Twenty five in a line up. I have a feeling, deep in my belly that this time we are going to use the parachute. Slowly, we march and the teacher is at the front. The doors open and there is no parachute. Just big empty space. I stare down at my feet, following the black lines on the floor. One foot in front of the other. Tightrope walker. The black line touches a green line and a red line. Green or red? Red is best. We read a book like that this morning. Read red. Red read. Read is best. Better than gym. The words turn themselves over in my head. Head read red. I step onto the red line and follow it, head down.
The top of my head connects with someone and hey watch it. Angry face in my face. I stop and look down at the red line again. It’s broken by someone’s feet. I plant myself, now I can’t go forward. I am a plant. Green plant. But the green line is too far away now. From somewhere far above me, I hear voices, names being called, like I am in a cave and they are out of the cave. None of them are my name. I stand on my line, rooted in place. I am a cactus plant with roots that go way, way down. The red line is my sand. The others are leaving the lines as their names are called. Until it is just me. Now there are no feet in my way.
Somebody shouts that they guess they’ll take me and I know that I am supposed to go there. Stand on that side of the gym. But the lines don’t go in that direction. I place one foot in front of the other making my way up the curved line. Voices start shouting. Wrong, they say. Way wrong. Wrong way. The voices jumbles together, I cover my ears. Keep walking on the read line. I mean red line. Big feet are now beside my feet. My name, but going up in tone at the end so I know it’s a question. I don’t know the answer to my name as a question, so I keep walking. Then it’s my name as a statement. I still don’t know the answer.
The big feet move in front of mine. Then a big face in my face. Hands try to take me off my red line. I shout read is best, but no one understands because red and read sound the same. Big feet move onto the red line, one foot in front of the other. The feet tell me to follow, so I walk the read red line all the way to the black line. Big feet stop and step off the red line. I know it’s safe now, so my feet step off the red line too. Balls begin to bounce and I look up just in time for one to hit my head. I sit on the black line, right where the red line touches it. Next time I will choose the green line.