there’s a little blond boy underneath his first grade desk, crying. his chair is missing, so he hides. collapses in on himself, lost. he hasn’t learned yet, how to push these down. how to take deep breaths. how to swallow the fear and the alone-ness.
in second grade he weeps at his desk, head in his baggy sweatshirt. he can’t stop. his teacher puts a timer on his desk, but it doesn’t change anything. his arms are stained with salt and he feels all the eyes and hears all the whispers.
third grade came and the tears with it. straight A’s and a gaggle of friends, but so much loneliness. so much unknown. so much he doesn’t understand. deep breaths, Mama says. deep breaths, Papa says. deep breaths, his mind screams. he sniffles and sucks in air and tries, but it controls him and he gives into the overwhelming compulsion and releases it all through tiny drops grasping for freedom.
fourth grade is better. the tears are less, but they travel well and when a project frustrates, he feels his face growing hot. his cheeks red. his forehead crinkles. no. no. no. not again. please, God, not again. his teacher loves him and she tries to console him, but she is just as lost as him.
there are still moments in fifth grade when he is overwhelmed. his teacher won’t allow it, of course. it’s time to grow up. if you need something, you ask. if you are confused, you figure it out. if you don’t know, you learn. grow up, son. it’s time. the tears start to stop and the little boy starts to grow.
deep down inside him, some 15 years later, there’s still that small boy, overwhelmed by his emotions. overwhelmed by the world. overwhelmed by the bad news of his Papa’s text and his Mama’s surgery and the unfairness of it all. he’s at a grownup job and he hears Mama’s voice and he’s that small boy again. the one under his first grade desk with a missing chair and tears pushing themselves out. he squeezes his stomach, holding it in. he clenches his jaw. he tries to close his windpipe. he holds his nose with his fingers and he squeezes his eyes shut because no. no, no, no. please, God, no. not Mama.
i’m late to the party, but every week writers – mostly mama’s – gather to write for five minutes. i usually cheat and go ten, but Lisa-Jo still lets me play. there are a ton of amazing writers that you should check out if you but a minute, and if you have 5 of them, you might consider your own post.