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Of PLaces Where I Do Not Belong

Everywhere I walked, I encountered beats that spilled from the ground and guided my feet forward. The beat up sneakers hopped along by themselves, jumping and dancing to a song only I could hear. My hair, which was practical and pulled back in a messy ponytail, bobbed up and down as I skipped down the road to school, singing lyrics I came up with right then. They rose and fell like the sunshine, as I belted them out on my way to homeroom.

The beats from the locker area were always quieter, smaller, less pronounced than the ones that sprung up when I was alone. Here, they were accompanied by shouts of vulgar words and silent sneers and repeated whispers as I dropped the beat with my still high-pitched voice. I sang out loud, in front of them all.


“Listen to her.”


“Those lyrics are stupid. I don’t even get them.”


“She is obviously just trying to get attention. That’s what my mom says.”


“Just look at her hair!”

I sauntered into class, pounding pencils against the wooden desk and whispering my songs under my breath. I ignored whatever the teacher said, simply indifferent towards old dead men and inanimate numbers. Tests were only periods of time marked by heavy bass and words as quick as mercury. The red marks they came back with incorporated with drum beats and guitar chords.


“I’m sorry. I don’t think she’s mentally ready for this grade.”

“I feel she would do better at another institution.”


“She just doesn’t pay attention. A tutor, perhaps?”


“Maybe she should see the counselor?”

I ignored my way through school, played my music as avidly as the others combed their hair. Finally paying attention to my hair, I twisted it into dreads and promenaded through the hallways singing my numbers. Girls glared, guys sneered, teachers gave up, I kept laying down beats. Turns out, they were right when they said I didn’t belong there. But I was the only one who knew where I belonged, and they didn’t give s***. So I just slipped beneath the cracks and kept singing my ballads.


“Did you hear about--”


“Her lyrics are amazing!”


“She’s different than the rest of them.”


“I love her hair!”

Stage lights are blinding, and send me notes from operas and stage songs. But I have to focus on the ones I taught myself in school; make them sound just as important as they did all those years ago, these beats I hear in my head. I can hardly hear them over the roar of a crowd, all of whom are here for me. I am starting to sweat already; the stage is alight with warmth and heat that seems to gravitate from the bright, fluorescent lights.





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