A to Z at Brookview Elementary

by Tom Wylie


My first grade desk was row one, seat two, behind Harvey, the tallest and dumbest in school. No one liked to play with him. Harvey sat closest to Mrs. Douglas.

She said our morning lesson was learning the letters A to Z. She told me to get the boxes of letters from the closet and to “do a good job of handing out the letters.”

The boxes were green cardboard, old and torn from lots of use. I gave a box to every first grader. Each box had scrambled letters, all in different colors, sizes and shapes. Mrs. Douglas told us to put them in alphabetical order on our desks.

As I was sitting down again, I heard a box fall to the floor and letters scatter around Harvey's desk, spilling into row two. The second graders laughed. One said, “He's so stupid.”

Harvey was crying. Mrs. Douglas went to him and said, “Try and do your best, and be neat.”

She turned to me. I smelled her perfume, and her breasts came close to my face as she whispered, “Help Harvey pick up the letters and put them in order. Tomorrow he'll go to a school for children who need special help.”

I got down on my knees next to Harvey to help. His smell was awful.

I did a bad job of handing him the letters.


Copyright © 2014 by Tom Wylie

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