Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

By the time...

ANNA PAPST Playwright, Switzerland

By the time I started going to school, there had been some cases of kidnapping in my neighborhood. Therefore, my mother told me a thousand times NEVER EVER to accept a gift from a stranger. One morning in the ten o’clock break two men were parking a small truck next to the schoolyard and watched us playing games. They were grinning and laughing, happy to see us enjoying ourselves. One of the men took a bar of chocolate out of his pocket. “Chocolate for free!” he shouted. “Who is interested?” All children stopped playing and ran to the men. “Me! Me! Me!“ I stood aside, silent and scared. I knew they wanted to trick us to get into their car and then they would kidnap us. “You”, the man with the chocolate bar said. “You seem to be an especially good girl. Have it.” He gave me the chocolate bar. The men climbed into their truck and drove away. My classmates glanced jealously at the glittering cellophane paper in my hand. I held the chocolate bar tightly, held it until it got warm and started to melt, held it still when it got so sticky and mushy that it was impossible to eat it without dribbling. Then I threw it into the trash can in the corner of the schoolyard. The bell rang. The schoolyard emptied. My gift rested next to used tissues and dried apple cores. “Never ever!” my mother had told me. I waited until everyone had left. The men had seemed pretty friendly, though. If they had planned to kidnap us, why had they left without a single kid? I reached for the chocolate bar in the trash can. I ripped the wrapping paper. The liquid chocolate ran over my fingers. At school the next lesson had started. Never ever had anything tasted so good as the liquid chocolate bar I ate on the empty schoolyard on the day I misbehaved for the very first time.