The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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Karen Landis(my mother) is a physically small woman, only about 5 foot, she, however, comes off as a much larger person. After leaving her presence most people remember looking her comfortably in the eyes when they, in fact, could not. This scene is from my mom’s childhood. She was in elementary school, probably around third grade. There was a kid that would pick on her on the walk home from school every day, and one day she stood up for herself. She wanted me to be clear that she was never punished for this.

Karen shuffled down the hallway towards the school’s exit running through her mental checklist to make sure she had everything she needed.

Math homework, flute, Snoopy lunchbox.

    She stepped out of the building and made sure that she was alone before letting out a relieved sigh and starting her walk home. She calmly took in the houses and mailboxes as she leisurely passed them.

“Hey! You!”

Oh no. Stuart Ziegler had found her. She thought she had left late enough that he wouldn’t see her. Karen felt cold fear drip down her spine as Stuart’s footsteps got closer.

“Hey! Are you deaf?” She shook her head without looking up at him. Maybe he’ll just go away. Instead of looking into his cold blue eyes she studied where the toes of her shoes met the yellow paint of the road.  

“Are you ignoring me?” he spit in her face while bending down so that the only thing in Karen could see was his weasley face.

“Is that lunchbox new?” he sneered showing off is yellow crooked smile. No. No. No. My birthday present. He can’t take my birthday present. Just then is skeletal hand wrapped around the handle and tugged. He got it out of Karen’s grip and cruelly cast it onto the black concrete.

suddenly a primal rage took over Karen’s body. Without her say so her arm started to move, and time seemed to slow down. It seemed as if she was watching someone else when the corner of her flute case came into contact with the left side of Stuart’s jaw.  

Karen didn’t come back to her body until Stuart was limping towards his house crying for his mother, and an audience of every child in her class had gathered around. For a moment, all that could be heard were the distant cries of the injured bully. And then. Everybody cheered.

Flutes for a Fight

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Fall 1976
outside of Pittsburgh, PA

Karen Landis(my mother) is a physically small woman, only about 5 foot, she, however, comes off as a much larger person. After leaving her presence most people remember looking her comfortably in the eyes when they, in fact, could not. This scene is from my mom’s childhood. She was in elementary school, probably around third grade. There was a kid that would pick on her on the walk home from school every day, and one day she stood up for herself. She wanted me to be clear that she was never punished for this.

Recorded by Claire Landis on June 5, 2019
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