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Coming of Age

Sally Osgood sat at her student desk and looked outside of the classroom window at the frozen ground and shivered even though her desk was situated near the radiator that heated the whole classroom. She wondered if the radiator was working properly.

Her desk had an open math book with a pencil in the middle of its pages and a workbook on the right hand side opened to another page with half-written answers to questions. Her notebook was underneath the seat along with several other school books and papers. 

This was the first snow of the season and the class was still paying some attention to the math lesson but a lot of them were looking out the window anticipating recess when the snowball fights could begin, snowmen could be built and snow angels would be made. 

Sally, though, was not like the others. She and her family had come from a warmer climate and snow was non-existent. To her, this cascade of white flakes was the stuff of a totally alien world and she didn’t have the proper training to handle such an expedition. Sally wondered if she would be given a space suit and helmet before she could venture outside; of course, she knew that no one had space suits for something as common as snow.

Sally had wished that she could be as brave as the old astronauts like Neil Armstrong or Sally Ride. “I bet they weren’t ever afraid of snow.” she thought to herself. “They must have had nerves made out of steel.  I’ll bet they don’t even feel fear anymore.” Unfortunately, Sall Osgood still felt fear.

 Sally turned back to her workbook and continued to complete the work as quickly and correctly as possible so that she could speak privately with the teacher. Ms. Thurman.  Ms. Thurman was a good teacher for her class. She was roughly middle aged, with swept up brown hair a thin face and good natured smile.  Sally finished her workbook page and took it Ms. Thurman’s desk for grading.

“Um.. Ms. Thurman?”

Ms. Thurman looked up from her teacher’s notebook at Sally and smiled. “Yes, Ms. Osgood.”

“Can I talk to you privately about something? I promise it won’t take long”. , she said fiddling nervously with the sleeve of her   cream colored cable knit sweater with red trim at the edges. 

“Hmmm, “ Ms. Thurman looked up and down at Sally and the room. Slowly she came to a decision  “Sure”  To the class, she turned and said “Class, I am stepping out for a moment.  Please continue your work.”

She and Sally left the classroom and stepped out into the hallway.  Ms. Thurman, bent down in a crouch position and looked up at her young student. She knew that Sally had been having a lot of trouble with transition from living in Southern California to living in Michigan so she wanted to do her best to make Sally feel as welcome as possible. She stared into Sally’s pale gray eyes.

“What’s wrong Sally?”

“Well, it’s the snow”

“Ah, the snow” she nodded.  “You didn’t see that much of it in Southern Cal, did you?”

“No, Ma’am, It never snowed there at least not that I remember, anyway.”

“And you are afraid?”  Ms. Thurman prompted.

“Yes and I’m afraid”

“I know, honey. I know you’re afraid”

“Can I skip recess this time?”

Ms. Thurman shook her head and said “Well, Ms. Osgood, the snow will still be there when it’s time to go home. It’s supposed to snow all day today and even more tomorrow so even if I   allowed it, you would still have to face the snow regardless of whether or not you go to recess.”

“But…. it will… hurt,’  Sally whispered.

“I’ll tell you what; I will get my assistant to take the class out in a few minutes and you and will walk out together.  I will make sure that the snow doesn’t hurt, okay?”

“Okay’, Sally sniffled.  “I’m sorry”

“Hey”  Ms. Thurman smiled. “It’s okay to be scared.  It’s perfectly natural  to feel scared some of the time. It just takes some effort to overcome some of those fears  Even the bravest astronauts have been afraid.  They just took it a small step at a time.

Sally nodded her head as the two of them walked back into the classroom.  \\

The bell rang a few minutes later signalling that it was recess time and all of the students immediately stood up in gleeful anticipation of the recess period.  

“Now, class, as you know, we need to leave the room in an orderly fashion. Please line up by the wall and we will go outside. Ms. Fisher will lead you outside in a few minutes.”

Sally stood up with the rest of the class and retrieved her new parka from the back room and slowly snapped the fastenings closed and retrieved her woolen mittens from the side pockets. 

She came back to the room and saw Ms. Thurman standing and  waiting for her with the most warm and comforting smile she had seen.

“All set, Ms. Osgood?”

“Yes Ma’am” she replied although the shaking she felt was strong, she felt she might throw up. She took a few deep breaths while Ms.Thurman waited.  

“Okay, I’m ready”

“Good, take my hand, Ms. Osgood and let's’ go.”

Ms. Thurman took Sally’s mittened hand and walked out into the hallway and headed towards the double doors that lead outside.  Sally tried to keep her breath steady and the butterflies inside of her stomach continued their seemingly continuous flutter dance. 

Ms Thurman pushed into the handle and opened the green door as a cold wind hit the both in the face.  Sally felt as if it was some sort of warning.  “Stay away” it seemed to say to her. Sally looked up and Ms Thurman and gave her a reassuring smile. “Come!  The exploration begins!”

Sally smiled too and with new found purpose, she picked up her right foot and placed it on the surface of this frozen world and claimed that first step as a new beginning in an endless journey of exploration.

January 20, 2021 20:17

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