“The girl was brought to school with very little paperwork, by her great-grandmother, who was showing signs of dementia.”
We leaned in, clutching our jars of water, wanting to know more. We were at Book Club, but as usual, the conversation had veered in another direction, because we stalk stories like hunters.
“She was non-verbal for several years. She wears a big bow in her hair, like a girl from another century.”
The water was served to me in a jar because we were at Helen’s house, and her home has houseplants, beautiful art, homemade galette, and water served in jars. Tonight, there were also tiny cucumbers that looked like dollhouse watermelon.
“She sometimes gets angry and throws things. The school’s emergency plan is that the teacher takes the other students out of the room and leaves the girl alone. Then someone comes in to talk to her.”
I held my breath for a few seconds too long and coughed. That morning I had seen a coyote gnawing on a squirrel, and now the day was ending with another strange story.
The girl was instructed to finish a sentence that started with, “If I had wings.” She wrote, “If I had wings, I would fly everywhere and look for my mom who is living in a car.”
I could have been a girl who didn’t speak, who wore bows in her hair, and ripped a television off a wall in her classroom. I could have been the smallest cucumber, or a great-grandmother with dementia. I could have been a squirrel minding my own business. I could have been a winged superhero, locating all the mothers living in cars.
Instead I am a person in a book club with women who drink Sauternes and talk about resilience. What will happen to this girl, we wondered, and decided it could go either way. Our silence was a collective prayer. A prayer for the great-grandmother, that she will hold on long enough to see this girl through. A prayer for the girl to learn to live with her anger. A prayer for more nights like this one.