Every September. Kids would come rushing into the hallways. Some silently shuffled from class to class. I remained. Through the snow and the heat, I stayed when everyone else left. When the lights turned off and the janitors stopped complaining about the kids making a mess, I stayed and observed. I’ve seen relationships form and be destroyed. I’ve seen fights spur half-riots. Being here allowed me to pick up on humanity’s intelligence. I learned about the complexities of Fermat’s Last Theorem, I learned about the English language and the way chemicals work with or against each other.
My attention was at it’s worst at 11:00am, this is when the kids who were just learning english left and the kids who were going to learn about dead presidents came in. This was an especially trying time for me since, being what I am, I can’t really sleep like the kids in the back of the class could. I still tried though, during this time my thoughts would fill with the other kids. Some were hard to tell apart and some were forgettable, there was one kid I remember more explicitly than others. He spent most of his time by himself and scribbling in his notebook about what he was dealing with at home. Whenever he was devoid of his notebook he would slowly etch into my facade. At first I was jolted and immediately turned my attention towards him. Since I couldn’t stop him I just watched. Now whenever he does it I’ll be at attention, it’s like when I hear the door open at 7:30. That’s when the teacher comes in. She’ll come in and dump all her stuff next to the desk and reorient her name tag because she always hits her foot on the desk. He would come in only minutes after. From the few weeks of listening to the class I found out his name, Jeremy. The teacher will ask him if he’s okay; he’ll lie every time. He’s always here earlier than that, trying his best to escape his home. With each day his timidity grew and with that anger swelled within him.
As the year gradually drew to a close his writing began to get more vivid, his pencil would furiously dance across the paper leaving words of flame. The sentences he crafted breathed hatred. I wish I could’ve reached out to him, helped him, shielded him. Even if I did miraculously break through my physical boundaries it wouldn’t matter, he stopped coming to school. Nobody knew what happened, the teachers talked about it so rarely that it was so hard to remember him. The only thing that keeps him fresh in my mind are the various marks he’s left with me. I don’t consider them scars, I think of them as pictures taken with an old friend, a way to remember him. His teacher, Mrs. Catherine, often started conversations with the air because her friend was no longer there for a game of call and response. She would say
and that was it. The rest of her sentence fell into a vacuum similar to the one Jeremy fell in. The whereabouts of them flung into obscurity. I couldn’t investigate so my only choice was to give up. The only way to learn about him was if I got lucky and the teachers
decided to talk about it in my room. It’s been a year since then, by now his information has been buried in the recesses of wherever teachers keep their knowledge. Now most of the kids seem to roam the same way. All of them blending into the sea of students that traverse the halls regularly. The rest of the year went on like this, stopping and starting with seamless ease. Eventually the hotter days came by, the temperature was so high it felt like you and the sun were in a very intense conversation about global warming. Most of the kids evacuated in a culmination of confusion. Some stayed and cleaned up the classrooms either because they chose to or due to their own ignorance. The ones that remained left soon enough. The various comments about how the school can do x to y or z died down and teachers gathered in wherever they gather at and talked about the year. About an hour and a half later Mrs. Catherine came in and collected her things, she took one look around the room and let out a long-lasting sigh. She then caressed the light switch forlornly until the room was dark. She was getting a new class next year, she seemed to always teach ninth grade and with that came new kids each year. She really enjoyed the kids she got this time.
With the arrival of summer came the most boring, dull, uninteresting part of the year. This is when the school was barren, nobody entered except the occasional handful of teachers. I used this extended time to myself to think about the previous classes I’d been a part of. I threw around some of the idea’s the teachers and students bought up and formed my own opinion on them.
Soon enough a more steady stream of teachers flowed into the school. With the school year fast approaching the teachers had to make preparations for the students before they tore the halls in two in September. Usually I hear a cluster of footsteps walking briskly towards their classrooms. This time there were fewer steps and they sauntered instead of sprinting. And an unfamiliar face entered my room. The principal walked in after him. She told him that he’d be responsible for more kids than normal. Their chat was over fairly quickly and the principal left him to get acquainted with “his” room. Why did she say “his” room? Where is Mrs. Catherine? My questions subsided when I realised I couldn’t ask them. I just watched him wander the classroom and carefully put books in his bookcase, hang up his own posters, write on his whiteboard. He then caressed the light switch, and left.