Roses are red, violets are blue, it’s nine o’clock, and time for school.
I said goodbye to my dad and walked into the building. The hallway smelled different today. It smelled like adult! Sure enough, there were a couple grownups standing in front of my first grade classroom. Ms. Robinson was talking to a man and a woman. Standing near them, was a little girl. She was small and skinny, with straight hair, black as the night, cascading down her back. She had the curious expression all newcomers had, but there was a strong trace of anxiety.
“Yes, yes! We just here from the South Korea.” The woman said. She looked like the little girl’s mom. I wondered where “The South Korea” was. Did people there celebrate Halloween too? Nonetheless, I approached the girl. She seemed nice. However, she did not like my friendly gesture, instead hiding behind her mother’s legs, muttering something to her parents that was incomprehensible to my ears. She must not like me, I thought. So I hurried off to join my friends in the classroom.
Emily was brushing her long dazzling curls, the color so light it always reminded me of snow. Joanna had her head in a book, her blue eyes bored into the pages I was afraid they were going to fall out. No one was aware of the lonely girl standing rigidly outside the room.
The bell rang and my teacher walked in, pulling the girl along with her. She was reluctant, and jerked away from Ms. Robinson’s touch, like a startled animal recoiling from the mouth snare. Her eyes sweeping across the classroom, Ms. Robinson didn’t notice the girl’s reaction, but I did. Why was she so nervous? Did her cat die yesterday? I would be really sorry about that. My instinct told me to go comfort her, but recollecting our encounter in the hallway, I decided other wise.
“This is our new classmate. Her name is Jin Park. Now, Jin my dear, why don’t you go find yourself a seat.”
The girl, Jin Park, made no move. Instead, to our utter astonishment, she began to cry. Bursts of tears rolled down her cheek, dripping onto the carpet from her chin. Her sobs were small but penetrating everyone’s hearts. I saw Joanna look up from her book and Emily covering her mouth in surprise.
For a long moment we all looked at her in silence. Then Ms. Robinson started to calm her, whispering in a rapid yet soothing tone. We soon joined in, saying comforting things to her. It did not work. Jin Young only sobbed harder. As we all wondered what might possibly be wrong, Ms. Turner informed us that she couldn’t understand English. What she said next totally caught me off guard.
“Rachel, why don’t you help her translate English.”