Note: This is the very first “guest columnist” that TIDBITS-of-WISDOM has posted. It is a non-fiction account of a little boy in his first day at kindergarten. The Author of this story is also the Grandfather of the child depicted in the story. This story was first published by Mature Living Magazine in its September 2009 issue. Author, Mickey Burriss is a Columbia, SC resident, retired Electrical Contractor, Retired Magistrate, and Retired Member of the SC House. Mickey is married to Joyce Crosby Burriss, and has two sons, Tommy and Hank Burriss. Mickey is an accomplished, and many-timed published, writer of Southern Historical Fiction, and also, a fine Christian, and Southern Gentleman, and my very best friend of 58 years. God Bless, my friend, Mickey Burriss…..I hope you enjoy Mickey’s story and writing style; as he will providing us with short stories from time-to-time….cjlb…9/8/13
The Book Satchel
Nothing beats the thrills of firsts in life. First of anything, even the first dentist visit, we tend to never forget those moments. That roller coaster ride, our first date, first school, first school bus ride all happen during carefree years, when we were not yet troubled by life’s heft. First time incidents fill our heads with new experiences that become memories and trickle down for safe keeping in our hearts, the record vaults of life, wherefrom they can be withdrawn and shared.
Joshua’s school bus stopped as it returned students to their homes from Kindergarten. This was his first bus ride and our first time meeting a grandchild at a school-bus stop. A lady neighbor stood nearby waiting with my wife, Joyce and I. The neighbor’s son disembarked first and hit the ground running toward home. He was followed by his sister and another small girl, Katie, who lived across the road. No one had come to meet Katie so alone she crossed the thoroughfare to her home while Joyce and I watched for traffic.
As Joshua walked down the aisle toward the door, an older boy shoved him. Joshua continued walking without showing any concern. He came to the open door with his full- moon-face covered in a proud, happy grin. As he stood at the door before the first step- down, I visualized his future.
He became a high school football player in my imagination most likely because he was big for his age. I saw him on the field in pads larger than the other players. His height came from my son and his maternal granddad. Joshua stepped down to the first step and my perception changed. He became a patriotic soldier dressed in the brown camouflage worn in Iraq. I twinged with the sting of risking him and choked for us and others who for our country risked sons and daughters. The book satchel strapped on his back accounted for my seeing him as a warrior. It triggered my recall of an army-surplus, knap-sack I carried in 1946 for fourth grade.
On the next step I saw a civilian man with a face lengthened by maturity. The face still smiled, but not as innocently as when his world was fresh and new and exciting. Behind this smile lay the thoughts of life’s tonnage in the guise of duties, deadlines, children and mortgages. Not all bad encumbrances, the children are worth rejoicing about, but the others are weighty enough to have dimmed the charm off Joshua’s first day smile.
As Joshua stepped on to the ground, he returned to being our first day kindergarten grandson. It felt good to know we had him a few more years and he had more carefree times ahead before my hallucinations would become reality. Grandmother, Mama Joyce and I, Papa Mick hugged him. We each held a hand until the bus safely departed. He pulled loose, went to the lady neighbor with the little girl and whispered. She stooped to listen. I overheard him say, “Can Mary come to my house?”
“Not today. Some other time, maybe.” She straightened, and holding Mary’s hand they walked home.
Mama Joyce said, “Who is the boy that shoved you?”
“He’s my friend. He just acts that way.”
Joshua thought nothing of the bully’s shove. In his innocence everyone was his friend.
He shouldered his first book satchel; perfectly shaped like it was a sales display not a wrinkle yet on it. I figured inside must still be whatever Wal-Mart had inserted for it to have maintained it’s shape through its inaugural day. Any ballast inside was evidently weightless for he carried it effortlessly although it was as big as him. I thought about the satchel, devoid of poundage and strife, and prayed his burdens would remain bearable.