Procrastinating Heroism

May 20, 2008
By Charlotte Wilmore, Grandville, MI

My fingers tapped on my knee; a thumping of rhythm on my patella. I stared at the digital numbers, positive that it had been 11:17 for the last five minutes. The left side of my neck found the cold draft diffusing through the shoddy craftsmanship of the windowpane as I shifted in my seat. Gusts of air coiled around my ears, laughing at me, gloating with its freedom, as I sat in a dull din. I bent my head to stare out the window. I watched the wind ripple the grass into green waves, swelling against the firm body of concrete. The gusts tugged the top of the trees, swaying and singing.
“You’re stuck in school and I’m the life outside!” The taunting sounds of free will stung. Stupid wind, I thought. Seven minutes until the end of class. Come on time, move it. Move it! The kids around me looked as bored as I felt. Eyes were fixed on the front wall, scrutinizing loose hangnails, and one or two pairs gazing through the text before them. There was an organized hush over the room and a few uncomfortable smiles uncontrollably crept up from the awkward silence, my teacher leading the procession. Every so often she would again repeat the same question; waiting for a verbal reaction, if not for the answer then as proof we were still alive. I traced the figure of a tree in the photo on page 374 with my pencil. Six minutes to go. What the hell, time? What’s your problem? Softly pushing my lead into the page I drew a dragon twisted over the tree.
“Anybody? Does anybody have any idea what this passage means?” I looked up from my creation. My teacher was choking the podium with her hands, fingers tapping the underside in a drum brigade of their own. Her eyes smoldered in the silence. A ring of frustration wrapped around the retina; a few veins in the one eye held hope that someone would offer an insightful interpretation of the text. There was a minor twitch to her lip. A slight smile maybe, leaning into restrained speech. Her face spoke for her nervous lip. Learn, it pleaded. Anybody? Anybody want to learn? She desperately craved someone, anyone, to speak up and voice their opinion.
So did I. I slouched down and waited for someone to be a hero. To break the silence and let class move on. Four minutes. I assessed the passage in my head. The absorbed words slipped from nerve to nerve, forming conclusions. Merging into an idea, it sounded better to me each time it was reanalyzed. Say it, say it. Be the silence breaker today. Three minutes. The dragon engulfed the cheerful tree in flames. Don’t procrastinate. That’s the biggest theme here. Why doesn’t anyone else see it? Someone say something! I straightened slowly, vertebrae cracking from being bent for so long. Slipping my cape on, I felt its power run through me. I could be a hero.
“You can’t wait forever, like, to do something. Eventually you gotta go for it, like what the protagonist did in the last section. You can’t hold out for life…” The voice came from three rows over, two desks back. Having beaten me to the jump, I felt my cape and superpowers stripped off and pounded into the ground. The tree burned to ash in the photo, and a satisfied dragon crept to the next one. One minute. Maybe tomorrow…

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