Expanding, contracting, expanding
I was a loud little kid. I was a quiet little kid.
Pausing before wheeling, I’m standing on the blacktop in a heavy denim coat. The other kids are flocking and scattering, kaleidoscopic, pigeons around a loaf of Wonderbread. Girls are getting chased and kissed, boys are chasing and kissing them, and I’m slowing down, buffering the realization that (a) I’m low on this food chain and (b) I have to decide quickly whether I’d rather be food or be alone. I see the girls with the longest braids trailing ribbons, slowing down to be grabbed and kissed by wind-up wooden boy soldiers, and sides are forming everywhere, like melted fat congealing in cold water. I run, far, to the edge of the playground, to the trees, and keep my distance until everybody forgets I was one of them.