I stare at the "Hamlet" poster every morning in creative writing class,and it never changes. It is always the same poster, the same cast in alphabeticalorder, the same obscure message at the bottom in the same soft orange font:"At Theaters Soon." I guess the poster's constancy is what ropes in myeyes and ties them up like young hooves in a cattle king's ring. All else that ispermanent and palpable in the room dissolves, leaving this one vivid window intoa scene of another time, leaving me to rely on a freeze-frame of a modernadaptation of another's historic reverie and peerless genius.
Still,despite all these imaginings, I must be careful. I must be careful not to makethe boy in black (whose seat is under the spectacle) think I could be staring athim. I wouldn't want him to add my supposed incessant gaping to his "tragicfreak" log. He doesn't want to believe that I am just like him. I am justlike every one of those cloaked ultraists who mope around school in their darkresistance decor. With my clean white shirt and ironed corduroys, it is twisteddiscrimination. You couldn't be like us, they say, but I will always know weshould have been great friends.
The time is over now - the three bellsalways sound like antecedents to department-store announcements ("Customerneeds assistance in the shoe department, please ...") and it is time forpsychology. I always think about my best friend in psychology because she has thesame class at the same time in Michigan. I picture her bedroom the way it waswhen I went to visit her, the profoundly green walls and the bay window withflowing tails of white and gold gossamer that frame the forever flatness ofcentral Michigan. It is a beautiful room. She hung the framed Degas poster I gaveher for her sixteenth birthday, a sort of symbol of my indomitable knowledge ofher pastimes. She is a wonderful dancer. There's a Degas poster in creativewriting class, too, and sometimes when I'm not looking into "Hamlet," Ilet myself think about her.
Sometimes I feel I've begun to see howeverything in this life becomes connected, even if only for a while; even if youstill believe you can hear the fluttering recoil of things gone by. Maybe that'sthe way things stay undeniably allied, inside hopeful minds and the empty roomsof our hearts.
In Spanish class I always think about my father. The way hedied, the way he was before he died, the way every window of every building inthis school district is exactly the same, but they look different now. I don'tgaze through them as I used to. Now I ream the glass with pensive eyes,mysterious eyes, boring through to the outside world in a bitter, scared anduntrusting trance. My father suffered a stroke in 1993 that left him with a badleg, a cadenced walk to replace his robust stride, a cane, a stagnant arm,phantom pain, and five years of illness and anger that led to the eventualatrophy of my parents' marriage.
Three and a half years ago, I was theonly one with my father when he died of a massive heart attack in the very housewhere I sit and write this. It's taken me a long time to be able to fall asleephere, not counting the times I've passed out from utter lack of rest. My sleepwas perpetually wracked by the face of my dying father that only I witnessed andabsorbed. He died just months before I entered high school. And I harbor such aninconceivable amount of guilt for all the times I had fought with him, all thetimes I had made him hang his head for the hurtful things he said. I was thedominant voice in my household because in my preteen irrationality, I couldn'tunderstand his illness. I know that now.
I also know everything bears somepurpose, whether obvious or not, and all things happen as they must, no matterhow great the burden, or unbearable the pain. I am not sure if this personalstatement draws any admiration from you, or leads you through my subjective pathsin semi-certain terms. I have laid out all I can, and all that has any pertinenceto the real world (as much of reality as a suburban Cincinnati teen can know). Iknow what I don't know, and that has been enough for me so far.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.