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Confessions Of A Kindergartner This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Confessions of a Kindergartener by J. C., Presque Isle, ME



"East of anywhere," writes a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "often evokes the other side of the tracks. But, for the first-time visitor suddenly deposited on its eerily empty streets, East St. Louis might suggest another world."

I live a "peon's" life. I am subservient to everyone; the equal of no one. I often attempt to raise my utterly depressed spirits but as I look at the sewage-encrusted grass, my situation is bleak once again.

My life is entirely routine. Mommy places her hand in mine and guides me to school every other day. We wander through the park in the center of town, trying not to breathe the rancid air. They say that if you plug your nostrils, your taste buds stop functioning. They must have been fibbing because I taste raw sewage with every breath. My stomach feels more and more sour with each step. Sometimes I lose my breakfast. More often than not, we reach the schoolhouse and discover that school has been canceled. That's what happens when there are no teachers.

My lovely teacher, Ms. Norton, who smelled of lilacs and brought the good students cheap stickers for treats, no longer works at the school. I have not seen her since the day she cried and told us to be brave. She seemed so angry then. I wonder if she got out of this dump. I hope so.

I try ... I really do. I try to like it here. It is so difficult. I think my spirit will break in the attempt. We came here not long ago, but it seems as though this place has already wasted a lifetime.

I glance at Mommy and I know her health is deteriorating. Her dark skin has taken on the wan glow of jaundice. Her face is pinched and weary. Often, she is too weak to walk me to school and I must remain at home to care for her. She is fraught with guilt over our situation. Sometimes she weeps and tells me, "I wanted so much for you, baby." And as if she's trying to convince herself, she cries "Your daddy, he wasn't a bad man."

Mommy seems more intelligent than the oppressed people of this town, almost as smart as the citizens on the Bluffs. I wonder what it would be like having pale skin and living in one of the cities on the Bluffs? Yes, Mommy is wise and educated ... but she still receives a check from the state each month and pays for our food from her meager supply of food stamps.

I can hardly recall anymore what it is like to play outside. Since the truck from the factory overturned in our driveway and spilled its noxious contents onto the lawn, Mommy has forbidden me even to set foot outside the door without her.

Mommy is too protective ... since the baby died. The dingy, yellow paint on the walls was peeling. Mommy said the baby ate some of it and got sick. Every time I struggle for a breath, she frantically dashes to the cupboard for my medicine. I know I'm no different from the other children who wheeze and gasp and gulp the air.

Someday.

Someday, I swear, I will leave this town in a cloud of smog. I'll take my mother and never come back. I'll color my skin chalky white and go live in a spacious, brick house in a safe suburb on the Bluffs.

For now, I sit inside all day and color the blank, off-white pictures in the book we got from the Salvation Army store. Gray is for the sky. Drab brown for the grass on the front lawn. What color is the sun? I don't believe I have ever seen it.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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