The Wall

We were early, not fashionably so. I had my ragged notebook in hand, my sweater the color of spring sunshine. When we walked in, our footsteps curious, the slate grey floor echoed our nerves.

I found a seat in the front and instantly made eye contact with the large, hand-painted wall at the far end. It was acrylic on brick, pastel on muddy brown, stories in every crack.

I heard a switch click on, flooding the room with lights that matched my sweater, breathing life into art that smelled like a wallflower. I saw five people, huddled around a table like it was their own little secret.

Jimmy played his guitar in a corner, for friends who liked his music better than him. I saw a violin on the next guy’s shoulder, he had struggle on his face and a rip on his faded white jeans.

The man in the center – I called him Karl – had his cards fanned out in the way that experts do, and a drink on the coffee table. He gambled the night away with his two other friends, mischief hidden in his dark brown eyes.

But when I was drawn into things that were more poetic than Jimmy’s guitar or Karl’s poker face and saw heads down, hair streaked with the glow of active smartphones, words tumbling into poetry with every breath, I felt Jimmy play along, Karl set his cards down and the violin? The violin was finally in tune with our shaky words.

Dear Roald Dahl,

It was my eighth birthday and a wrapped package the size of a shoebox lay quietly on my bed. I poked and prodded, gave it a good shake, then slid one finger below the tape and ripped apart the wrapping paper.

I was shocked to find a stack of novels, each brightly colored and illustrated with sharp, pointed noses and stringy hair. My parents had given me a golden ticket to a factory of over-the-top adventures and the best childhood heroes.

Some days, I wanted to glue my nosy neighbors to the ceiling and on others, I memorized the exact ingredients of George’s marvelous medicine. Danny taught me what “poaching” was and all I wanted to do that summer was travel the world in my own giant peach.

But Matilda? She stole my heart faster than she pored over her books. Filled with hope and a sense of wonder, she made me believe that we could all stand up to the Miss Trunchbulls in our lives, telekinesis or not.

With your stories, you took us on adventures that tickled our funny bones: the evil were taught lessons with thinly veiled irony and our favorite characters always found their happy ending.

These are books that crawled into my heart and stuck with me long after childhood. I hope more little girls stumble upon the magic within their pages, and find in them a companion for lonely nights and long bus rides.

A 90s kid