Elementary School

May 20, 2008
By Tiffany Clifford, Clinton, ME

As she meanders from outside into the blue painted building she steps into a completely different world. She embarks on a journey into this new universe and finds that it is inhabited by kindergarten through third graders. Leisurely she walks, taking in every bit of the place she forgot she once knew. Although the elementary has changed since she attended school here, it is all relatively the same. She presumes every elementary school looks very similar to this one.

When she advances from the neat and professional looking lobby, where the secretary is perched behind her sliding glass windows with a prudish look on her face, she finds herself entering a yellow, badly lit corridor. The walls here are decorated berserkly with wild colors and images. Layer upon layer of posters, created by young art class students with sloppy hands, are tacked upon the drab, white wash walls. The colors twirl off the pages, mostly produced from the legendary Crayola brand crayons. Little to none of the pictures stay within the lines because the small artist’s wrists twist slightly and then lines dance across the entire page. You don’t acquire steady drawing hands until you’re older. Any visible handwriting is in a messy disarray, similar to that of a hen’s scratching. When a teacher has script on the placards it’s unmistakable, as it is actually legible.

The narrow passage with subdued lighting stretches on carrying it’s low ceiling with it. Walls are so close that it gives her an out of place feeling. Almost as though she is too big for the little kid proof area. She dares not to glide her fingers along the walls, in view of the fact that she might accidentally make some poorly glued macaroni fall from its place. Wooden classroom doors also file up along the hallway. Each door leads into a habitat created just for learning. Behind every single entry she can almost guarantee you’ll spy a few things: yellow and blue plastic chairs with long metal legs, wooden desks matching legs, a large desk for the instructor that is more than likely to be cluttered, and a white bored along the entire territory of one wall. The smaller desks will have rather zany contents since none of the school children are very good house keepers. Some of the work stations may even emit repulsive odors. Old lunch bags are often left behind for weeks at a time, leaving behind lasting auras.

Back out in the hallway she finds the floor is littered with pencil shavings and crunched up wads of paper. The tiny particles crinkle beneath her feet. When no crumpling sound is present, her shoes meet the highly waxed speckled tiles and squeak with euphoria. The sound reverberates off the walls, creating a cinematic effect. While the waves recede down the hall they begin to decrease in audibility as well. A teacher, who tries desperately to have small students form a line, hollers. Almost all of the little ones pay her no mind. Actually, all except one small dark headed boy who turns to his neighboring girl, who has small metal framed violet glasses, and gives her the quiet-down-gesture along with a “shh’ing” noise. She had always been the chatter box type, and the scene reminds her of an almost identical incident with her and another boy.

Even though she hasn’t been into the elementary school hallway for at least two or three years, memories of the place flood back to her, almost like water that penetrates the earth of an embankment. Mixed emotions stir together like the ingredients in a recipe. She remembers all of the boredom that she felt having to sit through seemingly long classes, little did she know that the classes do get even longer. Excitement that would swim through her body when the good ol’ silver bell would ring and it was time for recess. She recalls the teachers that she liked, and the ones she didn’t. She didn’t know she had ever missed this place, not until now.

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