Often I wish that I could just lie down. But not on my bed. The zebra-striped blanket or the pillowcase that should’ve been replaced years ago or the mattress that feels only slightly softer than concrete will not satisfy my needs.
Maybe the couch will work, perhaps for just a day, or an evening, or an hour. Maybe just three minutes of my back against the sharpie-stained fabric that’s been torn apart by years of curious cats and my pretending to be a Jedi, will fix me up. No. It won’t work. It can’t. The couch is too cold and I know that dad would never let me have the blanket. You’d think he’d buy another one. I saw them on sale at Ikea the other day.
I think maybe the floor will have to do. The carpet is better than the hard wood. The cat barf doesn’t smell too bad, right? Maybe if I turn and lie on my stomach,and shut my eyes and pretend I’m tanning somewhere in Hawaii. Or maybe Fiji. But then it’s dark and I’m in a car again and the stars are bright and I’m coming around a turn a bit too fast and two faces are lit up in the darkness,like they’re under a spotlight. Because they are, I think. But was it the moonlight or the headlights? The floor won’t do.
The grass is nice. But I’ve tried that one before and as fun as it is to watch the ladybugs dance on my fingertips and feel a breeze rush over me, I know I’m allergic. And I know that hives are no fun. And I know that the grass isn’t really where I want to lie.
I want to lie down on the page. I want to fold myself up like origami and tuck myself into the middle of some notebook or maybe a novel and feel how I felt when my mother tucked me in; like there was nothing to be afraid of. And even if there was something to be afraid of it was far away and non-threatening and not a bright red 2013 Ford C-max with the license plate 5HAR619 that was sliding around like I did the first time I went skating.
The page is all too inviting. But I’ve tried this before; I know its tricks. I know that I’m no more easily digestible when I come in the form of 12 point Times New Roman. I know that the second you try and leave a little bit of you behind, maybe just a small seeping or a little leak or maybe even just a colon or semicolon or some other bit of punctuation that the paper rejects you. Not your writing or your plot development: You. The way that Goodyear tires reject traction when they’re spun around too quickly. The way that the night sky rejects screaming by letting it fade into the black between the stars, destined to eternal hiding behind constellations.
But maybe if I just tap the page. Not lie on it. Just tap it. Like a boy seeing if the pool is too cold by lightly dropping his toes into the water. But not even that. I wouldn’t even break the surface. Just a tap.
But damn it, I don’t want to tap. I want to dive in, headfirst, like an Olympian. Forget not breaking the surface. I want to rip through, like a knife shoved into a balloon. The way being told to get over your fear of darkness,— like every time you shut your eyes you don’t see bodies and hydroplaning and screaming and crying and a police officer telling you you’re safe and that everything is okay even though the skid marks on the road and the shaking legs and crying faces say otherwise,— cuts through you.
But I know that a page is only as comforting as it is full. I know the pain of staring at blankness. The suffering and torment of knowing that any stories you may have, any poems or metaphors or characters that dance through your mind like ballerinas, will never make it to the page without a few scratches. That whatever ideas may be in your head will be trapped there forever. Like prisoners. Like a son, a mom, and three cousins trapped in a skidding middle class hybrid vehicle on a Monday night the day after Christmas— forever destined to imperfection. Like circles drawn with pencils or pens. Like humans.
Max Paik is a junior at Half Moon Bay High School in California. He enjoys sunsets, avocados, and traveling when he gets the chance. He also enjoys math but he likes to keep that relatively private.