If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably know that the outside world and I don’t often get along, so I am not often out in it. But tonight? Tonight, outside world, it is ON. I’ll be participating in Show and Tell, which was my favorite class in grammar school, and reading an essay about an awkward date and my feet at the True Story! Reading Series. It’s at Kavarna Bar and Coffeeshop in Atlanta (well, the Decatur part of Atlanta), Georgia. It starts at 8 and Charles McNair and Benjamin Carr are reading too, which is very exciting but also makes me feel the need to breathe into a brown paper sack. But in, like, an awesome way.
The folks at True Story! posted an excerpt from one of my essays as an incentive. I figured I’d double that incentive and post the next bit of the essay here. This isn’t the essay I’m reading tonight, but it IS the story of the most traumatic moment of my grammar school life that didn’t involve gym class. It also tells the story of why I didn’t get to go to the Young Author’s Conference in 1988, which was totally a big deal. Also, I should let the Internet know that all of the people involved in this situation ended up totally okay. No one’s brain actually fell out, and Christopher beat me in the egg race at Field Day every year after this. Enjoy.
In that second I imagined what would happen: he’d thud to the floor and look up, startled, and regret with the force of ten thousand Acts of Contrition the great and torturous pain he’d caused me for months. I imagined that he’d look at me as if for the first time, admiring my bravery and also my ability to be bad, really bad, as bad as he and Edric and even Johnathan Damiani were at their very worst, and stand up and kiss me the way he and every other boy on the junior varsity pee-wee football team, according to rumor, kissed Jennifer Williams when no one was looking.
It started the way it was supposed to start: Christopher’s knees bent. Christopher fell. His eyes rolled upwards and then, for a second, leftwards at me. Then his body thudded to the floor. And then there was another thud. And then I realized: he had hit his head against the corner of the desk behind him.
There was motion. Miss Hanks blurred into a run from her desk to our desks, then picked up Christopher’s head. Christopher’s eyes rolled around like he was dying. Jennifer ran for paper towels. Miss Hanks yelled “what the hell were you thinking” and the whole class gasped. No one knew what was worse: Christopher dying or Miss Hanks saying hell and not meaning the place in which we could spend all of eternity suffering. She pulled Christopher to stand and said that none of us, not a single one of us, were allowed to move or speak or anything while she was gone, and then there was the space on the floor where Miss Hanks and Christopher and his rolling eyes had been. And then I saw it: blood. Three small circles of blood, and inside of one of those circles, two small brown specks. They were from his brain. They had to be pieces of his brain.