I became ill right after lunch, but I wasn’t some little kid. I was in the sixth grade. I was going to tough it out. My teacher, Mrs. Georgia Jones, did permit me to put my head down on my desk. I must’ve dozed, because I remember being awakened by a commotion within the room, a general buzz of nervous excitement. Mrs. Judy Caruthers, a high school P.E. teacher and the mother of a classmate, was standing in the hall door, talking with the teacher. I think it was Mrs. Caruthers who delivered the news. I forgot my illness. One boy cheered and was rebuked sharply by Mrs. Jones. Everyone was alert and paying attention, a rare instance indeed on a Friday afternoon. In a nominal sense, the school day resumed, and after a surreal couple of hours it ended on schedule. Normally I would have walked home on a mild autumn day, but owing to my upset stomach and to the pervasive unease that had descended upon us all, I went to my mother’s beauty shop after school that day, a walk of only a block or so. I hung out there for a while, breathing the fumes of the permanent-wave solution and taking comfort in the familiar teasing and doting of the beauticians and customers. Eventually, my mother gave me cab fare, probably a quarter, and I took a taxi ride home, arriving in a different world than existed when I’d left for school that morning.