About Face: How Paris Bought Me One Extra Year

In Feature Writing class, Professor Roslyn Bernstein assigned us to write an “about face” piece –a writing exercise on a turning point in our lives. Mine happened in kindergarten.

His name is Andre. Not Andrew, with its sloping end and refined intonation. It ends abruptly instead, harsh æ pronouncing the menace’s presence wherever he makes his mark.

On that day, it was the fishbowl.

By the time I arrived on the scene, our class’s three yellow guppies were already dead. The teacher let me name one of them –not that we ever remembered which one was which– but the act turned me almost maternal about it.

On bad days, I would share my inner struggles with one of the fish, there being one in three chances of it being Paris, my guppy.

But when I leaned over to mourn my now lifeless confidante, the offender pushed me from behind and I fell onto the puddle of water and shattered glass. Blood rushed to my face in shame and dripped from the wounded palms of my hands onto the linoleum floor. That was the last straw.

I screamed and pushed him back. Then I ran to the principal’s office to tell her, in my momentary state of invincibility, that I wasn’t ever coming back to school.

Read more at the Under the Radar blog.

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