With all of the noise, I was surprised to hear the whisper at my side. “Will you walk home with me?” There stood Glenda, in a light Sunday coat barely covering her worn out blue dress. Her eyes filled with tears as she bit her lip.
“Yes,” I gulped. “We better hurry. Grab your things.”
“I am ready,” she replied.
I sat on the floor and got my boots on. Sweat trickled down my face as I grabbed my hat, scarf and mittens. The door opened and another loud rush of fourth graders pushed their way into the coatroom knocking me back against the wall.
At last we were out in the upstairs center. Glenda started to jiggle back and forth. Exasperated I said, “Not Now! Can’t it wait?” Again tears came to the surface of her eyes. “Go ahead, but hurry!” I will meet your down stairs.
It didn’t take Glenda long. She came out of the ladies room pulling on her knee high socks. I noticed a big run in one of them. It started at the bottom near her slick black Sunday shoes and went clear up to her knee.
From the upstairs hallway we heard another thunder of footsteps. I felt tension in the pit of my stomach as we quickened our pace. The fifth graders were out!
The heavy door clanged as we pushed our way onto the playground. What was white earlier in the day had become a busy freeway of skids and slides. Some of the snow had turned to slush where angels and games of duck-duck goose had taken place during noon recess. Half a snowman was leaning over, trying to pick up its head from the ground. The sky was gray and looked like we could get more snow tonight. Now children were sliding and running to catch their rides home.
I walked steadily in my boots, but Glenda started sliding all over the place. She pulled heavily on my arm as we ran toward the corner of the playground. “Ouch,” she said as she slid down on her knee. I watched the snow turn red as she steadied herself and held on tighter to my coat. Her hands were turning a dark pink.
“Where are your gloves?” I asked.
“My grandma said they had to be washed today.” she replied.
I took off one of my mittens and with much difficulty pushed it onto her cold wet hand. I took her other hand in mine and shoved them together into my pocket. “Let’s run,” I said and we both quickened our pace once again.
We arrived at the end of the play yard just before we heard the heavy school doors clang. That meant the fifth graders were out. “Here they come.” We scurried like two jackrabbits through the snow, with hunters on their tails.
“Wha-who!” the boys shouted. I glanced behind getting a look at their eager faces before heading around the hedge. We got to the corner and across the street before we heard them again. They would be within shooting distance soon.
Glenda and I made the turn and headed down the hill. Her shoes were now like skis on the downhill slope. Now I had a difficult time staying up with her. I glanced behind.
There were three boys all lined up. They were grinning as they bent down to grab a chunk of snow
and ice. The boys were ready for war. “Hey Glenda, you think you’re such a pretty witch!” one of them yelled.
We didn’t look like any witches. We actually looked like two dragons with steam rolling from both nose and mouth as we braced ourselves for the onslaught. I grabbed my scarf and pulled it around Glenda’s face. There were tiny ice crystals on her eyelashes. Her face was completely red. We were winded but there was nothing to do but keep running.
I heard the first thud and felt Glenda lunge forward. I heard the rip of my pocket. Now tears were streaming down her face. Another thud and another, it never seemed to stop. It took me a minute to realize that not one ice ball hit me! They were all aimed at Glenda. “Ouch,” she cried, limping for the next several steps. My own eyes filled with tears and spilled down onto my cheeks.
“Hey, look. We are in luck,” I chocked. “Mr. Hansen is out shoveling his walk.” He was one of the older people who attended our church. He was a little hunched over as he leaned on his shovel. Everyone expected us to respect him. The barrage of snowballs stopped as we neared the house.
“Hello girls. How are you today?” he asked as we walked past. Of course we replied, “We’re fine.”
“Hello boys,” we heard him say behind us. “Would you give me a hand for a minute?” He handed the shovel to one of the boys and the other two moved toward the garbage cans and began to slide them to the side of the garage.
Maybe we would have enough time to get away. My heart was pounding and my voice felt scratchy and cold, but we had to continue. As we rounded the last corner and got in sight of Glenda’s house, there was a wave of relief knowing we only had one more stretch to go. All at once, Glenda jerked hard on my arm and came to a dead stop! I looked at her face. It was deep red and her eyes were shut tight. When she opened them, she looked down at her black shoes. My eyes were drawn to her shoes too. There they were, covered with white and red flowered bloomers. What a time to lose your under-ware!
“Wha-who!” We heard the boys as they rounded the corner.
No time to worry about bloomers. Glenda stepped out of them and left them on the ground. We covered the distance to her house quickly, but not fast enough to get away from the loud cries of laughter. We took one last look.
The boys had found a stick from which they waved the bloomers. A victory cry rang loudly as we clambered onto the porch and pulled open the door.
Glenda and I went into her bedroom. We sat on her big rug, our bodies heaving from the long run. We stared at each other for a few minutes. Neither one of us were able to talk. Finally she giggled and said, “Do you want to play a game?”