She’s standing there next to me. I’m dissecting and I’m getting sort of skinnier and taller and I’m getting a little conscious of my crew cut and my weight and that I have on one of these T-shirts on that say Stolen From the Hammond High Track Department.
I begin to look at this girl sideways and she’s the most beautiful creature I ever saw. She is like Margot Fontaine. Made out of alabaster, made out of ivory. She radiates. She has this perfume, this aura, this aroma.
Up ahead is Esther Jane hitting Josway, and I begin to think what terrible people they are. Pearl is just quietly going along, writing in her notebook. She’s the kind of girl who writes in her notebook with a tiny backward hand and she makes little round dots over the i’s. All the while I’m beginning to feel this sense of change. It is the beginning of a mature hang-up, the beginning of being bugged, and I don’t know how to talk to her now—I’d failed so far.
She says, “What is it?”
“Pass the scalpel, please.”
She says, “Oh, yes.”
I take the scalpel and I cut a little bit. She watches. I’m becoming very delicate. I step back. Miss Reader is standing up there, walking back and forth the way teachers do when the lab session is under way. She slips over and takes one look at me. She looks down at my notebook and I have begun to write real good. Kids really do these things, they begin to try to improve. She walks on, and then she comes back and says, “Don’t bother Pearl.”