First Grade

One day Ms Bertrand had decided to put me and my very good friend, at the time, Curtis on the fence for recess. I believe we may have been talking in class even though I was very quiet usually. At any rate we were there for the duration of recess behaving ourselves. Until these two kids Jonathan and Mark who were 3rd graders and also punished on the fence started cutting up prompting us to do the same. Me and Curtis were just playing along with Jonathan, not even sure what the game was anymore. Mark, meanwhile was scurrying back and forth from once side of the fence to the other. I think it was some kind of a war or fighting game we were playing because Curtis started swinging this red and white sweater he had back and forth at Jonathan playfully. But one swing somehow connected with Mark some kind of way. Although Im sure it caused him little discomfort he punched Curtis in the gut. He buckled to one knee wincing and Mark ran off to join the rest of his class because the recess bell had just rung ending recess. I went to help Curtis up and as I was doing so Jonathan told me that Mark was mad at me too and he was going to beat me up. I dont remember what happened immediately afterwards but the next day when I saw the two of them standing in the lunch line I walked straight out of the cafeteria and went to the Library. Not too big of a deal because I never once ate a school lunch after kindergarten anyway. But I did spend the rest of the year having recess in the library because I was more than sure he was waiting for me. Luckily he would be an upper grader the next year and I wouldnt have recess with him again til 4th grade. But our paths crossed a few times before then. Often our teachers would have us bring messages or utensils to other teachers. One day I was selected to go to Ms Scotts class. And of course I knew whos class Mark was in. I was hoping I might just walk in unnoticed but the whole class stopped and looked in my direction. Including Mark who was sitting dead center. I tried to state my business as quickly as possible that way Ms Scotts eyes would be on me the entire time I was in there and Mark couldnt sneak attack me. I felt his presence the way Vader feels Luke I swear. His eyes seared through me even though I had no idea if they were menacing or indifferent cause I didnt dare look back. I escaped alive that time, but later on in the year I was faced with an even worse circumstance. I had just been dropped off at school when I saw out the corner of my eye that he was walking up the sidewalk going into the school just as I was. He had on a yellow raincoat with the hood off. I was petrified, not knowing whether to stay and let him go ahead or try to beat him into the building. I raced out the car, and while walking to class something fell from my pockets. I wanted to stop and see what it was but I knew he was behind me. I heard him call out to me that I had dropped something and as I turned slightly I saw him reaching out his hand to me. Of course in my mind I assumed he was only being nice cause he didnt know who I was from behind. I didnt say word, I continued on a B line right to my classroom. Later on someone would bring the money that had fallen from my pocket to me. Even receiving the money I was positive there would be a threat message delivered from Mark as well but there was none. By the time I got to 4th grade when we would once again be sharing a recess I had come to realize that Mark probably had no idea who I was and in fact probably never intended to fight me. Jonathan just felt like scaring the first grader but didnt want to implicate himself to do it. So sitting here, there is a 30 year old man named Mark somewhere who has no idea the profound impact he had on the formative years of an individual he probably would have no idea he ever met. Meanwhile I can still feel the chills 20 years later


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