It’s easy to fall into the rhythm of the cards. Slide, press, slide press, moving Aces and Kings across the board. The 1s and 0s running binary code in the background don’t matter when I can move the 2 of Spades onto the Ace, securing another 10 points to be wiped away by a reset. Slide, press, slide, press. Accidental 2 of Clubs, press undo and move along. The only sounds in the Career Center are the heating coursing through the school and occasional conversation through the walls. But the walls muffle, so it’s easy to slide, press, slide, press. Peace at last after a long day.
Another red circle with a line floating in the center. Another uncrossed assignment. Another empty Kami file, another paper untouched in the folder. It’s okay, I’ll do it later. I have time tonight, nothing to do.
But what’s another round of Bedwars gonna hurt. I’ll do it at 5:00.
I’ll do it at 6:00.
I’m getting sleepy. I guess I’ll do it tomorrow.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
It’s a complicated rhythm, switching between comfort and discomfort. Back tense, monitoring each pencil tap and foot position. It’s a necessary precaution to make sure I don’t miss a cue. If I make one mistake, they’ll all notice.
Absolutely relaxed. Leaning back in the seat, casual conversation with friends, lighthearted groaning at the assignment. Comfortable, casual, right where I need to be.
Don’t cross the invisible boundary dividing the table or he will notice. He’ll think I’m too comfortable and I don’t care about his space. I do, but if I slide my chair silently enough to the left he won’t be annoyed, It’ll be fine.
Banter with the teacher, leaning over the desks to converse. Chromebook open, ready to receive my thoughts. It’s perfect. Even the hoagie I strip the disgusting lettuce off is completing the scene. There were apple slices as an option today. It’s a good day.
It’s an okay day, I guess.
It’s another day.
I don’t mean for it to happen. It just bubbles out without me wanting it to, suppressed emotions flooding the dark room. It hurts. I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to feel this way. Why did she have to bring it up again? I just wanted to go to bed. Just ride it out. Just ride it out. Just ride it out. Just
I bottle up myself! It happens again and again, destroying my emotions into a tiny vial, only to be smashed with the hammer of inopportune timing, shattering my sense of balance into shards of glass and droplets of thought.
Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to pour my emotions into the sea and let them mix with the salt of my tears. I want the marine life to appreciate it.
“Since my last report, this employee has reached rock bottom and shows signs of starting to dig”
-Unknown, Quotes From Actual Performance Evaluations
My skin is crawling. Every word out of his mouth makes my neck itch and throat dry. If he speaks to me again I’ll snap, rubber band firing off from God’s fingers. But, I can’t. They’ll all watch with their cold eyes and stare into my downfall, phones below their desks to report to the editor-in-chief of their cliques, each Snapchat message becoming a fine-tuned line in the Google Doc, sent to the editing program, sent to the printer to condemn my social life in the media; yet the media is their Snapchat stories and their reporters are those who dislike me.
It’s a metaphor planned out in the cosmos, mirroring my life in the Playwickian in their whispers of my “life”. Nothing feels better than having your story thrown back at you, plagiarism in the second degree.
“Solitaire is the lonely man’s game,” my mother quips, watching my screen from across the room.
“But I’m having fun, at least,” I respond, continuing to place a 10 of Hearts onto the Jack, moving a 9 across the board.
She exits, forgetting to close the door again.
I click undo again.
I can transfer my feelings into forms of art.
I can project my deeper emotions into my characters. They’re allowed to be traumatized, allowed to be assholes, allowed to be a problem. Logan Quinn, Narcissus, Leon, that one Kenku Cleric I have yet to name can be my alternate selves, delving into my fears and emotions. I can pour my soul into Logan’s guilt and stare into my own reflection like Narcissus. Not my character of course, for her eyes are set on success and callous victory. Every character I create I pour a bit of my soul into. Am I lessening myself, or am I expanding wider?
“also be sure to do your late work before class tomorrow”
“they only do assignments they deem to be ‘important’”
“missing some and late”
“a pleasure to have in class”
“can not take constructive criticism”
“did you put them in the right class?”
“interesting! i’m excited to see where you go with this!”
-A collection of comments by my teachers regarding me
I feel like a metaphor to God to show them what their humans have become. I don’t believe in them, but sometimes I feel like a demonstration to a science board. A chemical chain reaction. I feel like a test in nature versus nurture, a puppet in a show, a “person” on a reality show, a novelist’s rejected character.
Sometimes it feels like God is trying to test me, giving me hard battles. But I don’t believe in that. So, I must be self-aggrandizing again. I could never be that important.
I’m not religious. Yet, it seems that I half believe. It’s that Catholic guilt kicking in again. I don’t think they exist, but if I don’t believe, I’ll go to Hell.
Who cares! I’ll be fine. I’ve already sinned enough.
Yeah, no, I’m scared. Even if there is no Heaven, no Hell, I hate playing Limbo. Especially at the roller rink. I can never glide under that bar.
By Nath Hoff