As I walked across the lawn to reach the school’s blacktop where the children played I heard Karen Shelly loudly whisper, “There she is,” then giggle, “Nipples on the horizon.”

Karen was kinetic and sophomoric, dressed in faded slacks and rumpled shirt. She appeared more convenience store clerk than PTA president and lawyer.

I looked away quickly and sat on a bench with my back to her and her gang. I could see the freshly painted side wall of the school which only a few days prior held the curiously inappropriate and inaccurate obscene writings of adolescent minds.

While I was in deep thought, about life in general and bored children specifically, Ellen Bovary sat down at the other end of the bench. She wore a knit top and A-line skirt and was perfectly coiffed. She was the cover of Mom magazine. She waved to all the mothers and gave shouts out to every child. She waved and cooed. She mussed her hair and gave a little sigh.

Her son was the class bully and also the saddest child I had ever seen. She called for him but he turned his back and ignored her.

“Hey, Tristan what’s wrong buddy?” she said cool but calm.

The answer was clear in my head. He was a failed rebel on the precipice of an uncertain present and a domesticated future. He appeared beggar to her Queen of the Schoolyard and indifferent.

I tried to smile and then looked away. I contained a strong desire to scream. Just scream at the top of my lungs. And my need to run seemed even more urgent.

I suppressed these and other thoughts and smiled again. I quietly thought about all these perfect moms and their delusions. How they must pack themselves up at night, sealed and preserved so that at morning’s light they are refreshed and ready to march and crush the dreams of others.

I wondered what was more marginalized — a despondent teen or an aging suburban mom. “Please God save me,” ran across the synapses of my brain. I tried to go to a happy place but that place was void.

I thought about my blouse. It was black and semi-transparent and I wore it today because I wanted to look sexy because my husband is leaving me and I have felt so tired and so old for so long. I thought is there anyone else like me?

I got up slowly as I saw my daughter appear from the school door. I grabbed her hand and wanted to kiss her but remembered that would be too embarrassing. I walked away with my head held high but my heart in pieces.

DeRosa, a Hamilton resident, earned her associates degree at Mercer County Community College and currently works in Princeton. “I love every minute of it,” she says. “I am a dreamcatcher and writer in my spare time and I love old bookstores, libraries, and record shops. I have a daughter who is destined to soar and a husband who is patient and kind.”

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