I dont know how long its been since I last saw vacant car lots filled up with cars. Has everybody moved away? Am I a singularity, a lone youth wolf out in the wild, separated from the pack? Will I return to school only to see the hallways and staircases emptied?
The parks are filled only with shadows and empty benches. One little girl is playing on the swing, but I don’t see her parents. I have an urge to go up and talk to her, but something tells me she knows what to do. Her bright chestnut hair is long and plaited, with big pink bows at the ends. I thought she was smiling, but it was just my imagination. I think she wants to think to herself.
I walk to the street up ahead and buy an ice cream. I’ve taken my camera so I can go to the thrift store later and see if there’s anything pretty around to take a picture of. There is. It’s a little worn book of hymns the size of my palm. It’s brown and leather with little gold lettering. The lady at the counter says no pictures. I snap one anyway when she’s not looking.
The next day is the first day of school. Trouble is, I’ve forgotten how to wear clothes. What looks good. What is acceptable to wear in public. I wear an old plaid dress from my uniformed schoolgirl days with a forest green cardigan on top. Something about it seems wrong, but I don’t quite know what it is. I keep it on anyway, drawing on a line of kohl pencil on my eyelids. Is that how people do it? Unsure of myself, I scarf down a bowl of cereal and grab a banana as I head out the door, kissing my mother goodbye before heading out the old worn secret path I took to school.
Something stops me from taking a back-alley route though, and I swerve back onto the main road and bump into an old acquaintance from school. He’s supposed to be a year older than me. Black greasy hair and tall; he’s thin, with big, green-blue eyes. He looks depressed, a little sunken into his body, his frame isn’t necessarily bony but out of shape. He manages to smile as i shyly reintroduce myself.
“Sarah” I say say, my voice soft, hardly there.
“Peter” he replies, with the same reticent tone.
I shrug it off. everybody’s anxious on the first day, right?
Math and Biology are a bore. All the teachers are handing out their syllabus papers in various colors: pink, yellow, blue, green, orange. I guess the school still hasn’t gotten enough money for real school office supplies. Peter is in every one of my classes. I think he was held back a grade, he’s supposed to be in college. But he hardly notices me, looking down at his feet or rolling his pencil back and forth over and over again on his desk, humming to himself, doodling, or staring blankly at the wall, the window, the blackboard.
Time runs endlessly like this, slow and unvaried, and I find myself falling into a strange rhythmic oblivion. I should have left this town two months ago with the rest of them, I decide mournfully, my thoughts turning once again to peter. He suddenly stares back at me, his gaze intense and long, eyes like flashing rivets in his skull. I don’t know whether I ‘m dreaming or if I’m ever awake, for that matter. All I know is that I might as well disappear into the wall where he’s staring. I think peter smokes cigarettes. I think maybe nobody is going to amount to anything, especially on this town, and even me-I think I might dissipate or self-combust and it would’t make a bit of difference.
Copyright 2015 Golden Star Poetry