Jessica is sad.
It’s Friday afternoon and the algebra class is dragging on.
Jessica is the only Mormon in this small Catholic parish school. Except for nine-year-old Chrissie in the elementary section across the narrow playground, but that hardly counts. Jessica is in high school.
It is late September, still sunny. The windows are open and sounds from other classes drift by. The two sycamores on the playground gather light on their yellowing leaves. But today, for Jessica, the world is black and red.
Yes, agreed, she has a few friends here. But the frontiers are rigid between clans. And the Word of Wisdom is a shaky rope to walk when teasers rock the poles.
Jessica is sad for things still to be lost. Lost in what she has learned to call the elusiveness of life. Words make concepts to adopt. She harbors regrets, not knowing where the pain comes from. Wishing to be someone else. Feeling guilty for her fury last night at home. Convinced of future failures.
Right now she could scribble a poem filled with doubts and hurt and scars and stains and a bleeding heart and life hanging on a hinge.
Suddenly, time stops. The teacher falls silent, lifts her head. Faces turn to the windows. The buzzing from other classes dies out. From the other side of the playground, the melody of a flute fans out over the school. It comes from the fourth grade.
It’s only one of the children, assigned to show a talent, and playing with the hesitant charm of a child. But the slow, unknown tune is carried by the wind or by angels. The school listens.
Jessica bites on her lip. A wave of bliss scatters the gloom.
She is the only one who knows. Chrissie is playing I am a Child of God.