I was four. I was cold and I sought the warmth of the school’s back steps. It was one of the few spots in the morning sun. The bare dirt of the play yard was filled with noisy children and the dark shade of autumn maples.
I watched the rough play as the older boys ran around propelling a type of merry go round. Those on the spinning platform clung to hand holds sprawled on top of one another. Children fell off, others ran alongside trying to jump back on.
I was safe breathing quiet and calm. Perhaps it disturbed her. “Go play with the other children.”, was the sentence. I obediently walked to the dizzying and chaotic platform and she took my seat on the steps.
It was my brother, David, lifting the sidewalk grate in front of “Charlie’s Gyp Joint” to retrieve his dropped report card. It was the sound and the surprise as the metal bars moved for one of us, an elementary school kid living in the concrete world.
There was a clang as Charlie opened his shop door yelling, “Get out of here you…”
And then, still standing before Charlie’s, I watched him run out into the highway. All I could see were tires, big wheels, all close. An odd silence suspended me. He bent, snatched the card escaping with the wind of another passing car and without ever looking scrambled back to the sidelines and safety of the sidewalk.
The doors of reality closed again with a rush of traffic noise and these words, “I got an ‘E’, Dad’s gonna kill me.”