The children in Ms. Mecca's class wandered in and about the desks in the classroom. They were pretending to be snakes. Ssssss. Sometimes fierce, ferocious snakes. Some were giggling snakes.
Carrie had come in from recess frightened. They had seen a snake in the grass, and she was scared. 'What did the snake look like?' the teacher asked, and several voices piped up at once. 'It was BIG!' 'It wasn't very big!' 'Green! Bright green!' 'Yup!' 'It moved away very fast and we couldn't find it any more.'
Carrie's face was swollen from tears and Ms. Mecca said, 'Everybody gets scared by something.'
'Do you think we should go find it and kill it?' a kid called Tiger asked.
The teacher looked up to see and hear what they thought.
'We always kill snakes in our yard.'
'That was a green snake! They don't hurt anybody.'
'I used to keep a snake in an aquarium, and then I let it out because we were leaving town and couldn't take it with us.'
'Sssss!' said Carrie's best friend, and Carrie shoved her lightly. She was feeling better.
'What else are you afraid of?' Ms. Mecca asked the class.
'Big dogs!' said Mitch, the littlest kid in the class.
'Grrr,' said Carrie. 'Let's be big dogs!'
'Woof! Woof' 'Owwwww! Owoooo!' And the kids growled and shoved and showed their teeth. wandering among their desks.
The rest of the hour, which was to have been spent on times tables, was spent being scary. Snakes, big dogs, alligators, spiders, butterflies, rain and sharks ... the neighbor kid down the street. The kids made friends with every fear, and those that wouldn't be friends, they left them alone, or gave them a salute. They counted their fears and multiplied them and divided them and the bell rang. The children disappeared like minnows in a stream.
Ms. Mecca washed and left an apple from her lunch pail for the principal who growled at her and made her stammer, who hardly would ever say hello. She set it on the little table near the closed door with the sign that read 'PRINCIPAL'. She walked home with a light heart.