The Enemy of the Good (eideteker) wrote,
The Enemy of the Good
eideteker

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Just One Day

A lingering moment after the class had all departed, a young boy sat staring out the window, entranced by a nest of robins in which fledglings were making their first clumsy attempt at flight. His teacher, who had risen to straighten out the vacated classroom, noticed she was not alone. She walked around to the front of her desk and sat there, leaning on the edge. She regarded him with some of the same fixation he held for the nest. They sat there for a long minute, her in the front of the classroom, him alphabetically placed, by chance, at the window in the back; silence between them but for chirps outside.

She called his name. He turned with a jump, as if awakened from a vibrant dream of something totally other. She loved this part of teaching; such brilliant young minds (at times), yet so darlingly fragile. "Wonderful day outside," she beamed. He nodded, his attention already returning visually to the nest. She tried a different tack. "You're such a good student, you know that?" It was a question, and it wasn't. "Every class we put you in, you do so well. You really seem to enjoy yourself." He smiled, faintly; though whether at her words or a robin, which had just taken wing, was unclear.

More silence.

"Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?" Maybe a naturalist, though she wasn't sure he knew what that was.

"Me!" He smiled clearly at her, awaiting the praise a right answer brings.

Her brow furrowed, but she recognized that look and forced a rewarding smile. "Well, of course, silly. But what do you want to do?"

At that moment, Mother Robin pushed a reluctant fledgling from the nest. The boy did not see this, as his teacher presently had the majority of his attention. With the zeal only a child knows, he answered, "Everything." In the moment it took him to pronounce three syllables, the frightened young robin had spread its wings and was now smoothly banking. Success.

Childish earnestness could be difficult at times, but it was nothing the teacher wasn't accustomed to, in one way or another. She was adept at rephrasing, and so: "But what one thing do you love to do, more than anything else in the world?"

He had turned back to the window, where he had an excellent view as a robin boldly plunged from the nest down to the playground hardtop below. He thought for a second, or for a few seconds, looking down at his hands. He raised his head and looked straight at her, still smiling faintly and answered, simply, "Live."
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