I’m leaning back in the chair. The bodies on the teleconference are shifting, their paper shuffling is booming on the mic. The update continues, I’m fading, drifting. I look up at the clock and it tugs me back, way back.
It’s hidden inside, in a dark space, deep in a corner on the edges, frayed but biting.
I was a child. You were a child. A Boy.
The schoolhouse had two classrooms, three grades in each room, one row for each grade, four to six students in each grade. Three rows of heavy steel, four legged desks, each having a pocket for school things. We were in the First Grade.
He was oversize in first grade, having been held back. Tall, thin, with hunger hanging from his bones. His brother was already categorized as a Juve, his Father an alcoholic, in and out of small jobs and a Mother desperately trying to keep it all together, and losing.
Faded jeans, not from stone washing, but from hand me downs from his older brother, or from a flee market sale. Everything wrong-sized, tattered and carrying a whiff of moth balls. Laces on too-big shoes loosely tied. Hair long, unruly and badly in need of a sheer.
He would shrink to half-size at his desk, trying to disappear, cowering, avoiding being called on by Ms. Pantages. He had some form of learning disability, undiagnosed dyslexia perhaps, but at that time, he was just Simple. He gripped his pencil awkwardly, written words were gibberish on the page.
The bell rang: Recess! The boys would run off to play. The girls would keep their distance. And he, was alone, off near a rock pit tossing stones, or alone pulling on long grass, or alone hanging near but not on the swings.
“You SMELL bad.”
Back in the classroom, there was a murmur, girls whispering, boys snickering. The teacher rushed him out of the classroom, his head buried in his chest in shame. A dark wet stain spread on the front of his jeans. A puddle gathered under the desk, dripping from his seat.
Dark corners, hidden, everything illuminated.