Edgar Tranado, the blank paper blinked on the dimly illuminating computer screen, tormenting the slim and obviously drained boy lit by its silhouette. “Three hours” he muttered in an off handed manner, seemingly talking to the large can of the latest trendy energy drink sitting on the desk in front of him. “Three hours and all I have is Edgar Tranado”. His voice trailed off, it was hard to tell if he was angry or disappointed. He had noticed it, he didn’t quite hear his voice but he felt it, it was curious. He looked down with vacant eyes, sunken back from not getting enough sleep. It wasn’t angry, he knew that, he didn’t have the energy to feel anywhere near that, and he wasn’t disappointed, hell he almost didn’t feel anything at all.
He had felt defeated, as if by some miracle he had already seen the end of his paper, smiling as he turned it in, shaking the professor’s hand as he hastily flipped through it pretending to read and gave him a glowing look of approval. He felt like he was letting himself down, and he didn’t care. He knew he should care, and he knew that once the opportunity to finish the paper had passed he indeed would care, but right now he just felt as if…as if he didn’t want to care.
“Yeah” he thought, “that’s it, I don’t want to care.”
He had always thought all of this college bullshit was just that, bullshit. He didn’t know why he was in college, only what had gotton him there. He rolled his eyes as he thought back to his parents telling him how important it was, and how it was going to be one of the biggest life altering experiences he would ever go through. He remembered the look in his mom’s eyes, in reality it was excitement but he had always felt it was expectation. Expectation that he would make something of his life, that he would leave a mark on the world, no, that her son would leave a mark on the world.
He remembered getting his SAT scores back and them being somewhere above the majority of his huge thousand person graduating class. He smiled as he thought back to the SAT’s. “Best nap of my life” he thought as he let out a tired and forced chuckle. He never did anything seriously, it was why he had done so poorly in high school, it was why his first girlfriend had broken up with him, and it was why he had waited until the last minute to start writing this god damned paper.
What did he need college for? He thought. Why on earth was he wasting four years of his life when he didn’t even know what the hell he wanted to do with it? He knew that he wanted to be taken care of financially, that was for sure, but he would sooner put a bullet through his own head that sit in a small office all day in a hot and embattling suit. The mere thought of it made him squirm around in his chair like an earthworm on hot asphalt, eventually looking away from the desk entirely.
He took the opportunity to look around his dimly lit dorm room, seemingly searching for something, anything; any small bit of sacred inspiration or motivation he could use to finish this god forsaken paper. He found none. Instead all he saw was pile of trash, an unmade bed with no sheets under its haphazard purple covers, and a cheap alarm clock with an intended snooze button that almost never seemed to want to go off at the right time; the right time of course being when he actually wanted to get out of bed, not had to.
He stared at the time on the clock, entranced by it for a second, seeing it but not truly taking notice. He looked on in a daze, blank minded and just past the edge of a can peaches for thought processes. He shook his head and looked away, the dim red stagnant in the back of his vision.
“I’ve got to get it together, I can’t even keep my mind straight for ten seconds” he thought. He shook his head once more and chanced a second look at the dim carmine beacon shining its unconcerned mental torture mingling with a vague sense of hope. He had hoped that it was either early enough to still be able to finish the paper, or too late so that he could simply give up and get some sleep. Secretly within himself in a sense that he denied he wished for the latter.
It took a short few moments for him to shake off the mesmerizing glow of the digital numbers printed across the screen. After a second the hieroglyphs faded into a solid time, eleven twenty one. He let his stare linger on the clock as he felt a small rush of energy come back into his body. It wasn’t motivation, or anything that could possibly help him, it was pain. The cheap chair that the college had provided to go along with his equally cheap vinyl desk, or at least that’s what he guessed it was made out of, had made his leg fall asleep. He felt a dull pain in his thigh, made excruciating by the even duller state of the room.
“Might as well paint the walls black while I’m at it” he purposed satirically while looking at the pale and sickly shade of what was supposed to be blue. To him it looked more like an old seasick form of green, the kind you think of when you study Poseidon or see an old Stratocaster. The color was supposed to represent school pride, to him it looked more like a toddler had yacked the blues from his crayon box onto the wall before his mother caught him eating them.
He looked back at his computer, taking a small sip of his drink to maintain enough energy to hold his head up. “Edgar Tranado” he repeated aloud. He smiled, thinking of his professor. He was obviously a grade A slacker with no two ways about it, but the old long haired suit jockey had taken a liking to him none the less. He thought he could “inspire motivation in him” or some junk like that, meanwhile he knew fool well that it wasn’t motivation he was lacking. He had been told that the problem was that he didn’t care, the problem, he thought at least, was that he wasn’t allowed not to care.
He scoffed as he read the same line a second time, like a parakeet kept solely for the novelty of its ability to talk. That’s how he felt in a way, he was judged solely on the novelty of his performance. What he could bring to the world. “You’re so smart” he always heard “think of what you could do if you applied yourself.”
He cringed at the notion, staring at his name on the flimsy screen of the laptop in front of him. He knew he was smart, but with the luck he had…he had probably found a way to get his name wrong. Like maybe the font was the wrong size, or maybe Edgar Tranado wasn’t his name at all, maybe he had just imagined it in his energy drink fueled delirium. It was possible, crazy people imagined things all the time. “Why should it be exclusive to them?” he said with a small laugh.
He winced as all of the recent movement he was doing brought the pain in his leg back to the forefront of his battered and shallowly maintained consciousness. The incessant throbbing was unbearable, no it wasn’t just the pain he thought, it was all of it. He was sick of sitting in the corner of his cramped closet of a room with his back to a pile of empty cans and old apple cores. He was disgusted with the state of the whole thing. He felt a sudden surge of dim energy, enough to get him off his ass. Before he knew it he was halfway down the hallway of the dorm and almost out to the smoker’s table outside.
He didn’t smoke, but he liked hanging out there, there were no judgments, no forced conformities, and most of all, no expectations. He liked that last part, no expectations. The biggest appeal of the smoker’s table was that if he wanted to, he could just sit at the cold metal table and relax. He could just sit there breathing the fresh outside air of the cars driving by and the cigarette smoke rising through the nothingness. He enjoyed that most, the nothingness, the seemingly endless liquid blackness that swallowed up all but the streetlamps swarming with mosquitos.
The white noise was amazing, cars slowly rolling by; the conversation at the table that seemingly never ended and only involved him if he wanted it to, it was nice. It was a place he could go to so that he wouldn’t have to hear his constant thoughts.
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