We walked down the street, Violet clutching a jar for anything she might find, and me carrying a plastic Walmart bag with two peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Violet walked purposefully, stopping on occasion to inspect anything that caught her attention. She had decided to walk to the back of the trailer park, and start the hunt for the brook and the meadow there. I lagged slightly behind, looking passively at the things that were as familiar to me as the back of my eyelids. Violet had a lot of enthusiasm. It was good that I was there to provide some balance.
Suddenly, I remembered that when I'd asked Violet what grade she was in, she'd replied that she didn't know. What kind of answer is that?
"What kind of answer is that?" I said. Out of the blue.
"Which answer?" asked Violet, holding an old, decaying leaf up to the light.
"What grade you're in. How can you not know what grade you're in?"
"I don't go to school."
Wait. Wait a second. My thirteen year old brain couldn't process this information. I could feel the gears turning. What could this mean?
"You mean you're home schooled." I stated, proudly.
No. I bit the inside of my cheek and scrunched up my face. Violet looked up at me.
"My parents don't send me to school." she admitted.
"They don't... send you... to school."
"Why?" I puzzled.
"It's complicated." she muttered.
"Did you really just say 'it's complicated'?"
She nodded, shortly, in response.
I waited, but she didn't say anything else.
"But everyone has to go to school. There are laws."
Wow. I couldn't believe that came out of my mouth.
We walked for a minute in silence. I heard a tiny sigh next to me.
"My parents don't send me to school because it's a waste of time."
"But that doesn't make any sense--you learn lots of good things at school. It isn't a waste of time."
"It is, if you're me."
"What makes you so special?" I asked sarcastically, kicking a pebble.
"My parents just don't see the point in sending me to school all day every day when I'm just going to die."