Monday, October 1, 2007

Pretty Things

"Autumn Dance"
When I was in the first grade, everything was a glorious wonder. The bells, the sound of chalk on the blackboard, the sound of laughter on the playground, the feel and smell of books and the smells of the lunchroom... I did not know how Heaven itself could be more amazing. It was too much to get my thoughts around. To add to the excitement, Dianne started coming to our school. Her Grandmother brought her and they showed up one day just before recess.

It was like Dianne had popped out of a book. Everything about her looked like a picture. The whole class stared as she hung by the door while her Grandmother talked to the teacher. Her Grandmother turned to leave and the teacher took Dianne’s hand to show her to her desk. Before our astonished eyes, Dianne kicked the teacher. Everyone sat up a little straighter. If I had done something like that, I would never have made it back to school the next day. My Daddy would have killed me.

We missed recess that day, but Dianne was better than recess. She pitched a fit every time her Grandmother brought her to school and tried to leave her. So the Grandmother would sit in the back of the classroom until it was time for us to go to the lunchroom. Then she would take Dianne home. I never understood why Dianne didn’t go to lunch with us. She might have liked school if she had tried that part. You could always have an extra piece of cake, if you cleaned your plate.
Dianne had long blonde hair, which she always wore in a ponytail. She had patent leather shoes with a strap that could go across the ankle or behind it. I would have worn the strap in the back. I loved shoes and wanted a strapless pair so bad I couldn’t stand it. But I had to make do with my tennie shoes that had a hole in each one right where the big toe was. Dianne also had a real grownup wristwatch. It had a tiny silver face with sparkly things all the way around. The strap was a fragile black cord. Sometimes Dianne wore a fuzzy pink sweater with pearl buttons. All those pretties were a sight to see.

Sometimes, after school, spinning around in the yard by myself, I would think about all the pretty things I would have when I was grown. My house would be filled with shoes and sweaters and watches. There would be stacks of presents everywhere and lots and lots of cake.

One morning Dianne and her Grandmother came into the classroom. All of a sudden, without even saying goodbye, the Grandmother left the room. All eyes turned to Dianne who was still standing by her desk, waiting for her Grandmother to go sit in the back of the room. She stood there for a minute and, all of a sudden, she threw herself down on the floor. Spinning in a circle on her side, she kicked the desks all around her. Papers were flying. Dianne was screaming and having a hissy fit like I had never seen. The principal came to get her. As he led her out of the room, Dianne turned to the class and smiled. I have never, to this day, seen anyone smile that big.

We never saw Dianne again.

I don’t know why she was always pitching such a fit – I would have wanted to go somewhere and show off all those pretty things.