right hand pointing


  TJ Rivard

Chalk Drawings


      "Your daughter excels," Ms. Finkle said.  "Your daughter knows her numbers from one to a hundred.  She adds with ease.  Watch."  Ms. Finkle's hips turned the undersized chair toward Fran.  Her hands, dusted in chalk, rested on her knees.  "Fran:  eight plus six."


      "Five plus seven."


      "See?  A whiz.  A very unusual child for her age."  She touched Fran's chin with the tips of her fingers as if she had invented her.

      I smiled.  "I was always good in math, but I veered away from it."

      The teacher looked startled, patted my knee, left the white shadow of her palm behind.  "We don't always go with our strength," she said, then looked back to Fran.  "She's good in art too.  Look at that."  She pointed her dusty finger at the mobiles dancing down from the ceiling.  "There's you and Fran."  I looked at the mobile.  Fran and I spun in orbit around each other.  Ms. Finkle looked at me -- imagining my loss.

      "Now, watch this," she said.  Read."  She held up flash cards.

      "Purple.  Monkey.  Sunshine.  Lamp," Fran read. 

      I looked at the teacher.  The teacher looked at Fran, her chalked hand pressed down on Fran's shoulder, her index finger flicking nervously against my daughter's neck.  "Look again.  Start over." 

      "Lamp," Fran said. 

      Ms. Finkle sat back.  She tapped the card, leaving white dust on the last letter.  "Is that a p?" 

      Fran nodded.

      "No."  Ms. Finkle's hand shook.  "No.  It's a b. She looked at me as if this was my doing.  She put the flash card in front of Fran and stood, almost knocking over the chair.  Her hair brushed a family of five, dangling from the ceiling.  I stood with her.  "No matter," she said.  "She's ready.   I've never had a student so ready."  Ms. Finkle smiled.  I smiled.  A stick child nested in her hair.  She shook my hand.  Chalk puffed out around our grip.  A phantom breeze caught the mobile of Fran and me, bobbing us back and forth in the cloud of dust that filled the room.  Fran sank into her chair, white specks salting the back of her head while she picked at the paper corner of the flash card.






Table of Contents
Main Page