A Day In The Life Of Robot Ronnie

Winner of the InkHead short story prize! With a 1000 word limit, I decided to try a different take :)

This is a single diary entry describing a day in the life of Autistic Ron, i hope you enjoy.

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1. Robot Ronnie

 

Thursday 7th March, 2013

        Dear Diary,

        The kids at school have started calling me Robot Ronnie. I don’t like it when they call me Ronnie, my name is Ron.

        Every time they do, I look at my hands and wonder why. They look human, to me.

        It started in the playground at school. I was almost having a bad one. The break bell rang in my ears so loud it made me scrunch up my eyes and block my ears with my fingers. I don’t like it when sounds get loud. I don’t think that other people notice it, because they don’t look bothered, and then they tell me to take my fingers out of my ears, but everything makes a noise, it’s so loud, it makes my ears hurt.

        I was sat at the edge of the play area when Number Six called over.

        “Hey, Robot Ronnie!”

        I winced, because it was so loud, and when I looked over at him, the colours were too bright and jumped around. Colours shouldn’t jump, Diary, it doesn’t work that way. I ignored Number Six, there was pain in my eyes and ears.

        Later I was in class, staring at my desk. I had spent most of the lesson arranging my pencils, in number order, on the left, then my ruler, rubber, pencil sharpener and pens. My maths equipment was on the right. It took a while, mum bought me more new stationary this weekend, but it made me smile when I’d finished.

        I like it when things are in order, mum and dad let me put everything in the house in order, which is why I like being at home. Outside is more difficult, but when I see birds flying in a line, or cars in a line, or people in a line, it makes things a bit better.

        The teacher asked a question, and I think I might have heard her when she called on me to answer, but I didn’t really hear it, I’m not sure, I couldn’t make sense of it. Then people started laughing.

        I looked up from my neatly arranged desk to see what everyone was laughing about.

        “Priceless,” Number Seven said, “Robot Ronnie strikes again.”

        I don’t like it when people talk about me as if I’m not there, but I didn’t get mad, because I was confused. I stretched my arms out in front of me and stared. Definitely human, Diary, I was sure about it. Seven’s words made no sense to me.

        The teacher repeated her question, but it was maths, and I couldn’t understand.  Numbers are fun to label things with, but hard to use. I stayed silent and looked down at my desk.

        The Robot Ronnie’s continued coming at me all lesson, and each time they got louder and louder, until it felt like people were shouting in my ears. Nonsense, it was, Diary. I couldn’t figure it out, it scared me.

        I spent next lesson in the loos, thinking about stuff. I used to try to say what I was thinking to people, Diary, especially mum, but they all said I talked too quickly and they couldn’t understand, so I stopped.

        It’s like me and the world don’t get on. I can’t understand it, it can’t understand me.

        For a bit, in the loos, I wailed. The noise was getting to me, the rubbing of the fabric of my clothes when I moved, the wind whistling through the windows, my own breathing.

        I tried to stop breathing, too, it irritated me so much, but I couldn’t do it for long.

        Unfortunately, I had another bad one in there. I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t stop screaming but the screaming was making it worse because it was so LOUD, Diary. Then… it’s a bit blurry, I can’t remember what happened before teacher Number Fourteen ran in and found me. It was like being overloaded with things I couldn’t express, when I moved it wasn’t on purpose, when I spoke it was just noise. My mind makes words, Diary, but however much I try I can’t speak most of them.

Dad gave me a talking toy last month, which talks for me when I can’t figure out what to say. I took it out of my bag and pressed all of the buttons at once. The noise made everything worse.

        I’m sorry Diary, I know I said last week that it wouldn’t happen again.

        When T-14 took me out in to the hall so I could see Matron, lunch had already begun and I was assaulted by the painful whispers of ‘Robot Ronnie’s at it again’.

        Mum came for me early, today, and sighed when she closed the car door. I don’t know why she’s changed, she doesn’t usually sigh. Luckily, she didn’t turn the radio on. She knows I don’t like it.

        I asked my mum why the kids call me Robot Ronnie, and she told me something that I knew already.

        “Well, honey, you like to give things numbers...”

        I already knew that.

        “And you- you keep to yourself, don’t you darling?”

        I knew that too, but couldn’t see what this had to do with my new name. She finished by saying that I was Autistic.

        I’ve been told that all my fourteen years, Diary, but no one’s ever told me what it means, and I can tell that it means something. I kept quiet, because I still didn’t understand, letting mum talk about complaining to the principal, trying not to let the whir of the engine get to me.

When we pulled the car in to the drive, I risked another question, it took a while to form, but I made it eventually.

        “I’m not a robot, am I mum?”

        Luckily, Diary, I’m not.

        Love,

                Ron.

 

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