In front of the school a colorful group of children got off the bus. Among them, Maya an Ann, who, as any other kid in the fourth grade, came to school alone. For the first time without their moms.
Yesterday, dressed in white blouses and navy blue skirts they listened to the director’s speech on the hot schoolyard. Today, clouds covered the sky and a cool breeze blew. As if the summer ended overnight. Maya pulled the hood over her head. As usual she was freezing when she felt stressed.
Ann hasn’t even zipped up her jacket. And though from the sky already fell the first drops, in her hand jiggled a still closed yellow umbrella.
“In fourth grade it will be entirely different” – these words were rattling in Maya’s head all the time. Everyone said so. Maya was afraid of this mysterious “different”. Until now they had every lesson with the same teacher who liked Maya very much and always gave her the best marks.
It looked like Ann didn’t think about what was going to happen today. She bent and took big steps, blinking her eyes and pouting lips.
“Heavy .”she said, imitating the voice of Donald Duck.
Maya laughed quietly. Although she was much higher than Ann, she also felt on her shoulders the weight of the schoolbag. So many new subjects! For each one a new textbook and a new teacher. Will she keep getting the best grades and will the new teachers like her? And what if she lets everybody down? Her mom who used to tell aunts and neighbors about every A she got? Her dad, who proudly looked at her school certificate? And what will other children in her group think? Surely Tony will overtake her. Or Pola, who always considered Maya’s best grades were unfair.
“I wonder how is it going to be during History and Nature courses today,”ighed Maya. These were the two subjects she was the most frightened of.
“Most importantly that in the afternoon will be PE,” concluded Ann and yellow umbrella merrily whirled in her hand.
Ann, as usual, didn’t worry about anything, although in the third grade she got only C or D. “So how will she cope in the fourth grade?” – thought Maya, but never said it out loud. If Ann began to worry, it would became very sad. Even when they were about to take a terrible test, Ann was able to make the whole group laugh. Everyone in the class wanted to sit with Ann, but she chose Maya to be her best friend.
They passed the school gate. Maya felt a tingling in her stomach. Then she looked at smiling Ann and felt a little lighter. She knew if she survive this day it would be thanks to Ann.
When I was going to school on the day my fourth grade started I felt like Maya. Back then and many times later in my life, when a new task awaited me, it seemed to me as I would carry a heavy schoolbag on my shoulders . What would this mysterious “different” mean? What if I let everybody down? What if others will think that I am not so good as they used to think?
Many years passed until I found at last Ann in myself. I understood that I don’t always have to succeed.
In the fourth grade it is entirely different. That’s true. But how much easier is it to survive the way to school, when you laugh and brandish a yellow umbrella. When Maya grows up, she will probably regret that in her childhood she wasn’t like Ann.
The text was originally written in Polish and translated by the author.
Polish fiction writer who writes uplifting stories