What Happens When I’m really Bored

 16 of the 27 freshmen testing in my room wear hoodies today.  All of the males have sneakers on their feet except for two who sport shower sandals with socks.  The girls have more variety:  Keds, Uggs, Converse, Toms,  and a few pairs of laced boots. Some shoes rest on the chairs in front of them.  Others tapp on the floor.   Some knees bounce while others cross and uncross.  And, unfortunately, only five of them have books to read.  The rest stare and wiggle, or put their heads down over folded arms.  

Look at them, curved over their desks like cobblers.  Heads leaning over while fingers squeeze tightly around yellow pencils.  Ah, the factory model of schooling.   They plod almost silently.   There is an occasional sniffle, cough, or sigh. Pages turn.  Erasers squeak across booklets quickly followed by the sound of hands brushing away the pink crumbs. 

Seven skeletons hang from the ceiling, each representing a dead character in Hamlet.  A skull in the middle for poor Yorick.  I see college banners, more than one poster of Buddha, student work,  and a rosary tacked to the wall as I complete a circle around the unfamiliar class room.

One poster silently protests with the words, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”   How many of these kids feel stupid whenever they walk into this building?  How long have they felt this way?  

A thin cardboard protractor slides of a desk as a student turns a page.  He reaches with his foot to retrieve it.  He is wearing  bright white basketball sneakers. 


I have a particular question.  Why am I wanting to write in simple present tense when I am describing things.  Is this something I will grow out of?  As I get to be a better writer, will I find other ways to try to make my writing more immediate?  


6 comments on “What Happens When I’m really Bored

  1. Lisa says:

    I love how you wrote this in simple present tense. You captured so much of what school can be. I actually pictured the kids. Thank you for sharing!

  2. showgem says:

    It is a present tense story. I felt like i was with you noticing what was happening in the moment.

  3. I think your tense is fine and suits the piece well. I too felt like I was trapped in that room alongside you making these same observations. You drew me right in and that is good writing.

  4. Katie Diez says:

    I love that you found a Slice out of something that may have gone unnoticed to others. I will definitely keep my eyes open for more Slice-able moments in my own classroom!

  5. valsgalore says:

    I agree that simple present tense works for this Slice. It is not a story with plot or something that “happened” so much as it is something that “was ongoing.” So present tense in some way makes it seem more true to its nature. If that makes sense! If it doesn’t, you can simply accept my appreciation of the scene you’ve made seem so alive!

  6. Actually, I found your writing incredibly immediate and my stomach hurt a bit as I read it because it probably wasn’t unlike the scenes that my high school daughters described to me tonight at dinner. Loved the line: “Look at them, curved over their desks like cobblers. Heads leaning over while fingers squeeze tightly around yellow pencils. Ah, the factory model of schooling.” What a powerful and IMMEDIATE image. Really disturbing, actually.

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