Stored away

I didn’t sleep last night; the room was hot and stifling, I couldn’t sleep with a top sheet on, I couldn’t sleep without one, so I daydreamed and drifted in and out of thoughts. And completely unbidden, I had a series of vivid flashbacks to last year, complete with physical responses of anxiety and depression, things I haven’t thought about since last summer. I thought of Isiah running from classroom to classroom with a pointy umbrella, part farce, part threat. I thought of Starr, who got pregnant and missed so much class time that when she got back she did almost nothing. I thought of Makita, with the one perpetually bloodshot eye, who had a learning disability and so pretended she was one of “the bad kids”. I thought of Steven, who was so smart-aleck charming that I just couldn’t be angry at him even when he asked a million rude questions. I thought of Denzell, who walked around with cash strapped to his legs from dealing drugs and was so intelligent he barely needed to pay attention in class. I thought of Laron, who pretended all year that he couldn’t write and then wrote one brilliant thing which I forgot to even praise. I thought of Clinisha, who wanted me to adopt her, and who kept getting into fistfights with the girls on her block. I thought of Daija and Jason, the best comedy duo in town. I thought of the sickening feeling of fifth period, with everything out of control, and Toyia crying until someone blew in her eye to make it feel better. I thought of threatening to send someone to beat a kid up; of Michael, the sweetest kid with the sparkliest grill, who disappeared halfway through the year. I thought of fighting with the gym teacher across the hall over whose desks were whose, and of the walls I never finished decorating, and of the kids I never got to see again. I checked the clock: 3:45am. I rolled over and realized I was too hot to be held, even though that’s what I wanted, and that time would keep moving even if it felt so slow. I wondered about the theory that memories are held in the body, and I thought of all these thoughts having been squirreled away in odd places, like my spleen, until summoned by the subconscious. This morning I realized that June 8th last year was the last day of teaching classes.

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