People amused me. They all had images of themselves, saw themselves a certain way, and yet their own perception was vastly different to what everyone else saw. No matter the patterns and behaviours they followed to appear one way, there was always a crack in their shell that revealed them for who they were. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that they are bad people or deliberately pretending, not all of them, but if you actually stand and watch people, see how they change from day to day; you understand how easily their unconscious façade is broken.
Of course, no body would have the time to see such a change, nor the patience. But me? All I have is time, all I have is patience. It almost drove me mad at first. The first day was like something so infinitely cruel and maddening that it would be nigh impossible to imagine it, and unquestionably impossible to anticipate it. After the first day I learned to deal. Sure, it was hard. But I’m living with it. Or rather, not.
English class, first years.
“So in your biography’s I want all of these things okay? Be experimental, I want to know about you, and I do not want bullet points. So could everyone get out their homework diaries please?”
It never failed to amaze me how grown up he was. Henry Godfrey. Every time I saw him stand up in front of a class and teach just made me realize how long I had been here on my own. I enjoyed watching him the most, because I used to know him, I almost felt normal again somehow, although I went to art and drama occasionally, among others, just to see how people were doing. It was weird really; I couldn’t wait to leave school, get to university, and start my own life. Now I’m stuck here forever.
As his class took down what they had to do, Henry settled into his big swivel chair, the kind that he and I found so amusing at the age of 6. He and I had been friends almost since birth, attended all the same schools, and lived in the same street. We were inseparable, or so we thought. Sure during high school we both had our own groups of friends, but we were always close to each other. It was our private bond, just a trust that sort of swung calmly between us and connected us when we saw each other, when we walked home together. But now he is all grown up, he would be 23 in January, and I remained as my 17 year old self, un-aging, unchanging.
The bell rang to mark the end of the period, and suddenly there was a rustle of books and pencils and files clicked and clattered and zips squealed and children murmured and giggled as they quickly stammered out the door. I never realized at school how fast we left each class, how eager we all were to leave, and how noisy we were in the process. It’s just not something you tend to think about. Mr Godfrey called after them, reminding them that they had to do the homework or there would be trouble.
He closed the door, and turned off the projector, leaving only a blank white screen at the front of the room. The biography assignment was famous. It was ‘that thing’ you had to do at the start of the year for your English class. At least, at Tenorhill it was. This room had changed somewhat since I was the one learning in it, I was here for the renovations. But no matter the paint and technology, these walls were the same. It was in this space that I died.
Henry sank into his seat again, rubbing his hands over his face and pushing them into his eyes in a desperate attempt to wake up. He had lost some of his energy since school. Back then he was running everywhere, he was always awake, always ready to go somewhere and do something, always ready to have a good time. Now he just looked exhausted. Sure, it was only to be expected. It was his first real job in his teaching career, just out of university, in the school he used to go to. It was bound to be a little unnerving.
The day he arrived was like a new time of being for me, I became mesmerized. How someone could grow up in such a short period of time was beyond me. Although I suppose it wasn’t all that short. Just over 4 years since I last saw him, almost 5 since I last spoke to him. It was a bit of a shock if I’m honest, I thought I’d stepped into the past for a moment. Thought I was just looking at him like I had all the years I’d known him. In fact I was so deceived that I started speaking to him, I hugged him. Of course he felt nothing, heard nothing. They never do.
It wasn’t long before the students all left, before the teachers started to get ready as well, and then the lights started going out. The lights and heat and life all left the school, leaving just me there. The darkness of the empty school didn’t bother me like it used to. The first few months or so I simply didn’t sleep. Now I could sleep whenever I want. Time is different when you’re dead, much like effort. There are no real parameters for time, no ‘time’ to sleep or eat. Everything just sort of merged, day into night and night into day. Besides the darkness there was no difference. Likewise I didn’t really get tired. I slept every night surely, but maybe only for 4 or 5 hours. And then maybe during the day for a while. I didn’t get physically tired out at all. This made sense, as I had no body. Not anymore.
I left the English room shortly after Mr Godfrey left and made my way down to the medical room. I had various spots where I slept in the school, but the medical room had the comfiest surfaces, although I had to compromise on the creepy surroundings. I had always hated hospitals. anything to do with medicine used to scare me as a child, I used to think the ghosts of the people who died hung out in hospitals, congregating in a ward playing poker and black jack while smoking cigars, still clothed in their hospital robes. I suppose I believed that more now than I did even as a child. The medical room was the same. Sure I didn’t think that in high school dead students chilled here, although that was now true as well, but I was still uncomfortable in them. Still I was kind of tired tonight so I lay down on the bed and pulled the white cotton blanket over me.
Objects were things that really confused me for the first week or so. I could knock things over, lift things, anything. But on my first day I knocked over a vase filled with flowers, saw the broken pieces on the floor, then looked back at the desk and it sat there perfectly tidy. It was like my world and their world sat side by side and what I did in mine had no effect outside my bubble. I was never seen, never heard, never felt, and never known by anybody. No matter how loud I screamed, how violently I shoved or how much of a scene I made, I did not exist to them.
I closed my eyes and relaxed my ribs. Have you ever had that sensation where you have been so unwittingly tired that you lie down and certain parts of your body take just 1 millisecond more to realize it’s time to settle down. My ribs always did that, they seemed to collapse violently after lying down, thudding against my organs with a clatter, making me wince for a second. I pulled my wispy blond hair away from my face and let out one long breath before drifting slowly, hesitantly off to sleep.