It was a fine spring day, the sun blazing light and making our eyes tighten in our 7 year old faces as we were lined up. Lining up is an important skill to be learned in elementary school. The teacher was trying to get us lined up so we could cross the street to the playground, a marvelous idea following the long, cold winter.
Our school consisted of 3 buildings. The largest was a single story building containing first grade, then skipping to fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. We didn't have a kindergarten class in our school, everyone starting in first grade in the fall following their 6th birthday. Beside it was a single room housing second grade, where I was one of the students. Across the highway was an old four story brick building which was largely empty, except for the third and fourth grade classrooms, which were all on the second floor for some mysterious reason.
Also across the road was the playground. There were perhaps 12 acres of open level field, kept mowed close. It was large enough for all kinds of games. Kickball, dodge ball, playing chase, and playground equipment. Monkey bars and see saws, swings and what looked like a metal hitching post. There was an area that was deep in saw dust which was grand to play in when it was dry. It was large enough so that if you wanted to, you and your friends could get out of sight of the teachers and do stuff they'd have a cow seeing. Things like practicing your flying drop kick, just like the wrestlers on TV on Saturday afternoon. Things like stealing the shoes from the nerdiest kid and tickling his feet until he turned kind of reddish blue. Maybe he turned that funny color because he was being sat on by our buddy Haystack. Haystack hadn't missed many meals in his 7 years, and the portions were generous, by the look of him. Anyway, Danny was the most ticklish kid I knew. Kids learn young all about the other kid's weaknesses.
It was our first trip across the road for the spring. We'd been stuck indoor for months, it seemed. The winter had been cold and snowy and we'd done our playtime in the school gymnasium, a dark and echoing area that was nowhere near as much fun as outdoors.
So, here we were, all lined up with our coats and gloves on, ready to bust spring wide open. Out we went, marching single file, trekking across the expanse of 2 lanes of blacktop. Onto the playground, set free as soon as we safely crossed the road like a band of wild Indians. We thundered onto the playground as quick as our short legs would allow. I can't remember how many of us there were, but it seems like the number had to be about 25. The group was large enough to require splitting, one bunch playing dodge ball while the other assailed the playground equipment. After a while the groups traded tasks with each other. It was a great day. Too bad it didn't stay that way.
Play period was close to being over. The teacher had her little ducklings all in a row, ready for the return journey to the classroom. We were stretched out for quite a ways, but in the required teacher-approved single file. I was anchoring the back end of this platoon. We started out, and I was day dreaming what it'd be like to faint or pass out. I thought it'd be a grand time to work in a little practice, in case I was ever called on to lose consciousness or anything. I simply let my eyes roll up in my head, just like the ladies fainted on all the old movies. At the same time, I pulled the fuses on my leg circuits, and they went satisfyingly limp, dumping my body to the sawdust. I was really into my routine when I heard a scream of terror. From my position I could open my eye a crack to see, and my teacher was flying toward me, face gone all grey, lips pulled back in an expression of abject horror. A little voice inside told me I had just seriously screwed up.
The little voice also gave me some really good advice, telling me I'd better keep my little act going. It seemed like a really good idea at the time. So, back into the land of the unconscious I went. She got to where my crumpled form was lying on the cold earth and she sat right down and gathered my body close to her, rocking me. She was telling me to wake up, wake up, asking if I was all right, what was the matter, please oh please wake up.
I allowed my eyes to open just a peep, then flutteringly open more fully. She patted my cheeks and smiled so happily. I felt awful, knowing I'd scared her half to death with my little stunt. I got to my feet, a little unsteady at first. She promoted me right to the head of the line and walked beside me, a hand resting lightly on my shoulder.
We made it back to the classroom with no further loss of consciousness by anybody. We didn't have a school nurse, so I didn't have to go through that particular charade. We didn't have cots but had rugs we were sometimes allowed to crash on, so I got to kick back for most of the afternoon. All in all, I thought it was rather a successful experiment.
I never repeated that experiment. I had enough empathy to feel sorry for what I'd done and enough sense to not confess to it or repeat it. My teacher was never any the wiser about the real reason why I went down like I'd been shot that fine spring day.