Orientation

It’s a progressive school, the best in the city, the kind where you put your offspring on the waitlist almost as soon as they are in utero. During parent orientation, they tell us that the only way to understand our children’s perspective is to experience life at their eye level. When they tell us to get down on our knees, not a single one of us dares demur. There’s a collective thunk, thunk, thunk like the felling of great oaks, as our pressed grey trousers, our precisely ripped jeans, our faux-leather moto pants kiss the knots in the reclaimed wood floor. We shuffle around in our giant bodies, pitching forward with our hips and thighs, checking our watches to make sure they’re registering the workout. We make self-portraits with our oversized hands, pointedly sharing the pastels, deliberately making our strokes broader, our colors bolder, the way we imagine our children might. We sample the hors d’oeuvres that taste vaguely but not entirely like dried blood, or possibly fish, and wonder if we’re supposed to desire simpler things now, like mac and cheese. We sip at the papaya-infused water and slosh it around with our tongues, trying to recall the sourness of homemade lemonade. At circle time, we use words of one and two syllables, savoring the way they pop from our mouths like bubblegum. When they send us out for recess, we file out the big red door, and line up by the floor-to-ceiling windows, to take a turn at the swings and the monkey bars. But by now our knees hurt, and our clothes smell like pee, and we miss our mothers, and so we shove and slap and kick each other until we fall. And when at last our bodies hit the ground, limbs splayed in every direction, eyes up to the limitless sky, it’s such a blessed relief that we bawl, and we bawl, and we bawl.

Lavanya Vasudevan was born in a large city in South India that has since renamed itself. She is a recovering software engineer who lives near Seattle and reviews children’s books for Kirkus. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Jellyfish Review, Atticus Review, The Masters Review, and elsewhere. Find her on the web at lavanyavasudevan.com and on Twitter @vanyala.

Artwork by: The Collab