Thursday, November 10, 2022


For reasons I don't understand, I am unpunishable.

When I was in the seventh grade, the same as Vivian is now, I was sent to a hyper religious fundamental private school. One afternoon after being forced to spend my recess cleaning the blackboard because I hadn't done my homework, I took the chalk and wrote The Declaration of Independence from Homework on the pristine board. The next day I was in the headmaster's office for my crime . He pulled out a paddle and told me to drop my jeans. I was appalled and said "you're an adult. And you're going to hit a child. With a board. For writing." "Yes" he replied. I complied and he hit me. I waited, silently, because Holy Mary that stung like sitting on a red anthill, something I had done back when I was six and wow. It took my breath away. Just as I figured he was waiting on me, he did it again. This time it didn't sting so much as it just *hurt*, and I was confused. While I was trying to figure out what the difference was, he did it again, and I wondered how long this would go on. I turned and looked at him, the sunlight slanting across his face and the paddle as he stood at the ready, behind me. "How long will this go on?" I asked. He sighed as if he were tired.

He was a quiet man, tall and thin and usually unseen in the halls of the small school. When he did make an appearance he often seemed uncomfortable at addressing the student body or parents, and usually had few words, quickly retreating off the stage. He looked like he wanted to do that now. "Until you cry," he said wearily. Oh. I took a deep sigh, and faced front again, squaring my bony hips up against the desk, spreading my fingers and planting my palms on the cold unfeeling surface. I looked out the window and said, not really to him, "this is going to take a while."