Knee highs and freckles and unwashed jeans and dirty Converse. Vignettes By shoni Hallock-martin

When little kids are little they don't know how to say big words like specific or library and they really don't know how to spell unless its phonetically. Words have y’s instead of i’s and extra eeeeee’s like in the word reed. Except it's not reed it's read but you don’t know that when you're young. So, the teachers in the big school that you don't remember most of your time in because you were too young to remember but old enough to know that you hated it and wanted to forget, make you do spelling tests.

I really wanted to do well in school, I always have. Trying to impress my parents and make them proud. So when Mrs. Hass in my first grade class hands out that spelling test, I’m nervous beyond belief but hopeful. Sitting there trying to figure out how many I could get wrong and still get an okay grade. 1 wrong is a 90%, 2 is an 80%, 3 is a 70%, and that just won't do, so I can only get 2 wrong or else I’ll fail the entire first grade. She makes us put up these big blue, green, yellow, red, orange, purple, blockers so we couldn't see each others tests and hands out the papers, one by one.

Its okay its okay its okay you can do well on this planet is spelled P L A N E T and garden is G A R D E N and barbeque is B A R B ...... oh god is there an e after b? Can’t you spell barbeque multiple ways? Oh no oh no oh no I can't remember and then she hands me the paper and I'm furiously writing my name on the top of the paper and spelling out these words she says out loud so fast because I think if I write it faster it means I know it really really well. And I'm just so focused on this spelling test that I don't even hear the boy try and speak to me the first time. But then I hear it and turn to him.

Is the word island number 9 or 10? Does it go here or here? And he points to his paper and I look over because I’m just trying to be helpful and I say oh I think its number and then she cuts me off. Big booming voice. Right behind me. She says Shoni were you looking at his paper? And I say yes but I was trying to help him but she doesn't here it or care because the next thing I know is my paper is being taken away and I'm being sat in a big blue chair in the front of the classroom because she thinks I was trying to cheat and everyone is watching and she tells me I'm getting a zero. A zero a zero a zero. A zero is no good and she yells at me and I start to cry but she doesn't care because the rest of the kids have to finish their spelling test.

So I sit there. On this stupid big blue chair and all eyes are on me and my cheeks are the color of the pen Mrs. Hass uses to fix our mistakes. And I'm sobbing and sobbing and sobbing and I think I'm gonna throw up and there's hiccup's coming out of my throat and it burns and oh god she's gonna tell my parents and my parents are going to hate me and I'm going to fail the whole first grade and then my life will be ruined. I was just trying to be helpful. HE asked ME the question but he’s not sitting in a big blue chair bawling HIS eyes out in front of the class. HE doesn't get a zero.

Then the rest of the kids are done with their spelling test and they're going out to recess or the next class or to lunch I can't even think straight because they just watch me. Me and my stupidity sit in this big blue chair. My cheeks are brighter than a fire engine. I wish to evaporate like the water in a puddle when the sun comes out. But I just sit there and continue to let the rain fall.

The worst part of it all was I was never intending to cheat by looking over at someone's paper. Mrs. Hass had a basket full of extra copies of the spelling words and that basket was right by my feet. Didn’t even have to turn my head to see the words.

My name has five letters and 2 syllables. Its often pronounced wrong and questioned. “Why Shoni? Wheres that come from? Is it a family name? Is it because of your religion?”

My mother found my name in a baby book. Looking through all the Emily’s and Jane’s she decided to pick Shoni. It means beautiful in Hebrew and we happen to be Jewish by blood, although that’s not why my mother picked the name. She thought it was unique, and my father wanted to keep up the tradition of naming his kids something you wouldn’t normally hear, like Cyrus, aka my brother.

My name is spelled S H O N I and pronounced show-knee. It is not often found on keychains or mugs or $2 bracelets you can get from Claire’s. My name is one that appears on a $15 bracelet my father got hand made for me when we were in Cozumel. It means the world to me, a soft bracelet with my name on it, just for me and only me. My mother bought me my very own keychain last Christmas with my name on it as well. It’s a silver heart with the words: “Shoni. With all my love, Mom” engraved into it. That also means the world to me. The chain part of it broke though, I need to fix that.

I have no idea how my name makes other people feel. Do they like the sound of it? Do they think good things when they hear it? Do they never want to hear that name again? No idea. All I know is that I like it. I definitely look like a Shoni though, that's for sure. A weird name for a weird person. But I guess in some places it might seem ordinary. I should go to one of those places some time, just to see what it’s like.

My name is all the colors my hair has been and all the colors it will be. My name is the odd knee high socks I like to wear and a big smile with rosey cheeks and freckles. My name is the bandages on my thighs and my hollowed out eyes and unwashed jeans. It makes me feel like there is a new beginning and also like there is no hope. Sometimes it makes me feel small, because I am only defined by a series of sounds. Sometimes it makes me feel big and mighty, because that name has so much to it. It is everything and nothing to me. One big antithesis. It is confusing and all over the place and hard to spell and hard to say and it is my name and I love my name.

Yes, I am writing a vignette about writing vignettes. This is because I could not decide on what to write about. Should I write about piercings or plants or my two homes? Can I even write a vignette about the antithesis between my two homes? Am I allowed to use questions in a vignette? I do hope so.

My teacher told us our assignment for tonight was to write a vignette. She told us with a heavy sigh and a disheartened look in her eye. Her hair seemed a little disheveled, but so did the rest of the world, so I don’t blame her. It was not a good day. It was only first period but everyone already wanted the day to end. And my English teacher wanted us to write vignettes, so I wrote one about my name.

I think the one I wrote about my name is alright. I like it, at least. I tend to do this thing where if I get really excited about writing, I kind of disregard the instructions. But right now I'm trying to follow them but it's been exceedingly difficult because I'm not very familiar with vignettes or how to write them and I'm also very excited to read this book because I'm already in love with the author and I love books like this and also run on sentences. Are we allowed to have run on sentences? Its seems like Sandra Cisneros had plenty and run on sentences make me happy and also I like how we read them because it's like how my thoughts work. Just a plethora of thoughts that all makeup billions of run on sentences.

I think this book of vignettes is going to become one of my favorites, I can tell. And I really do like writing in general but I couldn’t really find my style/type of writing but I never knew vignettes existed until a couple of days ago and I think they are my favorite thing ever. They're like my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Just little mini short stories that kind of go all over the place but also stay on one topic, and that's why I’m just really excited to be writing one right now. I probably sound like a child on a sugar high with all of my run on’s. I also like starting sentences with and because it just feels so right. And also it feels like Im breaking grammar laws so thats exciting. If I write any more vignettes in the future I will use plenty of and’s to start a sentence.

I hope I’m writing this vignette semi-correctly. At the least, I hope this page and a third of writing amuses someone.


Created with images by Brida_staright - "spring school study" • condesign - "key keychain old" • Pexels - "fountain pen notebook paper"

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