Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November 22, 1963

Yom revi'i, 22 Heshvan 5777/ 22 November 2016

I love my writing class. I call it a "writing salon," because it makes me think of the old and decadent days of great writers who huddled together perfecting their craft around some wealthy patron's table.

We don't smoke and drink. (Well -- a little champagne on someone's birthday, which at nine-thirty in the morning feels like the height of decadence...) Our "wealthy patron" is wealthy only in her teaching ability, and in her magical gift of bringing out our best writing in a safe environment.

Today we were assigned to write something from the voice of childhood. Without realizing it, I wrote a story -- only somewhat fictionalized -- about this very date in history.

Please feel free to tell me what you think! Your opinion keeps me trying to get better at this thing I love.

It's colder than it should be. Everybody's walking out of school, and leaves are flying everywhere. I'm wearing the pink popcorn sweater my Mama made for me because I love her and I don't want to hurt her feelings. But it's really ugly and itchy and the kids always make fun of me and call me Judy Doodie and sing "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should..." and then somebody always says "Winston tastes bad like the one I just had. No filter, no flavor, it tastes like toilet paper." That makes them laugh. I always try not to cry. But that's usually.

Today, everyone is sad. We don't understand why they sent us home early. My Mama is waiting at the corner. Like other mothers, she's crying. I am wondering if the world is ending or something. Even Bobby Groom's mom is crying. Even Bobby Groom is nice to me, even though I accidentally flipped him in the gravel when he grabbed my arm yesterday. Everyone is nice to everyone, and everyone is sad, and the leaves are all swirly and lots of colors. Mama is saying "Oh, baby. What will we do now? What will the world do now?"

When we get home, everyone even our next door neighbors is crowding around our TV and watching about President Kennedy, and everyone is crying like little kids. I secretly take off my sweater and cuddle Debbie Lynn, because she is too little to know that the world is ending, and anyway, I don't like to hear her cry the way she does when the grown ups are too busy. She looks at me with her giant brown eyes that make you want to give her a present. She trusts me to fix things. We sit together and watch the grown ups watching the TV and hugging each other.

Outside the window, the red and brown and yellow leaves blow up to Heaven.