Sometimes when I can’t sleep, the most faraway thoughts come to the surface. Things I haven’t thought about in years. It might just be a quick flash of someone’s face in my mind, or a name of someone I knew or barely knew, or an occurrence, usually not a positive one.
This morning as I was laying there blinking at the ceiling, this crosses my mind:
I’m in 8th grade math class. My teacher was Mr. Welton, a boorish man who nobody liked much because he cruised the hallways with a wooden paddle in his back pocket, and he loved to use it. I say cruised the hallway; he actually strutted around with that paddle. You could tell it gave him the greatest pleasure to use it, too. He’d line up the misbehaving boys and have them grip the railing by the stairs while he busted their asses as hard as he could.
You could hear the crack of the paddle echo through the hallways.
Anyway, last night at 3am I heard the teacher’s voice in my head:
“Nobody gave a shit about him anyway. Now he’s dying and everyone claims to be his best friend.”
He was referring to a kid who had overdosed at a party the night before and was in the hospital, nearly dead. His classmates (they were seniors) were interrupting my math class one by one, asking to be signed out for the day so they could go see him for what would probably be the last time.
I don’t know what made me think of this or why I’m even sharing it with you now.
I just find it odd, those words that were hard to digest as an 8th grader come floating up to the surface at 3am, 23 years later.