Updated: Apr 26
Posted on: January 31, 2022
Cover Image Artwork by: Kristina Jelic
I step over the tumultuous debris of clothes acting as my new carpet and make my way to the vertical body mirror. My hand instinctively pats down any of my fraying hairs threatening to leave my scalp while I scrutinize my appearance up and down. Is my shirt ironed out? Are my shoes soiled at all? Do my jeans have any rips in them? Wait, I don’t smell, do I? These questions of anxiety race through my mind at lightning speeds. I dig in my jean pockets and my fingers find the neatly folded square paper containing my schedule. With sweat slightly dampening the sides of the - sheet of paper, I closely revise my classroom numbers and four class times --history and visual arts in the morning. Math and science in the afternoon, it seems. Suddenly, my mouth hangs agape upon the sight of my lunch time. 11:15 am, I read out loud. I try to wipe my eyes several times in hopes of erasing this hallucination; it was still there, staring me down with those irksome numbers and sneering at my ill fate. I sigh. That’s too early for lunch.
Before I exit the room, I do a quick front-back check of my first day of high school attire, nearly forgetting to grab my lanyard. Ha, silly me. I must be really sleep-deprived or getting those first day jitters. It’s both. My brand-new sneakers make contact with the first step down the descending spiral stairwell, eliciting a wooden groan that would summon some berserk middle-aged parents willing to kill just about anyone who dares to disturb their sleep. By the time the stairs begin to call for my parents, I fly down the stairs and leave the house faster than Usain Bolt. Fortunately, the bus arrives at the stop momentarily, conveniently located two steps from the doorstep.
I board the bus and plop into the nearest seat by the doors. I will admit that the window surface is a tad too comfortable for my pounding head, lulling me into deep sleep so quickly that I have potentially set a Guinness world record for the fastest sleeper at that moment, then and there.
I heard the chime on the bus intercom inform passengers that we had promptly arrived at my high school. I was jostled awake by a loose, swaying backpack that closely resembled a brick catapulting straight into my face. Extremely startled, I glared at the people within my peripheral vision and searched intensely for the guilty culprit. I found no one. Just out of earshot, there was some faint but polite chuckling ensued by the de-boarding passengers, whom I assumed were my fellow student attendees on their first day as well. Since I couldn’t tell at first glance due to the masks covering their faces, I felt rather embarrassed to be making such a blunder in front of my judgmental, gossipy peers; being humiliated in front of people my age was far worse than in front of mature adults, alright? I timidly pulled up my face mask to conceal the flush of blood creeping up and tainting my cheeks, not that the cover did much anyway.
Fast forward a couple of minutes and it appeared to be that I was among the first few kids to arrive in my history classroom. I scanned the cerulean-blue space, secretly praying that a familiar face was hiding beneath the sky-blue face masks or would at least show up later. Neither happened, much to my dismay. When everyone was finally settled into their respective seat assignments, the lesson commenced; I observed that my history teacher was luckily the lethargic, laid-back breed of their species. I couldn’t help but doze off in the midst of their class and let me tell you, that was the most relaxing time of my life. With hair draped over my face, my neighbours making no notice of my intermittent nap, or as I thought so, and their pencils scratching away at their notebooks, this was the most relaxing an ASMR experience could get. Out of nowhere, something flicked at my left arm-
A baritone male voice calls for me, “Hey, excuse me. Hi, hello? Please wake up!” I shift around in my seat, trying to get comfortable, and turn my head to my left, expecting to see a young male classmate appear before me. Oh no, I was drop-dead wrong. The imaginary face of a young male morphs into a real image of a perturbed old man. My hoarse voice slurs some incoherent words that I have no clue how he manages to understand,
“That is correct.”
“Uh, you are right in the sense that no one else is here. They have all left for their stops.”
“Oh cool. WhenarewearrivingtoCentralHighSchool?”
The look of worry changes into pure horror on the bus driver’s face within the blink of an eye. I slowly recollect myself to present myself in a proper manner and aloofly repeat the question just in case, “When are we arriving at Central High School?”
He inhales deeply, probably whispering a short prayer in the process, and solemnly says, “We have already passed Central High School 3 hours ago.” I couldn’t believe my ears. I try to protest but nothing comes out.. My heart rate begins to accelerate rapidly and I want to puke. Now. I hastily grab my stuff and push the poor bus driver aside, not wanting to converse with him for any longer. As I run out of the bus, I think of when I can make an appointment for a funeral. Cold sweat pools on my forehead and my neck. Tears threaten to break away from the containment of my eyes. I do not know where my feet are heading. Perhaps my feet have a higher IQ than my long deceased brain cells; should I head home? Or should I let the school know that I’ll be late?