By Lorry Myers
On the first school day of every new month, my third grade teacher became the Art Teacher. Mrs. Eddens’ art projects that year represented the months of the school calendar. In September, we colored book covers with colored pencils. October pumpkins were painted with thick orange tempura paint on black construction paper. For November we used rounded scissors to shape paper into turkey feathers. Christmas, of course, was Christmas trees, January came with party hats and in February, it was snowmen glued with cotton balls.
Then came March, my favorite art project because Mrs. Eddens, the Art Teacher, brought in two different kinds of popcorn. The un-popped kernels her students used to outline roaring lions and the popped corn we used to create fluffy white lambs to represent the changing winds of March.
I just wanted to eat the popcorn.
When the popcorn days passed, the pictures were boxed up to make room for rickrack Easter Eggs. After that, my third grade school year was almost over, and the year-end art show a few weeks away. The teachers started the process of sorting through the artwork that their students had created throughout the school year. Each class had a section of the hallway outside their door and the space inside their classroom to showcase the work of budding young artists.
Mrs. Eddens stored the year’s art projects in the double-door closet at the back of the room. While the class was working on mimeographed worksheets that tinted our fingers purple, Mrs. Eddens was busy dragging the stored artwork out of the closet to choose what to display.
The room was quiet in the afternoon sun as my classmates and I listened to Mrs. Eddens rummaging in the closet as we tried to focus on our worksheets. She had the art boxes labeled by months and stacked on shelves around the closet. Mrs. Eddens would drag a box off the shelf and then pause to open it as if she’d forgotten what was inside. Thirty minutes later, the floor under the coat rack was lined with boxes, labeled with magic markers.
Only March was missing.
It was the last box on the shelf and when Mrs. Eddens pulled it down, she made a strangled noise that caught the attention of the class. Her students watched as our teacher examined the March box that somehow had a hole in the side with pieces of shredded cardboard drifting to the floor. Mrs. Eddens had a curious look on her face as she balanced the box in one hand in order to remove the lid to look inside.
When box top came off, a mouse shot out and landed on Mrs. Eddens’ sweater, clinging there for dear life. My teacher let out a piercing wail, the kind I hope I never hear again, and dropped the box to the floor which set the rest of the mice family free to scatter across Mrs. Eddens’ feet.
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.