The God-forsaken Sun burns my eyelids. I open my eyes. Why don’t my eyes come with thicker eyelids? Mine are too transparent, I think. My body tells me to get up. My mind refuses, it says no, my body says that it’s time to get up and go to school but my mind says no, no it says it’s time to dream and perform and watch all of those wonderful pictures and stare at my ceiling, but the body has a way of defeating the mind. I get up, swing my legs out over my bed and plant them down. I stand up and I probably step on something. I don’t care. I shamble to the shower and twist the knob slowly, letting the cold water bleed over my shoulderblades before it heats, it intensifies. The trickle grows into a steamy stream on my hair and face and I smile a little, that first feeling, the first real, open, warranted, invited warmth of the day sinking deep within me. But it’s over too fast because I have to get to school. I just have to. Nothing of any importance happens for the next 20 minutes or so. My parents are both already working when I wake up. I probably wouldn’t say anything to them anyway. I probably wouldn’t even acknowledge their presence. I’m not a stage performer.I drive to school and I park. I do not lean my head back and close my eyes and think. School is not a place for thinking. I just get out of my car as fast as I can and slam the door behind me. I probably look pretty angry. I probably am. I don’t care. I just know that my mind can at least trick my body sometimes into going through all of my motions quicker in the attempt to make time itself pass faster so my school day is shorter so I can get back in my truck and get back to my house and get back to my ceiling and stare.I think I’d like to pause here and say that I’m not by any means a “tortured soul” or any of that goth or emo bullshit. I have a happy life. I have a great life in fact, and I have lots of friends and lots of gifts frankly, and I smile a lot and I’m always outgoing and I don’t have any real problems I think. The only thing that ever upsets me is seeing myself in the mirror. Sometimes it’s just too much for me to take, I look at myself and I think of all the things that I could be and all the things that I should be and all the ways that I can be better and that makes me miserable and yet I can’t look away. Something inside of me forces me to stare every day and every day that face in the mirror stares back, just as angry, as if challenging me and I stare and stare and I want to make him blink first but he never does and I end up turning my head away because I can’t take it, I can’t take looking at myself and thinking about myself in that way so I look away and I grab my chest, every time, because it feels as if my heart were tearing me down the middle like a zipper, like that reflection of me wanted to see me from the inside and knew just how to do it, how to penetrate me and force me open and grab at the weakest part of me and squeeze it until it hurts. I hate that God damn mirror.So now I am in class. I sit and try to keep from falling.Falling in and falling out. Not even my teacher wants to be here. I always found that funny, that all us kids complain so much about school, but as soon as we’ve left the classrooms the teachers themselves complain even louder. How does that even happen? How do they get those jobs? I don’t even care anymore. I just sit and stare and try to keep from falling. I never stare at the teacher, though. I’m always watching my pen draw on my paper. Not pictures, but words. My hand would move and I would just let it, I wouldn’t shut out everything around me but sort of let it blur and un-focus while the words I wish I could speak find their way onto my lonely sheet of paper. My eyes turn the color of the paper. In a moment, I’m gone.
I’m floating on a white river, milk maybe. My hands hang loosely over my raft or whatever, my arms spread wide like my body is a T, my legs doing whatever they feel like doing. And I’m just floating along, letting this milky current soak into my hands; I turn my head to the side to watch it, raising my hand from the white water to watch it stick to me, watch the fluid drain from each of the little cracks and lines and wrinkles in my skin, watch the drips of my fingertips return to their mother. There is a shoreline, somewhere. I’m sure of it, but I don’t want to lift my body up to look for it, I just don’t care that much I suppose. I’ll let this river take me for just a little bit longer. I remember I have my pen in my hand, and I touch the tip to the milk, and a flowing, lucid line of black ink flows from it as we all travel, like a black banner waving slowly on a lazy day, it swirls and makes a perfect path through the white. It’s something beautiful. I build up energy in me to sit up, my legs now over the side of the raft, holding my pen, it’s bigger now, longer, like an oar. I float onwards like Huckleberry Finn or something, my hands to my pen, holding it and drawing, and the shapes and lines spreading gently in the drifting water behind me turn to my words, my thoughts, and I guide myself across the river of virgin white. I don’t have a destination, I don’t think, but I row on, and lead on my raft, my shore, through it all, such gorgeous black silk floating in the current from the tip of my pen, dancing around slowly then disappearing like clouds behind me, new worlds ahead.
Class is over. I don’t remember much of it, and I don’t really have to. I can pass those tests without even trying. I heard a teacher say once that we shouldn’t care about grades, we should care about learning. We should care about understanding the material and being able to manipulate it ourselves. We should care about the world around us and critical thinking. Life can’t be measured in tests, she said. We should learn to live and live to learn, and it’s all a journey anyway, we can’t grade journeys. But apparently, someone thinks we can. I have to pass these classes or I don’t earn enough credits to graduate. I have to do well on the tests we shouldn’t care about because we should really care about learning not tests, or I won’t get into college. I have to learn a lot in college, and I have to prove that I’ve learned a lot in college by taking more tests, even though we should care about the learning. It’s really hard to focus on learning and knowledge and understanding when everyone is making us take tests and telling us that we shouldn’t care about them but they directly control our future. It’s a paradox. I really hope the rest of life isn’t this way.