By Crystal James
PROMPT — No one noticed ...
No one noticed as I curled up under the huge tires that were half in the frozen ground. It sounds like I played in a junkyard but these were found in my Elementary’s playground in the early 90s. Not to say that I didn’t play in junkyards. There was a pile of junk behind the pole-barn. I’ve always been drawn to climbing on old rusty items that were once shiny and now attempting to turn into one with the Mother Earth.
The tires on the playground were my favorite during the winter time. I was a malnourished child (although, my mom would say we have fast metabolisms which is half true) so I felt the cold directly in my bones. Most winters I didn’t have a warm coat or warm mittens or snow pants. When we wanted to go sledding, we always did the grocery bag trick outside of our shoes to keep them from getting wet. No one noticed the tiny girl hiding from the cold. Sometimes they gave us an option to stay inside for recess. I took that option as often as I could but they also wanted our energy out before class. They didn’t account for some of us not having any energy from lack of sleep and food.
At that age, I was going through things that most people will never experience. I wanted to mold into that tire. Once I was inside the wheel, I maneuvered my body to slink up against the side. Not to be seen by anyone. Not to hear the outside world. It was quiet for once. Not to feel the bitter cold. Not to feel anything at all. I always searched the teacher's eyes to see if they’d notice what’s hidden behind mine. They didn’t or if they did, they didn’t dare ask. There were one pair of eyes that I felt understood my pain. The librarian was calm and beautiful. Her eyes were covered in a soft eye shadow and her cheeks were slightly blushed. She always spoke in a calm voice. She read us a story and I watched her move. I wanted to sit on her lap and let her rock me to sleep. She was kind to me. I eagerly sat in the front row every morning. Nearly three decades later, I still recall her so well. If anyone at all noticed back then, it was her.
Crystal James is a writer and an artist. She has previously worked as a freelance writer for a local parenting site, Grand Rapids Kids. Her essays have been published by the Kindred Voice. She is currently living in West Michigan.