Trajan joining his brother at NFA during Langston’s senior year filled Mrs. Quigley with renewed ambition. He was a delight unto himself despite lacking much of his brother’s corporeal appeal. He was a tad taller, though even more slender, the length of him spread sparingly across a gangly frame. Where Langston’s eyes were guarded, walled off to anything beyond his immediate reach, Trajan’s gleamed with considerable capacity for comprehension, compassion for someone else’s condition, the idle yearnings of Mrs. Quigley included. Trajan became her new favorite subject; his brother continuing to prove resistant, Trajan was fresh clay to mold.
“Can anyone tell me what the colonists most wished to share with the Indians?” Mrs. Quigley asked at the start of Trajan’s second term in her class.
“Thanksgiving?” Ina Murdoch asked with a tentative raise of her arm, unsure of her answer.
“Interesting, Miss Murdoch, but Thanksgiving was originally intended to celebrate good harvest, a tribute to the heavens for plentiful bounty. That the Native Americans had a similar tradition is an unfortunate coincidence that resulted in the holiday as it is celebrated today.”
Trajan liked that Mrs. Quigley passed judgment in her classroom, related facts as she saw them, though he suspected the school board frowned upon this practice. Administer the approved curriculum as prescribed; don’t preach to our kids. His mother had suffered most of her tenure under similar restrictions, wishing to send strong-minded individuals into the world. The school board seemed to prefer spoonfed, cookie-cutter thinking.
“Anyone else?” Mrs. Quigley soldiered on.
“A percentage of the slot earnings,” Bunny Sessions joked, stirring a tiny roar of laughter among his classmates.
“Thank you, Mr. Sessions, but I would venture a guess that the term ‘one-armed bandit’ had a different connotation at the time of colonization.”
Trajan pushed his hand in the air. “Religion?”
“Mr. Hopkins! Yes, the early American settlers felt it imperative to share Christianity with the Indian,” she beamed, locking eyes with Trajan before averting her stare.
“Every pagan needs saving. Isn’t that right, Mrs. Quigley?” Deshawn Hadley questioned. The Hadleys were Mashantucket Pequot. He attended classes every weekend on tribal cultural enrichment. His tribal lessons had begun conflicting with the school board–approved curriculum, causing him to act out more than he would have otherwise.
Mrs. Quigley had just asked him to elaborate on his perspective when the bell rang, signaling time to shift to sixth period—algebra II—followed by PE to end the school day, allowing them to dress early for soccer practice.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish