“Four spiral notebooks. Check. Crayons and pencils. Check and check.” Faye hefted the backpack. “Ready for school, Lynn?”

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

Welcome back to Tuesday’s Tale, a weekly feature where we collaborate to write a story. Previous Tuesday’s Tales include Hurricane Shopping and The Laundromat Mystery. We follow the basic rules of the “Yes, And” improvisational game – accept everything written so far as part of the story, and add your own paragraph (or so) where the last addition left off – except you needn’t begin your addition with “Yes, and.” I’ll start the story….

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Lynn looked at the bulging backpack warily. “How am I supposed to carry that, Mom? It weighs more than I do!”

“Not quite,” Faye said, smiling down at her six-year-old. “You weigh forty-six pounds and your backpack weighs only twenty-one. Besides, you want to have everything you’ll need for first grade, right?”

“I guess so,” Lynn said. “It looks like there’s enough stuff in there to last me until college.”

It did seem so, Faye had to admit. Separate folios for different assignments, plus an organizer booklet to list all the assignments. Flash card sets for math and reading. One plastic ruler with rounded corners. Hand-held pencil sharpener. Pink, white, and blue index cards, whose purpose Faye could only hazard the vaguest guesses. Perhaps a patriotic display about the upcoming election? Who knew? Rain poncho. Light sweater. Workout clothes for gym class. Spare socks. Add a toothbrush and Faye would not have been sure her daughter would come back home before college.

Faye held the backpack while Lynn shrugged her arms through the straps. “Ready to meet your new bus driver, sweetie?”

“Unnff,” Lynn grunted as she settled under the pack. The girl teetered and tottered but did not quite fall down. “What’s her name again?”

“The letter said she’s Mrs. Crankshaft,” Faye said, stifling a giggle as they headed for the door. “But I’m sure that was just a joke.”

“Oh wait! My cell phone!” Lynn started toward the stairs and paused. “Oh, forget it.”

“No,” Faye said, smiling in understanding. “I’ll get it. It’s on your dresser, right?”

“I think so,” Lynn said. “Or in my bed. I was chatting with Keri last night. And this morning. So it could be in the kitchen. Or on the bathroom counter.”

Faye shook her head and pulled out her own cell phone. She dialed Lynn’s number and listened for the ring tone. The phone was in the backpack, deep beneath the folios and organizer and flash cards and ruler and index cards and poncho and sweater and workout clothes and spare socks.

“Well how will I get that out?” Lynn asked.

“You won’t,” Faye said as she disconnected. “Not until you get home, anyway.”

“But … how am I supposed to talk to Keri?” Lynn asked.

“Well,” Faye said as she opened the door, “you could do it the old fashioned way. She’s sitting on our front steps.”

“That’s coz I can’t stand up, Mrs. G,” Keri said.

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Have fun!