The first day of the school year, the sixth-graders slap plastic trays onto cafeteria counters, collect neon pizzas and soggy fries. They smear their cheeks with tomato sauce, abandon trays, run screaming around the school yard. The bell rings: they run screaming around the gymnasium. The bell rings again: they run upstairs to my classroom, plop into seats, stomachs still running.
When I see the schedule, I request a meeting with the principal, ask why lunch then gym then my class on the same day and she answers every class has its challenges, I have another meeting I need to go.
That first day, I write Mr. Konrad on the board, show a printout: still lives by Frida Kahlo, slick mangos, watermelons bursting hot. I unveil an arrangement of wooden blocks. Draw what you see, I say, pay attention to how the light falls.
For a few minutes, it’s just graphite on paper. But then Natalia in the front row looks from the blocks to her paper to the blocks again, up and down, glances at the board where Kahlo’s food now hangs, the sun blazes in through the window, and before I can say anything, she lets out a jet of liquefied pizza and fries, right onto the blocks.
Samantha Steiner is a visual artist, Fulbright Scholar, and Best of the Net nominee. Her 2019 essay “To the Current Tenant” appears in the print anthology Coffin Bell 2.2., and other works are published or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Apple Valley Review, and The Citron Review. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Steiner_Reads.
Help support Jellyfish Review. $3, $15, $50, $100… every little helps a lot.
(Next: Beach Day by Gina Chung)
(Previous: Thoughts that come in unbidden from the clouds while mowing pasture and spoken into a small recorder. by Guinotte Wise)
If you are a Writer of Colour interested in sending work our way, please check out our special issue call for submissions
Art by unknown master Public Domain