I held my breath, waiting for Finn to start reading. He was gloating and beaming as if he had struck gold. After hearing the first stanza to the poem, I knew it wasn’t mine. It wasn’t about a girl. It was about a pissed off teen, complaining about society. Basically crying out: woe is me about ten times.
I was sure who ever wrote this probably also had a Tumblr and re-blogged Hemmingway quotes, but had never read anything from him. I quieted down my thoughts and listened to the rest of the piece.
Did you know that you are the leading cause of depression,
Statistics say otherwise, stating that cancer or heart disease is the leading cause of death.
But they’re wrong.
It’s you. It’s always been you.
It’s in the world that you’ve created that makes girls think that they are only worth your time if they show more skin than they do brains.
And God forbid if they use their brain. Hide it, forget it, push it away and drown all of your thoughts away with the booze showcased in rap videos.
People will love you.
That’s what you say.
Because all she ever wanted was to be loved
To be adored.
Looked at, from high above.
You haven’t ruined me.
At least not yet.
Because as time progressed, and my eyes watched the world around me attentively.
Though shrunken dreams,
Decreased by the years,
Minutes of each fleeting moment in this
World we all unfortunately must suffer in together.
I have wasted approximately ten years
Blowing out useless candles,
Hoping for shooting stars,
So I could wish on those dreams that could only be reached if
I sold myself.
Should my soul like my ancestors had done before me.
Sold my body.
Just in the desperate hope that I might be good enough for someone else to dream of being one day.
A round of applause took over the room. Mr. Adrian ate that up that writing like was revolutionary. Finn shared his views on the piece and he said how he liked how the writer was able to show the inner conflict within them. Or something along those lines. I stopped listening because I knew he was trying to pretend he cared for Ronnie’s sake.
“Would anyone else like to chime in on what they think?” Mr. Adrian asked, and I raised my hand. “Yes, Dakota?”
“I think they clearly don’t get they’re a part of society as well. They’re talking about society as if it’s this detached world that they aren’t connected to.”
Mr. Adrian paused to ponder on what I said, pinching his gray soul patch, nodding at me.
The new girl’s hand rocketed into the air.
“Yes, Laura. You can add on to Dakota’s thoughts,” the teacher said.
Laura sat up straight. “I know–I mean the writer –knows that they’re a part of the society. She – or he – understands that. But, what I got from the piece was that they didn’t see the point of doing what society wants from her... or him.”
“If they don’t want to do something, then they don’t have to do it. It’s not like society is metaphorically putting a gun up to this person’s head.” I scoffed. “This is exactly what I don’t like about people –let me finish.” Laura looked like she was ready to wad her paper into a ball and aim it for my head.
“Like I was saying, this is exactly what I don’t like about people. They like to blame others for the problems they see or for the things they do. It’s a lot easier to complain about a faceless society than to look into yourself and ask yourself how you can change the problem. Stop moaning and groaning about the issues and do something. Own up to the problem, whether you caused it or not, and find a solution. You don’t have to follow the herd.”
Laura crashed her back into her seat and sealed her lips. Shutting her up wasn’t my goal. I wanted to hold an actual conversation without someone getting too emotional. Maybe she wasn’t up for that.
Mr. Adrian brought our attention back on to the exercise and asked for Faye to read the piece she wanted to share.
“There’s a little note before the piece from the writer,” Faye said as she stood up from her seat and walked to the center, taking the place Finn was in earlier. “It says: Mr. Adrian, this prompt is stupid and redundant to the last one you made us use. But I must write something. So, here goes my best attempt at writing about dreaming. Next time, please use something more interesting for a prompt or don’t give us a prompt at all. Sincerely, everybody.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. F u c k . That was mine.
Internally, I was screaming my head off. I had to compose myself and act unaffected by this. Oddly enough, I was glad that Faye was the one who was reading it. It was better than having Pierson or one of his brainless friends read it.
Mr. Adrian’s eyes went to me before he instructed Faye to get to the writing.
Talk about being discreet. He might’ve as well shouted out my name.
Tired eyes close to dream a world exclusively ours.
I paint a scene to hide my impatient paranoia.
A sleepy grin creeps over my face at the thought itself and soon I am at rest.
I explore her face with my gaze.
Her eyes shine the hopelessness that can only ever be seen in people who have witnessed the worst.
She stands there for a while,
Bearing everything but a smile.
But only for a moment.
Her lips curl to mask her sadness.
Too quickly for me to catch it.
She shudders to herself,
And I hand her my jacket.
A dull thumping ache thunders threw me to interrupt my bliss.
And within seconds I plummet back to reality.
Back in bed.
Back to where she isn’t here.
Back where I had escaped for a moment.
My eyes open and stiff joints extend to morning’s sting daylight.
Rolling over, I search for a six letter name to light up my screen.
Pointlessly, I glance to see with one eye open.
She is there.
She is there and I am soothed once again.
The marathon becomes a stroll somehow.
She quiets my mind’s cries of discomfort.
And the corner of my lips poke my cheeks in excitement to realize.
Even with my mind at its weakest, my soul still loves her wildly.
Mr. Adrian said the same question he had asked Finn. He wanted to know what Faye’s thoughts were on the poem. “First of all, I think whoever wrote this is really good at being in touch with their emotions. I don’t want to be stereotypical, but because of the really nice handwriting, I think it might be a girl.”
My eye twitched.
“You shouldn’t make an assumption like that,” Mr. Adrian added.
“Well, it’s a really emotional piece. That’s also why I said that. Guys typically aren’t that expressive on how they feel.”
Mr. Adrian did that stupid little move he did before, pinching his soul patch and twisting it. At the rate he’s going, he won’t have a soul patch by March. “What else did you get from the piece? Does anyone want to share their thoughts? What do you guys get from this work?”
Ronnie’s hand darted up. “Can I say who I think wrote it?”
I could feel my throat closing-up again for a second time. My eyes glanced at the door and wondered how fast I could get there without being stopped.
“No. That’s not what I asked from the class. We’re meant to discuss what we got from the piece.”
“Okay. Well, what I got from the poem was that I know who wrote it. That’s something.” Mr. Adrian’s serious expression didn’t falter. Ronnie’s hand fell back down and she sighed. “Alright. What I got was that this person is emotionally whipped by the girl, but maybe she doesn’t feel the same way...and I also think Pierson wrote it.”
"What?” I thought I had said this in my head, but with the number of eyes looking back at me told me, I now knew I had shouted it out loud. The infectious laugh that followed my outburst didn’t help my case. Even more people started to look.
“What’s so funny, Dakota?” Mr. Adrian questioned.
“What so funny is that Ronnie thinks Pierson is capable to write about someone who isn’t himself.” I said in between breaths. “That’s a good one, Ronnie.”
Pierson was too busy texting discreetly to know I had said something about him.
“And what? You’re suggesting that you wrote it?” Laura, the new girl, joined in. “Faye was right that the person who wrote this is someone who is in touch with their emotional side. Which you aren’t.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you knew everything about me.” My laughter died down and the humor wasn’t evident in my tone. “Nice to know you know me so well and know what I’m capable of.”
“I think Pierson wrote it, too,” Beth said.
“No one asked you,” Ronnie rolled her eyes. “God, you always have to ruin things, Beth.”
“We’re not supposed to be discussing who wrote it,” Mr. Adrian repeated himself. “It’s the message we should be discussing.”
Mr. Adrian got up from his seat and redirected the conversation again, asking for Silvia to read.
. . .
We took back our journals at the end of class. Pierson had received about five compliments on a poem he didn’t write and he didn’t deny writing it.
I jammed my journal into my backpack, zipped it up, threw it on to my back, and kept my head down. If I looked up and saw one more person compliment him for something he didn’t make, I was sure I would blow my cover and admit I wrote it.
I didn’t care if others thought he had wrote it, as long as Silvia didn’t fall for it, too.
Heath caught up with me halfway down the hall, and with his presence, a thought came to mind. It was about the question Silvia had asked during that long conversation we had. She wanted to know if Heath liked her as person or not, and I honestly didn’t know the answer to that.
“Can I ask you something?”
Heath slowed his pace. “Yeah, depends what it’s about though.”
“Silvia.” I told him. “She asked me if you disliked her not, and I told her I wasn’t all that sure. What’s your thoughts on her?”
He gave a sheepish shrug. “I don’t hate her - that’s for sure. To be honest, I don’t know if I like her either though. And frankly, it’s got nothing to do with her. I just don’t like how you get when you’re without her. I’ve seen what she does to you Dakota. You barely ate, you hardly got out of your room, and you wouldn’t talk to anyone after you guys broke up. I don’t want to know what would happen if something else went down between the two of you. You guys would always bicker when you were together, but you were far worse off when you were apart.” He let out a long held in sigh. “One thing I do want to say though is that if she makes you happy, I can’t stop you from being with her. That’s your choice. As long as you’re okay, that’s all I have in mind. Being with her clearly does make you happy though. I can see that and I’ll gladly do anything I can to help you guys get back together.”
I reeled back a bit, staring down at my friend like he had just been hijacked by a alien life-form. There was no way that had come out of Heath’s mouth. All he ever talked about was sex, sex, money, and Questlove. “I would like you to help. Do you by any chance still have that...thing...installed in Lucky Charms computer?”
“Oh, yeah. I do,” Heath retorted. “What do you want me to do exactly?”
“Well, for one, she doesn’t trust me.”
“Which is understandable,” Heath was quick to supply. “If I was told my entire relationship was fake at first, I’d be hesitant in trying to trust them.”
“I get that. But I feel like there’s nothing I can say at this point that will show her that I’m trust worthy or that my feelings are genuine. I need you to go through some of Lucky Charms information. Unearth any files that could possible help my case.”
“We don’t need to do something that risky.” His eyes doubled in size. “We could do something that’s got less risk factors in it. I’m not here to battle the devil himself. I have a better idea that doesn’t involve that -”
“I need evidence. Something that will help.”
He groaned. ”Fine. What do you mean by ‘help your case’ though?”
“I’ll text you the details later.” I said, darting a look around the hallway. “Not now.”
“Alright. I’ll start searching tonight and see if I can do something that helps your case...whatever that means.” Heath said and went to say goodbye.
I made my way through the halls and to the office. Pulling out my phone and headphones, I started listen to music. On my way to sign out of school, I began to think of where I should go to get some off-campus lunch. I had a bit of money on me and I was hungry. Originally, I wanted to stop over at the pizza place around the corner.
Lots of other seniors went there for off-campus lunch, I reminded myself.
I was close to deciding where I should go when my phone buzzed in my pocket. I glanced down at it and saw that I had an incoming call from an unfamiliar number. I picked up. The only two reasons I didn’t pick up my phone was if it was a private number or if it was from the state penitentiary.