TWO LITTLE GIRLS – Another Essay
By Donna Jean McDunn Author
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Mine was great. All three of our daughters and their families came, so it was a busy four-day weekend. Our oldest grandson celebrated his 13th birthday on November 7th. (That gives us three teenage grandkids with five more to go.) He lives to far away so we weren’t able to celebrate with him on that day and while they were visiting, he enjoyed another birthday party with us.
We also attended a party for my husband’s brother’s 70th birthday and a surprise birthday party our son-in-law planned for our youngest daughter. By the time the weekend ended, I needed another four days to recuperate.
I’m sorry I haven’t posted since November. I’ve been busy editing my novel Nightmares. As soon as all the editing is done, I will share an excerpt of the story here. I just finished working with the content editor who suggested I consider turning the book into a series based on the characters in the book, so I have begun a new story I have tentatively named Visions. I’m still waiting to hear from the line editor and get her opinion of the idea.
I’m also working on another story I began for a writing course a few months ago. The course has ended, but the writing goes on and I really want to finish it. It is tentatively named The Rose Stalker. It is geared to a much older reader than my Nightmares books and is a romance/mystery about a stalker who leaves roses.
Now I would like to share with you an essay I wrote in 2008. It’s not very long, just under 650 words. It’s about something that happened in my childhood that has always bothered me. It still does whenever I think about it and that year, I thought about it a lot, just as I have during this one. Some of the words I used for descriptions may not be politically correct today and I don’t wish to offend anyone, but in the 1950’s these terms were accurate. It’s called:
TWO LITTLE GIRLS
I grew up in a small town in Iowa during the 1950’s. During those early years of my life, I remember seeing only two people of African American decent at my school. It happened when I was in the third grade.
The teacher had just let us outside for recess. It was early spring and I had on my blue winter coat I’d gotten for Christmas. The day had turned out so sunny and warm; I felt I no longer needed it. So, like several other kids, I took my coat off and threw it on top of a pile of coats already lying on the ground.
My friends and I ran to the jungle gym to play. When I happened to look in the direction of my coat, I saw two African American girls. I naturally assumed they were sisters and the older one was holding my blue coat.
“Hey, this can’t be mine,” I heard the girl say to the younger one as she slipped it on. She held her arms out in front of her. “Look, it’s to small.”
Concerned I was about to lose my coat to a stranger, I jumped off the jungle gym and ran to her. “I think that’s my coat.”
Looking down at the pile still on the ground, I could see the arm of a blue coat just like mine. I pulled it out and slipped it on. The sleeves hung down past my fingertips. “Maybe this one is yours.”
We exchanged coats, giggling about the mix up, until her younger sister poked her in the ribs. “Come on. We’re going to get into trouble.”
“Thanks,” the older one said to me and the two girls ran toward the school.
I wanted to talk to them and find out if they were sisters, where they came from and why I hadn’t I seen them before. I didn’t even know their names. Why did they leave in such a hurry?
I watched as they ran to a door, the rest of us weren’t supposed to use, but before going inside, the older girl turned and smiled in my direction.
I wondered where they were going. Recess had just started.
I rejoined my friends on the jungle gym. “Who are those girls,” I asked my friend, Mary. “I’ve never seen them before.”
“I don’t know their names,” she said. “I heard they go to school upstairs.”
I couldn’t believe it. “Upstairs? Why?”
She stared at me like I must be really dumb. “Because they’re Negro.”
I was eight years old at the time, but even I could see sending those two girls upstairs was wrong. I knew about prejudice and the riots happening in other parts of the country. I just never expected to see it in my town.
Several years ago, the upstairs in the school had been condemned and considered unsafe for anyone. I had heard rumors that there were bats up there, too. If it was unsafe for us, how could anyone make two little girls use it as a classroom? Did they even have a teacher?
I never saw either of the girls after that day, not in the hallways or during recess or even after school. I asked about them everyday for a long time, but no one seemed to know if they moved away or what happened to them.
I’d like to think situations like that don’t happen in this country today, but I know I’d only be deceiving myself. Even so I still have hope for us and I pray the girls are still alive and well and see how things have changed. It only took forty-nine years! The sad part is we have only just begun to make real progress.
As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment.
My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 will be released, according to the Amazon site, on December 7, 2012. The book went to press November 29th. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. The publisher, Buddhapuss Ink is located in New Jersey and there was a delay thanks to Hurricane Sandy.
My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013, but can be viewed on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares
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