published in Volume 2, Issue 3 on May 21, 1995
A girl in my fourth-grade class moved away then came back and told about her new school. When she came to the name of her new principal I joked from way back in the back row, "Does he limp?" I knew immediately it wasn't funny- a dumb, smart-kid comment on the thick shoe and swinging left leg of Mr. Madson, our principal, who limped through the hollow halls of our school like a circus act you didn't dare stare at for fear he'd notice you watching that shoe, that exaggerated rise and fall of his shoulder. From way back in the back row I nearly threw up after joking about the limp, about that shoe unlike any fast sneaker we kids would race on out onto the playground-and soon the whole world where now about once a month I still feel that same sickening rise from my stomach when some careless word of mine snaps me back to that fat black shoe clumping along, minding its own business, wondering if that boy ever forgave himself for being so damn clever.