Monday, October 31, 2016

A REAL AMERICAN HORROR STORY


    What was he doing there?  Why would he attend a meeting about how to decorate the Freshman hallway for Homecoming?
    Two reasons.  First, teachers were always threatening detention to those who didn't attend such gatherings.  Second, he had an idea to suggest.
    He was sitting in the high school gymnasium, surrounded by his class, yet separated from them.  He had a row on the bleachers to himself, and was safely two or three rows removed in front and behind from his peers.  There would be no poking, pinching, hitting, throwing objects and nasty whispered remarks from the side or behind him, at least for the moment.
    The two teachers present, and the class president, explained what the meeting was about and then opened the floor to suggestions.  A majority of the boys wanted to do a Batman theme.  A majority of the girls wanted an Indiana Jones theme.  He could've raised his hand and made his suggestion at that moment, but he was scared.  He didn't want to be the only one to go against the two majorities.  A few moments passed before a brave and clever girl suggested decorating the hallway with toilets and urinals, with the Homecoming slogan of Flush 'em!
    It was the absolute brilliance and originality of the brave and clever girl's suggestion that gave him the courage to raise his hand, stand up, and start speaking.  He suggested, in his own awkward way, how the hallway could be decorated with man-eating plants, like from Little Shop of Horrors, and the slogan would be Crunch 'em!  As he was making his suggestion, he saw the class president moving her hand as if mimicking speech.  He didn't know if the class president was either explaining to someone in the front row what he was suggesting or if her hand gesture was simply saying, Blah, blah, blah.  Despite the visual ambiguity in his sight, he finished his suggestion and sat back down to absolute silence.
    After a bit, the class president broke the silence by asking if there were any other suggestions.  Nobody else had anything to offer, so she, with her presidential authority, listed the options that were suggested.  She mentioned BatmanIndiana Jones and Flush 'em.  That is where the voting list ended and that is when his world became muted in sound and slowed in motion.
    There were voices, voting...he raised his hand for Flush 'em even though he knew it didn't matter.  Nothing mattered in what were probably just minutes, but felt like hours in his mind.  Within those hours, thoughts quickly appeared and faded like after-images when rapidly closing his eyes.
    He knew he should stand up for himself, remind them of his suggestion, not that they had actually forgotten, but he knew he wouldn't dare.  The years had taught him to suffer in silence because his feelings were irrelevant.
    He wondered if someone, student or teacher, had noticed and considered speaking up for him, but deep down he didn't believe it, and really didn't want anyone to say anything.  Such a gesture would have been too much for him, and he didn't want to cry in front of them again.
    He imagined a teacher taking him aside after the meeting and telling him that it was a really shitty thing that happened, but he knew there wasn't a chance in hell for such an experience.  The years had taught him to count on no one within the school system.
    He thought about the seconds ... minutes ... hours ... days ... weeks ... months ... years he still had remaining in that suffocating building, surrounded daily by people who either tormented or ignored him.  Any friends he had in elementary and early middle school had either emotionally or physically moved away.
    He felt alone, and he suddenly saw what would happen if he didn't leave the school's poisonous atmosphere as soon as possible.
    He knew that suicide would be his future if he stayed any longer than the age of 16.  He didn't know by what method, he just knew that he would end himself, therefore ending his pain and loneliness.
    His world became loud and regular motion resumed as the meeting was unceremoniously adjourned with Indiana Jones winning.  He didn't give a damn, he just knew he had to get out of that gymnasium before he broke down.  
    His remaining Freshman and early Sophomore year rapidly deteriorated.  Thoughts of suicide haunted him every day, but not long after his 16th birthday he went to the principal's office and quit.
    With absolutely no surprise in his mind, the principal didn't argue or even attempt to convince him to stay.  The same indifference radiated from each teacher as he went from classroom to classroom acquiring signatures to show he had returned books and other school materials.  Each stop was like an echo of that day in the gymnasium, solidifying his belief that he was making the right decision.  A decision of survival.
    He felt they would be relieved to no longer see his face in the hallways and classrooms.  He imagined they would sleep easy believing there was nothing they could've done for the freak ... the outcast ... the nothing, as he slipped through the cracks and drifted away.


Freak Out, 
JLH

P.S.  Click BOO for a Halloween trick or treat! 

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