Edited by Carolyn Quastler & Sam Haynes
I saw myself standing in front of a young girl. I felt stunned. I did not recognize her. Who is this girl? I asked myself. What am I doing here? The surroundings were foreign to me. It appeared to be a high school hallway. There were lockers on each side, and many people. Many people. Some were adults, but most were teenagers, obviously students. Everybody seemed in a hurry. The unexpected chaos of so many people hurrying along and the sudden deafening din of so many booming voices froze me in stupefaction.
The droves of shoving people drove me up against the lockers, where a familiar girl was shooting me an irksome look. I know this girl from somewhere but I am not sure where. I must be one of the students, I thought. I looked down at my attire. Have I gotten my wish? I wondered distantly. Is this my second chance? The girl had been saying something to me over and over, but I had only seen her lips moving. “Hello!” she bellowed. “Are you okay? Are you deaf? You’re acting weird, Shawn.”
The stunned sensation was still numbing my brain. My equilibrium churned. I was still viewing myself from the outside, from eyes not my own. I wondered if I was experiencing the effects of ecstasy. Is this real? The girl snapped her fingers impatiently in front of my eyes.
"What the hell’s wrong with you? We need you for the big game tonight. Get it together. One more tardy and you’re screwed.” She stared at me, but I did not respond. “Go to class!” she ordered. She pointed at a door down the hall from us.
I was having a problem with time. When she spoke to me, my equilibrium shifted and everything slowed way down. But as I made a conscious effort to get to the math class she directed me to, everything around me blurred into a sickening rush. I felt like I was at sea. My feet jerked forward mechanically, awkwardly, as if under their own control. I made it into the classroom where I was struck with the idea that maybe I was the teacher. Maybe I should begin the math lesson.
“That can’t be,” I whispered to myself. I was standing just inside the door. I was the only one standing. Everybody was staring at me. I could hear them muttering under their breaths. I went to a seat quickly and plopped down as if dropped into it. Relax, I told myself. Just relax. The person behind me leaned forward and spoke into my ear.
“Finally figured out how to get to class on time, eh, Shawny boy?”
“Yeah,” I said, speaking for the first time. My voice sounded husky and foreign.
“Everybody’s counting on you for this game tonight,” the voice behind me said. “Think you’re up to it?”
I tried to focus on the teacher, who had begun writing on the chalkboard and discussing the day’s lesson. “Sure,” I whispered back.
“Not on drugs, are you there, Shawny boy?”
“What?” I wished in vain for the person to stop.
“Don’t play dumb with me, Shawny boy.” The voice chuckled loudly.
He didn’t seem to care about the math lesson at all. “All those bigwig scouts in the stands and you here opening your third eye.”
“Scouts?” I asked, recovering some distant memory, my stomach sinking.
“Oh yeah, you should know. You arranged for them to be there,” the voice said, giggling. “Or don’t you remember, Shawny boy? Have those white powders scrubbed your mind clean?”
I was taken aback. What have I got myself into? How did I get here and how do I get back?
To be continued