“I had no idea the child was epileptic…”
Ms. Melody’s hands trembled in her lap as she answered the string of questions put forth by Mr. Brown, the principal. As J sat across the small space in the waiting niche from the two adults, she couldn’t help but to sense a bit of irony circling overhead, even at age 5. She casually let her eyes wander over to the nurse’s station, where her best friend in the world lay “unconscious” after all of the commotion.
S skillfully turned her head slightly to the right and peeled open one eye with careful attention, winked the eye quickly at her friend to reassure her that she was, after all, just fine, and then rolled and began to groan loudly.
“She’s waking up!”
cried J as she popped up from her chair and rushed over to S’ side, kneeling down closely to make sure that they would have the few seconds of private dialogue they needed to get out of the day’s cluster-fuck, unscathed.
“Here, here S – quick! Take this, hurry, give me your hand!”
Without a second’s hesitation, S shot her right hand out secretly, keeping it hidden between their tiny forms as she did. J slapped a key into her S’ palm, being careful to curl S’ small fingers up around the rough edges until S’ hand was closed tightly around it. The two savored a short moment of “the know” (the childhood title they used for their’ extraordinary ability to communicate almost telepathically), in which they shared a mental image of the overall escape plan.
“Hit the lights on your way out, would ya?”
S gave J’s request a quick nod of agreement as she began to sit herself up and ready for her mark.
And with that, the room became an explosion of activity all at once: papers flying everywhere, voices hollering, doors opening and slamming closed behind small, blurry blobs of pure motion. The fire alarm began to sound then, just as S made her way safely through the side exit and brushed her hand downward across the light switch. The building went dark; the fire-bell klaxon blaring with a Doppler affect overhead, the girls met up outside the office and slipped easily out through the rotten and retired drainage pipe that had eroded away enough to leave a child-sized passage. J being well-aware of S’ tendency to escalate situations without necessarily meaning to, she forced S to carry on ahead while she waited at the mouth of the passage exit to be certain that nobody had followed them through somehow.
It was another half hour before J made it to her house, where S had already made apple and peanut butter snacks for them.
“Your Dad says I can keep your house-key and he will just make you a new one…”
S said matter-of-factly as she crunched a piece of green apple.
J suddenly sat up and wiped her face with her filthy hand, shocked and beginning to worry.
“Does he know? You told him!?”
S rolled her eyes, an expression that J endeared deeply in her best friend.
“Um…I had to tell him, he drove past me at the crosswalk and pulled over to pick me up…I didn’t want him to take me back to school because he didn’t know better!!!…sorry, he’s not mad…”
J burned S with a look of sheer dubiousness.
“He said we shoulda called him as soon as Ms. Melody gave me a seizure again, so that we coulda avoided all that time in the principal’s office…he thinks we spend too much time in there, anyway…”
The two girls crunched loudly on the snacks and caught their breath, collectively.