My eyes began to well up with tears as I remembered back to the day I first set foot in this school. I felt the exact same way then as I do now except for a tinge of sadness tearing through my heart.
On that day, after just one glance around, all of my organs wailed and cringed. I was thinking about how everything here felt so gloomy and boring to me. All the girls wore the same plaid skirt and the boys all wore the same blue tie. It seemed as if sadness was draining every last bit of happiness out of me.
Today I continue to walk down the outdoor, puddle-filled halls, and I wiped away my salty tears with one swift movement of my hand.
My body was shaking from head to toe. However, the pleated cotton skirt felt warm against my bare legs. With every step I took, my heart seemed to be beating faster and faster, and my stomach churned this way and that. Switching into full gear, my teeth bit down on my lower lip. It was far more difficult to keep in a secret than I expected it to be.
“It’s just any ordinary Friday,” I thought, trying to stay calm. “There is nothing different about today.”
I strutted past the play structure, taking a quick glance at the green field. Each blade of grass was wet with morning dew. Cautiously, I approached the big blue door of room A-8, looked around me and sighed. I was ready to live the day I never expected to come.
As I opened the door, a slight moaning and creaking was the reply. The first step I took was filled with pride, and immediately all the familiar faces stared up at me and without saying a word, resumed their morning work.
“Good morning Mrs. Berls!” I announced in a cheerful voice as I dragged my feet across the tile floor and tossed my lightweight backpack against the wall along with the others.
“Good morning to you as well,” Mrs. Berls replied in an unusually calm voice.
I walked over to my desk and the smell of coffee filled the air. I stared out the window beside me, waiting for our next lesson to begin, while whispering voices could be heard from each and every direction. In the distance, a flock of birds circled the skies and the branches of trees were swaying to and fro in the wind. The strong, sweet arrogance of peppermint swept past me, and I turned around to see Mrs. Berls walking over to the phone. Her heels were tapping against the floor and everyone was as silent as a mouse. With her dainty fingers, she lifted the phone.
Just a split second later her elderly voice echoed throughout the room, “No way! Ask her parents if I could adopt her!”
I couldn’t understand whether or not that was a compliment. Obviously, Mrs. Berls had been told that I was leaving Challenger school after staying for only six months. However, when students began to ask who the call was about, she just shook her head and remained silent. Her eyes revealed the only expression on her round, wrinkled face, she was speechless.
Putting the phone on hold, Mrs. Berls said to the class, “Could all of you please turn around, and get out everything you need for grammar. We’ll correct your homework in just a minute!”
The moment the words exited her mouth, I turned back around, and did exactly as I was told. I brought out my grammar textbook, notebook, and a pencil from my desk and waited patiently for the next direction. My patience abandoned and when I looked back at Mrs. Berls. I could see that her black eyes were aimed straight at me and her jaw was wide open. After putting down the phone, she stood motionless. I pointed toward myself with and unsteady finger and she just nodded and turned away.
As if the grave news was washed out of her thoughts, Mrs. Berls taught the grammar lesson like any ordinary day, but I knew that somewhere inside her brain, she was still thinking about the phone call.
Just as the grammar lesson ended, our principal entered the room with a clown’s smile on her face, hair curled, and hands in her pockets. Now I knew that something big was going to happen.
While focusing her attention on me, Mrs. Deshmuk announced to the class, “It is so sad that Nitya will be leaving Challenger. I hope her last day here with us is a good one!”
“Oh no!” I thought to myself, “If Mrs. Deshmuk wanted my last day here to be the best she wouldn’t have told the entire class that I was leaving this school!”
I buried my face in my cardigan, and my eyes began to fill up with tears of embarrassment. My face turned red with rage. At that exact moment the bell rang out loud and clear, indicating that it was time for recess. Immediately after Mrs. Berls dismissed us, one row at a time, I stood up and calmly walked over to her, while everyone else noisily walked out of the class to get a breath of fresh air.
“Mrs. Berls,” I asked, “should I take all my textbooks out of my desk? I’ll be leaving after recess to go to my doctor’s appointment anyway.”
“Sure,” Mrs. Berls responded in a depressed voice, “You might as well do it now before recess is over.”
With my head down and hands by my sides I paced back to my desk; a burst of warmth and happiness began to argue with the feeling of sadness and guilt. One by one I separated my belongings from my textbooks.
“Science, history, math, grammar, vocabulary, and logic,” I said, as I stacked them all upon my desk in two neat piles.
Afterwards, I headed straight for the door and the moment I took one step outside, all of my friends huddled around me as if this were football.
All I could hear was “Nitya…this. Nitya…that. Blah, blah, blah.”
“Could all of you please move?” I requested in a slightly annoyed voice.
Everyone backed away, and as I began to walk toward the field, they appeared beside me once again.
“Nitya, why are you leaving Challenger this late in the year?” Someone questioned.
“Well, I don’t exactly know because yesterday, my parents just told me that I was going back to J.F.S starting this Monday. I guess I was too excited to actually ask,” I answered in a low voice.
The rest of my recess was basically wasted clarifying to most everyone the fact that I was really leaving. When the shrill of a whistle called out to announce that recess was over, I strutted to the classroom and gathered my belongings from my desk to pack them all up in my backpack that was waiting to be used since the beginning of the day.
In just a few minutes, I was all packed up and ready to go. I slung my backpack over my shoulder, and sat back down in my chair waiting for Mrs. Berls to let me know when I could go. As I stared up at the ceiling, Mrs. Berls came over to my desk herself.
“Nitya,” she called, “your mom is waiting for you in the office.”
Unable to control my emotions, I stood up and embraced Mrs. Berls and tried my hardest not to shed tears, but still they poured out like rain. So that I would no longer have to embarrass myself in front of my own teacher, I waved a brief goodbye and hurried to the door.
On my way out, the voices of my classmates could be heard. I turned my head to find them in two lines waiting to go into the classroom and abandon the rays of the sun beating down on everyone’s sweat covered skin. After waving a farewell to them as well, I continued my journey to the office with every organ in my body now jumping up and down. The feeling of guilt was now slowly disappearing, and joy took control of my heart. Still, a pinch of sadness was curled up in the corner of my heart, crying and wailing. Once again I was walking down the outdoor hallway; however, this was the last time that I would.