G a i l
7 years (September)
I love school. I have two best friends, one old and one new, and they’re both in my class. Shane is my old best friend. We met in preschool, and it was friendship at first sight. We have a lot in common. We’re both shy. Until now, we didn’t talk much to other kids, because we had the best time just being on our own. Last year, Ellie Chance said that Shane was in love with me. I asked him if he was, and he said no. So that was the end of that. Probably Ellie Chance was in love with Shane. Lots of girls think he’s cute. Personally, I don’t see it. He’s just Shane. Like my brother, John (whom lots of girls like, too). They just are who they are, and I can’t think of them as cute or not cute. My new best friend is Terry (actually Anna-Theresa, but nobody calls her that). Terry was new in our class when school started a couple of weeks ago. I remember how she walked in late on the first day. The teacher pointed to an empty seat across from me. As she went to her desk, she looked at me and smiled. She had sparkling violet eyes and black curls. At lunchtime, she sat with Shane and me, and since then, we’ve been friends.
Our 2nd-grade teacher is Miss Allison. I like her because she reads to us out of a big book called, How (Almost) All Things Work. Every day after lunch, we come in from the playground and gather on the rug. Miss Allison sits in her rocking chair and finds a page in the book. It might be about how paper is made or what’s inside a computer or where our clothing comes from. She reads it with so much interest that we’re all interested, too. Her eyes light up, as though she’s learning everything for the first time, just like we are. With Miss Allison, the school days fly by.
Most afternoons, John and I come home together. Wendy is there to greet us in the empty house. Sometimes, I have to go home alone, because John goes to play soccer. I have my own key on a special chain, that I keep safe in a secret pocket in my backpack. When I’m home alone, I talk to Wendy, just so that it isn’t so quiet. She never leaves my side.
I often spend time with Shane and Terry after school. They both live in my neighborhood. Usually they come over to my house, because I have chores to do, and Wendy needs me. Plus my house is the closest to our bus stop.
Yesterday it was raining so we couldn’t go outside like we usually do. Terry, who always has ideas, said, “Let’s make a book.” Shane and I liked the idea. We decided that it would be called, “Our Dreams.” Each of us would draw a picture of something we dream about having or doing. Then we would staple the pages together and that would be our book.
I took out a cardboard box where I keep all my art supplies. It has little dividers that I made out of bits of other cardboard boxes, so I can keep everything organized. In one section, I keep my colored pencils, in another, markers – mostly almost dried-up -, in another, scissors and glue and in another, pencils and pens. There’s also a section with odds and ends that I found, like old buttons, pebbles and shiny bottle caps.
We got on the floor and drew our pictures. I’m not good at drawing; I never know how to get what’s in my head onto paper. But this time I knew. I had always had a picture in my mind of my dream house, and that’s what I decided to draw. First I drew a green valley and a clear-blue river. In the valley, next to the river, I drew a garden with a vegetable patch and five fruit trees. I used black and white to draw my house, which had a vine with purple flowers growing up the side of it. At the front door I drew two rose bushes – one red and one white. Beside the house I put a workshop – a place where I imagined keeping all my tools for making and fixing things. I couldn’t draw the inside of the house, but I’d always dreamed of a green kitchen with a light-yellow curtain above the window. So on one of the windows, I colored the inside green and put in a bit of yellow.
It was fun lying on my bedroom floor, dreaming, talking and drawing, while the rain pounded on the roof and the wind blew. My friends were nearby, and Wendy was lying beside me.
When we were all done drawing, we showed each other our pictures. Shane had colored his whole page with blues and blacks. Then he’d cut about a hundred tiny stars out of scraps of gold and silver wrapping paper and ribbon, which he glued on top of the dark background. “My dream is to fly into space,” he said.
Terry held her picture up with a big grin. “This is my dream: a giant cookie jar with so many cookies that they don’t all fit!” She showed us her drawing of a round, glass cookie jar lying on its side. It had a huge pink and white ribbon tied around it in a bow. Inside and outside the jar were cookies of different shapes and types. Shane and I laughed. And I just loved the idea of cookies being something to dream about. I never would have thought of that.
And then I held up mine. I could explain every detail of my house. I told about the parts you could see and the parts you couldn’t. I told about how I sometimes felt that this place really existed somewhere in the world and that I just hadn’t found it yet. Shane and Terry sat listening, and then Shane said, “I want to go there.”
Terry added, “I don’t just want to go there. I want to live there!”
“We could all live there,” I said. “It would be our secret piece of the world!” Then I thought about Daddy and John and the twins. “But our families would be allowed to live there with us, right?”
Terry said yes and smiled her big bright smile. Shane nodded his head quietly.
I keep our book of dreams in a safe place in my room. I know it’s just a book we made, but for some reason, it’s important. When my friends come over, we look at it sometimes and talk about the future. There’s a lot to dream about.