by Khristy L. Knudtson
I spend five days of my seven educating teenagers pretending I’m not an emotional delinquent with the same “mommy issues” as the boy with the overgrown yellow hair in the back row with the newly minted scars. He radiates pain like a nuclear bomb everywhere he goes pretending no one notices. But I do.
I do because I have scars too.
When he needs a break because he’s going to break I walk—six footsteps to his two—around the hallways listening and thinking he’s as “round the bend” at fourteen as I am at thirty-two.
When his eyes depart the luminous in exchange for the lusterless, I feel the low front on the horizon—the cyclone is starting and it won’t end until he’s pulverized his leg with a hammer releasing the malignancy of myoglobin into his bloodstream. This feels familiar.
This yellow-haired, gangly teenager hiding in the sweatshirt was taught to hate himself by everyone, so he hates everyone. Yet the malevolence he feels is only exacerbated by the amount of times he’s forced into classes, forced to be a “good” child, and forced to listen. So he forced everyone to listen.
He forced everyone to listen while he teetered toes on the top of the Johnson St. bridge, grabbing the grating while his hands hemorrhaged. He tried to escape his feelings, his flaws, and his fate as he screamed for police to shoot him until he was grabbed.
He was grabbed—restrained—and received the velvet hammer. A halo of haloperidol that lit the way to a padded room where he sits in darkness no different than any other day.
I wait for him to walk through the doors of my classroom—
—and for the day I know he’ll try it again.
Category: Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing, SNHU Student