Slice of Life

52 cards in a deck.

Thirteen years old and miserably self-conscious, plagued by narration. Circles the room three times, cracks the knuckles of his hands in order, pinky to thumb to thumb to pinky, touches ear, cheek, hair, cheek, hair, ear. Rehearses the answer to any question. How dare you have a new shirt. Why did you change your hair. You look different today. What are you looking at, where have you been, what are you thinking about.

No one ever asks.

Sullen drip of a midwinter rain. The walls sweat and everything smells like mildew. Sneezes until his nose bleeds, then pulls out a long red slug of a clot, glistening and bright, his nostrils swelling and closing around it. Hands chap and crack. Knuckles bleed. Dark in the morning, grim at lunch, dark in the afternoon. One of the tall kids pulls a boundary sign out of the ground in a fury and advances on the principal. Good singing voice, high and sweet, but surly.

Always tired. Always so tired.