Kathy Fish | Flash Fiction

it was a procession / it was a march / we walked through the snow to the funeral home / we walked single file / our teacher was dead / we were going to see the body / the funeral home was four blocks away / it was February / it was a march / a procession through the snow / we sat on folding chairs in our coats and boots / we took turns kneeling before the casket / we were told to say a little goodbye / we were instructed not to touch / the snow on our boots melted into the carpet / it was a thick shag pile / a chic sad pile / the principal apologized to the man in the suit / our teacher had long straight hair one might call dishwater blond / she wore bellbottoms and hoop earrings and eye shadow that sparkled / she arranged our desks in pods / she arranged our pods in desks / she encouraged collaboration / she called us collaborators / she’d say attention collaborators! / she turned the picture of President Nixon upside down / she left Pope Paul right side up / she wore maternity tops with big bows at the neck / like a Christmas present / we’d been waiting for her that morning / the second bell rang / the principal came in and told us / we were allowed to read and play checkers and talk quietly amongst ourselves / three days later we marched to see the body / it was a procession / it was like a field trip / we marched single file in the snow / at the funeral home we stayed inside our coats and our boots / we weren’t sure what to do / our teacher didn’t look right / it was our first dead body / she wasn’t wearing a top with a bow / she was wearing a white dress like a wedding dress / her hair lay in two long braids on either side of her boobs / she looked like a pioneer woman / a woman of the prairie / she’d always kept sanitary napkins and sanitary belts in her desk drawer just in case / when I bled down my leg during the Christmas recital she was prepared / when I bled down my leg into my anklet / I jumped off the back of the bleachers / some of the other girls jumped too / I ran into the stall and locked the door / I sat bleeding into the toilet / the girls stood around outside the stall / they offered wetted tissues under the door / they didn’t really like me / they were enjoying the drama / one of them thought to go tell our teacher / she came with a sanitary napkin and a sanitary belt in a brown paper bag / she talked me through it / she said do you feel fresher now?  / she put my socks into the paper bag / in her class we were allowed to talk all we wanted / she wanted to feel our energy / she wanted a free exchange of ideas / she called us collaborators / after we said the rosary we were herded into another room / there were ham sandwiches and cookies on plates / we were told to take one ham sandwich and one cookie / we were told to eat them on the way back / the principal led the way / the kid who always cried was crying / and the kid who always threw up threw up in the snow / the principal led us back / it was a procession / it was a march / we were little soldiers now, marching home / the snow was melting and there were patches of exposed earth and the air smelled like wet black dirt the way it sometimes does in February / the way it sometimes makes you glad / when we got back, our desks were in rows / President Nixon was right side up / a man in wire rimmed glasses was writing his name on the board