I’ve just returned from attending ILA16 and my mind is swimming with thoughts, impressions, fledgling ideas, etc. I have so much to process! I didn’t even realize that it was Tuesday until the Slice of Life e-mail popped up in my Inbox. Yikes! My Teachers Write effort will have to serve double duty today. It’s not precisely a slice but it does have some autobiographical roots.
Today’s Teachers Write exercise comes from Megan Frazer Blakemore. (She is one busy woman, as I just enjoyed her great presentation at ILA16 on Saturday and know she was signing her newest book, The Firefly Code, there as well.) In her post she shared a wonderful quote from Charlotte Zolotow, “Many fine writers can write about children but are unable to write for them.… The writers writing about children are looking back. The writers writing for children are feeling back into childhood.” Ms. Blakemore invited us to feel back into our own childhoods and write a scene from a cafeteria, autobiographical or not. Who knew reminiscing about childhood cafeterias could pack an emotional whallop!? Here’s my effort.
Jen stood in the hallway and looked into the sunlit cafeteria through the floor to ceiling windows. Groups of kids sat around large tables, eating and laughing. Occasionally someone opened a nearby door to enter or exit and lunchtime sounds spilled out –the clinks and clacks of trays and utensils, bursts of laughter, and a general roar of conversation. Then, as the door slowly closed, the scene muted again.
A group of girls brushed by her, bubbling with conversation, as they opened the door. “Oh,” said one of them casually as they passed her, “Hey, Jen.” Then the girl turned back to her group and they entered the cafeteria.
“Hi,” Jen whispered to the closing door.
Her stomach growled and she wrapped her arms about her waist. The straps of her bag dug into her thin shoulder. Come on, Jen, she told herself, just go in and sit down. There’s plenty of room. She eyed a table that held a mix of kids from her Lit class. There were a few seats there. She took a deep breath and stepped toward the door, her hand reaching out toward its handle. Inside the cafeteria the group of girls bee-lined toward the table she’d been eying, quickly filling those empty spaces. Jen’s hand fell.
She shrugged her bag further up onto her shoulder, feeling the sting of the groove worn by its weight. Turning quickly, she stepped away from the cafeteria and headed toward her favorite carrell in the library. I wanted to read anyway, she thought, ignoring the empty pit in her stomach and angrily blinking her eyes against the prickle of tears.