After waving to her mom from the foggy bus window, Anna peaked in her pink backpack. The angel’s wings stuck out from the Sunday Times her mom used to wrap the statue. She felt the smooth ceramic and tucked it back inside the paper to keep it safe. She tapped her feet as if to speed up the bouncing bus, wondering why it dawdled at every bus stop. Anna rehearsed her speech in her mind. Today was her day to show and tell, the best and scariest day of kindergarten.
Mrs. Iris stood in front of room 107 wearing her usual grey cardigan sweater with arms tightly crossed and eyes focused on her watch. “Hurry, class. Go hang your coats and sit down.”
“I brought my statue,” Anna whispered.
“Anna, you know you’re not supposed to bring anything breakable.” Mrs. Iris’s skinny lips got skinnier, and her arched eyebrows arched higher. “I’ll let you show your statue at circle time, but don’t break the rules again.”
Anna nodded and slumped in her yellow chair next to Mark. Mark rolled his pencil around the table making car noises. “Vrmm…vrmm.” His brown bangs swung across his big eyes as he swayed in his chair. Anna thought he looked like a cute squirrel who couldn’t sit still.
After a long morning of alphabet songs and counting, Mrs. Iris announced circle time. Everyone rushed to the rainbow rug. Anna proudly stood next to Mrs. Iris. Anna could feel her heart pounding as she unrolled the newspaper.
“This is a statue I made. I painted the angel my favorite color—sky blue with golden wings. After it was fired, I glazed it. See how shiny it is. I want to make another one and start a collection.”
“Very nice, Anna. Now join the circle.” Mrs. Iris turned away from Anna. She looked too much like her daughter, Stephanie, before she died of cancer. But that was two years ago; smiling should be easier by now. Mrs. Iris opened Peter Pan and continued reading from where she left off yesterday.
Anna sat still as the statue in her hands, listening to Peter’s adventures. She smiled at the thought of Wendy flying.
Mrs. Iris closed the book and announced thirty minutes of free play time. Anna loved play time. She could draw princesses or build castle towers with colorful blocks. She watched Mark play with his superhero; that gave her an idea.
She sat down next to Mark. “What are you playing?”
“This is Peter Pan, and he’s going to fight the pirates on this ship,” Mark said without looking up.
“Can I play? My angel could be Tinker Bell.”
Anna lifted her angel over the wooden ship to fly. “I’ll sprinkle pixie dust to help.” As she shook Tinker Bell, the statue flew out of her hand and crashed on the window sill. “Oh no!” All play time stopped at the explosion of broken ceramics. Anna tried not to cry, but tears trickled over her cheeks. She tried to pick up the pieces until a sharp edge sliced into her hand. The pain startled her. “Ow!”
“Anna! What did you do?”
“I was just playing with—“
“Didn’t I tell you to be careful? Hurry to the nurse while I sweep up the mess.”
On the bus, Anna decided she’d never go to school again.
On the car ride home, Mrs. Iris thought about Anna. She thought about her daughter—about the day Stephanie was so weak that a glass slipped from her hand and smashed on the floor. The day her daughter died, she died too.
“Mommy, I need another band-aid.” Anna said through sniffles.
“What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
Anna opened her backpack without a word and took out her broken statue. Then she pointed to her heart. “My teacher hates me cause I broke the statue.”
Anna’s mom wrapped her arms around her like a quilt. “I love you—more than a breakable statue.” She wiped Anna’s wet cheeks. “I don’t have a heart-size band-aid, but we can pray for the Lord to make you feel better.”
After they hugged, the phone rang. “Anna, it’s Mrs. Iris.”
“Hi, Anna. I wanted to tell you to bring your broken pieces to class tomorrow; I have some glue that should hold it together.”
Anna smiled as she put the broken angel in her backpack. She felt better already.
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