photo by karmablue
by Dan Tremaglio
Mindful Living Guide
March 10, 2007
Jimmy wore suspenders that had dinosaurs on them because he liked dinosaurs that much. There was a red Tyrannosaurus and a green Stegosaurus and a blue Triceratops. The three little line drawings repeated in a pattern along his white suspenders. The blue Triceratops was his favorite. He had a necktie in his closet in his room at home that had a Triceratops on it but he couldn’t wear that one to school. The school had a special tie that all the little boys had to wear. He would soon hate ties in general but he still liked them now. He would also soon hate school in general. But so far it was okay. It was the second week of kindergarten and he still liked ties and he still liked school and most of all he liked dinosaurs.
Friday afternoon, it was almost time to go. Jimmy needed to go number two very badly but decided he could wait. He would be home soon. The buses were idling behind the school in the driveway that ran alongside the church. The teacher, Ms. Stacey, was waiting for the intercom to tell her to lead the children outside. She asked the children to sit in a circle in the front of the room by the door and she sat with them on a stool against the chalkboard and smiled. Ms. Stacey looked at the clock and then at her watch and went on smiling. It would be a few minutes. To make the wait easier, she asked what everyone wanted to be when they grew up.
Everyone knew what they wanted to be. Some wanted to be firefighters, others wanted to be veterinarians. One or two wanted to be monster truck drivers. Jimmy wanted to be a paleontologist. He loved dinosaurs very much and he wanted to dig up their bones and put them back together. He had known he wanted to do this for as long as he could remember. He always wanted to dig up dinosaur bones. When it was his turn to speak, he looked Ms. Stacey in the eye and said: I want to be a paleontologist. And Ms. Stacey smiled at him.
After everyone had told Ms. Stacey what they wanted to be, she smiled extra wide and clapped her hands together and said: How wonderful! You all have such beautiful ambitions!
Jimmy was thinking that his job was going to be the best. He didn’t hear the question that one student put to Ms. Stacey. He did hear Ms. Stacey say: Actually, no. Most of you will change your mind and become something else. Something you want to be even more.
Jimmy didn’t understand what this meant. It made no sense. He looked at Ms. Stacey and saw she was no longer smiling. Her nostrils flared as she sniffed about. She picked up the garbage that was beside the door, sniffed it, and put it out in the hallway. Jimmy knew where the smell was coming from. It was too late to raise his hand. The intercom told Ms. Stacey it was time to go. Ms. Stacey said: Alright children. Form a line. Stay behind me okay. It’s time to go.
Ms. Stacey led the children down the hall and out the back door and down the stairs to the parking lot. Jimmy walked with tiny, uncomfortable steps. He descended the stairs, always stepping with his right foot first, and tried to keep his legs together. He did the same when he climbed the stairs of his bus. He found a seat and sat leaning as far to one side as he could. No one sat next to him. When he looked up, he saw the driver’s face in the rear view mirror; his bushy eyebrows squished together, his upper lip drawn under his nose.
As the bus began to move, Jimmy tried to think what would happen if he didn’t become a paleontologist. He thought he’d die, in a way. She said he would change his mind and be something else — this was scarier than not getting what he wanted. What if he decided not to be a paleontologist? What if he really wanted to be a baseball player or a writer? Then everything he was would be dead. He thought of other things he changed his mind about, and it seemed just like dying to him. It seemed like he was dying all the time.
Jimmy was thinking this when the bus turned onto the road and went over the big speed bump that was in front of the school. He bounced high off his seat and came down in a soft, warm squish. Now Jimmy’s face was the same as Ms. Stacey’s and the bus driver’s. He wished he had changed his mind about going to the bathroom.
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Dan Tremaglio is a fiction writer out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. His stories deal with everyday occurrences and aim to highlight the transcendent in the mundane. He hopes to complete his first book, a short story collection, by the close of 2007. In the meantime, he writes book reviews for the local paper, practices yoga and mixed martial arts, and loves exploring the outdoors — all of which he considers what Hui Neng once called, "Walking Meditation".
© copyright 2007 by Dan Tremaglio.