I clutched my slightly crinkled paper tightly in my trembling hands as I stared at the large mass of students in my English class. They all sat impatiently waiting for me to begin reading. I stared at the dark ink staining the dotted lines of the paper that my teacher Mr. Dylan glowered at unimpressed; we were required to type this up on a computer, but I did not own one. I could feel their restlessness beginning to suffocate me.
“Lilly, I’m already docking points for you not typing up your poem, so would you please carry on and read what you wrote to the class?” Mr. Dylan was an older, stocky man with wrinkles scarring his forehead. A permanent frown mars his lips, and his eyebrows remain descending downwards in deep penance. Mr. Dylan was often an arrogant narcissist who treated all of his students like complete and utter crap. I didn’t want to read my poem aloud to the class, and he knew this, so of course, as soon as the bell rang, he announced that I would be the unfortunate soul going first. I watch is disdain as he gestures for me to carry on and to just read the damn paper.
Gripping the edges of the paper with tight, trembling fists, I lift it to my eyes. Slowly, I take a deep breath before preparing myself to read before the class. The words began to blur together in a haze of blue before coming into focus again. I open my mouth, and begin to read.
Drowns my sight
I’m under the water
With the tide
Clogs the air
You are not there
Frantic, desperate calls
Flow from my mouth like a waterfall
You will not drown
The undertow is calling
Your head is falling
Time and time again I search for you
As I desperately try to get this message through
I should not care;
But you are not there.”
I glance up from my paper as silence renders the classroom. My classmates are staring at me with quiet inquisition, while Mr. Dylan looks at me with just plain shock on his face. They all had this sort of awed look on their faces, as if the girl who never participates or hardly speaks a word at all could possibly write a decent poem. People often took my disinterest as stupidity and immediately wrote me off as an idiot. Their own ignorance is what caused me to not want to speak to them in the first place.
“Thank you Lilly. That was a very... thought provoking poem,” Mr. Dylan says. I don’t reply. I just slowly walk down the aisles of desks, trying to reach my destination in the back of the room so I could fade back into shadows. People take quick glances at me as I pass by them, looking away when I attempt to meet their gaze.
I don’t want them looking at me.
The rest of the class period goes by quickly as everyone else presents their own poems. I don’t pay attention; I’m too busy scrambling words in my notebook to pay them any mind. Believe it or not, English is actually my favorite subject, despite burly Mr. Dylan. He may be a dick, but what he teaches actually fascinates me. Even though people think I don’t pay attention in this class, it’s the one subject that I actually do so.
Finally, the bell rings and I’m very slow to pack up my belongings compared to everyone else who dash out of the classroom. Following them in pursuit, I began to walk out the door before Mr. Dylan stops me.
“Lilly, can a talk to you for a second?” I glance up at him, clutching my books to my chest as I wait for what he has to say. He seems to be at a loss for words, which is very odd since he almost always has something to say. It’s not often that he has trouble coming up with words to speak his opinion. After a moment of silence, he begins to speak.
“That truly was a good poem Lilly. Why haven’t you ever written one for my class before?” He asks in curiosity, probably wondering why I allowed him to give me continuous zeros on assignments such as this one all year long. I just shrug in response to his queries.
And then I leave the classroom, thinking of all the poems and writing assignments that he had ever assigned and that I had ever written sitting unread, and unaccounted for in my spiral notebook.
I was late for my next class, which just so happened to be Chemistry, a period where my teacher was always hot tempered due to her previous classes. Her eyes shoot daggers at me when I enter her classroom after the bell.
“Miss Alvarado, do you not know the purpose of the bell?” She was tapping her foot rhythmically against the tile floor of the classroom as her eyebrows sat arched upon her forehead as she stared, straight up pissed off at me. I think we both knew I wasn’t going to answer her. An angry scowl crossed her features, contorting her face into the ugly, vicious monster that often hid inside people; wanting to be provoked, assailed, waiting to wreak havoc to everything in its path.
“Well, hopefully you’ll learn the purpose of a bell in detention after school hours today,” And then the monster turned and continued her lesson, immediately forgetting my existence. Like they all do.
And that was the day I attended detention, which also turned into the day I first met him.