cow, and I can run away from you! Try this, she handed me another book. I opened it and began to read it to her. You can read, she remarked, a big smile on her face.
Mrs. R led me to a room where a woman with short, white hair had me play games and read stories and answer questions about what I’d read. I spent the next day with her and then the next. A man sat in the corner writing on a clip board.
On Friday after school, the woman brightly told me, You’re too smart for kindergarten. On Monday, you’ll be in the first grade. She looked as if she wanted to bounce in her seat.
I woke with a stuffed nose. After checking my temperature, the woman sighed, You’ll just have to stay home from school today. After a lunch of chicken noodle soup from a foil packet she tried to take me on her lap. I held myself rigid and pushed her arms away. She smelled wrong. Her face clouded, Pride goeth before a fall. I scrunched my eyebrows together. Her words made no sense. She sighed. I think you’re afraid to go to the first grade, the woman told me. Why didn’t you ask me? I wanted an answer but didn’t speak my question. I saw myself playing Duck, Duck, Goose, listening to stories, sitting in my quiet spot as the well spilled over and I sang to the Presence.
There was a big mistake but I didn’t know whom to tell, didn’t know what to say. I liked Mrs. R. I liked her voice. The woman’s voice reminded me of something that was, at times, almost pleasant. But that something was also huge and black. But if Mrs. R. found me crying again, she might just ask about my tears this time. She might help me. I think you’ll be able to begin first grade tomorrow, the woman told me. As I walked away, the well inside me spilled over. I went to the bedroom I shared and waited for the executioner.
As a child, I often wondered why no one ever asked me why I was so sad. Even the one teacher who did ask was quickly distracted by my ability to read. Perhaps adults don’t realize that children will provide answers when they have a trustworthy adult.