Mrs. Evans stands by the blackboard, keeping the desk between her own skinny white lady body and us. Like always. Like that would do any good if Tommy Green ever really did try to hit her, or if Tanisha ever really did try more with her penknife than cleaning underneath her fingernails during language arts. "Class," Mrs. Evans says for the third time, clapping her hands in little bitty claps, "you have to be quiet if you want to hear the assignment. I mean it. You need to listen." We all keep talking. Mrs. Evans tells us again to be quiet, then raises her voice and tells us to write a one page essay on what we did during summer vacation. Tommy scowls and Keesha asks if it's for a grade. Maria and Lupe are talking in Spanish in the back row, the words sounding maybe the way a creek might sound flowing over smooth, round rocks. Somewhere where there actually are creeks, somewhere far away. Somewhere not Chicago. In the mountains or maybe by a forest. Mrs. Evans says of course it's for a grade and we'd better get started now but we're not allowed to use the computers because only one is working. I think about my summer and smile. I remember digging through the dumpster behind a Super-Go round the middle of June, because I knew Super-Go always threw good stuff out, stuff that could still be eaten if you didn't think too hard about who might have eaten the first bit of it. I remember the light from the sky, round and bright, trapping me against the dumpster when I tried to run away. I remember the hum, then the tug upwards, and the feeling of my feet twitching - I could see them dangling beneath me as I rose in the air and the Super-Go got smaller and smaller - then a hiss and the thud of a door sliding shut beneath me. Then cold, and sleep. A sleep longer than dreams. Then light again. Warm suns, one big and yellow rising every morning. The two tiny blue suns came up later, dashing toward each other. I'd close my eyes and cross my fingers and toes when they got close, but they always missed. They set before the afternoon was over, and then the rain would come. The rain fell in little silver packets that exploded when they hit the ground, splashing as high as my big toe. They made little musical sounds when they did. Storms were just noise, but during a drizzle I could swear I heard a song being played by the sky just for me. Best of all, when I caught the rain on my tongue it crackled and got foamy, filling my mouth with sweetness. I felt light and free there. Each step was a bounce, with me sailing through the air. Air that smelled good, clean, nice. I had a pair of wings all my own. I could strap them to my arms and back and jump of a cliff. At first I only went in big, slow circles, down and down until I landed in a tumble. I never did learn to do flips or spins or anything like that, but I got so I could press my arms tight against my body and go faster and faster almost straight down toward the sand, then pull up just before I hit. I felt full there. Got food whenever I pointed to my mouth. Enough food for the first time I could remember, food with no bad spots and no little sisters or brothers tugging on my jeans with dirty hands begging for their share. Food that made me feel strong and want to run and jump and think. I could even think about things like history and math, and sometimes I did problems inside my head just for fun. There was bad there, too. Almost every day there were needles and poking and pushing, like at the free clinic that Mama calls a Doctor's, but worse. Sometimes they put needles all the way up my legs and back like a pincushion and shocked me through each needle. But it was okay because of the creatures. Glory, they were beautiful! Shimmering so bright they were hard to see, dancing rainbows so thin you'd think you could tear them in two. Warm, holding me during the needles, stroking my hair, kissing my forehead. I know they felt bad for hurting me. So I would just closed my eyes and wait, because it felt good to be held by them, and I knew it would be over soon and I could eat and go outside and fly and think some more. Then one day they made me sleep the long, cold sleep again. When I woke, I was naked back behind the Super-Go. I could tell by the color of the trees and the feel of the wind that fall had come. A policeman found me and a social worker gave me some clothes. They took me home and Mama cried and slapped my face and cried again. I didn't say a word. I never told a soul a thing about my summer. I hear a noise and look up, startled. Mrs. Evans is tapping her fingers on my desk. She gives me a dirty look and tells me to get to work. I sneak a look at Dal's page. He's done two sentences already, about his uncle taking him to the zoo. So I write about my aunt taking me to the zoo.
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