I’ve been sitting here in this attic for a very long time now. Too long to remember, actually. I’ve been visited by spiders in these last decades and have the cobwebs to prove it. The insects come and go. There was a mouse many years ago. He came by, sniffed me a little and decided I wasn’t very useful and scampered away between the boxes. I think he may have found the contents of the boxes of old school books and papers which I am standing between more to his liking. I know I heard paper being torn, and it was from close by.
The boxes have been my constant companions. The papers and books have much to say, but no one to talk to. Like me. Mostly we watch the sun come up in the little filthy attic window with the cracked pane and then return to darkness in silence.
It wasn’t always like this. Many years ago, in my youth, the books and papers and I lived in a classroom. It was a kindergarten, full of little noisy people, burning calories furiously in perpetual motion. Those were the days. The teacher would give the children a stick of chalk – and I’ve known many a chalk in many colors and sizes let me tell you – and have them practice writing letters and numbers upon my face. It was good to be useful. I so enjoyed seeing those happy, young faces. Seeing the wheels of their mind turn as they tried to perfect writing the letter of the day.
The truth of it is that it really doesn’t seem so long ago to me. I still have the chalk dust from the last little girl that wrote on me. I remember her as a kindergartner, of course, her tongue hanging out of the corner of her mouth as she focused on writing those ABCs. The smile she had when she finished and the way her ringlets bounced up and down as she exclaimed, “Teacher! Teacher! Look!”
But, that same little girl was much older on the day when we came to live in this dusty, cluttered attic. She had come back to see the teacher again. That was when she wrote the words upon my face that are still there. “Happy retirement, Mrs. Smith. We all love you.” After that day, we were put in the back of a car and carried up here. I suppose I will never see more children again. But, I can wait. I’ve had lots of practice.