Kimberly Yates never heard a man try to say his own name as his lungs filled with blood. She was hardly ten years old. But she’d never forget the sound, either.
For some reason, standing over the teacher, just behind his desk, it began to smell like the big tire on the playground. The one that smells like boys’ pee.
People wet themselves when they die, she thought to herself. “Even a third-grader knows that,” she said aloud to no one.
The classroom was empty and the sounds of screaming kids and bouncing balls entered through the open door. The door let in an anbundance of light, enough for the dimly lit room. The laughter entered from the playground and bounced of the chairs.
Each chair was made of metal. The backs were curved planks of wood. And they were hard. So sound bounced off them like shouting into the Grand Canyon. She guessed, anyway. The sounds of happiness was everywhere.
But where Kimberly stood, she was unheard.
The teacher was still trying to say his name. Kimberly was still waiting to learn it. After all, this wasn’t her teacher. Her teacher held Kimberley after the bell, making her late to recess. She could see the playground when she heard a man call for help. It came from inside this classroom.
Kimberly came running. She’d hoped some of the frogs had gotten loose from their jars and she’d get to hold a few. But as she looked about, she realized this wasn’t even the right classroom with the frogs in it.
The teacher grabbed her ankle. The classroom’s dim lighting had grown darker.
A man stood in the doorway.
Kimberly recognized the man, but she did not know him. She’d seen him outside the school grounds when she was waiting for Mom to pick her up. He was too old to be a parent, but not old enough to be a grandparent. And she’d never seen any child actually go to him.
Like a child blowing bubbles softly into her milk, hoping her parents would not notice, the teacher tried once more to speak, resigning simply to tug at Kimberly’s ankles.
I’ll bet he’s telling me that guy has something to do with it, Kimberly thought. “Thanks, mister. Even a third-grader knows that.”