At School Boys Longing Long Gone

At School Boys Longing Long Gone

Vintage School Clock (Photo Credit: Hindsvik/sfgirlbybay)

We always hoped the big round gray clock in the front corridor with its black hands would fall to the floor and smash into a million smithereens but no it never did it never let us off the hook and never let us out of prison early it was a jailor that clock

It never let us out of prison early it was a jailor that clock and didn’t care about the girls either the girls passing underneath in front of us and too soon the girls had skipped beyond the danger we fantasized and the rescue we envisioned as they passed beneath the huge face of the school clock in its steel casing the black finger of the minute hand that would swing down a notch from earlier to later inexorably slow but the girls weren’t afraid or even aware of peril because they were instead more focused on keeping their skirts from going static-y about their legs it was January and cold and dry perhaps and the bright light shining around the edges of the double doors at the hall’s far end made an outline a corona a halo about the edges of their legs their skirts too

Their skirts flapping in the halo too soon the girls had skipped beyond the danger and their soft hair was very soft and their skirts didn’t cling in the bright light and so we saw the knobby bones of their legs a flicker of dark socks but when we followed them the girls would vanish to wherever it is that girls who vanish vanish to.

The girls would vanish and looking into classrooms the only refuge they could have entered we would see every other face but theirs the hair not so soft the skirts clinging all static-y to the legs the knobby knees hidden and no light no corona no halo we had overshot their trail somehow ending up in the Lower School amid increasing scrutiny from fussy nagging teachers a confusing swirl of finger paintings the sour smell of egg tempera the jars of opened paste a yellowing crust around the rims

And so the jars of opened paste and yellowing crust and the sour smell of egg tempera trigger the unwilled memory of all these meaningless pursuits the various sightings of the girls the image of their gaggle moving down the central hallway the halo the struggle with their clingy skirts the soft hair

But what did they know of the static-y skirts the soft hair and our memories our meaningless pursuits those lonely janitors at night yes lonely silent sleepy perhaps black circles circling their eyes they cleaned this central hallway always at night lonely and had to grumpily erase scrub away efface a penciled arrow some other kids had drawn along the wall for fifty feet telling themselves that this would lead them to the vanishing girls and far beyond where they or we would speak yes speak at last to the girls with their soft hair their legs their black socks asking what on earth had troubled them and feeling all too sharply what had troubled us

There finally we would speak yes speak at last to all the girls who vanished where girls who vanish vanish to if only we could find their vanishing that point that secret room but the arrow never pointed right no never no it never did we only sometimes caught a glimpse of dark socks brown penny loafers rounding a corner or saw the girls from afar carefully slipping books into a cubbyhole or braiding each other’s soft hair into harder braids French or pig tails or ponytail gestures that made us feel slightly uneasy slightly jealous that they could touch each other so

But they could touch each other so while we could not touch them so easily it was the same with their pale or brown faces drifting slowly past us out of reach or feeling and really they seemed so far away while we pretended not to stare not looking for them not knowing they existed pretending they were not struggling with knobby knees and static-y skirts while all the time we knew the girls didn’t know and weren’t pretending either no the girls weren’t looking for us at all not staring nor pretending just skipping past the danger and the huge grouchy merciless school clock with its inexorable black hand counting pointing following their softness and their glimmering coronas before the girls disappeared so soon too soon around that final corner gone forever shimmering only


About Malcolm Farley

Writer, Photographer, Poet, Imagineer
This entry was posted in Musings, Prose and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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