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Stolen Words

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Kiara Alberich watches with dull fascination as her pencil slips out of her fingers. Eyelids drooping as she fights off the irresistible pull of sleep’s comfortable arms, she does nothing to stop the pencil as it rolls across the cold and dusty classroom floor. Sighs and watches its journey, which seems, at the moment, to be more exciting than her own life.

It stops and rests against Kyle McCauley’s wandering foot, and his hand reaches down to grab it. He keeps it, glancing around furtively to make sure its owner won’t try to claim it as theirs, take it back, and classify him as a malevolent thief. And pockets it. Kiara forgets it, decides to let him have it. Tries to forget, too, that she would never dare to open her mouth and ask for it back, anyways.

Oblivious as usual, Mr. Zaruba walks past with his head in the clouds. Doesn’t notice Kyle’s guilty expression or Kiara’s glaring eyes that indicate some small amount of annoyance. He’s in a trance, transported back to the past and lost in stories of the French Revolution. A topic that he could talk about for hours.

Days, even.

These are some particularly stormy clouds, the type that linger and turn the sky a dreary gray.

Kiara is somewhat blase, and looks for deep and hidden philosophical meanings in the most unlikely places. For instance, the back of Mr. Zaruba’s head, hair glistening and dripping with sweat as he paces and rants relentlessly. Doesn’t find much, except for a suspicion that he uses Rogaine.

And then.

Mr. Zaruba passes out graded tests, scribbled over with bloody red ink. Puts one on Kiara’s desk, face down. Sighs, shakes his head, and walks away. His disappointed eyes say it all, and give Kiara no urge to flip the bleeding paper over. Besides, she knows she got a 70. That is, a low C. She’s one of those types who get questions wrong just to keep the teachers guessing. She doesn’t want to be classified as a genius.

She doesn’t say that, though. It makes her sound conceited. Arrogant.

Instead, she’s classified as the shy, quiet girl, and shoved to the back of the filing cabinet. Perfectly content, she sits in class, unnoticed, and fiddles aimlessly with a Rubik’s Cube.

As sleep’s arms continue to caress her, pulling her farther into their own set of blissful clouds, Kiara pulls out her notebook. Flips to a blank page and finds that she likes the white, empty potential. The wide spaced blue lines that say (words go here). But what words? She scribbles in the margins as she tries to answer the question that always seems to poke at her, prod her, pinch her, until she’s forced to recognize her failure.

And finally, with no destination in mind, she puts the point of her second pencil to the beginning of the first line.

***

~*~ … The words should be meaningful; with admirable themes, suspenseful plots, descriptive language, breathing characters… Plots that aren’t sleep inducing, but tear producing, that send you on an adventure; words that make connections, that cross the line where they suddenly transform from pencil marks on a crumpled piece of paper to an adventure that plays out in your mind. And words that you cannot only see, but hear, smell, taste, and feel; that live so boldly, if they were erased from the page, they would still be permanently etched in your mind. ~*~

The thing (that one puzzling and troubling thing) is that I can’t write when I’m not inspired. The words won’t come easily, but put up a fight, and arrive in my brain torn and bruised, barely living. Barely breathing, my uninspired words require CPR. I just have to let them come naturally, and until then, wait. In agony. …But I’ll wait patiently, and until inspiration decides to honor me with its eminent presence, I’ll continue to fiddle slowly with my Rubik’s Cube, as if I cannot already see the solution. So that when the highly esteemed words come, this blank notebook will be ready for them, a red carpet, a

***

As Kiara writes furiously, dulling the sharp point of her second pencil, her notebook is snatched from her hands. She looks up, bewildered, to see that it’s now in the sweaty hands of Mr. Zaruba. Sighs in relief as he slams it shut instead of reading it. She tries to slow down her racing heart, to pull her mind out of the notebook and recall when Mr. Zaruba had stopped talking. She doesn’t know. So she awaits her punishment.

And then.

He puts it on the side of her desk and looks into her eyes, as if he knows all of her secrets. He probably does. Looks at her with raised eyebrows, as if he can read her mind. As if he can hear her thinking, teachers gossip like old women. If so, he decides not to comment on it.

Instead, he says, “Maybe you don’t need to pay attention to pass the test tomorrow, Miss Alberich, but for the sake of those poor unfortunates who sit behind you, could you at least pass these papers back?” He gestures to a stack of papers that sit on the corner of her desk. Worksheets.

She passes them back, and looks at her own. Taps her pencil on the corner of the desk, examining the questions. And sighs. They seem easy, until you read “explain why”. Even so, she raises her pencil reluctantly, and decides to answer questions two and five wrong. The rest, she decides, should be answered correctly. Mr. Zaruba is on to her.

Kiara finishes pretty quickly, but doesn’t dare to open her notebook again. Instead, falls back into the awaiting arms of sleep.



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