In Seventh Grade

Laura Moe

We lived in a gated yellow palace with a staff of servants and a flat roof in the Indian Sub-continent. Maybe it wasn't a palace, but by American standards we lived pretty high on the hog. We had a cook, house-boy, gardener, two drivers and a night security guard, who all lived in a cramped stuffy servants quarters above the garage. 

Our house was large with tiled floors throughout. The tile was imported from Italy.  Air conditioners sent from the states kept the tropics outside. The house itself was T-shaped, completely enclosed by a screened-in-veranda. Gates and walls protected all the houses in our neighborhood, where foreigners, the "white Gods" lived. 

Three doors down from our house was the Russian Consulate.  Guards stood on the roof day and night, gripping loaded weapons. Across the street the Marsh family lived. They were from West Covina, California. They had two sons and a daughter. I had a crush on Ron Marsh, who was in my brother Paul's class. Ron was the epitome of California boy; a Beach Boy haircut, freckles across his face, and an easy manner.

He wasn't the usual Junior High spaz like most guys. The Marshes had a trampoline in their back yard. One way to see Ron every day was to go over and jump on it for a couple of hours after school. Except Ron was hardly ever home. I usually ended up talking to his mother or his sister Teri if they were sunning themselves in lounge chairs while I jumped.

I didn't notice the baby fat falling off until that Christmas when we went to Hong Kong and I was being measured for new clothes by a Chinese tailor. My waist was only 18 inches. I was 5'7' and weighed 105 pounds. He yelled he had never seen such a small waist, especially on such a tall American. 

Laura Moe is an MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction at Goucher College. Her poetry and prose have appeared in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Simple Vows, Women’s Words, and The Book Report, among others.  She currently works as a middle school librarian and lives in Ohio with two very fat, spoiled cats.

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