The Stranger's journey has now come full circle.
Join me in the bright sunshine at When Words Go Free...

There are still stories to be told.
Read them at The Stranger Looks Back.

The Old Schoolyard

He had done well in the playground. Afraid of it for the longest time, one day he mustered up his courage, left the classrooms, and ventured cautiously outside. He had a rough time of it at first, trying (rather awkwardly) to play with the big kids, and getting into his share of scraps before finding his place there.

One of those scraps had been particularly brutal at the time. He knew that it was at least partially his fault, but he thought that the beating was a bit too much - he came close to dropping out of school altogether because of it. Instead, he stuck it out and licked his wounds, and came to realize that what doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

The next time he had a run-in with the same bullies, he held his own quite well, and seemed to earn their respect for it. Eventually, he came to see them not as bullies at all, but as really tough teachers - the kind you hate at the time, but appreciate once you've grown up and understood the lessons.

After that, he had a lot of fun in the schoolyard, and became one of the big kids himself. He often marvelled at how much he had learned there, and how well much of it served him at home. He made some friends, passing notes away from the other kids, and sometimes even hopped the fence with them to sit and chat under the blue spruce tree that stood in front of the schoolhouse itself.

One time, the principal made a rare visit to the playground and mentioned that they were looking for some new teachers, if anybody cared to spend some time in the classrooms inside the building. Along with the other kids, he listened politely and then resumed his playing, thinking little more of it.

Not so very long after that, he was sitting under the blue spruce when he noticed a ruckus in the playground. He headed back across the fence to find that some kid just passing through had dug up an old spool with footage of a particular scene from that earlier fight, and some of the newer kids had gathered round to watch. One even made a valiant effort to defend him, thinking perhaps that the fight was ongoing.

He took the opportunity not only to point out that the brawl was long over, but also to finally thank his former nemeses for the lessons it had taught him and the strength that it had given him. Just as one of the other big kids mentioned that all's well that ends well, he noticed that the part of the blue spruce that he had been sitting under lately had seemed to wilt a bit, perhaps from the stale air that had escaped the tin that held the spool. He did his best to clear the air, but worried that the damage might already have been done.

At that moment, he realized that it had been a while since he had actually learnt anything in the playground, and that he was now spending more time reminiscing about his earlier days there than enjoying new schoolyard games. He also realized that many of the older kids that he had had so much fun with were gone, and that even some of his newer friends seemed not to enjoy being there so much anymore.

He looked at the schoolhouse and realized that he missed its classrooms, missed the tutoring he used to do there, even missed the notion that he might one day be a teacher. He sat quietly in the corner of the playground for a little while, then got up and walked into the building. He did his best to help some kids with their questions - he was more than a bit rusty, and hoped his answers would be helpful.

After a bit of this, he went to get some air on the front steps. He looked over at the tree and saw that his worry had been misplaced - it seemed different somehow, but was fine. He saw that the part that he had thought was wilting had simply spread its branches in the opposite direction, away from the playground.

He knew then that it was time for him to do the same. Recess was over.


Just Me said...

This is very different from your earlier stuff. Gives one reason to think. Yes, its time to move on in the classroom of life, recess is over........

Kate Mohler said...

Bravo! I love this! Seems like an analogy for what a lot of people go through, or *should* go through (if they're brave enough to make significant changes in their lives). Wishing you all the best with your own new adventures, Legacy. :-)

Anonymous said...

Funny, we wre just thinking something similar this morning.

Maybe we'll have the same lunchtime in middle school. :

Dave said...

Deeper than 40 fathoms, totally brilliant and I completely agree with all of it.

Just know that when you leave a place in where lessons are learnt and changes are made, you will take a piece of that place with you. But more importantly know that a piece of you will always remain there, too.

No hard feelings, Legs and don't be afraid to come back just for fun, just for old times sake.


The Book of Drachma said...

I agree. What you have created is a setting and a time that many of us can relate to, and an engaging story.
Well done.

Anonymous said...

I see what you did there ; )
You really do have a talent