Life Skills

The assignment was a one page composition of, What Makes You…You. It was bullshit assignment. She took it to heart though. She wasn’t going to expound on the her high ranking scrabble score or the fact she could burp the alphabet backwards or that she knew every word to the 1954 Audrey Hepburn vehicle, Sabrina. Those were all viable options … but the precocious intellect of Jennifer Johns lent itself to explaining her earnest infatuation with winter nights.  

The awkward little girl stood in front of her class. A beaming smile, pigeon toed feet and her hands trembled. Clutching the lined Hilroy paper for dear life… her nervous smile never ceased. 

“I’ve always felt safer at night. Isn’t that odd? It’s not like I’m a vampire or anything or some goth freak … I just feel warmer at night. Maybe comforted is the right word… not warmer but comforted. Especially winter nights. Walking in a field, snow crushing … the winter night is just like this cast expanse that is clean and crisp. Incorruptible. A summer night is sexy … but never clean. It’s cloying, ya know? I always feel like I’m covered in like a coat of sugar. But not winter nights. The night sky, the moon, trees and snow. Cast in this dreamy shroud of blue.” 

, “When I lie down in snow, I sink into it deep. It wraps me like a blanket. If you hold real still and slow your breathing the snow turns warm. Because although it’s cold, it is also an insulator. Just like diamonds,” 

“Thank-you Jennifer … you can take your seat now.” 

“No problemo…” 

Jennifer shrunk into her seat in her Grade 8 Life Skills class.  Her nervous smile melted in an expression not unlike shock. But behind her eye gleamed a note of satisfaction. “I said sexy infront of the class,” she thought, “I’m a subversive rebel”. A sly smile crossed her face. Although she was on e brink of being 14 years old, Jennifer resembled an eight year old boy . Besides the pigeon toed feet, she was also the proud recipient of slight buck-teeth, a messy pixie cut and a face full of freckles. Despite it still being January her nose was covered in them.


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