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“2B” says the disembodied voice from the intercom, echoing against the colorless brick walls of the classroom. The wooden door opens to show Sister Mary John, a woman of seventy years, walking in to call us to lunch. Sister usually wore the typical nun outfit to school – long black dress and hood which only exposed the face – but today was Student Appreciation Day 2003 (I am 8-years-old), which meant all the students would eat hamburgers and hotdogs outside. Sister, wanting to avoid the heat, decided to exchange her outfit for clothing better suited for the Texas heat (e. g.
light colored shirt, shorts, and hat). “Okay, single-file line. ” exclaims Sister from the door, attempting to grab my classmates’ attention. Their collective attention span is close to that of a goldfish, and worse when attempting to herd them in a specific direction. It’s almost as if trying to direct a group of squirrels when nuts have been scattered about the floor. I, anxiously wanting to exit the room, hurry to Sister, forming the start of the line. “Come on! Why are they so slow?! I want to go outside already! ” I think to myself. Behind me I hear my classmates dawdling, slowly wasting time.
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My patience is wearing thin, but the time I would waste on confronting them is less time I will have for eating, so I silence myself and patiently wait for my class to form the line behind me. As we walk down the hallway – just as lifeless as the classroom, but a shade of grey covers the walls – the anticipation of eating the special meal outside cannot help but overcome me. I realize I have too much excitement for a mere meal, but I recall how I got sick on the previous year’s Student Appreciation Day, thus I was unable to even attend school or the festivity.
Eating my first school lunch outside is making me anxious, and with each passing step I feel we are moving slower and slower. “I know you’re old, but really? ” I think to myself. Other classes are passing us up, and more and more students begin to crowd the staircase leading to the exit. The staircase begins to resemble a highway during rush hour, congested with sluggish progress, and Sister’s walking speed is not helping the situation. Outside, my eyes have trouble adjusting to the sudden change of scenery: from darkened building to brightened nature.
The clouds do little to shade the ground as the sun shines through them as if nothing is attempting to block sun’s rays. I allow myself to stand for a moment, warming myself – the air inside the school is set to such a low temperature, that some students a jacket on a hot day. Smoke fills the air, especially the areas surrounding the grilling station by the soccer field. The scent of charred beef and pork is noticeable from quite a distance away. The more I walk towards the grilling station, the more the pungent aroma of smoke and cooked meat fill my nostrils.
I reach the grill and a teacher I do not recognize, obviously from the upper levels, offers me an empty paper plate. “Thank you. ” I say, with a look of nervousness plastered on my face. I am not yet comfortable with meeting new people, and small encounters like this one are no exceptions. No matter, I have my plate and I make my way towards the grill to receive my special meal. I choose to sit on the grass near the grill, but not too close as to breathe in the thick smoke. I see my friends sitting near the picnic tables as a group, but I do not feel the need to move from my spot.
I would rather sit alone and enjoy my meal. I set my open Coca-Cola can to my side, and bite into my hamburger. The meat is cooked too much; however, it retains some juices and a nice smoke flavor. The flavor of the patty overpowers the other flavors of the ketchup and, surprisingly the mustard – mustard too sharp of a taste for me – but overall the hamburger is adequate and filling. I reach down to my drink in order to wash down the few bites of the hamburger, but as I bring the drink towards my mouth I notice something on my left-thumb.
I look closely, and to my amazement a bee is resting on my thumb, but a closer look shows it is not resting but it, in fact, had dug its stinger into the tip of my thumb. A great deal of pain rushes towards my thumb and without hesitation, I fling the insect off my hand and immediately clasp my thumb with a firm grip in order to, hopefully, lessen the pain. I stand and, with tears running down my face, rush over to the nearest teacher, which happens to be Sister Mary John.
I inform her of my situation and she offers to accompany me to the school nurse. “Let’s go to the nurse, okay? ” she says to me. She grabs my shoulder and escorts me towards the school nurse’s office, all the while I am thinking “Why? Why did it sting me? I thought they only sting if you make them mad, but I didn’t do anything to it. ” We open the door to Ms. Garcia’s office – the walls are painted bright peach, which gives me the feeling of liveliness – walk directly toward her. Ms.
Garcia, the school nurse for five years now – to whom I have made many claims of upset stomachs and/or fevers merely to be excused from class – immediately directs her vision to my thumb, which I am still grasping, and questions, “What happened?! ” “He got stung by a bee. ” answers Sister Mary John. “Well, we have to take the stinger out” Ms. Garcia states, as she reaches into her wallet, pulling out a credit card. The nurse pulls my injured hand close to her face. She begins to slide the card back and forth, attempting to scrape the stinger out of my skin.
With each pass of the card, I begin to cry more due to the pain of the stinger still trapped in my thumb. After several passes over my thumb, the nurse states, “Well, I can’t see the stinger anymore. Yea, I think it’s out. ” The nurse grabs her wallet once again and returns her card to the designated pocket. “Do you want to finish eating outside? ” asks Ms. Garcia, as she buries her wallet into her purse. I, in the process of quitting my crying spell, answer, “No, I wanna stay inside. ”