My name doesn’t matter.
You see, I don’t belong – anywhere!
My school is no ordinary school. The brick and mortar are the same style the state uses to build their jail walls. Even the thirty year old dingy blue paint imprisons me. Past the mangled branches of a Sycamore outside my classroom, the cinderblock administration building obscures the view of my dungeon which the residential counselors refer to as cottages, perhaps in hopes that we might subconsciously assimilate them as a home.
My dungeon is not my own. I share one large room with seven smelly imbeciles. Each bed is a bunk, so even that is not our own. No privacy. No personal space. No warmth. Just too much spare time. Too many rules. Too many people.
So, Mom died before I remember her. Last year, Dad went to court and signed away all legal responsibility he had. I am no one’s. They call me a ward of the state, but how do you introduce people to “the state” at open house night? I didn’t chose to be abandoned, but I chose to be alone. Too much conforming to fit in. No one shows up for my IEP’s other than the ones who call it their job. No one sends me birthday cards. No one takes me on trips or vacations.
I just write.
Writing? you may ask.
There is this teacher, Mr. Yeight, who says, “It is your voice.”
The first time I wrote, I wrote what I hear and speak everyday. Profanity in every other word, sometimes up to five in a row. The following Friday when I got my notebook back, all the expletives were blacked out with permanent marker. When I asked Mr. Yeight why, he just asked me to read what was left on the page. Only a few sentences were left. He tried to tell me that the profanity was a bunch of smoke and mirrors I used to hide what I really had to say. I think he is full of, well, I won’t use what I would say because he would blacken it permanently from my notebook, so he is full of something foul, but in hopes to prevent any blackened marks from appearing on this page, I will show some restraint. Mr. Yeight calls it his contribution to reforming me.
Here’s the routine: Mr. Yeight reads aloud everyday the half hour after we get in from PE which is right after lunch. Twelve sweaty guys sit around with our heads on our desks drawing mental pictures of whatever adventure Mr. Yeight unleashes on us amid our pubescent stench and foul foot funk.
But, on Friday’s, Mr. Yeight then pulls out the freshly sharpened, yellow, number two pencils along with our spiral notebooks. Mine is red. It doesn’t matter what has happened during the week or even during the morning, in the hours that follow, I, a worthless, undesirable, parentally disowned, ward-of-the-state is asked to write…about… myself.
It is like those doctors back when that president, Lincoln, was alive; they would put leeches on people to suck the toxins out of their blood. Only for me, the chance to write is my leech. And the toxins are being sucked not our of my blood, but out of my soul. And when I write, Mr. Yeight lets me bleed until it is clean.
All you need to know is that I write. I do it for me, nobody else. But, for some reason, when he hands my notebook to me every Friday, his comments are the first things I look for. It wasn’t until my counselor pointed out to my caseworker that I realized that the writing made my weekends go more smoothly. Yeah, we write every day in our journal, but only for about ten minutes. No, toxic sludge has ever been removed in ten minutes, so who would expect me to be able to?
Yeah, I am real. Nah, my name doesn’t matter. But I will write, so that I can speak. For some reason, I imagine that someone will read what I write, and somehow, for some reason, know … me.