Sleepers, Wake!

There’s trouble with my backpack. My assignments are missing.

The teacher is waiting. I don’t recognize her, but I get the impression she is well aware of who I am. The slacker, the problem child, the one who stands too close to the urinal.

Students in the row ahead of me turn in their seats. They laugh at my pants.

It’s water! I lie.

The teacher sighs, lifts the red pen off her desk. Her arms hovers above her ledger.

An announcement crackles over the PA, and momentarily I am free from scrutiny.

Fish-sticks for lunch.

When the announcement is over, I psssssh and click, grunt like the percussion in Strauss’ "Tritsch-Tratsch Polka." The teacher yells at me.

"You don’t have Tourette’s," she says.

But I do! I cry. I have a note from my neurologist!

"Be quiet," she says. "Go to the grocery store and find out what the trouble is."

We argue, briefly, about there being a snow day. I’m told to move the coats aside. The coats swing freely from a hook, and so does Casey Sealy.

"Watch your balls," he says, and I step to the side just before he gets a hold of them.

I don’t remember you beyond the second grade, I tell him. Did you move or something?

The teacher is upset. "Get out of here," she says, and now I have to push the cart. I hate that fucking cart.

"Well, why cut corners now?" she asks.

Touché, is what I mean to say, but I say Sandwich. She understands.

The cart is heavy, chock full of rubber desserts. I have to lean into it to get it moving.

I pass my old gym teacher in the hallway and he frowns.

"Don’t think so, sport" he says, "No motors in the school."

I put my tractor in neutral.

I thought I turned the engine off, I smile.

We share a laugh, a running joke no doubt. He dunks a basketball.

Three points! I shout, my hands in the air.

"You never did learn to keep score," he says and I feel stupid.

I lower my arms, then use my legs to propel down the hallway on my office chair.

Oh, to be a kid again! I cry.

The hall goes dark. A band plays Bach’s Cantata #140. My time is up.

But I haven’t found the clearance rack!

You should have come prepared," someone says over the grocery store PA.

Whatever. The lights come on.

I turn to leave, and Casey Sealy grabs me by the balls.

"To San Antonio," he says, "After my parents got divorced."


BP Whalen received his MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. His work has appeared in Storyglossia, Eclectica, Gold Dust, The Dream People, and Raging Face, and is forthcoming in RHINO, Word Riot, The Delinquent, and Noun Versus Verb. He currently serves as an Americorps VISTA in Des Moines, IA, working with several nonprofit agencies to raise awareness about homelessness and hunger.

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