"Today class we are going to do something a little different" Mrs. Redding informed us as she gave the front of each line of desk a stack of papers. "Take one and pass it back please."
We all flipped through the small staple packet. All of us were afraid it was another test. Mrs. Redding was the queen of pop quizzes that could knock a fifth grader on their butt but this didn't look like a test. It looked like some short story of sorts. I went to raise my hand to start asking questions but she motioned for me to put my hand down as she began to explain the three sheets in front of each of us.
"I am going to read to you today." We all looked at Mrs. Redding as if she had grown a second head or something. Mrs. Redding was tough as nails. She had warned us of that at the first of the year when we all had met. She didn't baby anyone. She use to say that the world wasn't going to baby us when us finally joined it and that we should see her class as a practice run. So for her to give us a story time was a bit shocking.
"I want you to follow along with the pages I have given each of you. I don't want you to just hear the story but actually listen to what the writer is saying in the story. I will expect you all to write a report on it tonight for homework."
From the moment she read the first word I fell in love. In love with a dead man. I discovered the works of Edgar Allen Poe. I was swept away with how he spoke of the heart beating. Beating long after the old man was dead. How he felt that the police were mocking him. Waiting for him to make a mistake that would in the end give away his guilty deed. How above all he fancied himself a sane man. A man who in truth had only wanted to rid himself of an eye that could clearly see the madness that lurked just within his soul.
The Tell-Tale Heart also gave me a glimpse into the window of writing. Never had a story held me hostage with such interest. I could see a graceful dance between the main character and his surroundings. I could feel the madness. It was like a blanket that wraps around a person and doesn't let go.
I was disappointed when the story was finished. I was hooked. I craved more. Mrs. Redding woke a hunger within me with that story. She dismissed the class for recess as soon as she spoke the last line. I hung behind until we were the only ones left in the room. I spent most of the thirty minutes grilling her about the story, the style, and the writer himself. I could tell she was happy to see the excitement that was awaken inside me but she also wanted to have a little break before the class returned. So she sent me outside with her personal book of Edgar Allen Poe's book and a promise I would guard it with my life.
That story opened my eyes. I still reread it today. I even read it to my belly when I was expecting each of my children in hopes to pass on the same love early in life. The Tell-Tale Heart can be called my gate way drug to the love of both writing and reading that still lives within my heart even today.