6th Grade Slump

Ants know everything and hardly anything all at once. They know loyalty, hard work, problem solving, and great loss. They know the movement of the earth and the soil is their home. I trust ants.

As I wait for the school bus, I top the small sand hills with rocks, and watch all hell break lose. I cover them fast, as many as I can. I hear the brakes, so I scurry down the gravel drive, slowing as the pavement approaches. “Always be at least 6 feet away from the school bus.” My eyes droop, eyelids heavy. As I approach the doors, I can see my seat is empty. It takes 2.5 large steps before I’m sitting at the window. My best friend gets on in 12 minutes and about 37 seconds. She pauses as she goes by my seat, right behind the driver. Again, she asks, “are you ok?” and I nod, per usual. My shirt collar is relatively damp already and it’s only 7:37.

My teacher is my number one fan, and also my only fan right now.

Maybe she can see right past my soaked collar and heavy eyelids. They’re so heavy today.

The school days all run together, in a string of watered down paints. The clouds push down on my chest and when the pressure system changes, it pours. I wait for the bell, as if I have counted every minute before it.

Recess is like blobs of oil paints mixed with water; if you were to tip the palette, the water would run quickly, leaving behind a thick goop. The goop slips over the palette slowly, staining everything in its path.

Lunch is bland, more than it should be. I sneak to the edge of a table in the back. Far enough to not be joined, but close enough to not stand out. I chew slowly and spend the minimal amount of time eating the minimal amount of food. 12 minutes and 47 seconds is how long it takes the clock to set me free.

Class time goes by in a smoke. Nothing said, nothing obtained. As the time approaches to switch rooms or activities, the thick smoke lifts enough to crawl slowly beneath it. Creeping for the exit.

In the bathroom, I soak my collar. I use 4 swipes of tissue and then call it. Girls come in and out, but don’t say much. That’s ok. I’m in the 6th grade, I can handle it myself.

I sleep the entire way home. The clouds, the fog, the sticky paint; they all make it so hard to keep my eyes open. My eyelids are so heavy. My little sister shakes me awake.

At home, I go to the backyard. The ants are still there. They persist even when I apply pressure. I should learn from ants.

I cover my inhales, trying to keep quiet. Mommy might hear me. She can’t hear me because then she will ask me what’s wrong, and I don’t know the answer to that question. Maybe someday I will know the answer, but for now, it just has to happen.

I lay in the grass and the ants crawl over me, as if I were just another pebble. I am just another pebble. Ants know everything and nothing, all at once. I trust the ants. The ants know me, so I wish they would put me under one of their sand hills.