donderdag 29 november 2012

The ice ball

The little village we lived in had been covered with a thick layer of snow. It was almost gone on streets and pavement, only gardens and lawns had more left on it. So the grass next to the playground of my school had plenty left too. It was a small school which had been founded just a few years before we came to live in the village and there were only about eighty children attending classes. Before there were only two catholic schools, a boys school and a girls school. Our school had two breaks in the morning, first the youngest children would play outside for a bit and later it was our turn.

I was ten years old and made some friends and we had been having fierce snowball wars amongst each other and against the catholic boys. We noticed that the balls you made now were icy, were easier to throw but could hurt like hell. School had noticed our wars and so the headmaster went to all three classrooms to tell that it was strictly forbidden to throw snowballs on the school premises. We did it anyway and had great fun if we hit each other and the victim would moan about it.

While my mates were chasing a few girls threatening to put some of the cold stuff in their neck, I made a ball and didn't really know what to do with it. On the other end of the playground the headmaster was on patrol wearing his hat as always and I felt a sudden urge to try to knock it off his head. Before I could have second thoughts about it, the ball already flew through the air. My aim was not the best and there was quite a distance between me and him. Normally the ball would have hit the wall behind the man, but unfortunately the son of the local policeman just walked behind him. He probably was on his way to complain about someone, his normal behaviour. He was as unpopular as his father who always took away our footballs and would rip them apart with his knife.

My ball couldn't have hit better: even from my distance I could see the blood spurting out his mouth. This was not what I had wanted to do! So just like all other children I ran towards the boy and the teacher to see what was going on. He was brought inside, later he came out with a little plaster on his upperlip and was brought home on the bicycle by the teacher of the youngest children.
The headmaster ordered us all to line up and we were directed into the classrooms.

The headmaster first gave us a fierceful sermon and announced that he was going to search for the culprit. He was certain that this person was in the classroom. He was going to the bottom of this! We were asked if somebody wanted to confess this ugly deed. And he looked into our eyes one by one. I felt a bit uneasy but I could see that this was the case with almost everybody. Nobody confessed.
So he shouted: "I want you to point out who did this cowardly thing!" Again there were no reactions.
The headmaster announced that we would have to stay in the classroom until somebody stepped forward. We would all have to suffer because of this coward!
He started doing correction work while we waited in silence. A half hour passed by. Nothing happened.
"I have all the time in the world."
We didn't, our mothers were waiting with our lunch and after that we had the afternoon off.

After another hour the headmaster decided we could go. But he warned: "This is not the last you will hear about this!" So we walked out of the school silently. I walked homewards with my mates and they wondered who had thrown this ball so well. They all wished they had done this. The policeman's son had caused all of us plenty of problems. But I knew I should keep this silent in order not to get in trouble. And so I did.

The next day the boy attended school like nothing had happened, only the little plaster was the evidence of it all. And the whole thing was not mentioned anymore, not that day and not the days after.
It did cause me some nightmares. The first nights I fell asleep while wondering what would have happened to me if I had confessed. Telling the headmaster that it was an accident because he was the real target would not have done me any good!
But like the snow the whole story disappeared after a few days.

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