You are entering a new stage in your life.
That’s what she said to the kids gathered in the assembly.
I was one of those kids.
Teachers dressed in blue robes walked up and down the bleachers.
The kids next to me were whispering.
I said nothing.
I thought about not wanting to leave the school.
I thought about how animals didn’t spend hours sitting.
It was unnatural.
We want to give you the opportunity to take a snapshot of who you were back then.
She said that into the microphone.
The microphone buzzed really loud at the end of her sentence.
It hurt my ears.
I wanted to go home.
I wanted to eat a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.
I wanted to hug my mom.
I wanted this moment to last forever so the next ones wouldn’t come.
It was a gamble I was willing to take.
That the sum of all the moments that came after this one would be worse rather than better.
At some point I would die even.
Dying seemed like negative infinity.
I didn’t believe in God.
Not sure what I believe now.
Not sure which one constituted zero.
My box got to me before I had a chance to disappear.
Is it the blue bird of happiness.
Will I return to this moment after all the subsequent times and think this was the best one.
Do I really want to change.
Is there any choice but to change.
Once you die, is there any change.
These are the things I thought when I looked at the box.
The box was made of treated wood and had golden hinges.
I wanted to eat the hinges and have them cut up my insides.
Then I wanted to put my insides in the box.
Then I wanted to be made of nothing from the inside out.
My classmates were dozing off and staring somewhere else.
They didn’t know what was happening inside of me.
They didn’t know that I wanted to be in the box.
Strung out and chopped up in that box.
Because I wanted to stay the same forever.
Staying the same takes drastic measures.
While I didn’t believe in God, I didn’t believe in that either.
Because I was afraid.
Suicide is what happens in the movies when the shots and the music get all spacey.
And it feels tranquil but you know that if you were the character that just died all you would hear is ______________________
I felt like a captive to life.
I felt like I was pushed down the stream without a paddle against my wishing.
I didn’t want to make this choice or any others.
Do the others realize they have no paddle.
Can they be my boat if I ask them.
I want to be back home.
I want to be home with my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I want to be home with things I can’t put in the box.
I can’t put myself in the box.
What’s the point.
You are supposed to put things in the box that are important to you.
But not things that are too important where you would miss them.
Then what’s the point.
I could put a couple of spare pencils in.
I could put the shavings of erasers then the memory of their erasures.
Not that I will remember what they erased.
That’s what I want to remember.
I want to remember what they erased.
What memory will block out of my mind and replace with other things.
Like not being at home.
Like school that feels less like school.
Like the timelessness of crushes back then.
The strategic planning that was not manipulative but a byproduct of loneliness.
I won’t be able to force people to pay attention to my loneliness out there.
I decided then what I wanted to put into the box.
I would put nothing in the box.
Because it was the most sincere possible reaction to an encapsulation of an entire human being.
We die every second we are not ourselves and we are different people every second.
What would be the same in this exact moment to the exact moment I open it up, look at its contents.
That was my answer.
After the assembly, I told my teacher I would not be participating.
She said okay.
She looked a little sad when I said it.
Don’t you want to remember what you were like.
I told her no.
My memory is good enough.