A Story On Tahiti Using No Pronouns
It’s the bend, right at the crook, at the twist of her neck that’s so important, the boy thinks. He thinks that he knows that it’s important, to watch this right now. The back of the neck with sharp lines running up and a curl of a hair running down. This has to be important, otherwise he wouldn’t be looking. Otherwise the boy would be looking at everyone’s papers, like he usually does in all of his classes in all of the subjects that he doesn’t like to think about, but he’s not and it’s her neck instead. His eyes follow the lines up and down, and he thinks that this is nice.
A nice neck. That’s all. That’s all he’s thinking; that it’s nice. Like the other parts of her that it connects. The head to the neck to the shoulders curving inward. Curving over the paper in front of her. In front of him. And that’s all, he thinks. There’s no more to say than that. Just that it’s nice, and he leaves it at that.
And looks up. The instructor isn’t looking at the boy. She’s looking out the window, and he wonders what she’s thinking about. Not that he particularly cares, but more that he’d rather think about that than the blank paper in front of him. And so he starts to think that maybe she’s thinking about the seeds she planted in the garden last weekend and if she’d put enough fertilizer on them. Because the boy thinks that that is exactly what he’d be thinking about if he was forty and a writing teacher that wears earth tones and clogs. He’d be thinking about a garden or the things he hadn’t done in life, because that’s what looking out a window is for. But maybe that’s just the boy and his biased view on windows. And the boy’s thoughts continue with the teacher and he thinks that maybe this is what he has to look forward to; looking out of windows when he’s forty, like this teacher is looking out of the window now. He thinks about this, a little longer, letting his thoughts stay on her, until he begins to think that these thoughts aren’t as pleasant as the girl’s neck, still bent in front of him, more curls dropping down. Nor is it as pleasant as looking at the rows of desks in front of him, with person after person curled over a paper. And he thinks that all of them will probably end up in clogs and socks made of natural fibers, but that doesn’t bother him right now. That’s still years down the road, the boy thinks. There’s plenty of time before that.
So instead he wonders what they’re writing about. And the boy thinks he knows what they’re writing about. And he thinks that they’re all writing about love, because that’s all people write about. That’s what all stories are about. They’re about the mother and child and lover who went away and the hole in the heart. And if it’s a good story, the heart literally has a hole in it, because that’s how good writers write, and if it’s a bad story it will end with a kiss in the rain, but ultimately, it’s all the same. Each huddled writer over each huddled desk writes about love. That’s all that we really do, in the end, at the end. Self love, paternal love, lover love, mother love, lost love. It’s all love. And everyone’s writing about it. They’ll say they’re writing about the assignment, “a story on Tahiti using no pronouns,” which the teacher in earth tones looking out the window wrote on the chalk board. But it’ll be about love. Even the girl with the beautiful neck. Only, the boy thinks, that he would like to read her story anyways. Hers would probably be really good. So good that he might even consider reading it twice. And he wonders if she’ll let him, read it twice. Or even once. He thinks he’d be happy with once, but happier with twice, and thinks this until the bell rings, and he stuffs the blank paper in his pocket and follows the other kids out of the class.
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Portland Fiction Project
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