Writing The Self 3: Had They Known

Published by Jerico on

I look out the library window and watch the barren trees waver in the wind as the melting snow drains into the street in front of the school. Early March is when the snow starts to melt but the sun still doesn’t have the courage to shine past 5 P.M. The warm air in the library smells like fresh paper and trampled carpet. The rest of the kids in my class are mingling amongst themselves, deciding what books to buy or what gimmicky pens are going to smell the best. Anyone in my grade five class would tell you that the best time of year is the Scholastic Book Fair. The only time in a year that students would have a modest amount of money to buy whatever their heart desired. Many of my classmates bought whole volumes of Geronimo Stilton, Magic Treehouse, or whatever dystopian novel was gossiped about by the eighth graders. 

I, however, had no money for whatever I wanted. The only thing I could afford was for my eyes to gloss over the things I wish I could have. Even then, it was too much of a price to burden on my mind. Mama’s words still stuck with me from this morning. I had spent weeks letting Mama know that the Book Fair was coming up and that all the kids would be buying all the cool new pens. But this morning Mama sat me down and said something to me that made me understand: “Mama only gets paid once a month. Mama can’t spend money on what we don’t need.” I guess I don’t need the books all my classmates are reading, but it would be nice. I was too ashamed to let all my friends know that I wasn’t going to be buying anything this year, just like the last. I’ve experienced too much pity as it is. My friends just want to be nice and offer a kind gesture, but I only ever feel worse that I can’t buy something on my own.  

It isn’t enough for people with money to make themselves feel good with things they don’t need, but they need to know that if they could make a difference then they would. I don’t want to be some person’s source of catharsis – an easy way out of feeling guilty. I never asked for these people’s symbolic charity, yet I get the showers of performative compassion. Had they known how cold a room can feel when you can’t pay the heating bill, they’d yell at the companies who stopped shovelling the coal. Had they known how dry your throat can get when the water stops running, they’d destroy dams and redirect rivers. And had they’d known how it feels to watch others spend money on what they don’t need, they’d be looking out of this library window with me. 


Robin · March 17, 2021 at 3:37 pm

I’m at a loss for words, Jerico. Where do I even begin? Reading throughout all I could think was how wonderful this story was and how many good things I would have to say about it at the end. I love love LOVE your style of writing, and the voice you give to your stories. It’s so effective and concise I feel you know exactly how to say what you want to say & then get that point across in a manner that is so engaging the entire time. My eyes were glued to this short story, your word choice, your topic, all of it fit perfectly together making it more than interesting. What’s more than interesting? I’m not sure an exact word, but I know that this short story is. I understand all too well the feeling of kind pity from those closest to me for my own reasons, so I was able to relate to how it can make a person feel uncomfortable- even if they have the upmost wonderful intentions. Your last paragraph blew me away, it is unreal. It’s so quick and powerful and had such a fantastic Raytheon to it that it left me thinking “whoa” once I was done and nothing else but that for a couple minutes, which is the perfect way to end off a story in my opinion. My favourite thing out of it all is how you started and ended with the library window, going full circle really made me feel like the story was complete after it ended and the impression it left on me was so strong. You did an AMAZING job and I love the way you write so much I went on to real your self story #4 which I am also obsessed with, but we don’t have the time or space to get into that here haha! You have outdone yourself! PLEASE write novels so I can read more of your work! 🙂

Robin · March 17, 2021 at 3:39 pm

I don’t know what a raytheon is but that word was meant to be rhythm and autocorrect changed it on me lol!!!! I don’t know how to edit it so here’s a second comment?

robin · March 17, 2021 at 3:42 pm

Oh and how could I forget this!! I definitely felt like I was in the library with you, your description was perfect and vivid and helped me develop a clear image in my mind right away!! Okay I’m done now I promise?? I just have so many good things to say?

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