Suppose Hannah, age 9, closed her eyes and announced, “I have windowless eyelids”? Would she be creative or silly?
Suppose a storm made the lights flicker so hard that she retched. Would she have a fear or a brain disorder?
Suppose she saw a strip of a green “for sale” sign and wanted to touch the curly strip along the bottom edge? Would her parents say, “Don’t touch” or “Explore, Hannah, but keep your fingers out of your mouth”?
Suppose a row of goldfish wearing sneakers tap-danced their way into a dandy trap? Would Hannah crack up or try to rescue them?
“Why do we stitch our curls so tightly that the brain cannot breathe?” Hannah asked her teacher one day when she was tired of being told to sit still and pay attention.
Her teacher, wearing flats, a gray shift, and a loving smile said, “Soon you may be a polished artist or writer or brain surgeon, Miss Hannah.” She looked out the window at the leaves budding while Hannah sat up straighter When the bell rang three minutes later, she raced ahead of the others, got to the monkey bars first, and swung so high she could see a man in overalls and a woman whose bare tummy rubbed against them as the couple hugged.
Suppose she pushed her body into a boy’s like that. Somebody would be sure to call her Mama. She was about to scream at them to get a room, like her big brother did in the Walmart parking lot, but fear shut her down. Instead, she jumped off the monkey bars, raced to the fence, stared at them through a knothole. They must have felt her staring.
“Suppose you go back to class where you belong, Little One,” said the man in the overalls., striding towards her.
She stood still as his mouth came closer and closer to her knothole.
“Or would you rather I call the school?” his menacing voice whispered.
Part of her wanted to know what the school would do, but she not badly enough to double-dare him. Instead she turned away, rubbing her fingers along the seam inside her left pocket. Back at the swings, she shut her eyes and swung in windowless bliss.
B. LYNN GOODWIN is the owner of Writer Advice, http://www.writeradvice.com and is a manuscript coach/editor as well as an author. She won awards for her last two books, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 and Talent. She loves the challenges and brevity of flash.
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