FOREWORD: This is a STORY. Not a post about my life. Though one can assume so if you wish. The first person is an attempt at something different from my usual third person narratives.
Today at school the teacher was teaching us about history again. It was a play, sort of. Some girl had gotten interested in her servant and decided to flirt with him. Said teacher had this huge PowerPoint presentation, nearly fifty slides long, filled with stuff about themes and relationships and literary devices. All this was to be poured via lecture into our minds and hopefully onto our reports when we handed them up next week. It was hard staying awake, all that droning did was put my brain to sleep, but I pinched myself a few times throughout the lecture to keep awake. It didn’t work.
By the time my friend prodded me awake a good third of the slides were over. Five minutes to dismissal.
Along the way back I met with Paul and Simon to check the pools. It was a competition we had, four times a year. Every boy would have their own pool, dug out of a hole in the yard, which the rain was supposed to fill and the sun dry out. Then when some time had passed we would take turns to measure it, see how deep the pool was. The ones with the deepest pools won a prize.
Paul’s pool was really good – a star shaped one (he liked standing out) in concrete, dug using an automatic drill. His father had been rich enough to afford one, the lucky bastard. As if that wasn’t enough, his uncle had just bought him a rain catcher for his “little project” so that he could fill the pool up faster. I wanted to stay and watch the rain catcher work, but the missed slides from the lecture had left this big empty gap of worry in my heart.
I spent the rest of the night reading the first three chapters, and another two chapters in advance, just in case.
Morning came and with it came Pool Inspection. Some of the kids didn’t bother but personally speaking, a little paranoia never hurt. I had dug my pool in the soil and lined it with plastic to keep the water from seeping; it wasn’t very good plastic though, and the ground was hard. The pool was very wide, but not very deep – each time I tried to go lower the spade would clang off hard rock or soil, sending little shocks of impact through my arm.
We got our grades from the previous assignments back. A literature essay, on a play about some girl who got raped by her father. Or was it her boyfriend? Anyway I had written all the usual stuff that the teacher had taught us in class, some weird nonsense about the flowers being all girly and the characters being “out of place”. I wasn’t sure how much of it was true, but the teacher said it was correct, so I just wrote it all down.
I got a D. “Not deep enough” wrote the teacher. I decided to go look at Simon’s essay, which got an A. Maybe it was something I forgot to write.
It rained a lot on my side, so my pool filled up quite quickly. But each time there was so much water that it overflowed from the pool and into the ground, wasted. Then the sun would come up and dry the whole thing out again, leaving something like a puddle in the ground. That always made me worried. Sometimes after it rained in the morning I liked to go sit at the window and look at all the small little puddles on the road, glistening with potential. Then I had to go to school, and by the time I came back the puddles were gone, all dried up.
I didn’t want my pool to dry up. If it did I wouldn’t get the prize.
During our welfare class the teacher thought it would be interesting to try out an interview session with each one of us. He said it will help us with our future, though how it did I couldn’t really tell. It didn’t really matter to me though, because all that meant was that the rest of us were free to do whatever we wanted. Like my math homework.
John got called by the teacher. He stood up proudly, stacking his papers up in a nice neat bundle before going out of the door. John always had a lot of papers – I think it’s because he kept winning the competitions. The prize was usually this great big piece of paper that all the guys signed and drew smiley faces on, to show that you had the deepest pool for that term. John had nearly eight of those now, thanks to the rain catcher.
I had tried using a hose to fill the pool with water, but every time I did the pool overflowed and most of the water went to waste. It didn’t make a difference no matter how many times I refilled the pool. The sun just came up again and the ground remained hard no matter what. Still, I keep digging, because I really want that prize. Everyone does, except for Simon.
The math homework lay finished, a minor obstacle now overcome. I had to check some of the methods with the guidebooks I borrowed from John, but overall I think I understood the questions. I just needed to make sure I knew which method to use with which question…
Simon came back to the class, still smiling. He was always smiling, that Simon. Even though his pool wasn’t very good and didn’t have any fancy rain catchers it still was pretty deep. When I asked him how he did it he just shrugged and said that it seemed obvious. I’m not sure what he meant by that, though I suspect he uses a hose from time to time. When I asked him about it he just laughed and said the prize wasn’t worth cheating for. Simon was weird, in that way.
I was about to re-read the textbook again when the teacher called me out. It wasn’t like I had a choice, so I went outside. The teacher sat across, his spectacles gleaming in the corridor light. I didn’t know what to say, so I told him my name and class and date of birth - and all he did was nod. I tried talking about all the things I knew, like how many eggs a platypus laid, and what methods were best used to solve a quadratic equation. I tried quoting all the good things the other teachers had said about me, about how hardworking I was despite all the trouble I seemed to have. By the time I ran out of things to say the teacher was looking at me with a bored expression on his face, twirling his pen in the air;
“Alright, that’s good. So…what hobbies do you like?”
I tried to answer, but nothing came. What hobbies? What kind of question was that? The textbooks said nothing about “hobbies”. I never bothered, never had time! I was too busy trying to keep up, trying not to let my pool disappear…
I wanted to answer, but all I could do was stare blankly at his face - poised and expectant - as my pool finally ran out and dried, like puddles under the hot afternoon sun.
In a moment of twisted inspiration I decided to write this story instead of my World Lit Essay. Behold the wonders of reading too much Paddy Clarke!
It felt interesting trying a different style of writing though. In doing so I was aiming for some sort of overall message that was bothering me for a while, which (if my writing skillz are l337 enuf) you would have gotten. If you didn't, feel free to tell me the level of fail I have reached by posting this crap onto the internet.
IB really makes me wonder sometimes. In both senses of the word.