Good Narrative Principles

Back to School


Barry, his Mom and twin sisters barely touched breakfast, though Dad had gone out of his way to make banana pancakes, a good start he believed for the first day of school. Nerves mounting, Barry insisted that he was now old enough to wait by himself for the bus. But Mom said something about a boy named Etan Patz and let it be known that the subject was no longer open to debate. She stopped to consult a mirror, dab on her lipstick and off they went, trudging up the hill that in the winter would become impossibly icy and slippery. They waited. Gradually, more kids, mostly without their parents, trickled from their homes including that girl Sally who was in his class last year and had a way of going overboard on her homework that annoyed him. Sally’s Dad stood next to Barry’s Mom and they fell into a thick conversation, reminding Barry of the nervous rat-tat-tat rhythm of trying to talk to the sports kids last year during gym. The bus rounded the bend and all the kids cheered. Barry waved goodbye to his Mom as he took his seat but she didn’t return his wave. Instead, her attention was locked on Sally’s Dad and she laughed in a way that he had seen only twice before. Barry couldn’t help but wonder if somewhere deep inside Sally hid a funny person, one who was secretly as hilarious as her Dad.

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