Empty Inside

He sits in the back of the class, headphones covering his ears and face looking straight down. I have watched him for a few weeks now, being well aware that he has not made progress in our art class. For the room being so small, he always seems so far away.

The first time we got our journals to draw in, he didn't touch it. But every day, he warmed up just a bit, first starting with just touching the cover, then flipping through the blank white pages.

He makes everything look so simple, peaceful.

At the end of the year when we turned our books in, his was still blank. Mine on the other hand had doodles of things I noticed over the year. I got a solid B.

But he got an A.

I was confused. He had done nothing and received a better grade than anyone else. How?

My teacher cleared his throat, catching the attention of all the students. "I would like to show you all a book that really made me think." He reached for the boy’s book and held it in his hands. His eyes scanned over it, browsing the cover before plunging into the pages.

He showed us page after page of nothing but white. Empty space.

"When I was first going through the journals, I got to this one and I was instantly disappointed."

The boy slowly looked up, pushing his headphones back to hear.

"I failed a student, not being able to reach him with my teaching abilities. I was going to give you a F." He cast his eyes towards the boy. "But something changed that."

He pressed his lips in a tight line. "I told you guys to fill what made you peaceful, what made you happy." There was a pause, and then he continued. “It took me a bit to realize, what if nothing made him happy? What if this paper was a perfect representation of the world, so full of potential, yet not living up to it?"

I froze. This whole time he had been doing, what I thought was nothing, was actually the best. He spent his class period looking for something to make him feel. He spent this whole time and found nothing. He was empty of feeling, just like the book was empty of markings.

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