I was small. Small and skinny with legs like a chicken. My arms always floundered at my sides, two stick-figured poles. At times I would stand in the mirror and force my arms to behave like those of a ballerina. They looked awkward. But I would smile at myself, smear petroleum jelly on my lips for the glossy-look, and pretend to be beautiful. And I was. I wasn’t pretending.
And I finally had the opportunity to prove it. Out of the whole kindergarten class, I was one of the lucky ones selected to be a snowflake in the Christmas production of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Preparation was serious. I didn’t have to dress up as a silly reindeer with dead branches for horns or as a sugar plum with fatten cheeks pinched red.
No I was to be graceful. A graceful snowflake twirling out of the sky and melting on the ground as soft as dissolving cotton candy. And once spring came, I would sprout out of the yielding ground full of greenness. My part was special. I was one of the special kids. I had to be the envy of others.
During the dress rehearsal, I nervously waited backstage for my entrance. I had on a glittery tutu puffed out like an upside down carnation, my skinny torso was the stem. I waited, and every few minutes I would peep out to the stage in anticipation for my cue.
Only it never came, at least to my five-year old mind.
Frantically I searched out for a towering figure, a teacher. A beautiful snowflake such as myself should not miss her grand entrance.
I tugged on the teacher’s dress, my toothpick arms quivering. “Has the snowflakes gone?” I asked.
The teacher looked down, agitated.
“It’s ‘have the snowflakes gone yet,’ ” she corrected, “You missed your cue long time ago.”
Abruptly the teacher began laughing, “Imagine, a Black snowflake!”
With that, she shooed me from backstage, stony hands grasping my delicate shoulders and twisted me out to a jeering audience of fellow kindergarteners looking life-sized.
I was falling, not as a snowflake from the heavens, as I imagined, but as frigid as hail. Falling heavy and landing on the numbing ground, unfruitful as chimney soot.
Originally from the Los Angeles area, Iris Green recently relocated to the Washington DC metro area to enjoy the historically rich and international flavor of the nation’s capital. A graduate of the California State University system, Green has a BA in English and a MA in Composition. Her work has previously appeared in Moondance and The Pacific Review. For comments/questions regarding her work, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2006, Iris Green. ©
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