person feels a wave of heat through their neck and face when struck with a thought of their ex boyfriend. a ninth grader gives them a ***** look. person leans against a cold cinderblock wall and relaxes their face. focus on the empty space between the eyeballs and the brain. feel the limp arms and identify the beat of a pulse running through them. repeat after me: self care is boring.
paul laurence dunbar knows why the caged bird sings. he never wanted to be an elevator operator. it's a point of privilege. person asks a ninth grader if a bird could see the wind, the river, the sun. "oh... no..."
one thing person notices time and again is that when these students drop something they do not pick it up. they let someone else do it. where person is from it is not like that. students would not help person like that, they think.
person remembers one time, when they themselves were in the ninth grade, dropping their lunchbox in a crowded hallway and picking it up swiftly in the next step without slowing down. a tall boy behind them said "smooth". person felt proud at the time. person feels good remembering this.