Illustration by Janice McDonald

What would it be like, if we abolished all schools...?
A vignette

It’s a new day, and when I wake up to sunlight streaming in through the windows, I don’t hear the kids playing in the school parking lot next door.
            I haven’t heard them playing now for seven days.

I used to be jealous of them. Wake up and look out my window to see them playing together, laughing, yelling, the noise carrying across to my room.

Now I know they are somewhere, playing. Not just for twenty minutes at recess, after wolfing down their lunch so they could play longer. Laugh more.
No, now they’re playing for as long as they want.
It’s a new day.
            Jealous. I was only jealous of the play.

I run downstairs to my friend at the door, this early, like he only used to be on Saturdays.

No more waiting until 3 pm, eagerly watching to see his car drive home, wondering if he can come out and play or has homework today.
No more bouncing back and forth listening to the kids next door play, for ten or twenty minutes only, but feeling jealous of their connection.
No more friends in school while I am home. Free, but lonely.
No more friends in school.
No more anyone in school.

You’d think the freedom for me would be enough.
That I could be home, or wandering where I want to, while others have to be confined to their buildings, their bells, their homework, their school-obsessed parents.

But it wasn’t enough.

Not when all my friends were in school.
Not when I was younger, before my community,
unable to jump on a bus on my own and find people.

I waited then,
for my friends to come home from school.
I waited and I wished that they didn’t have to go.

Freedom was nice, but theirs was tangled up in mine.
Their lack of freedom affected mine.

From my loneliness to my sadness they had to suffer there.

You’d think it’d be enough to be free.

It wasn’t.

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