Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
The clock is mocking me. Its lopsided face sneers as he tut, tut, tut, tuts.
His twitching mustache ticks away my seconds.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. .
I’ve been daydreaming for too long, and I’ve attracted some stares. The mechanical invigilators tie their arms around their front, and they focus their glass eyes to tell me that I need to concentrate.
Forget the ticks. They don’t matter right now.
Focus on the books.
The ones that tell you the desperate facts of life. They’ve told me before that without these facts, life isn’t worth living.
“Read. Copy. Memorise. Forget.”
The key to life is Pythagoras’ theorem. Or knowing that the Mississippi river is 3734 m long. I used to know what the structure of an atom, but I don’t remember it now. I only needed it for my last exam.
Read. Copy. Memorise. Forget.
The invigilators are tightening my shackles now, to remind me that I’m here to learn these words for the exams in 3 months. Then I’ll learn the ones after that. Then the ones after that then the ones after that.
Nothing is more important.
Memorise. Memorise. Forget. Memorise.
But its hard to remember these ‘facts of life’ because I don’t care to know them. And these shackles are so tight, that I can feel my blood stagnating in my veins.
On average the body can hold 8 pints of blood.
Blood is necessary to transport vital substances around the body.
This is done via the heart.
The heart has 2 valves… no 3… 4?
Frustration, and cold panic floods my body, and turn my veins to ice.
The mustache clock ticks out a laugh, as his mustache turns on. and on. and on. and on.
I revert to my big-book-of-everything-I- need- to- know- to- be- a-success-in-life, and open it to biology.
The heart has 4 chambers.
But what’s this?
I haven’t read this before. And its confusing me, talking of the heart in a very peculiar way.
It says that the function of the heart is to love.
And its written in a way I do not understand. It flows just like the Mississippi i know all about, but Im at odds on how to learn it, because it is not written like facts.
The category is fiction, and there’s much more beyond it. Pages and pages that I have never read before of literature, poetry…
Words that make up paragraphs that silkily talk of things which aren’t true.
I have learned that around 60 million people died in WW2
I have learned that there are around 7 billion people in the world.
I know that science explains human behavior in terms of neurotransmitters, and chemical imbalance.
What I now read leaves out the facts, and strikes a feeling within me that brings me close to the brainwashed soldier who died with no name in the war.
That potently whispers about the poverty among others who have too much.
It talks of an outcast that science rejects, because it cannot explain him.
This section brings my facts to life. The Mississippi is not just a river anymore, but a living breathing organism that is personified to be more human than I am.
I open my mouth to the mechanical invigilators, tears springing to my eyes… because this is a section that cannot be memorised.
They rip out the section, and tighten the gag around my mouth.
‘Read. Copy. Memorise. Forget. Read. Copy. Memorise. Forget.’
They state in tired voices, which reverberate off the whitewashed walls.
But something dawns upon me, and I think that if facts are success, then success isn’t human.
I rip off my gag, but I’m still shackled to a life that needs me to Read. Copy. Memorise. Forget. Read. Copy. Memorise. Forget.
The invigilators hold me down, and try to re-gag me. Their pincers pinch my cheeks as they scream my life motto, and ultimate aim of my existence into my ears.
Read. Copy. Memorise. Forget. Read. Copy. Memorise. Forget.
I push them away, and pick up my book. The book of facts, and my life goal.
I throw it.
It breaks down the walls, and the lifeless invigilators melt into metal on the floor when the light from outside hits them.
Before the room splinters,the clock winks at me, its ticking mustache going just past the ’12’.
Then it cracks in two, with a feeble ‘toc’.
The sunlight blinds me, when the walls come down.
With all these facts, I almost forgot it existed. I remember it now, from when I was a child.
Before I turned 4, and they shackled me to an enclosed world where facts rein supreme and are shoved down our throats.
Aged people begin to surround me, all with hair white like the mudane room walls. Skin wrinkled like the pages of the’ultimate’ book . They walk- well more stumble- with an arched back, like they had spent a lifetime hunched over Reading. Copying. Memorising. Forgeting.
They hand me a mirror, but I don’t need to look to know that I am like them.
I know my life is encased in the book. The colour of the pinks, blues, and yellows my youth drained into the whitewashed walls, and powering the cogs of the invigilators everlasting watch.
I imagine the clock, with its mustache turning, and tutting about how I should have found those pages earlier… because every page I turned, and every tock that passed ripped my life away.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.