Sunday, March 4, 2012

Connie's World (Part 2)

This is part 2 of Mom's story Connie's World, a story she wrote for a writing class in the early 1990s. Part 1 is here. Several of these stories have multiple versions, reflecting revisions she did for class. This seemed to be the most complete version.

The photo is of Mom's sister Dard on the front steps of Mom's old school.

It took about 20 minutes for the short drive into school. Kids were everywhere. The fear came again. When there were kids running around they don't stop to see where they are running and Connie couldn't get out of the way in time.

"Hey, let me help you to class," Terry was saying, sliding Connie from the seat of the car. He helped her lock the braces and grabbed her around the waist. She felt so secure in his arms. If only this could last forever.

Up the front steps to the first landing in the school they went. The signs showed which room was the first and second grade. Sister Mary Pius was waiting.

"Connie, hello. Do you remember me?" Sister was saying. She was tall and slender and wore the complete black habit of a Presentation Sister. The big white bib and the white atop the vail stood out with the black long sleeves and skirt. At her waist she wore the traditional huge rosary. She had a kind face and you could tell she loved her little children.

"Yes, Sister," was Connie's shy reply.

"Here, Terry, let's put her at this desk," she said as she pointed the desk near the door in front.

Terry set her down so she had her hand on his. "Show Sister how you can walk, Connie."

She walked to her desk.

"Oh my, that is wonderful. You must have practiced every day. I'm delighted to have you back in my class."

"Well I better go. I don't want to be late for my first day. She will need help up and down the stairs and through open areas. If someone can walk with her that would be good." Then turning to Connie, he said, "I'll be back after school. You be a good girl now." He turned and walked away.

"Now I really am alone," she thought. She looked around the room. The kids were nearly all here now. There were the new first graders. Some nearly crying as it is their first time away from home. There were second graders that she knew. Some have changed so much she doesn't recognize them. There is Mary. She was real nice last year.

"Connie, I've been looking for you," Mary said as she walked over to her. She was a cute little girl, a little taller than Connie. She wore her hair long and usually in a pony tail. She had a red plaid dress with nice sandals with little straps. "How are you? Isn't it fun to be back at school? We get to learn to read this year. Can I sit beside you?"

"Class, let's be quiet now. We have much to get done today. First I want to meet you all again. It has been a long summer. Some of you in the second grade have grown so much." Sister started to meet each member of the class, printing the name on the black board so we could see it in print. She made a nice comment about each one of them. The big sleeve of her habit swished across the chalkboard collecting chalk marks on the black sleeve.

The morning flew by quickly. While Sister was calming the first graders, getting them acquainted with each other, the second graders were to review our letters that they learned last year. For some children it is hard to sit all day working at their desk, but Connie has no difficulty doing that. When she was sitting at her desk she was like everyone else. A stranger coming into the classroom would see no difference between her and any of the other children.

"Pick up all your papers and put your things away," Sister was saying to all the class. "It is time for lunch. It is such a beautiful day, we will go outside and eat our lunch. Line up here and get your lunch bags from the cloakroom." She was pointing toward the front doorway to the small long cloakroom where they were to put their things. Connie remembered from the morning how difficult it was in that room because the kids were rushing everywhere and there was nothing in the room for her to hang onto so she could reach her lunch sack on the floor.

"I'll get yours, Connie, what does it look like? Mary said quickly getting in line.

"It's just a brown sack with my name on it." It seemed as though she could read Connie's thoughts. Mary made Connie feel good by thinking of her along with herself. After getting the lunches they all lined up again.

"Mary, would you walk with Connie? You both can get started now. Here, let me carry the lunches for you both," Sister said grabbing the two lunch bags.

Connie had already locked her braces and, with Mary's help, walked to the stairs to go outside. She grabbed the handrail with both hands. The rail groaned a little under the stress. Carefully, because both legs are stiff, one leg steps down then the other one follows, kind of in a sideways fashion. Soon, the line of other kids passed them up. Mary walked the stairs backwards in front of Connie so she wouldn't fall, and so she would be there when they reached the bottom to take her hand.

Once outside, Mary grabbed Connie's hand again. The children had grouped in a circle around Sister on the front lawn, waiting for us to arrive. With both hands forward to catch herself, Connie fell to the ground and turned to get comfortable, unlocking her legs. Mary collected the lunches.

Sister began leading the prayer before meals and they all started eating their sandwiches. The children were to play on the playground after picking up their things. Some ran inside to put them away. Locking the braces, Connie turned and pushed her body up off the ground. Mary grabbed her hand to steady her and help her stand up.

The walk to the playground took them quite a while. By the time they got there, all the swings were taken. They sat down on a cement step to rest a bit. Mary had her jump rope in her pocket and started to jump on the sidewalk. While it was fun to watch the other children do that, it would have been fun to do it, too. There were sometimes when the girls would use a very long jump rope with a person on each end; and the girls would run in and out as the rope was turning. If Connie stood against something like a tree or wall, she could help turn the rope on one end. It was fun to be a part of this even though she couldn't actually jump. The girls liked it too because they didn't want to stand there turning the rope. They would rather do the jumping. Before long she knew all the rhymes connected to the turning, "Down by the river where the green grass grows, There sat Mary as pretty as a rose, Along comes Larry and kissed her on the nose, How many kisses did she get, one, two three."

Go to Part 3 of Connie's World

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