When you die, there’s obviously not going to be anymore school.
(And all of the readers cheer, yeah I know.)
I mean, that should be a feature in the purgatory/Heaven/Hades/wherever-the-hell-I-am place, but it’s actually not. You can still learn stuff, there is millions of books, but there’s no actual education system.
And since I’ve never really been a student in my own flesh - what with that famine and all - I really don’t see the point in it.
Okay, you need to know stuff, but what’s the point in stripping away part of a life to try and bandage it up with crap that’s badly taught and kind of repetitive?
Maybe I’m biased there, since I’ve actually lived through most of your history textbook, but nevertheless.
Oh and if you want a reason not to sin I’ve been through school hundreds of times, and gone through every due date, anxiety attack and clueless teacher that you have, just a Hell of a lot more. So maybe do good, if only to avoid the afterlife that awaits.
Also a stupid saying.
The afterlife doesn’t wait.
So that was the day when Anni went to school.
I found out it was a Tuesday, and apparently she missed an awful lot of school when she “got really bad”. That’s what the guidance counselors say at least.
(By the way, a lot of the guidance counselors on Earth get punished after death. Not actual counselors, just those who try to tell you who you are and aren’t in life.)
Anni’s school looked exactly like you’d expect a school to look, and that is all I have to say in the matter.
But it wasn’t like a highschool drama highschool either. It had one floor, and brick walls that were always cold, and inside was cramped and always smelled like cheese sandwiches and adolescent sweat, and also whenever she put her hand under the desk she touched wet gum and shivered. It was exactly like every other school.
Anni didn’t wear a uniform, although she kind of did.
In her tiny wardrobe she had piles of blue jeans and grey jumpers, and she always wore white converse that were just worn down enough to match. She also plaited her hair, which wasn’t long or straight enough to do well. It was frizzy and layered so little pieces stuck out every here and there.
She didn’t wear make-up, what with the lack of reflective surfaces and all, so she just left the house with a stabbing in her chest where anxiety lay.
We walked to school, and it was drizzling in the way that shopkeepers would comment on it, but no one would even bother bring a coat.
But this semi-raining weather ruined Anni’s hair, or at least she thoughts it did, because she kept combing out the bottom of it with her fingers.
When we got to her school, no one ran up to her with news or wanting to talk to her. It was like she was just a flicker in the corner of their eye, and Anni knew it.
She got books from her locker, and asked did that teacher give homework, and people politely replied before returning to their conversation, and that was it. I have no more say on what happened, because nothing else happened.
Most people presume that every person who took their life had a solid reason. They think there is a clear passage in the person’s story that’s underlined or highlighted or something, and it states exactly what every single person did to make that person want to end everything.
That’s not how it works.
It’s the roll of the eyes after a simple question, or the way they turn away when there’s no one else to talk to, or the look up and down when you wore the same thing as yesterday, and the day before, and the day before.
It’s the disapproving sigh of parents who claim to love you, or the way your sister said she’d always be there but now always locks her door, or the brother’s friend who always brought you down.
It’s the way love is slapped over with the claim “responsibility”, and no one sees that underneath we are all made of tiny pieces of the world we rest on. No one sees that life is finite, and fleeting, and why insult someone’s shoes when there’s a life to lead?
“Nice shoes. Again.” she said. She said it like it was actually a compliment, but everyone else laughed.
Anni laughed too, but more like a huff of air to cover the shame, “I know I always wear these, but they’re comfortable.”
“I’m just messing anyway, obviously.” the girl said. She was not joking. She also wore expensive trainers that made her calves look skinny, “D’you get the math homework?”
“I wasn’t in.”
“Oh yeah. Why not? You’re never in anymore.”
Anni thought, I could feel the cogs moving, “Not sure, honestly. Family stuff.”
The other girl probably knew she was lying, because Anni went red, and also everyone laughed as soon as she said it, “Okay then, see you later anyway.”
“Yeah, see you Jenna.”
Jenna was a slim girl with long fingers that had probably exchanged their touch for false popularity, and hair so bleached it probably made her scalp bleed several times. She wore enough makeup to cover every last piece of individuality, and I noticed her look at all of the blemishes on Anni’s face.
I mean, I could romanticizes that a little more, but the girl hadn’t left the house in days so it was going to happen. And also I could feel the tightness under her skin where the spots where turning a bright neon pink, like spotlights for her face.
I don’t believe in turning teenagers into dollies, so that was what was wrong with Anni Bay’s face.
And Jenna was no beauty queen. She had tons of mistakes coating her face. Moles from tanning beds, dry hair from the treatment, acne from the grease off of Chinese food she got whenever her parents forgot to make her dinner. But her greatest flaw waved at me from behind her eyes, and I waved back.
But we’ll meet him a little later.
She finally got to her first class after Jenna, and Marcus, and Poppy, and Conor, and Robbie (who which everyone called Wonky) and countless others had passed by Anni, making little conversations asking for project work, and nodding to each other when they had to push passed each other in the cramped space.
Her first class was boring and that is all I remember.
In actual fact, I don’t remember a single class because it was all boring and I remember few events from that first day.
I do remember a thing or two though, such as:
A: she touched gum under her desk at least five times and I was (and am to this day) repulsed at people in general.
B: she saw Jenna a few times, and the man behind her eyes asked me what I was doing there, but I pretending I couldn’t hear him because he waved too enthusiastically when I first saw him and I was afraid he might be a bit of a git.
C: Anni was very good at English, and wrote me more poems, and I knew they were for me because she titled all of them either “For the Mind Man” or “For the Brain Boy”, but she kept changing them because she couldn’t decided which heading was the least embarrassing.
D: she ate her food in the library, although there was a sign right opposite the couch where she was sitting that said, in huge block, italicized letters (because obviously young adults are idiots and need things to be spelled out to them like babies):
No eating in the LIBRARY!!!
Which was funny, because library was all in capitals for no reason whatsoever, and also no one ever went into the library except Anni, so it didn’t matter too much anyway. It was a tiny room with two bookshelves, only with books for children that had ripped pages and broken spines.
(Also if you break spines you deserve to have your spine broken.)
Anni hid in an overly cushiony sofa with crackers and a book that I had read before, so I just watched her nimble fingers flick the pages instead.
She chewed her thumbnail sometimes too, especially when the story’s character was in a fix.
E: Anni skipped school sometimes, and my Guider mode was initiated when she started walking out of the school gates, but she only obeyed me for one extra class where Jenna had told her that her question,“how do you say "best wishes" in French?” was idiotic.
(Actually, since she was the spawn of rednecks and chavs, she probably couldn’t pronounce idiotic, and instead went with saying “stupid as fuck”)
Anni had gotten very upset and walked home again before it was two in the afternoon. It rained heavily down the back of her neck and it made her fists clench while she tried to stay warm. Also, the cold had dried her hands, and the cut from nibbling on her thumb began to bleed.
There’s not a split second that makes someone bring a sudden end to their life.
It’s the “fucking stupid”s. It’s the way her geography teacher yelled at her for not understanding the homework. It’s the way Marcus slapped her ass when she walked by, just because it made his friends laugh. It’s the way her father was home when she skipped school, and he screamed at her for giving up her life, and her thoughts spitting out, I wish I could, I wish I could, I wish I could, but her mouth stayed screwed shut. It’s about how she cried herself to sleep that night, and had a dream of her dream garden being burned down into ash and embers, her Mind Man or Brain Boy being taken away with it.
I don’t know why you need to know all this, I just think you might.
I do know that there is many moments in life.
I do know that every single person has been very sad before, and I mean “end of my life” sad.
But, finally, I know that every single person you see today has gotten past that stage. We all do eventually. It’s all about letting yourself get to the eventually.
But it’s very important to know what was completely ordinary about Anni, because we all know that you’ll forget all about this. You’ll forget the everyday, as you should.
But the everyday was not to last much longer than that coming Sunday, around two in the morning. The everydays melting into pebbles bouncing off her windows, and the butterflied reviving themselves in her chest.
Brain Boy, Brain Boy, can’t you come?
Because just tonight I don’t want to run.
Mind Man, Mind Man, can’t you see?
There’s someone outside waiting for me.