It rained the day of my second-grade Easter egg hunt, so our room mothers hid all the eggs inside the classroom. This was back in the day when we called it an “Easter Egg Hunt,” not a “Spring Fling” or other such nonsense. Only one child won a prize for finding the Golden Egg, and the rest of us didn’t flip-out, and we used real boiled eggs that we had cooked and decorated ourselves at home with minimal hovering from our mothers. Oh, and for the record, no one worried about the eggs going bad in the three or four hours it took to carry them to school, hide and then eat them. No one had to be rushed to the hospital for botulism, and everyone had a lovely time.
After the party, we left for a week-long spring break, but upon returning, discovered something was wrong. Very wrong. As I sat at my desk, my eyes started to water, which wasn’t alarming to my teacher, Miss Dunn, because I cried a lot, usually because boys scared me or I wanted to be home playing with my baby brother. Oh, and I cried when it was math time too. I was younger than most kids in the class, and at six years old, was a stressed-out little girl.
But something in the air really was stinging my eyes and burning my nose. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it grew stronger by the minute. Eventually, the other kids started looking around and and sniffing the air.
Miss Dunn walked up and down the aisles between the desks, and finally stopped beside me. “What is that smell?”
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