Friday, March 9, 2012


            Naomi gathered her hair into a ponytail over her left shoulder.  She held it there and slowly began twisting it into a coil.  When she could twist no more, she pulled it around in front of her face and began examining the ends, tapping at the tiny spikes of hair held tightly between her thumb and forefinger.  After a few minutes she released the twisted rope of hair and combed her fingers through it to straighten it onto her shoulder.  Then she put her hand under it and tossed it to her back.  She slowly stretched her head back over her chair and let her hair fall loose.  As her hair hung above the floor, she began shaking her head back and forth.

            I sat at my desk, resting my chin on my left hand, watching the show. 

            “How’re you coming on your math test, Naomi?  Do you have any questions?”

            Naomi sat back up and gave her hair a final shake. 


            It was like watching the dust get shaken out of a dust mop – only there was no dust . . . and no mop - just a 12 year old girl having a hard time staying on task during a test.

            Naomi looked down at her shirt.  She grabbed the bottom, wiggled her shoulders, and tugged the front of her shirt down.  She smoothed her hand down the front of it and the watch on her left wrist caught her attention.  She studied it for a moment and then adjusted the watch face 7 millimeters to center it on her wrist.  She continued studying her watch and decided to pull the watch face around to the inside of her wrist. 

            She held her arm up to her face with her palm turned inward, and stared at her watch.  Her head was tilted to one side, and she was biting the tip of her tongue.  She quickly turned her hand back over and studied the back of her wrist.  She must have decided the traditional placement of the watch face was best because she slid the watch back around to where it started.

            Naomi continued to study her watch a few seconds more and then suddenly twisted around and looked at the clock on the wall.  She held her wrist up, studied her watch again, and then looked back at the clock.

            “You’re clock’s not right Mrs. Jones.”

            “My clock is fine.  All the clocks in the building are set to the bells.”  I switched arms, tilted my head even more, and settled my check completely into my right palm.  “How’s your test coming?” I called dryly.


            Naomi turned back to her desk, picked up her mechanical pencil, and pressed it down to the paper.  Not satisfied with what she felt, she held the pencil back up close to her face and began clicking it.  When nothing came out she unscrewed it to retrieve some lead.  Finding no lead stored inside, she stood up, went over to her book bag on the shelf and began rummaging in it for extra lead.

            I hate mechanical pencils.  All teachers hate mechanical pencils.  I lifted my head up off my hand. 

            “Naomi, do you need a pencil?”

            “No."  Rummage.  Rummage.  "I’m good.”  She continued poking through her bag until she found the little plastic box. 

            Naomi walked back to her desk and began feeding tiny sticks of lead into the tip of her pencil.  When it would take no more, she tilted the pencil back down and began clicking it again.  Finally a tiny shoot of lead peeped out.  Satisfied that her writing tool was now ready, Naomi looked back at her test.  As her head bent down, her mouth dropped open into a wide yawn.

            She bent her elbows upward and leaned back as her yawn deepened into a low throaty “aaahhhgg.”  As she brought her elbows back down, her left hand slid through her hair and pulled it over her left shoulder.  She gathered it into a ponytail and slowly began twisting it again.


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