Alisha started first grade when she was 14 years old. She barely spoke. She was a feral child.
That first day of school her keepers had brought her late to MacArthur Elementary. They walked her down the wide hallway with the polished linoleum floors to room 3, Miss Emig’s homeroom class. Twenty-eight other first graders sat primly in their chairs. The other children wore clean, pressed clothes. They all had hair that was clean and brushed. Their hands were folded atop their desks when the door opened and the keepers brought Alisha in.
She was a contrast.
She wore a white cotton shift and no shoes. Her blonde hair stuck out at odd angles from her head and she had a streak of dirt from her chin, across her right cheek where it disappeared under her hairline. She hung back at the door.
“Oh, here she is,” announced Miss Emig to the class. “Children, this is Alisha and she’ll be joining our class. Alisha is special. She is older than the rest of you and has not had the same advantages. She lives at the research laboratory on Promontory Road and these men are her keepers. They will accompany her wherever she goes here at MacArthur.”
Stan Barret raised his hand and when Miss Emig acknowledged him he asked, “what happened to her? Where are her parents?”
“The researchers are not completely sure but they believe she was raised in the desert by wild animals of one sort or another. Two years ago she was abandoned by that animal foster family on the steps of the laboratory…
“They brought her back, as it were.”
Alisha’s eyes had been moving around the classroom constantly. She was studying the children, studying Miss Emig and the books, desks, papers and chalkboard. Miss Emig approached her tentatively.
“Perhaps you can introduce yourself to the class, Alisha.” She urged.
Alisha looked up at her keepers who through a series of arm and hand motions combined with really slow speech managed to communicate the request to the wild girl.
She nodded her head and took a single step forward. Slapping herself on the chest with an open hand she shouted, “LISHA!”
Judy Baldwin, on the second row laughed and soon the other kids did too. Alisha responded in the only way she knew how. She raised her fists and hissed loudly at the classroom. Then she pounced on Judy Baldwin.