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by Silva Noir

Chapter 3 : emotions

"Where have you..." the teacher interrupted himself from class, turning open the brass knob to the front side door letting the late student in.

Before he could finish his sentence David chimed "Oh, there was an alligator in the gymĒ he motioned with his thumb to the general direction of the outrageous incident. A couple of the girls in the front row giggled. He knew the teacher write it down now as a joke or a lie, but later would find out the truth of what had been. Or, at least, would find out that some sort of creature had been terrorizing the basketball players. He would never come to the conclusion it had been David himself.

"Well...Ē the teacher put his nose back into the folder full of worksheets, scribbling madly with blue marker on the overhead projector. "The equation will generate a line that will intersect laterally with the sides of the triangle..."

David pulled out a graphing calculator from his pocket and yanked the paperbag covered book from the metal grating under his desk where he always left it. He had inherited mother's skill and patience with precise things. He loved anything that could be calculated or measured. It was the rest of the world that held his impatience. If only life was more like the space oddity films he loved so much. His mind drifted happily to thoughts of coordinates, numbers, stars, clear-cut military style decisions and clean uniforms.

Next, he attended a computer course. Before starting he always liked to gaze at the "mystify your mind" screensaver, watching the irregular polygrams dance, lines spread out and tighten, and shift colors smoothly. Maybe I'm a screensaver. Little bits of data on a blank screen, chains of numerical equations logged in to make a program. What a wonderful thought. He did his work with a certain fury of dedication. Soon followed homeroom, which consisted of orderly attendance and forms. Physics was afterwards, another topic he deeply indulged in. But then English popped up, a required course he wasn't too hot about.

He was all for finding rhyme schemes, how many syllables in a stanza, how many pages or numbers of characters there are in a book, dates, or sequences of events. The teacher, who David swore had it out for him, would ask "How does the passage make you feel? What emotions were stirred up by the endings or (character's name)'s downfall? What does it say about society today? What does it say about the good and evil within menís hearts and souls? What does it say about the human condition?" . David would become instantly lost and baffled by the line of inquiry. He kept his folder neat, notes in the best condition; even his handwriting was legible and professional. Why was it then he received such poor grades on the subject?

"David, come here for a moment" the instructor beckoned. "I'm a bit disturbed by your term paper"

"It has the correct number of pages, quotes, long quotes, paraphrases, sources and structure..."

"No, not that. the topic, the opinions you expressed are what bothered me. You called Shakespeare pointless! This whole class is pointless by the standards of your paper."

"No sirĒ David apologized "You teach excellent formats, especially those of essays"

"It isn't about formats. You're a good student but.... kids your age talk, they socialize, take part in discussions and have strong opinions about the world around them. They don't isolate themselves like you haveĒ He took off his coke-bottle lens glasses and wiped them with a handkerchief "Why, I'd never thought I'd say that. Most of your classmates we have to struggle to get them to listen do some work, stop talking. But you... you say here humans are illogical and purposeless whereas computers, despite some glitches, are much more efficient. You call the greatest works of poetry meaningless drivel. You denounce any sort of god or mythology. You blame all of crime on ill focused attention. This whole paper... 'Emotions are troublesome and only get in the way'"

"Well, its true sir"

"Why do you think people are here at all? According to you we should all just disappear to our low productivity"

"Not true, sir. Someone has to fix the computers. Science and mathematics are extraordinary. My mother is a very adept scientist herself. She taught me at home for the last many years. What she ingrained on me is much more useful than what I've come to acquire here."

"And that may be the problem. I've heard you spout numerous times that you are only here because you need an English credit to graduate. Your participation, in life itself, is kept to a minimum. But what should I expect from someone who raised by a single mother that spends all her time behind a microscope. When I was young we had really family values. Mother's stayed home with their children to make sure they grew up right"

Davidís hand clenched into a fist, a few silver droplets falling from his fingernails. "You can add something to that paper, SIR. Computers arenít filled with old fashioned nonsense. They aren't mean and nasty. And the never insult other people's mothers." He'd said it loud enough for the whole class to hear.

"Don't get touchy, son"

"I'm not your son." he stood up and glared, tall thin shadow cast over the man at the desk.

"I'm just trying to help. You've got to open up to someone, anyone. It would do you good to talk things out. Perhaps you should speak with a counselor."

"Perhaps you should jump off a bridge," David mumbled under his breath with a forced smile, cocking his head to the side. At that moment he wanted to go back to alligator and snap the manís neck just as he had to the goose. He hastily pushed the feeling back down deep inside himself. this is why he was so afraid of any emotion. Ruth told him getting too excited, especially anger, would cause him to be unstable. It would be the death of him, or perhaps a fate worse than death. Every time he felt the slightest inkling or rage the Xilvrin seemed to flow automatically as sadness caused tears in normal humans. At all costs he must not expose himself to the public. This one teacher with backwards ideals was not worth it. Control, he told himself, control is everything.

He was forced to take a pass and wandered about before finally cautiously arriving at the white wall with two doors in it. One was to guidance that pertained to college and grades. The other was for "personal" guidance. I feel rather like Alice in Wonderland, only no cookies and water pitcher that says eat me and drink me. But I have to go through the door that makes me small.

A strange little man welcomed him in the door. David almost laughed at the cheesy, curly brillo-pad haired man with brown and white stripped shirt and yellow checkered tie. He looked over some papers as a first grader would, scratching his head in confusion. I bet it says "1+1= ?" David chuckled then looked about. ooh, complete with rainbow hot air balloon posters and flowers and smiley faces all with motivational sayings. Hoo-ray! He rolled his eyes and shoved the pass in the poor excuse for a man's line of vision.

"Danny" he grinned as cheesilly as the tie "I've been expecting you. Come, sit down" He motioned to the padded chair.

"David, sir"

"Oh yes! Of course!" The man scribbled on a slip of green paper.

"Oh brother" David whispered to himself leaning his arm on the arm of the chair and putting his feet on the edge of the desk.

"Looks here David like you havenít been getting along very well with your teachers or classmates. You do your work but you just arenít friendly. In fact,Ē he tapped his clipboard in efforts to look important "says that you've made no friends since you arrived here at the beginning in of the fall. You were previously kept at home and tutored; this is your first public school experience. Yet you havenít tried to open up." There was that dreaded phrase again. David wondered if he would need to disembowel himself and spread his guts out on a cafeteria table for all to see for them to be happy "Why is that?"

"Well sir, I don't like people in this school much. Actually, I donít like people much at all. Including you."

"How sad," The man made a dramatic gesture with his hands, "and don't call me sir. Call me Bob. Bob Stone"

"Okay, BOB."

"I'll be your friend David. Thatís what I'm here for, to be your friend. Talk about anything thatís bothering you. Maybe I can help you have a more positive attitude about yourself, others, and this school."


"Are you sure you don't have any friends here?"

"I talk to Sue Hardy"

"Sueís an interesting girl. I talk to her often"

"I bet that you doĒ David smiled slightly. So she can get out of class. The fool doesn't know sheís wasting his time. "She makes me laugh sometimes," he shrugged.

"Well there you go! Lighten up and enjoy the world!"

"I like walking along the highway in the rain. Especially if a truck happens to lose control and crash. Its fun to see the destruction as it happens." He said in a flat tone. He watched the cheery idiot cringe.

Bob, once he regained his composure, frowned. "The term paper you wrote is very depressing. Being alone so much is so... lonely."

David was losing patience "Who ever would have thought?"

"Computers and chemicals aren't friends, people are. Healthy emotions are the key to life. Do you at least have any pets?"

Sarcasm saturated his voice "Does a cactus count? I named him Rex. He's a very obedient pet, easy to care for. I only have to give him water once a week at most."

"What are you feeling right now?"

"Why does everyone ask me that!" David sat up and stared at him coldly. "I. DON'T. FEEL. ANYTHING."

"Everyone FEELS David. Accept it, let yourself feel" His pudgy lips stretched the last word out to a ridiculous length.

"I can't," he hid his hand, metal droplets welling up beneath his nails once more. "Sometimes I feel angry or sad, but I know enough to push it down. Well, sometimes. Other times I feel a rush when I'm moving quickly or destroying something," he cursed himself inwardly as soon as the words left his mouth. Why did I have to go and say that out loud? "but thatís all."

"Hmm" he jotted his new information down. David was able to glimpse the words /possibly dangerous/ loner / keep and eye on this one for further disturbing behavior and warning signs. "Is all the angst due to your family life? Are you angry that you don't have a father-figure?"

"Are you angry that you don't have a decent wardrobe?"

"Now Dave..."

"David. DAVID, not DAVE! I'm not your PAL." He could feel the fury crawling up his spine. "I suppose you want to insult Ruth as well"

The counselor was perplexed, "Ruth?"

David sighed and admitted, "My mother." Ruth would be angry he had told someone they were related.

"Do you have hostile feelings towards her?"

"Me? No! Everyone else seems to though. She keeps me away from things like this... she know it will upset me... she's right."

"Keeps you away?" You've got to experience life!"

"Screw you!" He picked up the glossy yellow porcelain pencil holder and threw it against the stone wall. "She says they'll think Iím a monster. Everyone will. Even she does now. So I guess it does matter anymore. I might as well just show all the ugly parts of me to the world. And let them run in fear if thatís what they think, or fight me if they want to. The won't win! I'm a weapon, a living weapon." He cackled then took a deep breath and slowed, "I told you didn't I? Control, no emotion. You go on being your pansy self. I'll go on being me. Whoever the hell that is," David walked out and slammed the door, leaving Mr. Stone to pick up the pieces of the broken smiley and scattered pencils. "Talk to a counselor. Blah"

He shut his eyes and crossed his arms. "I've got to stop this. If I could just feel love... just once... maybe everything would be different. If someone, anyone cared about me. Wasnít afraid of what I might be or might become. Not just a part... all of me. Even this,Ē He held up his palm where the Xilvrin had coated it smoothly and twisted in tiny streamers up his arm. "I guess itís like never hearing music and then one day hearing it. But itís not easy as finding a radio and turning it on. I donít know anything at all about it. No one wants to love a monster, right? Even if someone did, I bet it wouldn't last...Ē he had to resist the urge to morph and run away. "I hate them, Ruth. I hate them all. But if I admit it to you, you won't let me see anyone ever again will you? You say all those things about being right about me not being able to fit into society. I... I don't know what to do..."

His stomach growled. Lunch... time for lunch... not that I want food. He decided not to eat that day. He'd rather let himself pass out again. Why make an effort to eat if it helped you lived, and why live if there was nothing to live for? he arrived at the cafeteria nonetheless, strolling in like one of those wispy sad heroin-chic models. He found a table to himself, sat down, and rested his head on his elbow in an uneasy sleep.

Sue noticed his melancholy and walked over, ďWhatís up? You okay there?" she plunked down across from him.

"No I had a run in with Bob Stone. His heads full of more holes than swiss cheese."

"Mr. touchy feely happy sing-along man? I get a kick out of him. Ticks him off when I put my boots on his desk and knock over the turtle figurines. You go in and say 'boo-hoo' and viola! Instant free pass out of class. I have real problems, but I don't dwell, its only life, who cares? What did he say to you?"

"I did as much. Great minds think alike?" he half-sighed. "He wrote down that I'm a potential danger to the school"

"Alright! My man!" She picked up his hand and high-fived it. "Hey, so you're a little strange. So we're those people from the 60s, his era. If they knew anything about anything would they really end up as high school guidance counselors? Its just something to give burn-out hippies to do."

"You make me smile Sue."

"Sure no problem. But you look more morose than usual. Hey, I know, lets go to the mall, right now!"

"And skip school?" he asked seriously then cracked a grin, "Sure, lets go"

"You're a trip, Davey, a real trip." She waved her sleeved arms. If she were not who she was, so dirty and overly friendly with every guy that would have her, he would have asked her out. She was the only girl who really paid attention to him. There was also the fact that he hated anyone touching him and visa versa, while she had no qualms about it.

Ruth had kept him in great isolation for the most of his life. Had he not threatened her in a moment of frustration she would have never let him out. He was no longer the small boy she pushed around and commanded. It was not out of hatred he knew, but of fear. He couldn't stand looking into is own mother's eyes and only seeing the fright and worry he caused her. I'm sorry Ruth... maybe if you told me what I was and why I am this way then I could make up for it, understand it... but as is you keep me in the dark. You're making me feel fear as well, the fear leads to anger... and you hate when I'm angry... hate the things I do...

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