It's Chicken's last day.
The teachers clear their throats and blink. The kids clamor for deets about Chicken's new school; they try to out-crow each other:
"I LOVE Chicken!"
"I love him TOO!"
"Chicken's the BEST!"
"Remember how Chicken's a TIGER?"
Chicken walks around the room, hugging each friend. I know I'll cry if I look at their faces.
The last little girl hops up and down on her nap mat, her arms already outstretched, her stockings baggy at her ankles. When Chicken reaches her... dammit, I look.
He kneels down, wraps his arms around her hips, presses his cheek to her belly. She embraces his shoulders and stoops over to rest her cheek on his head.
Both their lunch-crusted faces wear the wide, chin-forward, closed-mouthed grins that cartoonists draw on satisfied cats whose backs are being scratched juuuuuuuuust right.
She says, "Good-bye, Chicken." He beams.
"Goodbye" is an important word; it nourishes our hearts as much as "love" does.
I think of the way people want laughter, not tears at their funerals.
I wish adults could celebrate parting like kids do. Children don't mourn the lost future. They are used to bubbles popping. Unlike adults, kids roll with a routine that isn't in their control. Time for bed, time for brussels sprouts, time to say goodbye to Chicken.
Chicken's time in this class has ended. We love Chicken! How great that we get to say goodbye! They give him tight squeezes. They kneel side by side and sink fingers into the cool dirt.
i got dirt in my diap
mine's mud now
We say goodbye.
Our friends bellow love.
Chicken is off, floating on joy, wrapped in great good-byes.
I cry. I am, after all, not a kid anymore.
Word Count: 300