Sunday, May 13, 2007

15 Sentence Portrait

Starlight White

We had been sitting on the unforgiving plank seat of the picnic table for a heart-to-heart when my dad scooped me up and held me, my spindly spine drawing a neat line down his chest. The dusk light turned my fingertips faintly yellow, the color of pollen too stubborn to be washed off in the bath. My stomach was a hard chasm and my throat thick with the warm milk that was supposed to have put me to sleep. Tomorrow was the first day of school and my fingers flexed like a basketball player miming a free-throw shot, ready and nervous to press my freshly sharpened pencils into the mysterious shapes of the ABCs.

All summer I had waited, planned, and dreamed about tomorrow, but not any tomorrow, tomorrow’s tomorrow: it was the evening before my first day of kindergarten at Prairie Hills elementary school. I had to ride the bus alone. My red and black backpack was packed with Big Chief paper and a box of tissues for the classroom. I wanted to be new like my new supplies, a brand new grown up girl instead of the little girl who stayed at home with her mother while the big kids went to school.

My dad pointed toward the lights at the edge of the prairie grass. We watched the fireflies flit freely near the lawn’s limit. My Dad, who must have sat here with his other three daughters and maybe even my brother, breathed gently into my ear. The taste of mint lingered in the air as I absentmindedly ran my tongue across my freshly scrubbed teeth. The stars were cool pinpricks behind my eyes.

Dad told me, “Just scream them out.” My little-girl lips opened wide in a high pitched scream and as the butterfly wings raced toward the stars, soft traces of their wings gathered in the creases of my smile—the starlight white smile I would give the next morning for my new teacher, Mrs. Drew.

(with thanks to Ms.Nic.)

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