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Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Child's Story

It was time to listen to a story. After we had seated ourselves in a circle on the soft carpet and the others had grown quiet, the teacher handed me a small book with plastic covers and pages. "You should narrate today's story," she instructed. I began to read.
"once there was a little girl named Amanda. Hey, just because the main character has my name doesn't mean I should have to read this. I am not a little girl. I've never let anyone call me that."
"just keep reading," came the teacher's voice. "Once there was a girl named Amanda..."

And then I was outside on a swing set in the middle of a perfect Spring day. Directly to my right, a familiar girl who had to be younger than ten years old was swinging in sync with me. I had no idea of where I was or even my age. On a swing set those things just don't seem to matter. From that other place came the almost inaudible voice of the other instance of myself who was still reading the story. "Amanda," called the girl to my right, "look up." I tilted my head all the way back as a friend in real life had only taught me to do less than two weeks ago. High above me I saw several branches of the tree which must have been supporting my swing. But that wasn't all of what she wanted to show me. She used many visual and color words for which I had no understanding, asking, "don't you see them?"
"The algorithm was incomplete," I heard the narrator say. What kind of kids' book contains the word 'algorithm?' It was as though I were on a wheel which had spun to the beginning of these events. I was once again the narrator, now holding the idea of a book and hearing the concept of a stern teacher instructing me to read.
"Once there was someone named Amanda."
On the swing again, the girl gestured. "Amanda, look up!" Was that excitement in her voice? I was enjoying the tree's geometry. For the first time I was aware of intricate patterns at a distance which could never be touched. Not one soundscape was ever heard. She kept trying to draw my attention to these other things. All I could see of them were nonsensical patches of varying brightness. "You have to see them," she insisted.
"But the algorithm was still incomplete," came the narrator again. So too, I realized, was the story.

Across the street from my parents' home, the familiar bells of the church struck 8 AM. About five seconds later the bell from the nearby middle school sounded four times. It had been such a pleasant dream, but the words "look up!" still echoed in my mind. What am I missing? What has to be done to complete the story?

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