A College-Ruled Contemplation

August 10, 2017

 

His hand trembles as it rests lightly against my smoothness, fingers tensed. I’ve always wondered if he would ever choose me. And my answer is yes—here we are. This is my destiny. This is my purpose.

 

You see, for what feels like years now I’ve spent my minutes just jostling around in Andrew’s backpack among his many other papers and notebooks and one massive laptop. Andrew and I share a mystifying relationship. Once every while I’d get lifted out of the bag, but then he’d open to a different page, and—probably—pour his heart and soul out onto them.

 

It was always another page, never me. Always them, never me. They got to see his face, feel his skin, be a space for his thoughts. Never me.

 

I’d only glimpsed him as he’d flip through us. His thumb would send us flying from one side of our binding to the other, and in half a heartbeat I’d spy his short hair and deep eyes. But it was all a blur.

 

Until today. Today he is not a blur. Today he’s real. He’s freckled. With thick eyelashes. And a gentle, trembling hand.

 

Slowly he starts to writ—no, he’s drawing. Um… this is maddening! I can’t see what he’s drawing. I can’t see myself! Never before have I wished I were a bird and could fly. If only I could get above and look down upon myself to see his creativity. I’m sure it’s marvelous. But my view is only vertically upward. I can only look at him…he seems okay.

 

Just okay.

 

I realize now that I’ve always hoped creating on me would be a more emotional experience for him. Maybe I really am just like all the other pages. Maybe the canvas I am to him is the same as all the others. Maybe there’s nothing special about me after all.

 

He finishes drawing. NOW we’re writing. Several inky lines here…and there too. I wish I could see myself and what he’s saying!! Goodness, being two-dimensional really does have its drawbacks…

 

Oh, please, at least let me dry before you close my— too late. Back into the backpack. Whelp, that’s it. Smudged forever. My destiny came and went, and all I have left to show is a formerly pristine expanse now boasting a bouquet of smears. Farewell, Andrew. For all I know, that was our “one and only.” Some pages never get looked at twice. Just ask any Foreword.

 

Wait…

 

Hello again! Will you add artwork? Will you fix all these smudges? Will you make little doodles to cover up the—

 

Why are you ripping me away from the other pages? I’ll tear crazily—there I go. It’s happening. I’m so lightweight; if you don’t hold me, I swear I’ll flit away like a feather.

 

Goodness, your fingers are suddenly terrifying! And that thumbnail, so dirty. You’re folding me, creasing me. This movement, this changing of shape is dreadful—but I suppose I can manage. Oh, you make the creases so tight.

 

I have a flat part now and a sharp pointy end… interesting.

 

And so uncomfortable.

 

Back into the familiar backpack, I slide… but now I don’t know what or who I am anymore. Darkness envelopes me, and I rest in the soft folds of the old laptop pocket.

 

Why, hello again. Please don’t bend me anymore or I’ll go limp. Seriously, this is no way to treat a dignified page. Don’t you know I’m meant for illustrations and rhymes and symphonies and epics and math problems and all sorts of other USEFUL things. This—this contortion you have me in and whatever you’ve smudged on me—can hardly compare to what you’ve done on the other pages. I could never quite see them all, but on the one in front of me, you had drawn a gorgeous landscape. Do you remember the landscape, Andrew?! Stunning. But I’m just a humid rag of running ink creased into a point.

 

Mercy!

 

Oh, do be careful how you hold me. I don’t feel steady—

 

In a blink, I’m falling. In fact, I’m flying. Andrew is suddenly gone; I think he’s thrown me away.

 

But, wonder of wonders! I can see all around me for miles! Beneath I see numerous people and cars racing determinately along. Above is sky and blinding brightness. I soak it all in — I’m able to see so much! How astonishing to finally see so much. I sweep along the breeze—

 

My body sails through the wind.

Up and then down,

down into a swooping soar,

upwards,

and then down again before

looping upwards then crashing down again,

down,

gliding furiously along…

 

…Seriously, has he thrown me from a skyscraper? Why, yes, that’s precisely what he’s done. I’m going to absolutely shred when I hit the ground. I wish I could close my eyes but I can’t. I’m racing straight towards a wall. Or is it a window…? Here it—

 

My elegant point (had Andrew meant it to be a nose?) is unrecognizable. My flatness is weak and crêpe-y; I am utterly crumpled.

 

What an end. What an irretrievable demise.

 

Just a moment… who are YOU?

 

A Girl has lifted me and is—ugh!—unfolding me. Oh, be gentle! Soon she’ll see all my smudges…this will be brief I’m sure. Who wants a roughed-up and ruined piece of paper?

 

She’s still holding me.

 

She sees the smudges and the writing. And she smiles. (Whatever does it say?!?)

 

She steps to the window—her gaze rises upwards.

 

There, like a speck against the sky, I see what must be Andrew looking down from quite possibly miles above.

 

I think they see each other.

 

That all happened years ago. Standing here, still unfolded but now walled by a simple frame, I pass the time quietly watching Andrew and the Girl build a home together. I’m content now, knowing that I played my part.

__________

Millie Kirk's current adventures take place in upstate New York. She works as a professional sign language interpreter, volunteer to train literacy tutors, and spends considerable amounts of time drinking coffee. Language and wordsmithing are central elements of her own story, believing that the power of any writing lies in the message it’s used to convey. Millie strives to spread messages that are worthy, uplifting, and redemptive for readers, hoping to inspire them to see more deeply into their own journeys and to seek the truth in the course of their own stories. You can find her at Facebook at fb.me/millie.kirk.58 or Instagram @kirkoftheroc

 

A College-Ruled Contemplation is a Fiction War Finalist entry.
Please do not reproduce without permission from the author.
Originally published at fictionwar.com. Image credit:

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Fiction War Magazine is a quarterly independent literary journal published by Wolvesburrow Productions, Chicago.