We Were Nine |
I think the sun is a flower,
That blooms for just one hour.
In elementary school there is such a thing as accelerated readers. I was in that group, which I enjoyed more than any other period in school (save P.E. and recess). We had an accelerated readers book; a whole extra book of stories in addition to our normal text, complete with higher quality, dreamy artwork on the cover. And these books we got to purchase and keep. We were told to write in them, to highlight and to do what so many Literature teachers reinforced thereafter, “Always read with a pen.” Now this is reading, I thought, digging into the mud and guts of the words up to the elbows as I wrote notes in the margins in preparation for class discussion. We read many stories that year, but there was one in particular that mattered.
Accelerated readers was in a different classroom because it was not taught by my teacher, which is a big deal in elementary; a place where you practically live in one room under the guidance of one person. In the back of this other classroom, the teacher would wait for us, sitting at the inset crook of the half-moon shaped reading table as we students fanned out, facing her, along the wide arc of its outer, crescent edge. The students in her class where already there, of course; it was their room, so they had the seats furthest away from the teacher. (Those seats being the two radiuses at the far edges that formed the diameter.) Except the ones who wanted to learn: Those eager students sat in the center. My seat usually fell somewhere between those extremes. It was our third week. She started the discussion by asking me, me, what I thought of this week's reading and I breathed, “I loved it.” The story was about a girl and her classmates on Venus.
I don’t know what happened to my book; I think it must be around the house somewhere (I hope), I can’t remember the title of the story, I was never aware of the author’s name in the first place, but through time the tale has stayed with me. I think about it now and then; the major beats. It's like remembering your childhood friend. The one who moved away and you haven't seen since.
. . .
I punched in a few key words, “venus,” “class,” “girl,” “rain,” “sun,” and immediately rediscovered:
All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury (PDF)
When I write Greyfeather, I am aware that I have a slightly unconventional way of formatting, most of which has to do with influence from the way I build moments in my screenwriting.
It had been raining for seven years; thousands upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands.
On this read I immediately noticed Bradbury’s tangible and poetic description. Fundamentally, I’m certain All Summer in a Day was included in our lessons so as to teach imagery via simile and metaphor in a way that made sense to kids and also explored a moral lesson that was relevent.
But, I also noticed,
The author’s formatting is somewhat similar to mine. Or mine is like his. More so than in any other work of short fiction I’ve seen yet.
The things we carry? Perhaps. The study of nature and nurture is an imprecise science, after all.
The story is four pages long. Print it out, have a coffee or a tea or the like and enjoy the read.
You can also purchase a collection of Mr. Bradbury’s works from, you know, a bookstore.
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