“Please put your pencils down.” Tick, tick, tick, I stare down at the blank sheet of paper in front of me.
Papers come alive with rustling, metal desk feet scrape against the floor like raging bulls kicking sand in a ring, kicking, propelling dark figures all around. You feel like you are about to be trampled by them, they are moving unpredictably yet together in one mass toward the front of the room.
You feel your heart sink, it pulls you lower into your chair, so low, it seems, that the little attached desk chokes you at the throat. It threatens to decapitate you. You feel the blunt edge against your skin and realize that your desk is more of a pillory than a guillotine, even worse.
Their laughter as they waltz into the halls, out of the cinder block walls; their joy at freedom as they sway into the weekend, fills you with regret.
You sit in across from the giant mastermind of all this torture, his hair frames his face in wirey gray curls, permanently blown back from his forehead like a mad chemist. His glasses clutch firmly to his nose, trained obediently to hold there in place, defying their inanimate nature, which would cause them to slide. His shirt stands stiffly at attention, proudly refusing to ruffle or wrinkle except where appropriate at the crease of his elbow as he lifts his hand onto his desk to tap it lightly with his pen breaking the spell of your stare.
“Time” he mouths, without bothering to blow air out of his lips.
You feel even lower. You were not worth the breath, and he knew it.
Reluctantly you stand and pull one strap of your, still open, backpack over your shoulder. The only thing left to do.... is to be a smart ass. If you can’t be good, then you will be bad. You will be really bad. You will be the best at being bad. You will be slovenly, lazy, ungrateful, and defiant. You will be unmade always, like a messy bed thrown together in the morning, clothing hanging in all the wrong places, hair tangled into a knot. You will hang around with the “wrong crowd” comprised to mothers only of other people’s children.
You have options.
You always have options.
Stay in the middle of the seesaw, you do not have to jump always in the air or sink to the ground. Balance on your feet if you like an extra challenge, stand on your hands even. Look closer at your paper. It is not completely blank, you have some written there and even more inside of you.
Walk slowly to your teacher; contemplate the meaning of the word. Watch as he becomes smaller the closer you walk to him, his hair reflecting soft light from the window. His glasses slide. He pushes them back into their creases. He is not perfect.
Ask him for his help; then listen carefully to his reply.
When you get home, there is a nice taco salad to eat:
In a hot pan, cook 2 baby red onions. Add a clove of garlic. Cook 1 cup grass fed ground beef. Season with chipoltle pepper and a little tomato paste (or some Mexican seasoning). In a separate hot pan, heat some vegetable oil until it is really hot and add 1 flour tortilla. Allow it to brown on both sides, then remove from heat. Build your taco salad by adding all your favorite fresh taco veggies, I used romaine lettuce, yellow pepper, green onion diced, tomato, fresh raw sweet corn on the cob (cut off the cob). Dress with lime juice and vegetable oil, and top with sour cream. (cheese, cilantro and avocado would be delicious, but I left them off this time)
Christina's vote: "Gives new meaning to taco salad"