I stared. Hard and thoughtful. How was I going to do this?
My paper was blank, the pen grasped in my hand seeming strange and foreign. I fingered it thoughtfully and furrowed my brow. My teacher’s instructions had been simple: write a story or poem with a personal connection to you. Any genre. The only condition was a minimum of 200 words.
But for me it would have easier to write a five paragraph essay.
What was personal to me? Friends? Family? All that just seemed to be there, ready to act normal in a normal person’s life. Fun? Laughter seemed to be forced, weak, untrue. My life literally seemed just like a routine, and replay of the same things over and over again, and the only thing changing was me.
That, and the food for dinner every night.
I was silent as I had got up in the morning, ate my cold, brown, oatmeal, went to school. My friends sat and joked with me, saw I wasn’t responding again, and turned away. Got in the car, went home, answering useless questions the whole way. Yes, mom, school was good. Yes, mom, I had a good day. Yes, mom, I still have lunch money.
Don’t adults do anything besides ask pointless questions?
Opened the front door, went into my room. Avoided my father, calling me to come sit with him, watch the next football match. Sat down on the desk, got out a paper. Now here I was, still lost in my world. Struggling, failing to concentrate on one simple thing.
My gaze shifted, and the corner of my eye struck it. The book. Old, weathered, my prized secondhand condition of To Kill A Mockingbird. The book that had changed my life.
My mom had written to my English teacher, of course, concerned. Yes, she had assured her, it’s natural for some students to be behaving like this after reading such a powerful book. Yes, don’t worry, your daughter will be back to normal soon.
But I never got back to normal. I still laid asleep at night, and when I finally dipped into slumber it was only to be horrified with the same dreams. Gasping, eyes wide awake, my mouth forming one word.
Why did Tom have to die? Why did everyone have to be so unfair? Why couldn’t people back then be normal?
Normal. Like I’m supposed to be.
My hand reached out– searching, fumbling, for that one thing I wanted. Worn, torn, suffering from the ages. The many times the pages have been turned. Those sleepless nights.
It was sudden, and unexpected. My hand reached out, gripped the pen with a shocking force. Held it like a spear in my right hand. Pulled the paper towards me. Wrote so hard it poked a hole in the paper.
The story of: