Chubby sausage fingers
Always waving, always grasping
Flailing as you come into this world.
Each little digit bending frantically
As if to catch the pesky dust mites vexing you
Dancing in front of your face, always just out of reach.
Reaching down to grab your hands
Clasping them tightly in mine
Squeezing them until they looked like they were going to pop
There we were, hand in hand.
But she soon took hers away
As the green plastic bracelet she had on was too much to resist.
Her same hands
Now slender and long
Nervously ripping open a creamy manila envelope
With a squeal, she screams: “I GOT INTO COLLEGE!”
Uncontrollable excitement as she jumps around the room
I try to grab her hands as she spins past
To convey: take me with you!
We could stand
Hand in hand
I only catch it for a brief moment.
She yearned to be free, to soar like a kite, high above the clouds.
Before you know it
Out the door.
A soon-to-be mother
She proudly watches her flourishing tummy
Pointing to it, she says: “Look mom, isn’t she perfect?”
My eyes are old, and truth be told I only see skin, but I still nod.
“She looks just like you,” I whisper.
Out of impulse
I take her hand.
This time, she doesn’t let go.
Marching in, hearts pounding.
Face compressed into hard edges
Slowly walks down the line
“This…is…my…palm.” “Very funny, Eric. Erase it. Immediately.”
“Bring Spanish notebook home.” “Wash your hands. Ink is bad for you.”
“Biology sucks!” “And who, exactly, is your teacher? Watch it, mister!”
Abashed, everybody scurries away.
“Line up your seats in precise order! Five to a row!” The teacher barks.
“She’s like a drill sergeant!” A small whisper to a friend.
“I heard that. Hilarious. 5 points off.”
Finally, the test starts.
There’s a general snapping sound, as 26 test booklets are yanked open and paper is torn.
Slowly, jaws drop.
Like a deflating balloon, the entire room lets out a sigh.
Tick tock, tick tock. 40 minutes in:
The classroom is an abyss of confusion.
Some are staring concentratedly at the paper
as if the answer is hidden in the fibers.
Some are busy scribbling away,
supremely self-confident in their genius.
Some are jealously watching them,
every once in a while looking down on their still-blank sheet.
Some are frantically bubbling in Bs for every answer
because “it was most likely to be right.”
Some are chewing on the ends of their pencils,
absentmindedly gazing out the window.
Some are glaring at the clock,
as if each ticking second is both a blessing and a curse.
And then there’s the one kid that is holding the test upside down and looking utterly bewildered because “something’s off”.
Outside the classroom, all the chatty Cathys are grouped in a circle.
“That. Was. Impossible.” “Why would she do something like that?” “Her tests are SO hard.”
A small voice: “I thought it was fair.”
Age 14, Grade 9
Hunter College High School