"Baffled" compresses several experiences from my childhood and two locations into one story.
Sherry gives an overview of the book:
The door closes, and I turn and walk down the steps. As I start walking in the direction Marcea’s mom pointed, I remember words unheeded or perhaps words I didn’t want to hear at the time. The Girl Scout troop was to meet here, and then bike over to the roller rink. Our troop leader said Marcea’s was the closest to the rink. I knew that. I should have known they were already gone.
Mrs. Brown knows I don’t have a bike. I told her when the troop was planning the trip to the roller rink. Maybe that’s why Marcea’s mom looked so disapproving. Or, was she angry? Impatient? I’m not sure. I spent the time she was talking to me trying to read her face, and I spend more time now trying to understand what I saw. I stick with my first guess. Mrs. Brown told us we would bike over to the rink, so I shouldn’t have knocked at the door and asked her where everyone was. That was why she looked like she did.
I stop and sit on the grass, and look for four-leafed clovers. My fingers explore the plants one by one, but I am still thinking about the situation. I want to be with the rest of my troop. Right now, they’re together in the bright magic place of “The Rink”. I’ve never been to a rink. I’ve heard about them. I conjure a picture of bright lights and laughter.
Then I remember the skating part, and I get confused. Why do I care? I don’t know how to skate. The skates I’ve dropped beside me are used, but not by me. They’re from Goodwill, the huge store up the steep hill in Wilmington. I’ve had my skates for a year maybe, but I can’t use them because I can’t keep my balance.
The same was true with the bike I got for my birthday. Training wheels were on it and Daddy was eager to raise them so I could balance. But I couldn’t balance. I tried every day after school for a week. I was scared and confused. Why couldn’t I balance? Everyone else did it.
At the end of the week, the bike was gone. Mommy and Daddy explained that the doctor had found out, and told them to take it back. I had rheumatic fever and German measles before I was one year old. I almost died of them. Now my heart is scarred and it murmurs. I know the words - have known them for years and can glibly pass them on to teachers. It means I can’t exercise hard because it hurts my heart. That’s why I don’t take gym.
But the doctor had said once -- I’d heard him say it --, “She could dig ditches. That was years ago, and she’s fine now. … Okay I’ll write a new note.”
The doctor must have changed his mind about my heart. Somehow he had found out about the bike, and then he’d changed his mind and warned my parents to take the bike back. I wonder briefly how he found out about it. I am almost relieved that he did. I couldn’t balance and, after a week, I’d grown tired of trying.
I was born on an October 1 at about 2:30 in the afternoon in Baltimore MD. I've lived in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and finally Delaware, where I still make my home.
Everyone in my family read voraciously. For my father, it was mysteries and suspense. My mother...