Tag Archives: playground

“I Was Twirling!”

Sherry Killam, teacher, author, visual artist.

       Sherry Killam

Shirley MacLaine’s defense when Meryl Streep confronts her about ascending the staircase sans underwear in “Postcards from the Edge.”

SCENE 5 Flashback to 1952 Playground
Horizontal Monkey Bars (Real steel pipe over blacktop, no wood chips)

First grader CASSANDRA BANKS shinnies up the pole to the highest of three levels.

She wears a white blouse with puffed sleeves atop a gathered flower print skirt over a pair of modest camp shorts.

She pauses with one knee over the bar, the saddle shoe on her bent leg locked behind the one extended toward the blacktop below.  Her hands grip the bar, thumbs forward.

She exhales and calculates, then proceeds.  She falls forward and the momentum brings her back  to the starting position.  She continues twirling around the bar, counting seven times.  Balancing on her perch, she switches legs and repeats the routine.  She is in a zone.  Twirling.

CASSANDRA completes one last one-knee spin, then a precise dismount.  She strolls through the playground activities toward the two-story brick building.

Down the shiny wooden hallway,  past classroom doors,  glass enclosed trophy cases, a painted wall mural and a fire extinguisher, to the Girls Restroom.

Mosaic floor tiles, three stalls with swinging wooden doors, sinks with real glass mirrors, white metal paper towel dispenser, and a slick black trash can.

She chooses the middle stall, comes out and washes her hands, and returns to the playground.

Back through the crowd, considering what to do next.  She touches the front of her flowered skirt.  Her hands follow the gathers to the sides and around the back.  Something seems a little off.

She looks over her shoulder and notices kids stomping and laughing about eight feet behind her.  She senses a slight tug at her waist.

She makes an instinctive grab for her skirt in the back, but instead feels the thick elastic waistband of her shorts.  Twisting around, she sees the long white tail of toilet paper.

She squeals and hops around, wrapping the tail around herself a few times.  She tries a few backhand swats, which only become flailing panic.

A loud buzzer signals a stampede toward the building.  It’s time to line up.

See Dick run.  See Jane run.  Oh oh oh.