Collision with a Witch
Grammar school was filled with trials of all sorts,
but one of the worst experiences was with the resident school witch, Miss
Bryant. Miss Bryant was the mean old lady who ran the cafeteria. Each day
we took a morning break to drink a bottle of milk. We had to place the
money in Miss Bryant’s hands and hope beyond hope that we didn't do
something wrong for her to shout at us. She had a whole set of rules that
required one to be on ones toes at all times. You had to turn the right
way with your tray. You had to place the money in her right hand. She
would scowl at you even if you did it right. But when you did it wrong she
would grab you and scream at you, ruining your entire day. I was so
terrified of her.
To make matters worse, Miss Bryant was one of my customers on my paper route. I always dreaded collecting the twenty cents for the week’s paper. Something was always wrong. I knocked too loud, I threw the paper in the water, or I woke her up.
By this time I had been studying art privately for a few years and was quite accomplished. For a project on birds I created the most beautiful painting of a group of cardinals. My teacher, Miss Rutledge, was so proud of it that she hung it in the lunchroom for everyone to see. When it came time to collect the artwork, the painting had vanished. Miss Bryant had no idea who had taken it.
Then the awfullest thing possible happened. Each day I rode my bike to school. The bike was too big for me and I had to struggle to get it going and to stop it, because my feet would not touch the ground on both sides of the bar. As I entered the school parking lot and headed up the driveway to the bike racks I started slowing down and reaching my instability regime, where I had to jump over the bar or else fall over. Just as I reached the worst possible point, who should step directly in front of me? Miss Bryant!
I bumped her just hard enough to come to a dead stop at which
time I crashed to the ground. She went into tirades, screaming at me,
accusing me of trying to kill her. I was so terrified that I could only
think about one thing, getting away from her. I picked up my bike and ran
from her as fast as I could.
Later in the day, the school principle, Mr. Thomas, called an assembly to discuss the event with the entire school. He made a rule that from that day on students must dismount and walk their bikes from the street to the bike racks.
Oh how I dreaded collecting for the paper that week. I skipped a week hoping she would forget. Finally, when I went to collect, she jumped me. She humiliated my family upbringing for having bumped her and left without a proper apology. She scorned me for what seemed like hours as I stood in her doorway. Then, for the first time I looked into her living room and was stunned at what I saw.
There on her living room wall was my cardinal painting.