In the beginning of the world, was the word. In the beginning for me and writing, there was a story. It was 4th grade and I had Mrs. Straight. I went into the year scared because of the rumors, mostly from the older kids. They were right, she was loud and firm. But soon I discovered she shared about herself and cared about us kids. When we read The Trupeter Swam (think that’s the right title) we made posters by cutting and gluing on construction paper. I decided to make a 3-D picture and glued “grass” to stick up around a a nest. I think the mother swan was swimming in the water in 3-D too. Mrs. Straight loved it. She took it down to display in the school library, and I think that’s the first time I remember thinking my teacher was proud of me.
I think it was spring when we worked on writing short stories. I wrote about a young girl playing in the woods and finding a unicorn. Mrs. Straight loved that too, and picked me to read my story at the school assembly. It was held in the evening with all the parents, and I also got to be in the mime show. I remember reading my story and feeling my white mime paint running off my face. Afterward I found out it hadn’t, really. It just felt like it.
I remember getting excited when I heard art or story assignments. The teacher presented an idea and we could fill it in, expand it or change it. But the assignment would always spark all kinds of ideas. I’d have several before the teacher finished giving instructions, and it seemed to be the one time that was okay.
Mrs. Straight left school before the year ended. She told us about finding a lump and needing surgery. I remember sitting behind the school with my friends on reward day – we got an ice cream if we hadn’t gotten in trouble that quarter. I think I had a fudgebar, although that might be my corrective memory. Still, I clearly remember what it tasted like, and how sad I was while eating it. I can’t tell you if that was the day we found out she had to leave, or if it was the day we found out she died. Whichever day it was, it was the day I knew I wouldn’t see her again. I do remember what it felt like to have someone like my writing for the very first time, and having a teacher that inspired me.