Not What I Thought It Was

Dorottya Turza

After hours of studying, it feels like a miracle when the students finally hear the bell that officially ends school. Usually everybody starts to pack up their things and leave through the gates as fast as they can, while chatting animatedly about their plans for spending their free time. However, as we are all aware, the exception proves the rule. And of course there was an exception. While his peers enthusiastically babbled amongst themselves, a boy named Connor was entirely unfazed. And surprise, this boy happens to be me. And yes, I’m so pathetic that I started to narrate my life. Why, you ask, considering how unremarkable my existence is? Don’t judge, I have to liven up my mood now and then.

So in short, I’m an average student with a lack of distinctive characteristics, or so I was told. Maybe my greatest achievement is that I officially became THE quiet kid in our class. Who is just too weird for anybody to associate with themself.  But they are so self-righteous that their pride certainly couldn’t take it if they just happened to avoid me. They had to help me, and the best way to do that was to pick out an unfortunate soul to approach me every single week. It was rather humiliating. So after I refused their company a number of times, they eventually stopped. Then to get back at me for ruining their generosity, they started some baseless rumors (At least have some human decency and don’t gossip about me when I’m sitting right behind you… seriously, how can you be so insensitive?)… which honestly I don’t mind. Really I prefer that kind of behavior to the previous one. At least I know how to deal with hearsay. After all, these are just words.  I believe that words just are as powerful as we let them be… and I learned to block them out completely. Ah, sorry, I’m babbling. But excuse me, I am still very new to this narrator thing.

So where was I? Oh, I know. I am in some aspects just like my contemporaries. I too look forward to getting school over with and finally going home. However, while others waste their time in the company of others, I stay in my room and exclude the outside world while spending some quality time on my own. Benefits of being a loner. Don’t give me that look. I’m serious. I genuinely despise every moment that I had to spend with my classmates or rather with people. They are massive fools who can’t see past their massive egos to realize that others also live around them, while hiding behind a facade of virtue and saying that they care about you. They all are liars and hypocrites. And I can’t stand anything more than those who lie to your face. This is the reason why I try to minimize my interactions with them. Staying quiet is one of the best tactics to make them  lose interest in you and just leave you alone. I know it best, because I have used it for three years now, and it always works.

Really, the only person I can somewhat tolerate is my mother. We don’t have more than one conversation or two per week. She blames her job for the lack of time we spend together. But I know the truth behind it: I’m too much of a pain to deal with, so it is easier to look aside and divert the blame toward something stupid like overtime and other nonsense.

When I arrived home I recognised my mother’s purse. Great… just great. Today can’t get any better. So apparently my mother finished her shift much earlier than usual (Hip hip hurray). When I peeped into the living room I saw her fully dressed. She seemed to be getting ready to be somewhere else. She just can’t stand to stay home with me, can she. Breathe. Calm yourself. After taking a huge breath, I cleared my mind. I knew what I should do. In this case the best solution would be to slip past her and go straight to my room without being noticed. As I started to execute the plan, I immediately slipped on something small (possibly one of my mother’s makeup tools) which resulted in a loud puffing sound as I landed face on the floor.  This caused her to look up and take notice of me, her only son that she probably would have forgot about if it hadn’t been for this incident.

“Hello sweetheart! Oh, it’s so good to see you!”  she said with a sweet voice while walking to the sink in the kitchen.

“Hello Mother. I didn’t know you were home.”  There was nothing else to do, just continue with this conversation and be done with it as soon as possible.

“Owww… you are so cold to me,” she said in a teasing tone. “When was the last time you called me Mom or Mommy?” When she saw that she wouldn’t get an answer from me, she continued like nothing had happened. “Anyway, to answer your question, we finished our project a lot earlier than planned, so we got the rest of the day. Doesn’t it sound wonderful!” she cheered.

“Yeah…” the only thing that I could mutter.

She happily smiled back at me and at the same time started to wash the dishes (so at least during our conversation she would be able to do something useful).

“So how was school?” she asked with her back now facing me.

“Fine. Just the usual.” My answer didn’t seem to satisfy her, because she pressed more.

“Honey, you know that I am not a psychic, I can’t exactly read your mind.” Thank God for that. “Can you provide a little bit more detail, please? You always say something like ‘Fine’ and ‘Just the usual,’ but I don’t really know what that means.”

“My lessons are boring, but manageable. Most of my teachers don’t even know that I exist. My classmates are a lot more tolerable now that there is temporary peace within our class, but  I give them approximately a week before they are at each other’s throats again.“

 It seemed I made her speechless until she said something like ‘how wonderful to be so young’ and ‘everybody feels that way when they are your age’ and ‘when you look back on it nothing but happy memories remain.’ It was so surreal that I stopped listening at some point. I came back to reality just to hear my mother’s question.

“And your math test?” Ohh… I don’t like where we are going with this.

“Which one?” I asked dumly.

As she turned her head to face me, she put on an unimpressed expression that just radiated ‘you know better than this,’ but she still answered.

“The one that you studied for all weekend. You seemed anxious about it. So how did it go?”

“Oh, that one. I couldn’t solve most of the problems, but at least I’m over it.”

“Aww… honey. I’m sorry to hear that. You put so much energy into it.” Even though I knew it was a facade, the worry and understanding that she showed was just so convincing that I almost believed it. Almost.

“It’s no big deal. I didn’t really study for it anyway.” The words slipped out of my mouth before I was aware of them.

That was the moment when I realized what my mistake would bring with it.

My mother stopped her task and slowly turned around to face me. Instead of her usual smile she had a frown on her face. Really the only thing that was missing was to cross her arms on her chest. Her wet hands probably made it impossible to do so. However, that didn’t affect the whole picture that my mother made; her cartilage basically emitted fury. 

“Care to explain what you meant by that?” she whispered with a certain something in her voice that I couldn’t place anywhere. “Did you use something like this before too?”

I didn’t know how to properly reply to that, so I decided that the best option was to remain silent and wait for my chance to leave as quickly as possible.

“I thought that the reason why you always locked yourself in your room was because this gave you more time for study.” But that edge in her voice vanished just as quickly as it appeared. “So you came up with all those excuses just to avoid spending time with me. This is how you see me, as such a terrible person?”

All of a sudden I felt horrible. This is stupid. She only does this because she wants to come across as the victim of this situation. To make me believe that I was wrong. And she is still the perfect mother. A small voice in the back of my mind denied my claims and wanted me to apologize. But why would I? She only pretends to care, to feel something between us that wasn’t there from the beginning.

She suddenly grabbed the counter for support as if the ground were about to slip out from under her feet. I instinctively stepped closer to her, but she held up a hand.

“Can you leave me for a moment?” she asked, shaking her head.

This was the clue to leave and finally go up to my room (the only place where I feel at peace, where I belong). However, my legs couldn’t move. It was like my feet were pinned to the floor by some unknown force. At that moment I felt an unexpected need to close the distance between us. To hug her. To tell her all the things I wanted to say so many times that I never could do (or never dared to do). That the problem wasn’t in her. She didn’t do anything wrong. The problem was in me or rather… I AM THE PROBLEM. I opened my mouth, but before I could even mutter a word, she spoke again.

“Please…” Her voice was soft, almost a whisper, as if her heart would break any minute.

Just one word. Just this one word from my mom’s mouth destroyed me completely. Instead of staying here, I wanted to run away as far as I could and hide from her,  my classmates, and my life. And this is apparently what I did, because the next second, before I even noticed it, I was in my room panting heavily. I must have run upstairs. This would explain the sudden wetness on my face. I raised my trembling hand (the result of taking to the stairs in such a hurry) to wipe down the sweat, when I registered that it wasn’t what I had thought. Not sweat, but tears. My tears that were welling up in my eyes and streaming down my face at a frightening pace. I sighed heavily, while letting my head drop. With my back to the door I slid down to the floor, where I curled up into a ball and started to rock back and forth. My body started to shake uncontrollably.

I don’t understand. I lived my life as I deemed necessary. I know that I did everything to protect myself. This is the reason why I pushed my annoying classmates away without exception. Why I didn’t have any friends. Why I always kept three steps away from my mother. Why I constantly refused any form of relationship with anyone. Why I separated myself from the word. Then why?

Why does it hurt so much?