By Kiley Bense
We scaled the fence when the teachers weren’t looking; it seemed a structure made for climbing. We’d sit at the top, one leg dangling over the other side. Then the whistle sliced through the air and we had to jump down, bite our lips, and pretend to blush. We sat on the swings, trying to fly. We whispered ghost stories and braided clovers into crowns. We folded construction paper into stiff fortune tellers, chanted rhymes, and skipped rope, covered miles of asphalt with chalk drawings of our fantasies.
One spring, we clustered at the edge of the yard, a copse where trees’ roots erupted from dusty soil. We kneeled in the dirt, clutching twigs, our attention focused on a hunk of pink quartz, ten inches across and mottled with rusty residue. We attempted, every day, to clean its crevices. We believed it was valuable—that it might even be a giant jewel, a crystal dropped into our schoolyard by accident or magic.
About the Author
Kiley Bense is a writer and journalist based in New York City and originally from Pennsylvania. Her writing has recently appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, River Teeth, and Consequence. She was one of the 2018 winners of the Poets & Writers Amy Award for poetry and is currently pursuing an MFA in nonfiction at Columbia University, where she is the online editor for the literary magazine Columbia Journal. Read more of her work at kileybense.com.
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