Endless adventure-less days dragged behind and drooped ahead then, but now I’m free.
Free from boring. Free, not shut in the house all day with my little brother. And there will be lots of kinds of food, every day.
Everyone else gets home from school or work where all the fun is happening, but can’t tell me about it. It’s great to go to school, I know it, but no one can tell me exactly why. When they try to I don’t understand. I ask so much why about everything. No one answers anymore. They have adventures. I don’t. They get to do things at places I can’t go. Relished embellished tales my third grade sister Tosh spins to enchant me to envy, do.
Mom, in full regretful consternation, obeys the law. She sends us to elementary school, nothing else. I beg to go to kindergarten. She said I wouldn’t get to go even when I was old enough. No one else in our family ever goes, or would go, to kindergarten.
They don’t make kids go to kindergarten so you are not going under any circumstances. I wouldn’t send you or anyone to school at all if I didn’t have to.
What are circumstances? I wonder out loud looking back and forth from mom’s face to Tarza, fishing for an answer the best way I can in as many languages as I know, all at once to see who will help me. I need to find a way to go to kindergarten!
My oldest sister Tarza likes to and can answer almost anything. She explains in patient sing song:
Circumstances are something, that could be a good reason to go to school this year. What mom is saying is that even if there is a good reason, you are still not going to go to kindergarten, no matter what. We are against it.
All I hear is: “good reasons to go to school”.
Good reasons to go to school. I know of a whole bunch of them, and one of them has to not be the “no circumstances” one.
Something is wrong about us even going to school at all. It bothers mom like me not doing the dishes after breakfast does. But I still don’t do the dishes after breakfast when I’m told to. So, I can still go to school, in the same way, even if it bothers her. Mom does not agree.
It’s not about that. It is because school corrupts you. The danger tone switches on in her voice. She tells me about how other children have become corrupt. Some have even had to be stoned by their own parents, for it.
“Corrupted” shakes me up. Grave and scary shivers erupt on the inside. I can almost feel the ominous evil spirit trying to. I don’t want it to happen to me. I know this is bad and it can happen to me in school, mostly in kindergarten, I guess. So, I’m really glad to not risk it this afternoon.
Mom, I promise not to get corrupted, if I can go to school today!
How will you do that?
I will just not let corrupted do it to me.
How will you know what corrupted is?
Because it’s bad, so I’ll know.
The thing about getting corrupted is it’s tempting. Mom has stopped dressing and is looking at me in a sudden way. She sits me down on her lap on the bed. She never does this anymore and it feels tender nice and awkward. After a minute of balancing me on her lap she maneuvers me next to her at the edge of the bed where she can look at me. I swing my feet in the air bumping the box springs while she looks at me with a very important look. I stop swinging my legs. I’m craving important.
You want to know how corruption starts?
I nod wide eyed, knowing that however it does, it won’t, because I’m not gonna let it.
Corrupted. It is when you start to like your friends more than you like to do what God wants you to do. When you think your friends are more important than God is, the devil has you and it is almost impossible to ever get away again. You get dark minded, then you don’t even want to get away anymore. She pauses and takes a hearse breath. That’s how the devil tempts you, she sighs.
I know that my survival depends on understanding what she is saying.
He leads you astray with things you like more than you like God, and you become corrupted. She looks at my face for signs. I know this is solemn, and not time to shout how I’ll absolutely win and she has nothing to worry about!
I won’t let the devil tempt me! So, I’ll never get corrupted. I’m resolute, fierce, not smiling, only knowing and solemn. I feel solemn. It’s so much nicer than the shivers and horrors feeling.
You won’t know it’s the devil because he pretends to be good and you aren’t old enough to know the difference.
I am old enough though. Only dumb people, and bad people don’t know the difference. I can too tell what is the devil and what isn’t.
How can you tell?
I just know I can.
I’m imagining a serpent whispering for me to eat that apple. I won’t eat it though-no matter what. Then I start thinking, obviously the snake is wicked. And obviously it was Snow White’s wicked stepmother, in that old lady suit, too, that made her eat that poison apple. Snow White wasn’t as smart as I am. I’m smart enough to skip Snow White, though since mom says fairy tales are simple-minded, and corrupt and have no moral, but Eve wasn’t that smart either. And see, I know what corrupted is, too, I muse. I know which story is the right story.
I won’t get tempted like Eve did! I’m sure of it. I always double-check, make sure people aren’t the evilest ones, or the devil’s servants, and I will make sure that it’s right before I do anything.
How can you tell?
I just can.
The devil disguises himself to lie to you so you will believe it.
I tell mom how I will always not believe a lie.
How could you tell it’s a lie?
Because lies aren’t true.
Every few days a new reason pops up that hopefully wasn’t under the any circumstance clause and so would get me on the adventure bus in the mornings . I follow mom around when she gets home. Different ways, surprising times, wondering aloud about a different angle, for a loophole, and bring it up in conversations, comment about it, nag, then remind her that I still want to go, to school no matter what, too. Nothing works. But the peak of my day is the hope.
I resort. Whining, begging, weeping, screaming “It’s not fair!” and being locked in my closet till I my head pulses as hard as I have sobbed. Charm fails. Getting up and being ready for school fails. Trying to sneak on the bus failed when my own sisters didn’t let me try.
Close to the end of school, all hope isn’t lost.
Mom I will be happy to go for just whatever days are left, please, please, please! Please mommy!
Ouuuuwh! This was the wrong way to get to school, for sure because mom is suddenly madder and meaner.
You are hurting my ears. I have a headache. And I’m so, so sick and tired of you nagging and begging me all day long! Under no circumstances, whatsoever, are you to ever, ever mention school to me again. Do you hear me? One more word about school and I will spank you. One more word. Don’t even say school! Her face wrung the words. The words squeezed me dry.
The best reason yet, for me to get to go to school, is that there aren’t even enough days left for me to get corrupted anyway. The feeling jambs my thought. It squashes my breath and gives me a gripping voice ache.
Then, all is lost. The “lost and never to be” void gapes wide, dark, open, tunneling through my whole chest. My sister Tosh has fun tossing things through the tunnel.
The morning of the first day of school mom is a weird mad. I whooped a piercing triumph war-cry at the top of my lungs in the house smirking at her when she reminded me to get ready for school. She did not deliver me to the inevitable dangers of first grade that first day. When everyone else walked, she refused to take me to register.
You are not going to school today.
The second day I didn’t turn the dryer on as I was told. So my fist-day-of-school purple corduroy outfit isn’t ready in time. Mom is mean and won’t let me wear it wet.
I try to show her how it’s the second-day-of-school anyway. So what do first-day-of school- clothes matter anymore? At first she tried to explain first impressions to me, but I didn’t care about those. I just want to go to school today.
I don’t have time anymore to go by the school to register you anyway.
I howl searching for any clean not wet clothes to wear. She threatened to make good on that spanking if I don’t be quiet. And you will not be going tomorrow either. Meanwhile I couldn’t find any other clean clothes and all my underwear are shame for shame dirty. None pass school inspection without washing, and she hadn’t washed any with my outfit.
My outfit is the only thing in the dryer, she had washed it by hand quick to get the stains out. It was to be clean and dry, on time.
Remember I told you not to wear your new clothes till school started? She sighs accusing.
I did remember. But it has a big yellow flower with pretty orange trim on every petal sewn on the front. This big flower is at the bottom front and to one side. A perfect spot on the front of a blouse for a big flower just like this one to be.
I could not wait for the first day of school. I couldn’t wait or change before I went outside to show everyone then stay to play. I couldn’t wait long enough to change before I ate sloppy joes. I was too hungry.
You be a good girl or you aren’t going to school at all this year. I don’t care what the law is! Her voice hung at the end of thin rope. So did I.
On the third day of school I’m walking for the first time with my sisters. I’d imagined myself on this day skipping and whistling triamphantly. All of the “I’m free!” whipped right out of my body language though. Guarded, regretful and talking to myself in “what if’s”, and “When I’s” I lose my self in sidewalk cracks. My sisters walk on ahead and turn the corner. Lost and left behind stings my eyes. Then, up ahead, Tosh is part telling part pleading part commanding Nickie: “It’s funner this way!” But Nickie comes back and risks a peek around the corner just for fun, and gestures for me to catch up.
School is wonderful. And after a while, I discover this irresistible apple. The un-poisoned apple of desperate need to be the teacher’s pet. No one offers the apple to me. I want the apple. I poison myself with it.