I am a wanderer by nature. My feet tend to unconsciously take my body places I did not originally intend to go, my heart aches for distant lands, my brain yearns for new sights to process and experiences to learn from. Anymore than my body and restless soul cannot be kept in one place, my mind and being cannot be kept grounded.
…which is why things like this tend to happen during a particularly uninteresting class.
In a monochrome, grey, air-conditioned room, my eyes may appear to rest upon the screen before me, indicating that I am attentive and present, but as a monotonous voice drones on, my gaze minutely averts, flicking around the whitewashed walls and noting the exact shade of the floor while my imagination, inevitably, begins to wander. I watch as swirls of yellow reminiscent of jasmines begin to creep upwards from the corners of the not-quite-white walls, filling the blankness with vibrant hues. The floor appears to begin to fissure, cracks surfacing against the papered cream floors, a violent orange threatening to burst from beneath the cement like molten lava. Images of starry skies filled with falling comets crashing down towards me start to form on the ceiling. As much as I try, I cannot control the directions my brain chooses to shoot off towards when held inactive for too long.
Longingly, I glance briefly out the window. My vision becomes enraptured by trees swaying gently in the breeze, an azure blue sky with just enough fluffy white cloud cover to promise a pleasantly warm (not sweltering hot) day outside. What I wouldn’t give to be basking in the golden glow of the sun instead of the glare of electronic white light! It would certainly be far more rewarding than wasting away seated in a cold, understated room where the musty scent of unwashed carpet, underused air-conditioning and damp walls mixes in with the lingering smell of metallic steel that is often associated with computers. Outside, just within my line of vision, someone saws down a tree growing right next to the windows of the library. It tumbles over, toppling far too fast, and crashes directly into the green-tinted glass panes beside it. There’s the too-loud tinkering of shattering glass, the screech of tables and chairs possibly being thrown askew, then silence.
I blink, and the destruction is gone – the tree is upright and sturdy as ever in its place, windows of the library untouched apart from the occasional gentle scrape of the tree’s branches against it. The person with the saw is nowhere in sight. Realistically speaking, I suppose it would be pretty difficult to cut down a tree with a manual saw. I shake my head and turn my attention back to the lesson at hand.
The clock on the wall ticks with a slow, determined rhythm, as if taunting me and reminding me that every moment I spend cooped up in this building is another moment that I’m away from the somewhat fresh air (“fresh” being the relative term here) I look forward to taking in almost every second of the day. As I stare at the second hand moving at its uniform, agonizingly slow pace, the hour hand begins to swivel in the opposite direction. My eyes widen minutely before I force them shut, knowing it’s just another illusion – my restless mind playing tricks on me. But this time, merely blinking does not chase away the relentless imagined vision playing before me like a strip of film that doesn’t fit with a movie reel. The hour hand swings dangerously fast, picking up speed and spiraling around the clock face until it is nothing but a bullet-like blur, racing past the other two hands and setting the clock’s face slowly ablaze until the plastic covering it shatters, sending all three hands shooting out of it with alarming accuracy right towards me –
I snap out of it as the teacher calls my name. Yes, what was it? What’s the answer to that question? Umm, it’s A, ma’am. Yes, I’m sure. Thank you, ma’am.
The crisis averted, I stare up at the ceiling once more, and this time, I do not even have to wait before dark, ominous thunderclouds appear high above me in place of the plaster and electronic lighting. Fiery hail is swiftly approaching from above, falling rapidly but with the same slow-motion melodrama one is always subjected to watching in B-grade disaster movies. A hailstone crashes through the already scarlet sky, slamming down with incredible force onto the wooden table before me. The stench of melting plastic and rusting metal hits my senses as ember begins to catch on the notebook that I’m messily taking notes with. I feel the heat rising around me, fumes assaulting my nostrils and flames beginning to engulf my body, prickling on my skin painfully, and –
Just like that, as suddenly as it arrived, the visual vanishes. It is just me, staring at a brightly-coloured Powerpoint presentation, desk and computer fully intact, bitingly cold air raising goosebumps on my flesh instead of fire. Class is over. Wordlessly, I pack my bag, sling it over my shoulder nonchalantly, stand up and start to walk away. As I leave, I cast a final glance sweepingly back over the room.
“What you looking at?” one of my friends asks me, only half-curious to know.
I shake my head to indicate that it’s nothing.
“Dude, how were you not falling asleep just now? I was, like, dying already. That class is so boring.”
I shrug. “I dunno. Got a lot to occupy me with, I guess.”
My friends stare at me, dumbfounded.
I look over my shoulder one more time at the room, and am just able to make out the lava sprouting out of the floor, the bright-yellow swirls on the walls, my flaming desk, the shattered clock face, and the ruined library in the distance. I smile reassuringly to my friends and close the door behind me with a final click.
They need never know.