the stench wafts up
against your will
you taste the air
trying to identify the smell
what is that
putrid garbage onions
slowly you sniff sniff snuff
until a big whiff chokes you up
like the burning of bleach
gasping for a sterile breath
The city at least had sunrises that meant something to me. Here I have to wake up by five a.m. when it’s still dark out to be at the bus stop since the school is a trek through what seems to be God’s country. I saw a baby black bear destroying a garbage can yesterday.
I miss the sun painting its blades into the backs of building tops. Everything is so tranquil and annoying here. Jaz jabs me in the side to get my attention but I pretend to ignore her listening instead to the sharp crunches of the potato chips some fat kid must be snacking on in the back of the bus. I shouldn’t be able to do this. I thought I was hallucinating at first. Hoping I had a brain aneurysm, since dying at any moment made me feel free to be a freak or a hero or gay even.
You’re losing it kid. You’re not a hero. You’re not any of that.
The bus juggles us around like bowling pins, up and down. If we were freshman we’d still be in the front seats securely over the adjusted front wheels with shocks that don’t make you want to vomit in your mouth. But, we’re just old enough to be closer to the back. I have to hear the stomach contents of the seniors and juniors roll over and digest. Just another reason mornings here suck.There’s no jarring vibrations of roaring subway stations, or cackling women yelling from fire escapes. Nothing out here sounds interesting at all. The students, too glazed over from pop tarts, sit stone quiet on the bus staring at the forest rushing by. No words, no music, no talking, just unbearable gurgling. When I figure this all out maybe I’ll learn to concentrate my power and amplify it to burst someone’s eardrum for some much needed excitement around here.
“Hey, we’re going to be late,” said Jaz coolly walking past after we filed off the bus.
Tannersville High was one dimensional, huge, white, poorly decorated with dim lighting and the kind of floors that were probably bled on at some point. Exactly how I felt most days.
What’s my name? You won’t name me will you? I heard the sound of Trisha crumpling a wrapper, Mrs. Brune’s heartbeat, and Jaz’s thoughts as she saunters to her locker. She’s wrestling with puberty and that new found crush on you.
Stop talking to me. Why? The entire day droned on in the background of her voice in my head.
“Can you hear me? ” said Jaz crossing her eyes and jostling her purple hair into my face.
See now your not even paying attention to her.
“Shut up, you’re always talking,” I blurted out accidentally.
She turned away, banging ungracefully into the the side of her seat.
“Look, I’m sorry for…” I said, slowly.
“For the bus. And the hallway. And the cafe this morning. And your freak out last week–“
“Alright. I said I was sorry.”
“Come on Etan, what’s eating you?” she said, giggling at her own pun. Damn it if I could love her any less.
“Okay,” I said taking a deep breath, “I think I’m having an identity crisis because the voice in my head is this crazy girl and she has like supersonic hearing into other people’s heads. And she thinks you have a crush on me and I kind of like you.”
“Soo, you like me?” Jaz asked, wrinkling her nose into a smile.
Really, that’s all she heard. You sure about this one, I mean there are plenty of cute–
“She got a name?” she said, clearly amused.
“Maybe. This is serious.”
“Is this how you always ask girls out, by being weird?” she asked, getting up to leave, “Because I like it.”
by Garry Trudeau