The Wind | Matt Tan

    It’s Wednesday, which means that every grade in the school goes outside to the parking lot to watch a flag be raised and to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Each grade from Pre-k to Eighth grade has a spot to line up in a column facing the flagpole, and each grade has a representative that comes forward to assist the raising of the flag. The pre-k through third grade representatives hold the flag, the fourth through sixth grade representatives stand there, and the sixth through eighth grade representatives hang the flag. The other students watch the flag, as it rises to the peak of the pole and start to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but I’m looking at calamity around me.
    The limbs of the trees whip back and forth like waves crashing on the shore. I hear the ringing of the door-chimes, as the wind pushes it back and forth. The American Flag flaps frantically, and the metal rings, holding the flag clash against the pole like swords and shields colliding. I hear the wind screeching; it fluctuates to a high-pitch when the wind blows the strongest. All of these create fear for me. I try to distract myself by looking at the ground and singing the song faster, as if my voice alone will cause the other students’ voices to speed up as well. Eventually, the song ends, and all grades return to their classrooms. 
    I go to a Montessori school, which means I can do whatever I want, as long as I complete all four categories (math, language and arts, science, and social studies) by the start of lunch which is at 11:00 AM. I grab my vocab book, sit on a chair, and study the words in front of me. I cover my ears and limit my vision to only the words on the page, so I can’t be distracted by the devastation that the wind is causing outside. Then, I hear and feel a burst of wind shake the building which slams open a door that was slightly ajar. Origami cranes hanging from the ceiling detach and scatter around the classroom like a flock fleeing from a tree in unison. Teachers run to close the door, and students pick up the cranes. I help to pick up the cranes, but my heart starts beating rapidly, and I can only think of the wind sweeping me off my feet and throwing me off the Earth.
    I decide to go to my safe place, the one-person bathroom, since there are no windows. I dash to the sign-out sheet and scribble my name, the date, and “9:00” in the sign-out box. I rush to the bathroom, sit on the toilet, and try to rationalize why I’m scared of the wind. The devastation that it causes, its piercing cries, and its strong shoves are reasons that come to mind. I think: “I can avoid the sight of the wind by narrowing my vision. I can avoid the sound of the wind by covering my ears, as if I were stressed and trying to ease a headache.” But I realize that there is nothing I can do to evade the feeling of the wind, and I lose all hope of dodging this fear.
    “Anyone in here?” says a student knocking on the door. I flush the toilet to make it seem as if I just finished, wash my hands, and walk out of the bathroom. I walk into the classroom and sign in on the sheet. I return to my seat and skim more words.
    Friends come to me and ask if I want to make paper mache heads with them and others outside. I go outside and see the wind rustling everyone’s hair, clothes fluttering rapidly, and a mask rolling away from a table. I fear as I hear the wind cry. I also hear laughter and see the students smiling at each other. I pause and let the wind flow around me and howl. More paper mache heads roll off the table and onto the grass, so I run to help the other students catch what is theirs.