I started fifth grade on the second day of school. I was sick on the first day, with one of the terrible sore throats I’d have for eight more years till I got my tonsils out. While sore throats were normal, I’m suspicious of the timing; I was starting a new school. Again.
My sisters started first and third grades on time, but Mom took me to work with her at church. I forgot my book, so I spent the day paging through Christian family magazines. I’m not sure if I felt better the next day, or was more willing to face a new class than the church basement, but I went to school.
Kindergarten through fourth grades were in the elementary school, but fifth graders were bussed to a squat brick building on the outskirts of town. The Union school had two classrooms on two floors, with music and tornado drills held in the basement. At recess, my teacher told me to go with Renee, a tiny girl who introduced me to the other kids. Everyone wanted to know why I hadn’t been in school yesterday.
“Sore throat,” I said, using few words because it still hurt. I might also have been shy. It was my fourth school by fifth grade, while most of the other kids had been together since kindergarten.
At the end of the day, the bell rang and four classes of students clambered onto one bus. The driver was an old man named Dickie. I sat by myself in the seat behind him, reading the book I’d forgotten to bring the day before. It was a Trixie Belden mystery that belonged to the best friend I’d just moved away from. Our parents said we’d see each other, but she’d given me the book as insurance.
Off the bus and into the car, I pled my sore throat and let my sisters tell Mom about their days. On the forty-five minute drive to the apartment we stayed in till our new house was ready, I read Trixie Belden and wished we hadn’t moved.
(P.S. 5yo Guppy started full-day kindergarten yesterday. I said I’d get back to writing fiction when that happened. As with fifth grade, I’m starting on the second day.
After the move, my friend’s and my parents were true to their words. We continued to see each other. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding, and her mother just friended me on Facebook.
This sounds sadder than I thought it would when I started. I think it also sounds like my parents might be divorced; they’re not. Finally, while places and people might resemble those in real life, this is not necessarily truly true. It’s “pretty much all true,” as Olivia the pig might say.)