Get NiftyLit news & updates delivered directly to your inbox. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Skip to main content
Original artwork by Katie M. Zeigler

The Way They Walk to the Cars After Orchestra

Dave Fromm

The meek ones exit swiftly, heads up, shoulders forward, in the manner of prairie mammals alert to danger.  Their feet flap.  They hook their thumbs under the straps of their backpacks as they look down the line for their parents.


The sophomore girls clump together in their baggy fits, koala bears laughing, tumbling into the back of someone’s mom’s SUV.  It’s all still ahead for them.


The upperclassmen saunter in packs toward the parking lots, in shorts despite the season, some doubling up with sports practice.  They have a calm, a fatalism, that comes by junior year.  Some have facial hair.  Some have their own cars.


A couple of kids will limp along self-consciously, resentfully, in walking boots.  Every time.  Injuries or Osgood-Slaughter.  Growth plates and ligaments resistant.  They’ll vanish into their cars fast, as if they know how nature treats the lame, how the pack survives.


The senior girls walk alone or in pairs with the supercilious gaze of impalas.  They cannot be approached.


And finally, my freshman, all six feet two of him, moving as slow as a sunset.  His waist is narrow and his shoulders only slightly less so, but it’s coming.  I know already it’s coming.  His face is expressionless.  When he sees me he’ll take a deep breath and exhale, as if preparing for a difficult conversation.  I asked him about it one time — You worried?  Am I up on you too much?  No, he said.  It’s just me getting ready to relax.