This is an actual event that took place in the early years of my life.
It is one of many short stories that will be published in my
Memoir: A Journey of Roses and Thorns.
and post notes and photos about your poem like Elaine George .
I know these memories belong to me, yet looking back now it seems they were all a dream.
It was 1953. Dad at that time was stationed at Camp Gagetown in New Brunswick but got transferred to Camp Bordon in Ontario, and we were on our way to join him.
Everything we owned, (a few pots, some blankets, and our clothes) had been packed and loaded in the baggage compartment in the undercarriage of the Greyhound bus. As we pulled out of the terminal, I looked out the window and felt a tug at my heart. Already I missed Grandma and Grandpa Evans.
Our new home was a rundown motel with a lake behind. It was situated on a rural stretch of road. We were the only tenants. Our suite consisted of two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen furnished with: a wooden table and chairs, a porcelain sink and a window from where you could see the lake.
The school was about a mile up the road. It was much like the one I had left behind in Lorneville. It consisted of two rooms and a pot-bellied stove. By the time the new school year started, the days had turned cold, and the pot-bellied stove made the school room toasty warm.
From the very beginning, the kids attending this school hated me. I was what they referred to as, an army brat, and worse than that, an Eastcoaster.
Never having lived anywhere other than the Maritime provinces before this, I couldn't understand why these kids hated me so much. The only thing I had ever experienced that was in anyway similar to this, had to do with religion; when Catholic and Protestant kids were often forbidden by their parents to play together, but we played together anyhow until we got caught.
I thought that in time I would win these kids over, but unintentionally made one fatal mistake. It happened during an oral spelling test. The teacher, whose name I can't remember, was calling on kids randomly to spell specific words that she just picked out of her head. I prayed she wouldn't ask me as spelling was not my best subject.
Some of the kids were eager to participate and raised their hands for attention while others (me included), tried to make ourselves invisible. Eventually, the teacher called on(Heather), the girl sitting at the desk in the row next to me.
"Heather," the teacher asked. "Spell the word FURTHER."
"F...U...R...T...H...U...R," Heather replied.
"No!" the teacher replied. That's wrong! Please sit down!
"Oh! I know, I know," Heather stammered.
"Sit down!" the teacher commanded.
I watched in fascination as Heather's faced turned beet red.
"What are you looking at Eastcoast scum," she muttered at me?
"THAT WILL BE ENOUGH OF THAT," the teacher shouted.
"F...U," Heather muttered under her breath.
"What did you say," the teacher demanded.
"Nothing! nothing!" Heather stuttered.
"Elaine, what did Heather say," the teacher demanded?
I, innocently thinking Heather was just attempting to spell the word (further) again, and wanting to win her over, and never having heard the expression(FU) blurted out the following: "She said...F...U."
"YOUR DEAD!" Heather hissed at me.
Heather spent the rest of the afternoon standing in the corner. I spent the rest of the afternoon trembling in the wake of the dirty looks and silently mouthed threats made by the other kids when the teacher wasn't looking.
Going home after school that day, I learned how fast I could run. I could hear Heather and her gang behind me, but I didn't dare take the time to look back; I just kept running until their thundering voices fell off in the distance. By the time I run out of breath, I had made it safely home.
From that day onward I never took the road to school again, instead choosing to walk through the woods and marshlands staying out of site and avoiding going by Heather's house.
As the weeks went by, Heather and her sidekicks eventually gave up the chase. Heather, however; continued to spit death threats at me from across the aisle anytime I dared to look in her direction. The other kids chose just to ignore me.
Soon enough, winter came and with it, bitter cold and endless snow and ice. The rooms in our flat were always cold. At night we huddled under the scratchy army blankets wearing sweaters and coats over our pajamas.
It was on one of these cold days that we found out the water we had been drinking, was contaminated. It was when a Jehovah Witness came knocking at the door. She was so cold her teeth were gnashing. Mum invited her in to warm up and offered her a cup of tea. She gladly accepted. It was when Mum began to draw water from the kitchen tap into the tea kettle that the woman hollered out in alarm.
"No, No, surely you're not drinking that water," she cried? "It's contaminated, condemned by the Board of Health. "No, no, you have to get your water from the well down the road."
"What," mum stammered in disbelief. "The Landlord never told us that, and we've been drinking it ever since we moved here in September. God! Its a miracle none of us got sick."
FOR THE CONCLUSION OF THIS STORY, GO TO PART TWO AND THREE
Copyright © Elaine George | Year Posted 2018