by Paulette Weaver Purgason

She looked, as she bit down on her bottom lip. Once again she was in a new place with its new people, its new rules. As she looked around, she saw the "hugest" windows overlooking a wooded plane and a street in the distance, but her view was somewhat distorted. She was looking through the doorway to the classroom across the hallway through to Mrs. Nannie Mae Jackson's higher level classroom. She had to twist 180 degrees in order to see out the door. Her teacher, Mrs. Westbrook, had laid out the class seating so that her student's back would be facing the doorway to freedom. The class was located in the annex building adjacent to the magnificence of the original school structure now on the national Historic Registry for significant places in the U.S.

A stern voice was heard to say loudly, "Turn around in your seat and listen to me, your teacher. Tell me your name." The young student did not hear. She was still dreamily focused on the freedom she viewed from her position. The student in front of her desk, Bonnie Pounders, touched her lightly, her lips smiling, and said "the teacher is talking to you, Paulette."

Everything changed from that moment.

Gone was the meadow she had played in all summer.

Gone was her bicycle that allowed her to roam further and further away from her tiny family home that was now her new family's home.

Gone was the farm she had spent so many happy days slipping in and out of the creek, Swinging on the barn door. Chasing butterflies was gone now. Her favorite activity, jumping the jump board, up and down, up and down, with twice removed cousins, pulling off juicy muskadines and turning her lips and gums deep, rich purple were events for sure gone.

Hearing the pop of the watermelon as it was split open by her father with his sharp knife was gone. The field of watermelons would be sorely missed.

Gone were the warm toasty hugs of her grandmother who lived in Durham and who packed Paulette's small trove of belongings and handed them to her new step-mother for the trip to Jamestown. (Paulette's father's position as plant manager had changed due to the fiery transformation of a plant into ashes. He was transferred to Ward Foods' Jamestown plant as night plant supervisor and hired by Mr. Hightower. Paulette would later meet Mary Lynne who was in the more popular teacher's classroom across the way.)

Gone was her dog Daisy, really gone.

Her father, against the back drop of Paulette's screams, took Daisy away, past the meadow into the woodland grove of the Glover farm off Scientific Street. Paulette's screams stopped in mid-air as she heard through the silence of the summer day, a strange echo-ing pop. She watched, wide-eyed as her father slowly walked across the field towards his young daughter, wiping his hands and wiping his pistol. It would be some time, before she understood his actions, and her tears would last through the nights until Daisy appeared in a dream, walking through a field of daises, romping with other pets who had been forced across the rainbow bridge. (Much later, her father would give her a new pet, from a Jamestown family, Ronald Dance. Wendy, a mixed Cocker Spaniel and wiener dog remained her friend and cohort until two years after her marriage.)

She turned hesitantly and faced the stern, unfriendly gaze of Mrs. Westbrook, her new fourth grade teacher and heard her teacher say. "I expect you to listen to me, look at me, and to pay attention in class."

Thus, her beginning at Jamestown's elementary school located in the annex building.

It got better, in time. But her beginning was cold, empty of hospitality, devoid of someone to say Hi. All she had was the gentle touch of a classmate named Bonnie Pounders. Bonnie, with her shiny black hair, softly curled, smiled at her.

Paulette has never forgotten her, nor seen her since graduation.

From a collection of short stories
"Who Brought the Banana Pudding?"
A work in progress.
Paulette Weaver Purgason
October 2012
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