“Ms. Maya.” She stood by the doorway wearing a plaid-skirt with an oversized white long sleeve shirt holding a teddy bear backpack.
“Louise,” Maya sticked a “good job” smiley sticker on the C+ multiplication quiz. “Did you forgot something?” It was after 3:30 and all the buses left to send the students home.
“Ms. Maya.” The girl propped onto the plastic kid-sized green chair next to her desk and paused as if she was thinking about Newton’s law of universal gravitation.
“Sweetie, do you want apple juice?” Maya presented a Sesame Street carton; Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Big Bird were surrounded by red and green apples but, strangely, Cookie Monster was eating apples instead of chocolate chip cookies.
Louise lodged the straw into the carton hole and took a long sip.
Finally, she departed the straw and said, “Ms. Maya, I am scared.”
“What are scared of, sweetie?” Maya rolled the chair closer to Louise.
“They are mean and scary people.”
“Who are the mean and scary people?”
Louise begun to twirling the straw.
“Is the mean people in this classroom?” Four months ago, Louise parents, in a PTC (Parent Teacher Conference) reported her classmate, Sarah, was stealing Louise’s snacks from her lunch box whenever Louise wasn’t looking and leaving her to eat a ham and cheese sandwich.
Louise’s head nodded sideways and pointed to the television which was hanging from the ceiling facing the thirty-chaired classroom.
Maya understood now.
For over a week, the United States and the world has been grieving and moaning of a lost of a precious human life.
“Why are people becoming scary?” Louise continued on. “Why can’t we be friends?”
Explaining the history of segregation and current tension to a seven year-old was equivalently as difficult as if someone lectured her about geophysics and thermodynamics.
“At night, when I lay in my bed with Mr. Teddy, I can hear mommy and daddy saying ‘it is a cycle’. What does that mean?”
“Louise, do you know the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Do you recall what the evil witch did to Snow White?”
“She gave Snow White a poisoned apple which made her fell asleep. That was so mean!” Louise folded her arms together in anger.
“Yes, that was mean of the evil queen,” Maya said. “There are bad people like that who aren’t nice like you or me…people who perform not-so-nice things to others because of multiple reasons. Want another one?”
“Yes, please,” Louise took the apple juice carton. “Thank you.”
Maya inserted the straw into the breakable hole. She needed one too.
“But there are good people with good intentions who want change. Louise, Ms. Maya, want to tell you something very important.”
Louise still was sipping the juice but her dark brown eyes intently stared back at Maya.
“Never let hatred, anger into your heart,” Maya softly poked Louise’s chest. “This very special place is reserved for love.”
Louise’s eyes lit up. “On Valentine’s Day, I gave mommy the card that I made at school and she held it to here,” pointing to her chest area. “Mommy gave a lot of kisses to me and the card is on our fridge! But I am still confused. What if other people are not like that?”
“Don’t let others change what you already have here.”
Louise place her little hand over her heart. “A place is reserved for love. Just like what mommy, daddy, Aunty Joy, Uncle Jim have for me.”
“Everybody is like a box of crayons,” Maya holding the opened box 24 count crayons. “We have blue, red, lime green, white, yellow--”
“Black, purple, cream, and orange!”
“In the box, the crayons are sitting next to each other regardless of color, size, or whether it is in good or bad condition. Sometimes the blue sits with the black, sometimes the white with the yellow, sometimes green is with the brown. When you use these colors together, they make a really pretty picture!”
“Ms. Maya, I won first place,” Louise rummaged the backpack and held out a blue ribbon with golden “1st” on it. “Ms. Davis said I drew the prettiest rainbow she has seen! I added an ocean, birds, and many flowers in the background of the rainbow!”
“I have seen it, Louise. It was lovely to look at.” Maya saw the laminated drawing proudly hung on the wall outside the art classroom and ribboned as she was walking to the ladies restroom.
They heard a honk from outside. “Ms. Maya,” Louise jumped off the chair and bolted to the door. “I see you tomorrow!”
The Thursday’s cafeteria lunch was great. The usual salty chicken nuggets and waffles wasn’t salty, the broccoli was crunchy and not overcooked, the mac and cheese was perfect. Per the cashier lady, the cooks had received extra bonuses after the county voted to augment pay for kitchen staff.
Maya entered into the expected vacant classroom and wiped clean the chalkboard of diagrams.
Ten minutes in, the classroom remained quiet and, mostly importantly, studentless.
Concerned, Maya walked into her neighboring classroom, Mr. Dave who was reading a book at his desk.
“Hey Dave, have any of yours returned back from lunch?” Maya looked at the studentless desks.
“Maya, you ask a good question,” Dave looked at the clock above the door. “It is pass 11:30.”
Together Maya and Dave walked to neighboring classrooms.
Their entire hallway, in the every classroom, the students were gone.
They searched the cafeteria, gym, atrium. None.
The teachers arrived at the playground with anticipation of seeing the kids in the swings, slide, running around the merry-go-round.
Mrs. Yetts adjusted her squared glasses looking at the open green field beyond the playground. “I see something there.” They all run over and the closer, the more it became clearer it was the students!
“What are they doing?” one of the teachers asked. “They are holding hands and not standing in a line.” The teachers walked through the maze of students--around, straight, down, around.
Confusion erupted amongst the teachers.
“Guys,” the teachers looked up seeing Ms. Arnold running up to them holding up a phone. “Was on the slide. Take a look.” They gathered around her.
In the picture, you will see every kid grinning however Louise’s grin was the beaming as she wore a sunflower yellow dress.
In the picture, it read a word, a powerful three lettered word.
Across the world we are one, we are like a box of crayons, we are precious, and each one of us is a ray of hope and humanity that shines in the darkest of hours.