Lessons


Rain drips down plate glass like the tears she sees on the face of the child standing before her.

Words cling to the roof of her mouth like holiday decals stuck to every window: The solemn Holy Family alternated with pictures of Santa grinning inanely and waving his gloved hand at the classroom—nearly empty, save the child.

Save herself.

She tries to chink the words from her mouth; tries to pry them away like too much peanut butter taken from a spoon.  But she cannot force them out through gritted teeth.  The words stick there, burning like hot pizza, scarring, hurting, until she swallows them whole.

She turns.  Packs up her things: spelling tests to be graded; her yellow umbrella; the gifts from the students—homemade cookies, spice-scented candles, a few crumpled ten dollar bills.   She glances at Mrs. Claus: Her arm has come unstuck from the window.  She appears to be waving.  “I’m sorry,” she says, pushing the wayward arm back into place.

But it’s too late: The child is gone.

She goes to confession; absolves herself, the only evidence of her sin the small flap of skin dangling from the roof of her mouth and a sore spot where the purity of the words seared her bitterness.  With her tongue, she works away the burned flap of skin.  Spits it out into the palm of her hand.

At the end of the season, the window clings will be peeled away and set back into the box for next year.

And the child will pack up her resentments, too, lovingly layering each between fine sheets of tissue paper.

Perhaps one day she’ll become a teacher.

This post was written in response to Trifecta's Weekly Writing Challenge.  This week's word was roof, as in the roof of the mouth.
Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Lessons

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lessons


Rain drips down plate glass like the tears she sees on the face of the child standing before her.

Words cling to the roof of her mouth like holiday decals stuck to every window: The solemn Holy Family alternated with pictures of Santa grinning inanely and waving his gloved hand at the classroom—nearly empty, save the child.

Save herself.

She tries to chink the words from her mouth; tries to pry them away like too much peanut butter taken from a spoon.  But she cannot force them out through gritted teeth.  The words stick there, burning like hot pizza, scarring, hurting, until she swallows them whole.

She turns.  Packs up her things: spelling tests to be graded; her yellow umbrella; the gifts from the students—homemade cookies, spice-scented candles, a few crumpled ten dollar bills.   She glances at Mrs. Claus: Her arm has come unstuck from the window.  She appears to be waving.  “I’m sorry,” she says, pushing the wayward arm back into place.

But it’s too late: The child is gone.

She goes to confession; absolves herself, the only evidence of her sin the small flap of skin dangling from the roof of her mouth and a sore spot where the purity of the words seared her bitterness.  With her tongue, she works away the burned flap of skin.  Spits it out into the palm of her hand.

At the end of the season, the window clings will be peeled away and set back into the box for next year.

And the child will pack up her resentments, too, lovingly layering each between fine sheets of tissue paper.

Perhaps one day she’ll become a teacher.

This post was written in response to Trifecta's Weekly Writing Challenge.  This week's word was roof, as in the roof of the mouth.

7 Comments:

At December 21, 2011 at 8:17 AM , Anonymous TLanceB said...

This is one of your best pieces. ever.

"She goes to confession; absolves herself, the only evidence of her sin the small flap of skin dangling from the roof of her mouth and a sore spot where the purity of the words seared her bitterness. With her tongue, she works away the burned flap of skin. Spits it out into the palm of her hand" = perfection

I'm hating that I didn't write that. The sentences are short and powerful. I loved it, KG

 
At December 21, 2011 at 8:35 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Lance. Heading over to read yours now.

 
At December 21, 2011 at 8:39 AM , Anonymous Marian said...

yikes. also, wah. this leaves me uncomfortable, wondering what happeened.
and words like hot pizza burning your mouth? very clever and real image!

 
At December 21, 2011 at 10:27 AM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Wah indeed. Thanks for reading!

 
At December 22, 2011 at 11:13 AM , Anonymous Tara R. said...

Your descriptions are both beautiful and heartbreaking.

 
At December 22, 2011 at 6:31 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Tara.

 
At December 26, 2011 at 3:38 PM , Anonymous Trifecta said...

Thanks for joining us for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. You have a lot of really great stuff going on here--I love layering resentments between tissue paper. Mrs. Claus is a really nice detail as well. I hope your holidays were merry and that you'll join us back next week.

 

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