I love the quote Anu Garg uses to jump start this week’s theme on Wordsmith.org:
The French writer and philosopher Albert Camus once said, ‘Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.’
Today’s word is:
nescient. adj. Lacking knowledge or awareness.
I tried different strategies to get my story going: word association, breaking down today’s word into others that might spark an idea, trying to come up with a character name using only the letters from “nescient” itself (if only I’d had one more decent consonant). Nothing worked like I had hoped. So, here’s to writing by the seat of your pants!
Knitting at Littleton Elementary
Joyce’s Dansko clogs squeaked as she turned from the clean black board and scanned the classroom. Twenty-four desks glistened from a long overdue date with a Clorox wipe. Each chair was pushed in snug against each desk. In the reading corner, books were lined up on the shelves in descending order according to height. The bulletin boards were de-cluttered, all those ridiculous xerox copies – of this rule and that rule – tossed in the trash.
Kids needed organization, structure, and only one rule. That’s what Joyce told Marcie after Marcie had gasped and stopped dead in her tracks during their morning walk.
“You signed up to do what?” Marcie’s face went pale.
“Knitting. I’ll be teaching knitting for one week to first through third graders. They’ll be making dishrags.” Joyce smiled confident.
“Joyce.” Marcie took her by both shoulders. “You’re an awesome knitter, but you don’t know squat about kids.”
Joyce took offense to Marcie’s comment. Sure, Joyce was older and never married, but she had nieces and nephews whom she saw twice a year. And, she observed enough bad parenting in the grocery stores. She knew all about how not to parent.
Marcie gestured wildly with her arms. “I know some of those third graders, Joyce. They’ll eat you alive.” She sighed, “what were you thinking?”
Marcie was young, that’s what Joyce was thinking. Just because they were neighbors and walking buddies didn’t mean Marcie knew Joyce that well. Joyce had a look that could make a chatty teenager sink down into the pew any Sunday morning. And, she had a stern voice that could freeze her cat in mid couch-pluck and send her flying under a bed three doors down.
“It’s only a week, Marcie, and I know plenty about kids. I’ll remind them of the Golden Rule, and they’ll behave like angels.” Joyce turned and started walking again.
The Recreation Department told Joyce that the kids loved knitting last year, but the woman who taught it said she was too busy with other projects to teach this year. The class maxed out at ten kids; all she had to do was teach them to cast on, knit, and cast off.
“Okay, but take my cell number in case you need help.” Marcie looked Joyce in the eye. ” And, you’d better bring candy.”
At 9:15 Monday morning, Joyce heard the sound of small voices down the hall as they rose in excitement and volume. She opened her knitting bag and pulled out eleven skeins of bright colored yarn, one for each child and one for demonstration. She pulled out a fist-full of knitting needles, gathered from her basement and several rummage sales, and spread them out along the teacher’s desk.
She wrote on the chalk board: Do unto others as you would —
“Knitting!” someone yelled.
Joyce turned around and dropped the chalk as a flurry of small bodies poured into the room. She blinked her eyes and shook her head and tried to focus.
This is certainly more than ten, she assessed, and it isn’t quite 9:30. Class didn’t start for another twelve minutes. She looked at the desk.
Her knitting bag, dumped.
The needles…what was that noise?
Like hoodlums! She thought. Boys and girls alike used the needles as swords and sparred back and forth across the room. Two boys jumped onto the teacher’s desk. One girl wrapped another in bright orange yarn and called her a Push Up. Or, was it a push over? Joyce didn’t know; she couldn’t hear over the yelling.
Joyce cleared her throat.
She clapped her hands two times.
She pounded the desk with her fist.
Finally, heads turned and needles froze mid-thrust.
“I have never, in my life –”
“Knitting!” It was that same voice that started this whole ruckus and got it going yet again. If she could just figure out who. Who? With lips pursed, she jerked her head around to find him. Maybe that tall, skinny, punkish kid wielding two needles. Yes. Or, there, the chubby one with the sweaty brow.
She felt a sharp pain on her left shin. She looked down to see a young girl with blond hair and sweet blue eyes. Joyce tilted her head, as if to question how such a sweet looking child could be the source of her pain. Then, again, the little girl kicked.
“Young lady,” Joyce gasped. “What in Heaven’s name?”
“I don’t have needles. And, neither does my friend.” She popped her thumb back towards a devilish red-head standing behind her.
“Well, let me just make one quick phone call.” Joyce’s fingers shook as she dialed Marcie’s number. But, before she could press send, something – or someone – slammed the backs of her knees and took her down. In seconds, she was surrounded by little people with a crazed look in their eyes. They bound her with yarn and threatened her with their aluminum weapons.
“Candy!” Joyce cried out. “Untie me, for Heaven’s sake, I’ve got candy!”
While the kids sat in clusters around desks and chewed their caramels with intensity, Joyce gathered her knitting needles and shoved them in the desk drawer. She called Marcie and whispered, “You were right. My god, you were right.”