Jimmy sat like a small Buddha. His hands were clasped tightly together. His shirt had a predominant green stripe that matched his green corduroy pants. His hair was brown and sprouted from an expanse of freckles. Jimmy was scared. Down in the very deepest part of himself, he was terrified - they wanted to take it away from him, he knew it.
The rest of the kids were fascinated. No one had ever said 'no' to Ms. Griffin. And none of them knew Jimmy. Like really knew the things that went on in his mind. The things that mattered too him. They did not know that he was quite funny. He was good with voices. He could draw.
There was almost complete silence as the kids stared and Ms. Griffin glared - the tick, tick, tick of metal on metal from the tetherball - they were stuck in the silence, the glint of the sun. Horror. Surely. This was something. This was different. The kids savored it slowly like a caramel, letting the flavor of it slither down inside them.
Principal Crow was like an old country preacher. He was famous for his slightly bemused demeanor. He was loved. His glasses made him look like an owl, but he was not wearing them now. He was frustrated. Angry. The kids unconsciously moved forward with the smug Ms. Griffin.
"Jimmy, I understand that you disobeyed your teacher."
Jimmy didn't answer. He tried to shut his eyes and to concentrate on the tether ball.
"Jimmy. Open your hands."
There was a hurricane in Jimmy's brain. He was suddenly on fire with a kind of irrational panic. He couldn't move. Couldn't think of what would come next. That anything possibly could come next. His eyes were shut but he opened them when he smelled sweat and aftershave. Principal Crow was very close to him. He smiled. Then he grabbed Jimmy's hands and began to twist them apart. Jimmy held on for a few seconds. The kids edged closer.
And then it was gone. They had taken it, and Jimmy was sitting in the sun, surrounded by his bewildered classmates.
They had taken it, after all. Jimmy did not cry. Not until many years later.