It had been raining for seven years; thousands upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again. And this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.
-- "All Summer in a Day," by Ray Bradbury.
Replace "Venus" with "The Bay Area" and you get an idea of what the past month has felt like.
The first time I read this story, I was in fourth grade. I was in a mixed fourth/fifth grade class, and a few weeks prior to reading the story, a couple of the fifth-grade boys had actually managed to shut one of the fourth-grade boys into a locker at the back of the class.
I don't remember the boy's name. I remember coming in from recess to the big boys' snickering and being too cowed to ask what was so funny. These boys were cruel and popular, and I picked my battles with them very carefully. (I instinctively knew that weird little bookworms with big vocabularies could be left alone so long as they rarely bothered anyone else. It was better to be a weird kid who was left alone than to be the weird kid who got noticed.)
I remember sitting down and looking expectantly at the blackboard, and then hearing an angry, muffled shriek. The boy banged against the locker door, chanting, "Let me out! Let me out!" And I remember my head swiveling: on one side, the boys giggling with satisfaction; on the other, my teacher striding back in white-hot fury to slam open the locker door.
I don't remember if the boys were punished in front of us. I do remember that day as the last for the boy in my class. His empty seat was a reproach and when I read "All Summer in a Day," I kept looking over, ashamed becauseI had been one of the kids who locked Margot in a closet -- or at least not been brave enough to let her back out in time.