Editor’s note: The Reads beat is publishing short fiction, poetry and other creative writing pieces. Send submissions to scotts7 ‘at’ stanford.edu. miss james, the school principal, asks the room of first through fifth graders to close their eyes, in a moment of remembrance. let us remember the brave men and women, who died in those towers, she says, and let us remember the brave soldiers who died in another country while killing little Brown girls and little boys who are not much older than you all. a moment of silence. in a room of eyes closed a little boy opens his, soft Black eyes open and blinking around him, wondering at how much different his friends’ faces look, when their eyes are shut. he moves as if floating up to his white teacher, who is wearing a string of pearls wrapped tightly around her neck, a pearl choker, and the boy touches his neck almost reflexively, wondering at what type of person could wear such a thing, knowing his own mother cannot even wear the loosest of jewelry. his best friend ty has a soft field of little red freckles looking like little strawberries in a field, set aside in perfect little red lines across pale cheeks. the little boy wonders who made those lines so straight on ty’s face; ty cannot draw even the shortest of straight lines, someone else’s labor must have gone into making these strawberry fields. ty’s mother would say god, but the little boy does not think god was witness to the planting of crops in a straight line. a little crow flies in through an open window. the bird cocks its head to the side, its neck strange and angled in an inhuman curve, and the little boy wonders about the chicken he ate last night for dinner. he remembers a documentary he saw on television last night, that care is taken to ensure that americans only eat chickens whose necks have been snapped mercifully, death comes for these birds, in less than eight minutes. the little boy is back in class now; the assembly has finished. miss adams, who teaches penmanship, asks the class to write their first and last names in cursive, three times. ty looks nervous. his cursive is very bad. the little boy is very good at cursive, and he excitedly picks up his pencil to write his name, but i am ashamed to say that i, and you, and we, have forgotten it already.
Contact Angeline Truong at altruong ‘at’ stanford.edu.