This is another installment of a rough draft of a memoir chapter that covers fourth grade.
In class I overheard some of the more popular girls, Katie and Ann Marie, talking about the Baby-Sitters Club. Ann Marie told everyone she had called the 555 number in the books for Mary Anne and asked for her. “And the guy goes, ‘hold on, just a minute,’ and I got so nervous I hung up!” We all looked at her. I wasn’t part of the conversation but we were into the same books, and she wasn’t making fun of me. That was something. I could almost pretend this made us official friends.
But close only counts in horseshoes as my dad liked to quip, and Mom was back on her favorite train, the “you need to make more effort to make friends” express.
“Why don’t you invite someone over?” Mom asked. “Someone other than Maya.”
I resisted for a while. Katie had come over once, around Christmas, wearing a poofy scrunchy on her wrist as she played with tree decorations. She’d been so quiet and she was not a quiet girl. I desperately wanted to be friends with her but she didn’t want to play Barbies or look for secret passages. Even as I felt like I had won something by getting this cool girl in my grade to come to my house, I knew that in having her over, I was losing it. Maybe she didn’t want to come over. Maybe her mom made her. That happened a lot, parental pity for the poor blind girl. She never asked me over back and when I asked her again, she said she was busy.
I told Mom. “I’m making an effort. I hang out with Ann Marie and Katie at school. We’re going to call the numbers for the people in the Baby-Sitters Club.”
Mom looked confused, exasperated. “What? That’s ridiculous.” Then, “Do you want to invite her over?”
“No.” Ann Marie didn’t really talk to me. I didn’t want her to say yes to pity the poor blind girl. I didn’t want her to say no. What was wrong with Maya, my Mercury?
“What about Amelia?” Mom asked.
“Okay.” Amelia was a nice girl. We had bonded in first grade for having almost the same name. We hadn’t ever been in the same class since. I called her and invited her over for the next day and she said sure.
The next day, Mrs. Domaracki said my desk was a mess. It was. It had been all year. She said I had to stay after school to clean it out. “I can’t,” I told her.
“I have a friend coming over. My mom is making me.” I was more afraid of losing what little ground I’d gained by inviting Amelia over than getting in trouble or staying after and not seeing Amelia. Mom was so happy she was coming over. Mrs. Domaracki wrote my mom a note, saying I had told her I couldn’t stay after school because a friend was coming over. “Have your mom sign this,” she said. Of course I didn’t show her. Of course it all exploded and I got infinite warnings and went to bed at seven for the rest of my life and wrote stories and read books and did math in my head and tried to find number tricks and patterns and tried not to sleep.
When I stayed late the next afternoon, and Mrs. Domaracki went through my desk and my folders with me, she found the piece of paper with the writing about the sounds of pencils and erasers I had done back in late fall. She studied it. “Was this an assignment from your mom?” She asked. I said yes. I had pretty much given up on trying to be good or telling the truth.
Next Segment in this Piece: On the Move
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, broken up into installments and posted over several weeks, is all about fourth grade, which was a bit of an epic school year. It’s still pretty rough, and way too long, so yeah, infancy stage still.
- 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
- Caught in the Act – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 5
- Light as a Feather – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 6
- Dark Winter Chill – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 7
- From Secret Passages to Aliens – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 8
- The Birthday Cracker Wrapper – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 9
- Sleepovers and Upward Social Mobility – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 10
- Walking Home and Crossing Streets – Truth, Lies and the Wicked With 11
- Lost Keys – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 12
- Aftermath – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 13
- A Sorta Secret Passage – Truth, Lies and the Wicked Witch 14
- Driving Blind Under a Desert Moon
- Dusky Waters, Orcas Island
- Music Takes Me Back – Camp Marcella 1993
- Writing as Time Travel