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I am not alive
I’m stuck in fourth period. Again. I feel as if the room is closing up on me. The walls are closing in. The window is so close, I can almost reach it… suffocating, choking… just a little farther…
“Mr. Grant, would you please stop distracting the class?”
I stop my franticly tapping pencil.
“Now Mr. Grant, what is the answer to number twenty-three?” Mrs. Howard enunciates like her life depends on it. Twenty-three become ‘Ta-Wen-Tee Tha-Reeeee’ when she says it.
I don’t know the answer to number Ta-Wen-Tee Tha-Reeeee, nor do I know the answer to Twenty-Three. I think that’s pretty clear; but Mrs. Howard is not one to pick up on hints.
“Mr. Grant? Are you still with us? I asked you a question,” Her lips kind of look like a deflated balloon, the way she coats them with that pink lip-goop. I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m pondering number Twenty-Three when in actuality I’m just thinking about her lips. Oh wait, that didn’t come out right. Ew…
I should probably say something, but it’s kind of funny watching her reaction to my silence. Oh, I think she just called on someone else. Apparently they know the answer to number Twenty-Three.
“For Pete’s sake Mr. Grant, stop tapping your pencil!” Oops. It wasn’t even on purpose that time. My pencil has a mind of its own, I swear.
14 minutes until the end of this hell class. I think the clock likes to taunt me. Just like the ceiling fan. I know whenever I look away the ceiling fan slows down. I have never caught it in the act though. Every time I turn to look, it starts speeding up again. The clock must be friends with my ceiling fan. They must team up to make me miserable.
I think Mrs. Howard is talking to me again.
“Mr. Grant, since you seem to be so fond of tapping that pencil of yours, how would you like to stay afterschool and sweep the music room?” I’m about to answer when I realized she’s mocking me. Oh. Well, it could have been serious. I almost wish it was. I’d rather sweep the music hall than spend the afternoon watching my dad drink beer.
“No, Mrs. Howard, I’ll stop.” She glares at me again. She’s probably wishing I’d get a schedule change. She’s not the only one.
I’m looking out the window again. I do it every day. I’m not sure why the scenery draws my attention, but it does.
Something is different about the window today. There is something lodged in it. It looks like paper. I wonder if it’s a map. Maybe it shows an underground escape route from this classroom. I hope so. I’m going to pick it up after class.
There’s 3 minutes left. My hand is twitching. I want to tap my pencil, but I know Mrs. Howard would not approve.
I wonder if Mrs. Howard has pencil-tappers of her own. I doubt it. She doesn’t seem to like kids very much, and if she did happen to have them, I’m sure she wouldn’t let them tap their pencils.
I’m in trouble again. Apparently I’ve been tapping my red pen.
“Jeffrey Grant, I’m afraid this is the last straw. You are constantly disrupting my class, tapping that pencil. Detention, tomorrow morning.”
I raise my hand.
“Actually, this time I was tapping my pen.” The class laughs. Mrs. Howard does not look happy.
The bell rings. I’m walking towards the window when I hear my name. Mrs. Howard looks scary. She gestures for me to take a seat.
Mrs. Howard leans up really close and whispers
“Mr. Grant, I am sick of your immature, smart-*** backtalk. I’m warning you, if this becomes a habit I will see to it that you are suspended. Now leave.”
I wasn’t trying to be a smart-***. I was being serious. All I did was point out the fact that I was tapping a pen, not a pencil.
I walk towards my desk, pretending I forgot something. I reach for the note. The paper is rippled, as if water stained. I see Mrs. Howard looking at me again. I slip the note in my pocket. I will not forget it.
It’s lunchtime. I leave for the library. I like the library. The librarian is nice. He eats lunch with me.
I take the note out of my pocket the second I open the library doors. I want to know its secret. The librarian isn’t here today. I guess I’ll eat alone.
I unfold the note eagerly. I’m not sure why. I could be disappointed. It might just be a kid’s homework sheet. I hope it is not.
The note is blank except for a small paragraph scrawled near the bottom:
I’m not alive. That seems impossible, but it’s true. Sure, blood flows through my veins. My heart beats. I breathe in and out. But I’m not alive. Living isn’t just scientific.
I wouldn’t call it death. You have to have lived to die, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been alive. I walk by and it seems I do not exist. Am I but a ghost? Sometimes I want to be seen. Is it so wrong to want a little attention?
I wonder what I am, who I am. Do others even notice my existence? Do I exist? I’m just dreaming. I never existed and I’ve been kidding myself. That’s what I’ve decided. But if I’m not alive and not dead, what is between life and death?