Freidrich was a tall, tall kid who moved syrup-slow. He strolled up to me and stood close enough to show me that he towered over me. And then he looked down. “You know what we do to teachers who give us homework,” he whispered.
I flew by the seat of my pants then. Maybe I always do. My pants launched me forward, toward Friedrich. I grabbed his arm and grinned up at him. “I bet you send us thank you notes for helping you to get so smart that you go on to get wonderful jobs and live happy lives,” I said.
I will never forget the corners of Friedrich’s mouth, the way they twitched and then slowly, slowly turned up and broke first into a grin, and then a laugh. An indulgent laugh. Friedrich was humoring me. Giving me a break.
Which was okay with me. I desperately needed one.
We walked, the two of us, arm in arm, back to Friedrich’s seat. And he indulged me again by sitting down.
From then on, Friedrich was my ally. A very valuable ally. He was big and commanding and popular with the other kids. If I told someone to sit down, Friedrich made sure they did. “Miss G says sit down,” he would rumble, and they would sit down.
I took it.
(Next week: Part V)