Rebecca (beeker121) wrote,

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LJI:28 The Copernican Principle (home game)

Everyone knew that the best thing on the playground was the merry-go-round.  It was a tall cone of metal and wood that looked a little like a witch’s hat: a tall center poll with supports angling down to the brim of benches, and another set of spokes radiating out from the center at bench height.  It was probably built with the intention of rides going something like this: one or two kids sitting on each bench while a few others held on to the supports and walked it around in a lazy circle.  But on our playground everyone who could found a handhold, would run like crazy pushing the thing around, and then at some instant jump on the bench and ride until you were dizzy.
Charmaine transferred into our school in the sixth grade.  She was blond and slim with delicate features.  She had lived in a big city so of course she was cooler than any of us.  Her last name was next to mine in the alphabet so we had lockers next to each other.  She was nice, said hello, but she was too involved with the best friends she quickly made to pay much attention to me.
The merry-go-round was always packed, usually there were more kids pushing than could get a seat on the benches.  A buddy system was worked out – two people would both push and take turns riding when the time came.  Still, recess was never long enough for everyone to have a turn.  Surprisingly few kids got injured, even though the black top was unforgiving if we lost our balance and tripped.
Charmaine and Lana had a fight.  I don’t know what it was about, but it meant there was an empty seat at her lunch table.  One morning a few days later we said hello at our lockers, like we usually did and then Charmaine kept talking.  She asked me if I wanted to sit at her lunch table.   Of course I said yes.
A few boys got tired of waiting for turns and came up with a new way to ride.  They ducked under the benches when it was still and would push on the inside spokes.  The spokes were wood and only about six inches wide, so when the yell came to stop pushing and ride it was possible to sit on them-- barely.
Sitting at Charmaine’s table was a little overwhelming.  I had to learn the nicknames they had given all of our classmates and pay more attention to what everyone else was wearing than I was used to doing.  I was told that I should wear blue or green to make the most of my skin tone, and I started getting to school early to meet up with the girls to put on makeup. I didn’t have any of my own because my mom wouldn’t let me wear it yet, but Kitty and Shelly would share with me.  I started reading the Sweet Valley High books they all liked, even though I thought they were silly.  Rob asked to sit next to me at a basketball game, though he spent the whole time asking me questions about Charmaine.
I decided to try running and riding in the center of the merry-go-round one spring day.  It was exciting and scary so close to the center, but worth it.  At my locker after recess Charmaine said that I looked sweaty and messy and shouldn’t ride the merry-go-round any more, it was for babies.  So I stopped.
In an assembly they announced that the playground was going to be remodeled over the summer to replace the old, unsafe equipment with new and better things.  At lunch that day Charmaine told us that the playground at her old school had been awesome, and she hoped we’d be getting one like that.  I said I’d miss the merry-go-round and everyone laughed at me.  I realized I was twisting myself into knots to be someone I wasn’t for these girls who I didn’t even like so much.  I stopped eating lunch with them, and went back to just saying hello to Charmaine at our lockers.  We never had a fight so she let me just fade out of her orbit back into the real world.  I rode the merry-go-round every day until the end of the school year.
That summer, they tore the merry-go-round down.

LJ Idol rolls on, to read this week's entries from people still in the game click these lovely blue words.
Tags: fiction, lj idol, playground

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