The tapping of pens on paper became the rhythmic beating of beetle wings as they transcribed (as best they could) word for word what the teacher was saying. It was the unspoken point system. Two points if you got most of the words correct, three points if the words actually made sense, and five points if you got it down verbatim. The five pointers were always the overachievers, and counterintuitively were usually the low scorers when it came to exams. I guess those verbatim notes didn’t help all that much if your brain was occupied by a nonsensical jabberwocky in the midst of a screeching voice lesson. At least that’s what I liked to imagine. In reality, their minds were probably just blank, like someone clicked ‘delete all files’ and was searching around helplessly, unable to locate the undo button.
An off key screech drew my attention to the left, and I watched transfixed as a pen moved in jerking scrawl across paper. They weren’t even looking down at their paper. Instead, their eyes were focused frontward in a dazed squint. If I waved my hand in front of their nose, would they even notice? My nose twitched, feeling phantom wind. Their scribbles didn’t even look like words and I wondered if they could actually read their own handwriting or if they just looked at it with that same dazed squint expecting it to somehow make sense. I watched as they got to the end of their page and their hand fell off onto the desk. They kept writing for a moment before their body froze and they shook their head in mindless confusion. I tried not to laugh, but a snorting sound, somewhat resembling a wailing walrus, escaped my throat.
I smelled mint coming from the guy to my right and thought about asking him for a piece of gum, then realized I had a pack of gum sitting somewhere in the bottom of my backpack under piles of crinkled paper and old Kind granola bar wrappers. Too lazy, I sighed and went back to aimlessly staring at the board, on which a powerpoint was showing a map of the US during the Civil War. How I knew that, I had no idea. I could barely remember what class this was.
The teacher was speaking gibberish and my page remained blank in front of me. I wondered if she was even speaking at all. Her lips were moving, sound was escaping. Was that even english or some alien language? I watched as her mouth opened and closed, like an amatuer puppeteer was trying to keep up with the words coming out of her mouth. My eyes glazed over and all I could see now was one of those muppets, the crazy drummer with the red hair. What was his name again? I think it started with a k, no maybe an r.
A person two rows in front of me dropped their pen onto the floor and I watched, amused, as they flailed around like a wriggling trout out of water, frantically trying to pick it up only to drop it again. I held back another snorting chuckle. They were hopeless. Everyone in this class was.
Pens were still frantically scribbling, flicking over paper like their lives depended on squeezing in just one extra word. My pen sat dormant in my fingers, as asleep as my brain wanted to be. I realized that I was one of them. A blank brained idiot who couldn’t find the undo button. Or worse yet, a mindless jabberwocky. Oh well. At least I wasn’t an overachiever.
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Flash fiction is an intriguing form to write in. Usually being under 1000 words, it is an exercise in concise language control. I like to use this form to study a singular moment in time, in this case, a moment in a classroom. If you are looking for a quick writing exercise, try your hand at flash fiction. I hope you guys enjoyed this little piece that I wrote for one of my classes this past year. Like this post if you want to see more of my own writing!