Things You Believe When Your Seven: A Short Story
Things You Believe When You’re Seven
Billy was a good kid who came from a large family. His parents ran a small appliance repair shop out of there house where my parents and others would purchase and or have there old washers and dryers repaired. I suppose to the other kids in the neighborhood Billy was just as odd as I was. First of all, we were both white; most of the other kids were Hispanic. Second, we weren’t related, most everyone one in the school was someone else’s cousin or aunt or uncle. Billy was different from the other boys who would be throwing the football or playing basketball on free play days. I didn’t think much of it at the time, I was just glad to have a friend in the sea of unfriendly faces, so we spent most days on the blacktop playing hopscotch despite the ridicule of the other kids. They could be pretty mean and very petty; I remember once being accused of wearing my socks inside out, although I promise they were on proper.
It appeared that nothing could unite all the students at Blanche Moore Elementary, until Boy George came out with his hit song Karma Chameleon. The song came out around the same time as a major drought hit South Texas. Months and months went by without any promise of rain. The dirt in the old schoolyard began to crack leaving gaping wholes in the ground. Early in the morning students would meet by the old, creaking, swing sets to play games and sing that Boy George song. Everyone was invited and nobody cared who showed up.
In P.E. we were required to run the backstops, these were high fences that blocked incoming pitches when playing baseball; the field had four or five of them. We started on one end and ran the circumference of the field. Often I would run backstops with a girl named Melinda. She was an odd child who told stories of how her sister had been swallowed by the large cracks the drought had left in the ground. She would often pick up small creamy, white pebbles proclaiming that these were her sister’s eyes and the eyes of others that had been consumed by the gaping crevices. She played with me in the morning before school on the swings, and she knew every word to Boy Georges’ newest song Karma Chameleon, too.
Second grade was the first time I ever got in trouble at school. In order to raise funds for a new blacktop the PTA was selling M&M’s in the cafeteria during lunchtime. My parents gave me lunch money and the twins brought their own lunches. The twins lived only a few blocks from my house and the school. Karma Chameleon was no longer a hit song, and both the twins and I could feel the mounting tensions. Other girls always made fun of us, one of twins had warts on her hands and that was their biggest laugh. However, I liked them, so, we would share the M&M’s and there sack lunches and none of us went hungry. Every few days there was enough change to buy an extra sack of M&M’s and I decided I just had to have some during class, which was not allowed. The teacher taped my bag of M&M’s closed and attached a note to my mother which needed to be signed before returning to school. I made sure the note was signed in my best second grade cursive handwriting just like my mother would have. I nearly got away with it too, except the teacher didn’t feel that my mother would have chosen a marker or crayon whichever it was; although, I can’t remember now which I chose. Both the teacher and my parents were shocked at my clever penmanship, but I was still spanked and summarily grounded for forgery.
That was about the same time I settled on the notion that there was Negro blood in my family. I had recently learned that my Mother’s grandfather was not really her grandfather at all, but actually he was my dads like great, great uncle or distant blood relative of some sort. If Vernon Raider wasn’t my grandfather than I wondered who was. Until the day my mother told me about her mother telling her at some point that she should be glad that she wasn’t born black. And all along I thought my parents were just poking fun when they said my freckles were white paint rubbing off my skin. Could this be true?
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