Tichnor Quality Views


Emily Parke, Editor

Dearest Mary Fuller,

This place is one of dreams. I have never seen such beauty, not in this life, and I never will see it again. The leaves are turning darker now, as if someone struck a match and threw it to the summery hillside, and now the woods are burning all shades of red and orange. When I walk to school in the mornings, the streets are littered with foliage. I scatter the leaves and close my eyes as they fold and snap under my boots.

Everyone here is trapped in the fine gears of clockwork. The sun rises at the same time everyday, the same time that the drugstore props open its door and Greta rushes in with her cloth-wrapped nickels to buy tobacco and candy. I button my charcoal coat while from across the street Joe Allen coaxes his Chevy to wake up. It lurches and growls, but the fine-oiled machine eventually starts so that the working man can get to the mills. Joe Allen has a mean figure, tall and broad, with the handsomest face in the Northeast. Everybody loves Mr. Allen, Mr. Joe-go-get-em Allen.

Rattling the birds from their places atop the school, the bell rings at eight. The children stir and pull on each other’s hair and laugh and kick the legs of their desks and chew on the rest of their breakfast and whine about how cold it is and how their mama says it’s bound to snow this afternoon. They’re all little echoes of my childhood self, and sometimes I think I’m okay being grown up but it really does hurt to see them be so happy and small and naive.

Part of me wonders if somewhere inside my conscious I was ever a happy child.

Anna Müller is the closest thing to myself in this school. She’s a cursed child. She is small and mousy. Her thin, blonde hair falls in ringlets around her pale cheeks. Her voice is a small squeak. Her eyes are blue, watery and cold. She moves too quickly for a little kid, like she is scared of time. Her hand flies through the alphabet. Her voice is sharp and punctuated when reciting poetry. I hear that she’s a fast runner, too.

The principal sends me outside to watch the kids during recess, mostly because I’m the newest teacher and the cold is biting. I love watching them play. They scream all of the time: when they are happy, when they get hurt, when they have to go inside, when someone wins a race. God bless you, Mary. I wonder if you’ll ever sleep with little Charlotte on the way.

Remind me to visit you when she gets here. I miss seeing you and Paul. I really do. It’s funny what a new place can do to you. It can make you forget how much you want to go home. This place especially. It is very nice here. It’s something about the air, I think. The air makes you feel sleepy. Maybe I’ll bottle it up for you.

Always for you –

Mrs. W