This One Time, 12

This one time on the bus I sat very still.

That hardly sounds like an achievement, I know. Some kids my age can pitch 80 mile an hour fastballs and remember how to spell any word they’ve ever seen. Yarf can drive his mother’s car even though he won’t be old enough to get a learner’s permit for another two years.

I can’t do anything cool. I can read well and write okay too. Considering all the dumbshits at my school, that looks like an achievement. But I don’t glow with pride at the thought of it.

I’m twelve years old and I’m fat. Not “can’t fit through doors” fat or “can hide school books and cans of soda in my rolls” fat, but fat enough that there’s no point to try out for the track team. Once a week I make sure I can still jog a mile in ten minutes, and after that I don’t care. People tease me for being fat, but they tease me for being able to read too. For me, that kinda takes the sting out of it. If I was Superman they’d be all like, “C’mon, Holmes. Want me to chill? Chill me with your superbreath!” and hide my bookbag. Then they’d say, “You’ve got x-ray vision — see if it’s up yo momma’s ass!”

I’m fat because I’m fat. I can’t much help it. Some of these guys are dumbshits because they work at it the way athletes train. Sometimes I imagine there’s a dumbshit gymnasium where they all stand around egging each other on, daring each other to add more stupid to the bar and try to pull another ten reps.

Sometimes I finish my work early in class and don’t have anything to do. I have at least two teachers that won’t even let me pull out a book and read when I’m done with everything else. Or even work on homework for another class. I’ve gotten yelled at for drawing in my notebooks. It makes no sense to me. Sometimes I think I just get yelled at because I’m fat and that’s just what I should learn to expect in life. Anyway, the closest I ever came to talking back to this teacher who told me I couldn’t do anything else when I had finished all of my homework was when I asked, “What am I supposed to do? I’m supposed to be learning stuff while I’m here, and I’m done with what you gave me.” The teacher shot back with, “Learn to shut up and sit still.”

That was one for the dumbshits, I’m sure. More stupid to add to the bar. But then I remembered seeing these monks on TV that seemed think that learning to sit still was pretty important and no one acted like they thought they were dumbshits. So I decided to try it. I would become a sitting-still athlete.

I learned pretty quickly I could only do it after I had already done everything I was supposed to do, otherwise I would fidget and spin my wheels on whatever it was I was supposed to be working on. But when everything I could work on was already done, or I didn’t have what I needed to work on anything else, I just worked on sitting still.

I didn’t try to relax or make myself comfortable or anything. I just propped myself up in a way that wouldn’t put my legs to sleep. I made myself stop trying not to breathe or blink or anything I thought at the beginning might be part of it — just sit normally, breathe normally, blink normally, but without moving otherwise.

It was way harder than I thought it would be. I thought about how my cat does it, with his feet all tucked under him and staring off into space. He’s not poised and alert, all tensed up waiting to run off and do something. He’s not asleep. He’s just sitting there with nothing to do. He might have a head start from having the emptiest head I think I’ve ever encountered in a mammal — if he’s not hungry or thirsty or in need of the litter box, and nothing in his field of vision moves like it might be prey or headed toward the little can of treats we keep on the shelf he can’t get to, he does nothing. He does nothing the way those dumbshits do stupid.

Pile five more pounds of nothing on the bar and see if you can pull another ten reps, Fuzzy Earl. Fuzzy Earl is a do-nothing champion.

So now when I’m done with my work I sit up and do nothing. It really doesn’t seem to make the time go faster, especially not the way reading does. Kinda the opposite. Sometimes the ticks of the second hand on the wall clock take forever. But eventually the next one comes. Then the one after that. And then the bell rings and I can get up and do something useful.

But once I was sitting on the bus, doing nothing, waiting for the bus to get to my subdivision so I could get off and walk home. I was doing nothing and suddenly noticed that it seemed like I’d been doing nothing forever. The bus wasn’t moving, no one else was moving, nothing. It was like the whole world had figured out how to sit still. There was no sound except the static sound of blood in the vessels in my head.

That moment of nothing lasted forever. I remember noticing, but I don’t remember being at all worried about it, thinking that time would tick on along when it felt like it. When it was time.

Anyway, Fuzzy Earl would have been proud of me. If he’s ever anything.

And then the bus got to my subdivision and I got out and walked home the long way, the way that was a mile long, because it was Friday. It took ten minutes.


January 12, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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