controlling reality

School was almost normal. I focused on everything being just so and despite a rising headache towards later classes I succeeded. If there was any inventing of reality to do I was doing it in the most concentrated way.
The last class of the day, philosophy, a spirited, alas mediocre attempt to make philosophical thought palatable for the average Junior High School Student, started as uneventful as usual. Sometimes I actually had felt sorry for the teacher, Ms. Havenshire, who despite her dedication to teaching managed to neither teach those who were interested in philosophy (as she was slaughtering all logic by simplifying ideas to the point of merely being kitschy allegories) nor those to whom spending any energy on comprehending concepts beyond sports and dating seemed a severe waste. I still kind of admired Ms. Habvenshire as she managed to keep her enthusiasm for us and never really gave up on the class nor let herself be put out by Mark’s (the eighth grade nerd, another proud participant in Supergifted and Supertalented) sniding but acute remarks on her lack of logic nor by mechanical, accurate reproductions of an idea she just had introduced in a kindergarten like cheer.
What she was really aiming for was for us to fill all those beautiful metaphors with the stuff of our own lives. If she was aware – as she must have been – that her efforts were utterly unsuccessful she never let on. After ten minutes of her cheerful chattering I submitted to the chitter of her voice and allowed myself to do the very thing I had told myself I would not: I relaxed. I guess I was feeling safe for a moment, safe enough to allow things to unfold their own way.
Ms. Havenshire voice as a pleasurable background voice I started drifting. I spent the better part of the next fifteen minutes trying to figure out how many leaves there were left on the big chestnut tree facing the classroom window. Increasingly entranced by the precision with which I could see the leaves from where I sat as if someone had drawn them with an ultra-sharp pencil, I slowly grew aware that I had lost my focus on keeping reality in check. Ms. Havnshire’s voice had dropped its harmonious melody. I grew aware that it must have been quiet in the classroom for quite a while and with some effort abandoned my leaf counting quest and returned to the class room. The change in Ms. Havenshire demeanor was subtle but unmistakable.
Just as my fun and laid back mother suddenly appeared to be an edgy, uneasy person, Ms. Havenshire seem to have transformed into a colder and paler version of her former self. She studied the class with a distracted yet discontented look and flatly announced the page in the text book she wanted us to study, of all things Aristoteles’ cave metaphor. After a few short minutes reading time she started quizzing students, much to everyone’s bewilderment because barely any of them had used the five minutes study time to actually study. None of her usual sweet and cheerful forgiveness and patience as she corrected answers and scribbled grades in a small black notebook. She seemed nervous and kept checking the time on a small silver watch I had never seen her wearing before as if she couldn’t wait for class to be over (a sentiment that I shared) and finally she let herself be challenged to a pretty sardonic, almost threatening remark.
She had known Mark Haden all school year long to have a tendency to challenge her carefully prepared explanations in an almost insulting manner, a situation which in turn she, kindly disregarding his rudeness, would use as an educational diving board to engage the rest of the class in some reluctant discussion – but today she took his remarks eye-to-eye.
When asked to read the paragraph about Aristoteles’ cave out loud, Mark had one of his nerdy moments and established with grim determination that there was no way to prove that anything outside his perceived self was more than an illusion of his own brilliant, creative brain, and that he would therefore not be persuaded by a merely illusionary voice to take on any task. She went right over to his desk. It was dead quiet in class. For a moment, I swear, she looked at him like a snake might look at a rabbit before the kill. There was nothing of her usual shy smiling presence left as she hissed at him, eyes slanted: “Mark, believe me, I will establish reality for you in a most convincing way by simply letting you fail this class. Unless you are prepared to regard such an experience as the product of a your brilliant, yet masochistic mind, I suggest you participate in class as required.”
Mark looked genuinely impressed and scared. He stuttered a subdued response and started reading the paragraph out loud. Not much rebellious spirit there. I grinned.
One thing I knew. Ms. Havenshire would never, ever talk like this to any student, she’d rather leave the classroom to cry in the hallway, returning with red eyes, I was supremely sure of that. Whoever was stimulating or better manipulating my brain to recreate my school environment was getting out of their comfort zone. Though I did feel a bit freaked out for a moment when I saw Ms. Havenshire lick her lip with a slender, forked tongue.

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