Ah, another marvelous day at Oakland high school. Oh look, there go my oh-so-peachy friends.
“Yo homo mexicano!” yelled John.
I adore this place.
Uuuuuugh, YUCK! Well, I can’t complain. I’ve switched through what’s practically every high school in the city and I’ve yet to be pleased. I can’t help but wonder that perhaps the problem lies not in the schools. Or, better yet, I could blame the school system. Our educational system is truly a mess though. I’m “L” and this is my story. It’s not as much of a story as it is a weird-ass day. But aye! here it goes.
“Homo mexicano” That’s my nickname. It’s unusual because I’m neither Mexican nor gay. I’m struggling with identity as is every other teen, but my struggle is also in the realms of gender and sexuality. Thus, it’s a blatant fight. As for the Mexican story, it’s quite racist. Our town is white and in Europe! But the story behind the nickname lies in the fact that there was some ”difficulty” bringing me into this state when I was born. Thus, the image of illegal immigrant was created and our racist town tagged “Mexican” to it. It’s just another wartime story. Sometimes I feel like I should’ve stayed a wartime story. I feel like the image people would create of that meek child born into a developing country who died too soon to see it rise (?) would exceed who I turned out to be as a suicidal teen. But aye, here I am.
Argh, maybe I should just tell you stories of the war that my relatives have told me. They’d probably be more interesting than my life. On that note, I should also advise you to be less faggot-y and more into sports multiple times a day. There you have it: The instruction manual I got when I arrived in this world. But the war is over and neither I nor my country has recovered. Not that either of us had any decent state to compare our downfall to. But aye! here we are, both of us complaining more than ever.
You know, every stage of my life is just me realizing there’s some aspect of it that I’ve been ignoring for too long. After a while I stopped caring. I guess death is one of those things. I don’t particularly enjoy life. I’m disconnected, and nothing stimulates me anymore. Maybe I should scratch “anymore”. I’m not sure I ever enjoyed anything. Was I born a hollow, emotionless victim? Meh, but I’ve put off so many things and suicide is one of them. I won’t kill myself. It’s too much work, too much drama, it’s too much of a decision I have to make. I’m not sure who I am, what I feel or what I want, what don’t I like about the life I live or the person I wake up to be. I feel like rushing into suicide would not be ideal. Plus I’m scared of heights and to get to the highest point in town you have to pay a fee. It’s not even that high. Kids could see my dead body and it would screw them up. I could use the fee money for tits instead. Oh, by the way, I’m also transgender. Trans and mad at the world and saving up 1$ by not killing myself. I should write a book. Aye!
Back to the real world. First period. Teacher’s absent and nobody pays attention to the substitute. Ever. I wonder what goes on in the sub’s mind. And did I really just say that, “real world”? Who’s to say what’s real and what’s not. Sure, you occupy a spot in space and time but add one of those extra space dimensions we’ve curled up and BOOM! All you’ve ever known just expanded. Your AP classes and volunteer work no longer impress colleges or inflate your ego. I’m sure sports would be sufficient though, everyone treats it like so. Wow, I’m immature. Wow, I have a lot of grudges. Aye, I guess.
I used to be that kid, though. I used to take pride in getting straight As and being social too. I was always slightly odd and spent too much time on Nintendo and Minecraft. God, I loved Pokemon. I still do. But my androgynous pre-puberty phase passed and I could no longer excuse my behavior. I was in changing rooms with testosterone-fueled pricks picking away at my feminine traits. I was in bathrooms with myself doing the same, one cut for each insecurity. I’ve thrown away my razor though. I don’t self-harm anymore, but I’ve ample reason to. I can wear short sleeves now, although I never do. I have disgusting, twig, dysphoria-inducing arms and they’ve recently started to grow hair. But aye, long sleeves and fingerless gloves hide that from my predator of a brain. I look emo now (and I kind of am). Aye, it’s better to be perceived as emo rather than dysphoric. At least emo is a phase. If I pass the other thing then people wouldn’t be so happy with the outcome. I feel like if I did that then I’d finally be connected to the world. But everyone who lives here says it sucks, so good thing I only minimally-exist. I’m like a part-time human. Aye!
Now that I think about it, I had potential to be a fully-functioning human. Everyone praised my intelligence. Ironically, I was the only kid in class in first grade to not be able to count to twenty. But that’s only because nineteen and eighteen are so similarly pronounced that I couldn’t tell the difference. I had a lisp. That’s over although I still can’t pronounce “rr”. And it’s a rather common letter in Albanian. Especially in the dialect spoken in my town. Wow I hate this town. I romanticized the shitty out of it as a 7 year old. I felt guilty about being socially inept or anxious? I’d ask a random teenage girl what time it was to convince myself I’m not awkward or anxious. I can definitely communicate. There’d always be plenty of them around and they’d find me adorable and bestow heaps of attention. Plenty of them still find me adorable at 16, the ones that aren’t into guys with big biceps of course. Too bad I’m the one into guys with biceps. I have a girlfriend though? I’m also sometimes attracted to girls. If I hadn’t slept on this, I’d google it and obsess. I’m happy in this relationship though. I always google my life problems, or at least used to when I gave a shit. Things like “How to make friends” or “How to not be gay”. Both only worked to an extent.
Enough monologue, back to Oakland High. I walk into class and manage to avoid eye contact with anyone. I sit at my assigned spot which happens to be near the door. In an ephemeral break from untangling my earbuds, I accidentally look up and see Sam. I think she’s been staring at me for a few seconds.
“Hiiiii!” she says with a wide smile.
“Oh hey! How was your weekend?” I ask
“Good. It’s not like I did much, I just got to sleep a lot.”
“Still better than school. I can never be productive on the weekend, not even complete enjoyable tasks like watching a movie. I don’t get it”
“Same. Last night I fell asleep watching a TV show with my laptop on my, well, lap.”
Leon jumps into the scene and calls her out.
“Sorry, bye!” she says
I’m slightly relieved. I ran out of things to say the minute our eyes met and I couldn’t continue chatting for any longer. Sometimes I feel like I should lower my IQ around certain people to be able to communicate with them. Sorry Sam, I don’t relate to you.
But Sam is beautiful. I sometimes wish I was her. She’s not entirely hollow. She doodles at the back of her notebook. I saw her doing it once, polychromatic pens forming futuristic figures on white paper. Once she talked about how in 6th grade she never took off her uniform, even at home. I was baffled. Sam always looks her best and our uniform is hideous. She says she just didn’t take care of herself but now she does. She also mentioned something about most people still being in that 6th grade level of self-care. I feel like that deserves applause. It must’ve required some introspection to change this about herself. She’s gained my respect. I asked her what she wants to study in college, however she wasn’t entirely sure. But Sam said something about her Dad possibly moving to New York so she could study there. Don’t colleges in the U.S. require international students to pay more than twice the normal amount? That blonde idol with an iris of clover, be damned! My content would be immeasurable if I walked my path in her shoes. Who would’ve guessed this, of all things, is what the awkward silent boy is thinking. Maybe the heard of males who lock me in the bathroom during P.E. can tell. I am restricted access to the changing room by them because I am apparently female and cannot enter. Ugh, I wish; I wish; I wish; I wish; I wish; I wish; I wish.
They don’t tease me that much. Well, I’m not sure. One time, my cousin brought me some volcanic stones at school. They were inside an intricate wooden box. I hid it under my desk but the guys found it and started throwing it around. In all seriousness, you’re all 16 or 17, what’s wrong with you? Sam told them it was hers and got it back for me. I felt grateful but weak. It’s my first year at this school and this started at day one. I left school early with Sam and her friend that day and the guys chanted my name from the classroom windows. Why do I attract so much attention? Plus they pronounced my name wrong. Kim (Sam’s friend) says it’s because they’re medieval idiots. They’re not used to seeing a guy “like me” who hangs out with girls. I abhor the statement “like me”. I understand, I’m perceived as different. Actually, I don’t. I do not understand why I’m different and I may never understand. I don’t get what you mean what you say people “like me”. My dad uses that. My brother uses that. Everyone at school considers me to be “like them”. I’m sick of it. I can’t keep blaming it on being transgender. But aye, maybe I’ll get a decent TOEFL score and after I’m educated and living abroad I will, well, live.
Seriously, all my problems derive from penises in one way or another. Male figures in my family and males at school deflate my ego, taking blows at my confidence through testosterone-fueled projections of insecurity. There’s also my own penis which is a problem. I never tried to cut it off as a kid, which I hear plenty of people did. In my country, we call that circumcision. I don’t even have a problem with my penis. It’s the rest of my body and the social, gender-perception of me as male that I don’t like.
School isn’t an entire disaster though. There are a few people in my class whom I can communicate with without any internal bleeding. I get along better with the terrorist at my school than my classmates. Oh, by the way, a school shooting is happening as we speak. Yeah, I skipped that part. Let me describe it quickly. My mom gives private English lessons, which are needed where I’m from. It’s because the school system doesn’t have a decent curriculum for foreign languages. It’s a small town (and the capital) so most teenagers know who she is. The IT guy at my school was her student and he knows both of us. Long story short, he had an epiphany of repressed religious stances and went berserk. It’s a common thing here. People are fully convinced of the existence of a “God”, yet religious devotion is an aberration. Most don’t do anything about the fact that (to them) a giant, all-knowing superior creature is watching over them and will decide whether they burn in eternal flame or their soul enters a state of permanent bliss on the clouds or in the streams and gulfs of eternity, whatever you picture Heaven to be. They simply throw apathy at their convictions. I find it comical, an almost admirable trait of self-manipulation. They don’t have a particular problem with firing disapproval at people of the lgbtq+ label. Or anything they’re uncomfortable with. Necessity is the mother of all invention and discomfort is the mother of spasmodic intervention. Apathy and ignorance go hand in hand in these people. Those two aid in the fairly easy task that has become manipulating them into guilt. The guilt of not doing enough for “God”. Honestly, I would have fallen for it too. I’m atheist, but if I believed that a (wo)man was watching over me and knew of my every action, word, and thought, I would be scared too. My country is actually in the top ranks of producing ISIS soldiers. So, this newly religious guy showed up to school just as he did any other day. He is lanky, with a slightly tan complexion and a stubble which he seemed to be grooming into a contemporary fad of facial hair style. Oh, how we misjudged that hipster beard.
I’m in class and a group of three male students can be seen from the open door, moving to and fro in front of the staircase. My class is in the third floor, and beside my own 11th grade all middle school classes are held at this floor. I avert my eyes, yet whenever I turn my head they are there. When this period ends, it’s gym class. I start taking my things so I can change in the bathroom. I never go to the locker rooms for the same reasons that when I leave to change in the bathroom, hollers of “pu**y” follow me. I have my bag in hand as I close the classroom door behind me and the three guys appear. Middle-school kids begin to gather around.
“Aye, the guy who screws Satan!” says the main guy. He’s pale with many red spots over his face.
“That’s me” I say as I try to make my way past the crowd. They stare but none physically touch me. One of them flips me off. He makes sure I see him. I flipped them off a couple of times last week when they followed me and it seems I’ve damaged their poor, poor egos.
“If I were your dad, I’d beat you every day. Every morning. With a stick!” he seemed to spit every word.
“I can tell you have some family problems there.”
“My dad doesn’t beat me because I’m not a faggot.”
I could see that genuine dialogue wasn’t an option with these people. They asked if I was a faggot because the devil entered me. I said yes. I lowered my IQ to communicate with him.
“Effing bring that stick here and do it. I’m here every morning, go ahead. Do it.” I stared at him right in the eye.
“Your mom’s a whore.” he yelled out.
“I’ll screw your dad!” I calmly stated then started pacing towards the bathroom. The IT guy blocked my path. He was carrying a CPU. I said hi and he waved back, then moved away. He was indifferent to the crowd, obviously aware and simply jaded. When I walked out, with my black sweatpants and grey blouse on whose sleeves I’d torn holes in to fit my thumbs, I had my jeans in hand. I had to return them to my locker which was inside the classroom. All the middle school kids where either in class or at this activity downstairs. Girls change at the locker room downstairs. Guys change in our class. I walked in and lowered my head, covering some of my face with my curly hair to avoid meeting the eyes of any guy in our class. As soon as I started to bend to my ground-level locker however, I heard the door slam shut. I assumed it’d be John or some other guy in class but it wasn’t. It was the IT guy. He had a rifle in hand and a sports bag full of different tools and metals at his feet. I also saw rope and handcuffs peering out of the zipper. He motioned that I move away from the lockers which lined along the wall. I paced past them, the blackboard, the teachers desk at the corner ,and the desks 90 degrees from there. That wall was completely covered in windows of similar rectangular shapes. I went to a desk and simply stood on two feet by it, with about ten other guys from class there. I didn’t know any of them well. They were staring at me, but I didn’t pay any attention. My gaze was fixed on the man with the rifle.
“Now listen to me. This right here” he said and pointed to a black box that upon later inspection, turned out to be a CPU “is a bomb.” He opened it and we saw the stereotypical red and blue cables. I personally wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a regular CPU and this “bomb”, but I did not intend to cast doubt. “I’m going to set this so that it explodes if anyone opens this door. Do not leave!” he fiddled around and carried that CPU outside, closing the door behind him. I sighed, and then moved to the middle of class. I approached the door when John said in a stuttering voice:
“What are you doing, L?” he said it as if he was genuinely curious aside from scared.
“Just putting my jeans in my locker.” He looked at me like he did everytime before he made some snarky comment. It seems that look only meant confusion. They all got together in a circle and discussed what they should do. It was more of them yelling at each-other for every lethal suggestion. I opened the window and stuck out my legs. I had my poetry book and ballpoint pen in my hands. My eyes and pen followed every verse, tagging any worthy line or title with a star or heart, circle or square. About half an hour later, I almost fell. The sound of a megaphone startled me. It was screeching that drowned the silence and everything else. The words spoken seemed to be drowned by the volume into ravings which no one could understand. It seemed to come from the school’s entrance outside. It was a pavement-looking rectangle in front of it, seemingly 10 x 20 meters with the surrounding and front area being grass and parking. The IT guy stood with a megaphone in one hand and to his mouth, and a laptop in his other. He directed that gibberish noise to the crowd of people he had lined up at the fence. There was no use in the sound-enhancing instrument seeing as how all the students and faculty were on their knees and a meter away. I saw most of my teacher and most, if not all, female students in class. Luna, a girl whom I got along well with, had her gaze fixed upon me. I winced and ran away from the window and fell on my back. I saw in a reflection that the man had turned to look. That was a close call. I leaned against the wall under the window and closed it halfway to see what the man was doing. I scouted for his rifle. It was at his feet. I hadn’t noticed it earlier. Maybe he placed it there in these few minutes.
“What freaking bomb? I’ll bet you it’s a trick!” yelled out one guy with a cap and vest. It was Ronny. You could’ve used the word “bluff”, you know. That’d be a perfect, dictionary example of a word usage.
“Go ahead. Turn that knob, you idiot” said John. And though his words suggested he did, his penetrating gaze implied the complete opposite. You could tell from “idiot”. Ronny could tell.
“Why don’t ya do it?” answered Ronny, flustered and matter-of-factly.
I got up, and started walking towards them. This was but a detour; however, as I passed them and headed for the door. I wobbled and shook and when I was a few feet away from the door, they leaned in bug-eyed and exclaimed: “NO, NO ,NO!”
By the time my hand met the knob, I was already pulled behind by Ronny and thrown to the lockers. All of them were hollering at this point. I felt weak on the floor and felt like passing out, when a top locker fell on my foot. They gathered around me but kept talking to each other. They repeated the same words so no real progress was being made. I got up. They stopped talking.
“At least now we can all agree that we’re scared.”
It was hard to read them. Especially the ones who were wearing sunglasses…indoors. I meant to join in on the discussion but it would not work. I decided to go back under the window. About two poems later, Ron kneeled down and asked me:
“What do you plan to do?”
“I haven’t actual-“ Just then an explosion interrupted our conversation. A massive burst of flame emerged into sight at the window. I went to look and spotted everyone in their previous seats, yet the huge trash bins were toppled and in flames. The IT guy looked up and saw me.
“Time for the final decision” he muttered, and I only understood by reading his lips.
He started running towards the building entrance. He skipped steps and broke windows and paced with adrenaline. I could hear him. He was on the first floor, then the second, then the third.
I felt a wave of panic seize my limbs like gelatinous thread, somewhere between an animation tank and a marionette.
I’ve been reading too many poems. Stop rhyming.
I’ll return to meter with proper timing.
“Ron, arrange the desks in a straight horizontal line to these two windows. Now.”
Everyone shushed and did this one task. Are you all called Ron now?
Oh, and in those earlier verses, I missed a syllable.
And my fist missed Veton’s face when I lunged forward after shoving the door at him.
I just remembered his name. Veton.
Argh, the eloquence of thoughts right before you passed out. I’ll feel that in the afterlife.
The first thing I see is that the desks are arranged as I ordered.
That’s the positive.
The corner of the class is void of anything but the floor, the walls and the guys in class, cowering and huddled.
Veton is on the first row of desks, by the open window, firing what I’m only hoping is a warning shot.
“Stay down!” Another warning shot.
Veton turns around and smiles. He has a gap between his two teeth.
“Finally able to respond?”
“Huh?” I say.
“You’ve been half sleeping for two hours. No one’s dared to call the police yet. What a horrible idea to build a school in the middle of nowhere.”
One of the guys from the group starts walking towards the door. I glance at it and see that it’s open. Veton’s just about to look that way and notice him, but I wiggle around.
“Oh, no. Don’t even think about escaping. Those ropes are tight. Very tight.”
I start thrashing about some more, and yell at the top of my lungs. Veton lunges at me, and this whole time, the crawling idiot doesn’t fucking run for the door. He hits me in the stomach, but his hand dents the blackboard behind me more than me. He has a thing for warning shots.
“Oh, it’s useless.” He says and wraps his hand around my neck. I feel my vision blur as I gasp for air. “See you in a while.” He says and I pass out again.
Things are pretty much the same after I regain consciousness. I’m getting really tired of blacking out. Veton has resumed his position atop the desks, looking out the window but he’s in his socks – dark grey – and none of the guys are inside. What happened?
I try to lean against the blackboard. This guy is practically crucifying me. That’s why I’m blacking out. My muscles are sore and I feel my torso almost ripping apart. I’m barely an inch above the ground so I tip-toe into survival.
That’s when I notice the trail of blood up to his black boots cradled beneath the desk he’s standing on top of.
That’s when he notices me.
“Your friends really are retarded.” he says.
“Not a word I’d use. But they’re definitely something.”
“Don’t worry, I only grazed one of them with a bullet and had to return to my post. Don’t want anyone calling the police.”
“How are you so unshaken?”
“Denial. How are you so terrorist-y?”
“I’M NOT A TERRORIST!” he shouts and fires a shot into the thin line unifying the open window and the one above. The higher one cracks and crashes into the ground bellow. Unified grasps can be heard from bellow. He’s breathing heavily and staring right at me. I refrain from mentioning he also seems in denial. I sometimes like my life.
Someone once told me that the reason people change their minds about suicide after they jump is because of the fight-or-flight response. I try to act against my senses. What else can I do?
“You also s-“ I swallow. Why can’t I say it?
“Why haven’t you killed me?”
“I have reasons.”
“I don’t want to.”
I deposit this in my mind. I’m sure it means something, but I don’t know what.
IT guy turns into bat-shit crazy religious terrorist.
He feels guilty?
He hasn’t been religious enough?
I think of something. I lower my head and wait for him to go to the window. I have a plan.
I must’ve let my feet hover because I apparently blacked out again.
Here’s a good thing. He’s back at his station.
I don’t even move my feet. I let the pain flow me and stab me like an ocean of ice needles, afraid to make the slightest sound. I notice a travelling pain shooting up my wrist but staying there, and when I turn to look, the rope’s leaving me.
I’ll have to be careful. I slowly adjust my wrist around the rope and my left hand is almost free when Veton breathes loudly. I grasp the rope and lower my head. I look at him through my hair and see that he’s adjusting his jean pocket. He turns back around and I proceed to remove the other rope. My legs aren’t much of an effort, and before long I’ve already rushed at the genesis of the horizontal row.
I’m at the beginning of the horizontal row and at the end of it is Veton. Veton with his back turned. Veton standing in front of an empty space where two windows used to be. The sky is blue, as blue as October allows, but the heat is defying standards. Veton’s taken off his yellow and beige shirt and has a white undershirt on. It looks weird to see someone in a class room in socks and khakis and an undershirt, but so is a terrorist with a rifle.
I crouch and clench my fists. I’m wearing converse and can only hope I can run quickly enough. It’s now or never. If he notices me now, it’ll be all over. And if I wait, he will notice me gone.
I’m staring at his back, but I’m not getting any closer. I can’t run. I see the trail of blood and am stuck in place for some reason. Of course I know why I’m stuck.
I can’t do this.
Veton starts to turn around.
Fuck yes, I can.
I’m running and it’s like I’m going the speed of light, the entire world zooming in and out and suddenly I’ve clutched him and we’re both almost out the window, a wind’s push away from the third story fall.
He clutches me more strongly than I’ve him, and starts reeling me back in. He’s struggling, but winning.
Time for my plan.
I look at Veton straight in the eye and launch at him. He stops me before I can hit his head with my head, but that’s not my plan.
I stick out my tongue and it’s in his mouth, pulling his two front teeth towards me.
I’m still doing it, and everything’s a blur.
I feel the cold air envelop my tongue and now there’s no force keeping me up and I’m falling and when I open my eyes, Veton’s further and further away.
I hear people crying out from bellow and Veton screaming just as loudly. I knew it.
I’m blown back by a wave of a sheer intangible force which in a second takes the form of an explosion. Red and black and bright orange clouds rushing out and consuming me into a whirling.
Wow, not a warning shot this time.
I think I’m passing out again.
As for Veton, if he wasn’t a sinner before, he is now.
this isn’t such a bad way to go.