I was sitting in economics class. It was boring as fuck. My seat was right by the door, next to the trash can and recycling bin. I held my head up with a hand, staring at the blue tub. It was one of those moments when I felt like thinking of something super philosophical, real poetic and nuanced. I was just paper to be recycled. No. Everyone was just scraps of paper, waiting to be changed into something new. Cliche. I couldn’t really think of anything new. I couldn’t really think of anything. I mean, it was an old, faded recycling bin. I was staring into space, trying to find the meaning of my life within a paper metaphor. My thoughts were folded origami. I could unfold every crease, just without surety of being able to reform that paper bird.
I zoned out. Hunched over in my seat, I felt an empty feeling that accompanies unfolded paper. I felt beige and spacey. Sometimes, when I fall deep in thought, my mind gets loud and unfocused. I find it troublesome to think of one thing at a time, or have one philosophy or sense of purpose at a time. A rope is tied at each arm, pulling me apart. But that day, as I stared at the recycling bin, my teacher humming on in the distance, I thought of nothing in particular. My mind sat stark, a desert. And that paired feeling, that beige feeling, flooded in.
I can’t really describe the feeling other than nothingness. But it isn’t a lacking in feeling, it’s a feeling of nothingness. There’s no pain, there isn’t a sadness involved at all. It’s just a starchy stretch of non-being.
I went home and tried to forget being this way. I tried washing it out of my mind, cleaning up the beige waters. Maybe being away from school, from the boring as fuck classes and boring as fuck people would make me feel better. I distracted myself, tried folding my thoughts back into their previous shapes. It wasn’t purposeful distraction. I had no intentions of recognizing neither the feeling nor the repressions of the feeling; my empty mind just found the room to do so.
Re-creasing the edges is difficult, sometimes. Especially if the paper is folded the other way. Sometimes it can be easy to make a new crease by accident. Sometimes new thoughts emerge out of the coursing river, toes skimming the desert below in a struggle to swim. While I sat at home, knee bouncing up and down, I skipped the whole thinking process and came to a decision. It’s incredibly impulsive to do that, to have decisions as thoughts. To skip the careful folding, the refolding, the reevaluation, and just crumple the sheet entirely.
I went into my bedroom and sighed. I wasn’t acting impulsively; I was mindlessly doing some repetitive task, walking through sand, swimming through feeling. I got out a sheet of lined paper. I held the pen in my hand, tapping it against the desk. I was so submerged in the feelings of nothingness, I had nothing poetic to say. I had only the practicalities and simplicities of the moment. The pen had a Christmas ribbon tied round the cap. I looked at the red dots, shaped like hearts. And then wrote two sentences and signed my name.
The white water of feeling washed over me, cooling me, keeping me calm. I also felt dragged down, away from myself and from everything around me. I was just doing some task. There was no weight to anything, really. My legs floated in the waves and the crumpled paper got soft and clumpy. Everything I did from then on was through the constant nullity of thought.
Read longer stories on the short stories page. Since summer is finally here, hopefully I’ll be writing and posting more frequently. -Kylie Eileen