“I was just, well the lock was stuck, so I—“
“I saw you climbing over the stalls,” she said.
“Fifth graders were doing it too!” I blurted.
She looked around swirling her head dramatically. “I don’t see any fifth graders.”
“Not now. They were here earlier. They told me to.”
She put one hand on her hip. “Who? What are their names?”
“I don’t know, fifth graders.”
“You don’t know anyone’s names? These girls who told you to do this?”
I didn’t. I could see I was losing my shaky ground. “Fourth graders too.”
“Erica,” I said. I had no idea why I spit out her name. She was quiet and good and I’d always wanted to be better friends with her than I was, or just be her. No one would ever suspect her of climbing around a bathroom because she never would.
Mrs. Domaracki went and got Erica, brought her to the entrance of the bathroom. She was wearing a pink sweatshirt and her light blond hair was loose and straight and perfect, going halfway down her back. She was the perfect picture of the good girl I wasn’t, so innocent. Mrs. Domaracki asked if she had ever climbed in the bathroom. Erica looked confused, said no. Had she seen others do it? No. Was she friends with fifth graders? No. Did she know anyone who might’ve told me to do it? She looked at me. I could tell she thought she was in the Twilight Zone or something.
“No,” she said in her quiet voice. Mrs. Domaracki dismissed her.
“You owe her an apology,” Mrs. Domaracki told me.
“You have to tell your mother about this.”
I nodded again.
“If you don’t, I will.”
“I’ll tell my mom,” I said.
We went back to class. I spent all my energy trying to slow down time so I wouldn’t have to go home but it did no good. I was very good when I went home, like I’d been good for a hot minute in the beginning of the school year. I startled when the phone rang. I trembled whenever Mom shrieked my name over chores. I hid in my room more, wrote my stories, confided in my Care Bears and Jenny, did math out of the numbers on the clock, read books.
In class a few days later, when I knew I couldn’t escape to the bathroom and would be too obvious if I was reading a book right in front of my face in class, I pulled out a piece of lined paper and pretended to do classwork but really I was trying to write down my thoughts, all the things I would usually tell the Care Bears or Jenny. I was always narrating my life to them and I wanted to write it all down, but it took too long. By the time I finished writing about how I could hear all the sounds of the other students and their pencils and erasers as they worked on their dittos, we moved onto something else. I filed this paper in my fading to pink folder.
The other shoe never fell. It was almost worse that way. Almost.
So this is an excerpt from a chapter from a project I’m working on called Eclipses of Jupiter. It’s in its infancy still, but it’s about growing up with albinism and being legally blind in my crazy family, and all the school and social implications. It’ll also focus on blind camp and related programs when I get into teenage years. This chapter, which will be broken up into installments and posted over the next few weeks, is all about fourth grade, which was a bit of an epic school year.
Next Segment in this Piece: Light as a Feather
- The “Truth” About Me – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 1
- Instrument Analysis – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 2
- Mystery Worlds – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 3
- Bathroom Jungle Gym – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 4
- Driving Blind Under a Desert Moon
- Dusky Waters, Orcas Island
- Music Takes Me Back – Camp Marcella 1993
- Writing as Time Travel