The Mock Life
The future or the past? Which makes more sense?
Characteristically you deal with situations the way that has come before, the circular relationship between a child’s actions and the actions of the parents. If your father is an asshole, this leads to the assumption that you will eventually become an asshole yourself. I’m sure Freud suggested that we long for our parents in our romantic lives, but I believe we do not long to love them but long to become them, because familiarity breeds content and we as human truly only strive to be content. Maybe the world has made us this way, our lives dictated and regimented by the world we live in. The cavemen and the explorers strived for more; it never ended well. Explores killed civilizations with a simple sneeze and the cavemen were often killed or eaten alive. Why challenge your destiny, destiny will always claim its reward. Maybe because why strive for more, because we know subconsciously that the ones who strive for more become outsiders, the free spirit in a prison of contentment. You inevitably become the characters that guide you, you become not quite replicas but copies of what came before, you will never break the circle, because inevitably we all live in a circle of destiny and life. Second to the debilitating fate that your parents unknowingly cast upon you, you’re a creature of your circumstances, you live in a dead end town, then that dead end is all your fated for. Your father is an investment banker, then you inevitably will become an investment banker, this is obviously if you’ve chosen not to become a "boy of the world"; a term coined to represent the rich boy (but not exclusively male) that chooses to cast his good fortune on the children of Africa, believing that his "generosity" will help them in there eternal struggle. Until he ultimately gets bored and goes back to table service in Mayfair. I myself fall somewhere between the two, not quite terminally unemployed but nowhere above a solid office job that will make me redundant at the tender age of 43, where I fall into crippling debt but refuse to sell the Mercedes that I bought second hand five years before. We’re all destined for a fate predetermined by the great all mighty lord or by the bank, characteristically limited to a life we know that will be unrewarding but will keep a roof above our heads and food in out stomachs.
So I’ll wake up in a room covered in posters of bands that I liked but never loved in my early teens but I refuse to take down because the familiarity of them after 4 years in almost deafening. I roll over, just slightly so that my head fills the crease in the pillow that I’ve carved with love and patience over the last three months, finding a nook that fits my neck perfectly, a hole that cradles my head like a new born baby, until that Thug of a mother I have chastises my room with her presence. Her smoke ridden, thudding, obnoxious presence that all to quickly dictates to me in a voice forced to sound loving, forced to be calm that it is nearly mid day and that no man who cares about his education should neglect his precious time with such idle reasons such as sleeping. The Thug leaves and I rise, some would compare it to the resurrection of Jesus, and I compare it to the resurrection of the dead. The air is stagnant but it still manages to catch the smell of stale smoke and mediocre perfume. I open the curtains, the sun doesn’t flood the room but trickles in, like a tap left running or the overflow of the guttering outside my window, just trickling its way through. The room now lit by a reluctant sun is still no more than a dark room, cluttered with posters and carefully crafted piles of clothes, no specific order but subconsciously I must disregard my clothes into piles. My subconscious clearly wants to help my mother when she tries to wash the mud and the sweat off my blue jeans or the stains off my work tops. Let's make it easy for her it must say, separate and arrange, be a good son. My conscious however pays no attentions to the whims or the needs of my mother. I sound bitter; I hear it in my own thoughts and in my voice. It’s not bitterness or reluctance to love but my overall and general lack of interest. Whether my clothes get washed does not bother me, it doesn’t bother me if we don’t hug or chat together as mother and son should do. Detachment is what I feel, not loathing or anger just detachment. Why care if everything is already planned and accounted for.
I scramble through the piles of stained and dirty clothes to find a top that is not quite as disgusting as the others. Then I wonder why my mother would let me sleep for as long as she did, if sleep is a task that gains no rewards then why indulge me in the glorious act of it. Why in fact make me attend school, I’ve missed nearly two thirds of today anyway, I’ve thankfully missed nearly two thirds of the hormones and narcissism that strives in the later teenage years, especially clumped together in a room no bigger than the size of a small bus. The Thug is a hard taskmaster; she won’t let me escape the education system much to my dismay. Because as she believes we are as smart, beautiful and creative as we strive to be; I believe we are born with specific set of skills that dictate what we can achieve and if this were a game of poker my hand would be at best a King high. Nevertheless I, a creature and a possession of my parents must fulfill the expectations of them and I shall achieve this by getting an average grade in my A Level maths exam. But first I must actually make it to my school, thus I begin the arduous journey to the hellhole, also known as Lady Sebastienne’s Academy. The reluctant sun that glazed my room is now dead to us, he and his glory have disappeared behind the clouds, goodbye Sun, we’ll see you in around five to six months. British weather as constant as day and night, never too hot to enjoy itself and never cold enough to allow us to get a day off. I stand not warm but not cold at the bus stop directly opposite my house. Looking at my house you’d think that maybe we we’re remotely interesting, it’s Edwardian, Thug likes to tell people that, my father even more so. I think it gives them the idea that we are put together, that we have class, well more than the people that frequent our lives. I think it’s average; it’s decent but not exceptional. The light red brick encase the average sized windows and the red door directly in the middle of the house is red like everyone else’s. Decent but not exceptional.
The bus pulls up, as the doors open the stench of body odours, cheap cologne and babies nappies that have been trapped in this considerably too small place erupt and explode through the tiny gap at the front of the bus, hitting me like a bat in the face. I swallow down the bitter bile that has risen up my throat due to odours that have fill every possible part of my mouth, nostrils, and eyes. I blink and try to focus of the music humming through my headphones. My bus pass is already in the palm of my hand, all this man has to do is look at it and let me on, that one simple act. I exchange pleasantries with the bus driver who clearly longs for human interaction as I climb on board. His blazer a little too tight and his sleeves way to long, he quickly learns that I am a man of few words. He looks at my pass and comments on my name, apparently he knows someone with a very similar name, not quite the same but similar. He offers this knowledge like this somehow might actually affect my journey and ultimately our acquaintanceship.
"Isaac Collins, a nice solid name you have there boy, biblical."
I honestly believe he means that, like my name dictates whether I'm a good man or not, my fate's already sealed, I think to myself, my name doesn't mean shit. While he continues regaling me with how solid my name is all I can think about is the small spot just below his nose that he clearly missed whilst shaving. Thankfully someone at the back of the bus, a man in a tacky grey tracksuit shouts how he has places to be. The bus driver shoots dagger eyes but the man is too engrossed in his phone and the music bellowing out it for it to cause any trouble. My headphones go on and my attention flicks to the lingering smell that sucker punched me earlier. This is what death smells like. Like body odour and shitty nappies. While I curate a list of things that probably also smell like death, the bus breaks, too suddenly for my liking and there it is, the glass box. It literally is a glass box, the old school burnt down a couple of years back due to a rouge Bunsen Burner, so we now have the glass version of a Rubik cube as our home for six hours of the day. The playground is swarmed, swarmed with bugs. Bugs, the loving name I give the underclassmen. They have no choice on their being here, sixteen and under and your trapped like a bug in a glass box. Good luck little bugs, I hope the world doesn’t crush you quite yet. Sebastienne’s has been my glass box for the last six years. Sebastienne’s eyes have seen my voice change; my skin clear and my penis unexpectedly become erect; and I was trapped for all them, the bug in a box that everyone could see into, a warped class experiment. Now it’s the larva's times to experience all these momentary life shattering events.
I may seem wildly charming but I am in fact a cynic, the world needs realists to keep the free spirits in the real world down. Despite my ever bright perspective on life, I am fortunate to have a select group of friends, a group formed out of the people that didn't quite fit anywhere else. As if by clockwork, they enter stage left. Daniel, a big boy both in the sense of height and breadth, he almost engulfs me whenever we're together, not out of dominance but because Daniel literally shadows anyone around him. We used to call him Lenny because he once killed his fish by picking it up out of the tank and playing with it. He just really wanted to help and look after Bush the fish but fate decided it was poor Bush's time to die and it was Daniel's destiny to kill him. Daniel was heartbroken for weeks, bare in mind he was six but this one story encompassed everything about Daniel, a misunderstood mythical creature. His mousey blonde hair always slightly too long to look tidy but to short to look messy. He never wore any colour but navy blue, always navy blue, never blue or black, navy only. Daniel looked even larger next to Ro. Ro short for Rohut was short and slender, he has never looked older than 15 and I doubt he ever will. Rohut's parents moved over from India with him when he was 3. He never liked to talk about India, if anything he actively rebelled against he heritage. He wanted to be the most western man in Shawnham. Shawnham being this little place we call home, a cesspit of the working class who strived to be middle class or even better upper class. He always wore the latest shoes, the brashest hats and the ugliest puffer jackets he could lay his hands on and today he had chosen the dreaded Grouch jacket. Named after the wonderful Oscar the Grouch. It always made me a little mournful when I saw him trying his hardest to forget his heritage, if anything it one of the more interesting thing about him. Then there was Nova, a goddess among men. We never really understood why she was our friend, she could have been friends with anyone but she chose lucky old us. She was tanned but in a gentle way, she glowed, angelic like, you know what I mean. Piercing blue eyes and jet black hair that floated around her shoulders. She was taller than Ro but that wasn't hard. Everyone liked Nova, she was a class A person, nice but not boring, interesting but not weird. Then there was Adam. Some referred to him as A-Dog, I always hoped that it was ironic, sadly not. Adam was the guy that people didn't like but they didn't not like him. If you wanted to be his friend it was only because he was a person that everyone had heard of. His brother Dan was a big deal apparently and that slight twinge of popularity must of trickled down to him. Nova was besotted with him, had been since we were kids so when she bloomed at fourteen she was easy picking for him. He was the complete opposite of me, blonde, green eyes, tall but not large, muscly but not fat. Handsome but not boyish. I think he started puberty at eight. He was always there but he was never interested in being our friend just lurking around Nova just guarding what he was his. He was a dick, we all knew it, so did Nova, but love is blind and that.
The bell rung and the playground dispersed like when you lift up a log and the insects run to their nearest hiding place. Suddenly it's just me, Ro, Dan, Nova and Adam and in the flash of a second we were late to class. My life seemed to consist of flashes of seconds and minutes that felt like an eternity. That's what happens doesn't it, when you’re a teenager. Everything feels fleeting, instantaneous or never-ending, no in-between when you're young, nothing is ever in-between and within a flash we've arrived outside our maths class. Quickly we're picked off by our vulturous teachers, each disappearing into the stomach of the beast and there I am, in class alone, the prey waiting to be devoured. Everyone's beady eyes on me, following ever footstep, every breathe, I dove for the nearest empty seat. Whilst swinging my rucksack off my shoulder onto the ground I nearly accidentally take out the short ginger girl in front of me. She's unfamiliar but I still feel no guilt. They tell us that the X and Y schooling system is just a way to spread out the student population but we all know which one is for the smart kids and which is for the lacklustre. I hung towards the bottom of the smarter side, mostly because my arrogance and lack of caring meant I was either being told off or just not doing the work. We sit and we work out of text books, my butt and the bottom of my back numb themselves around the forty minutes mark. Mr Jacobs just sits at the fronts and "replies to emails," we all know that he's shopping online but we prefer to pretend it’s a much more sordid affair. A couple of years back an old student started a rumour that he once accidentally put porn on the big screen. Turns out he didn't and subsequently the student got excluded for three days. But I think it says a lot when everyone believes a lie like that so easily. He's a perfectly normal man, normal clothes, normal short, back and sides but he's creepy, not like he's going to murder you but like he'd probably be into weird bondage. However, since the great scandal of '08 he never uses the big screen, too much risk some say. Those last twenty minutes speed by surprisingly, maybe I fell asleep briefly, whatever the reason I was glad to go to English.
English is the only subject I've ever had somewhat of a flare for, I'm not the next Salinger or Dickens but I am for damn sure a better writer than E.L. James. The English rooms were all in one big square, each room lurking in a corner waiting to be brought to life with hormones and excessive amounts of aftershave. It was nice to be reunited with people I actually like and or knew. The English department always smelt like damp, it's not hard for a place to smell like damp when all that is there is damp. The room's overall grey tone is helped by the depleting sunlight. We sit, we listen, we acknowledge occasionally and then we write. Nova manages to find me tangled up in my own thoughts in the middle of the damp drenched classroom. She always had a way of understanding that she didn't have to understand it all. She gazes at me and I see her gazing at me with those blue eyes of hers, it's more like a stare than a gaze but staring seems a lot less personal, nevertheless she's examining my face and I'm fully aware of what she's doing. Here's a fun fact about Nova, she's a really passionate girl, scratch that, woman; she'd be furious if she knew I dared called her a girl. She's passionate about art and books and films and politics and life basically so she's never just staring or gazing; she's dissecting ever part of you. It doesn't ever feel vulgar or intrusive just natural and I know exactly what she's doing. She's imagining the myriad of colours she could use to explore my face in a painting, or the endless words she could use to describe the mole just below my left eye, the lighting she'd use to highlight the slight crook in my nose. Nova doesn't do things just to do them, she does them to learn from them and to experience and everything that comes with it. I think that's why we've always got along, chalk and cheese and all that. I take on the world one thought at a time and she's fantasying about the endless possibilities. She's always looked to understand my cynicism and general lack of care for pretty much everything and I let her because she's the best part of me I guess. I understand she's not an actual part of me but if I could have one person tell the world about little old me long after I meet my untimely demise then I hope it's her, she'd make me sound fucking wonderful. I write some wishy washy perspective of a WWII soldier, not my greatest work to date and she just gazes and hey presto the school day is finished. The hoards erupt and disappear at an untimely rate. Within a flash, there is no one, just me and Nova and Ms. Johnston; the English teacher but she was far to busy marking to care whether we were there or not. Nova stops dissecting me and turns her head quicker than I knew was physically possible, I was genuinely a little surprised it didn't just snap off like they do in those old vampire films and there in his ever present glory was Adam. That was my time done, she began to dissect Adam, I could see it in her eyes not that I'm sure he noticed.
I checked my phone like any millennial does, no texts, no calls, no snapchats, no Facebook messages looked like I was in for a night of debauchery on Game of Thrones, I'm currently re watching the fifth season while I hastily wait for the sixth season. I begin walking down the scarily empty corridors seeing that school only finished a total of 30 seconds ago and there in the distance in Ro getting a bollocking as usual off of Ms Duncan for talking or being late; could be any reason really. He see me and begins his grovelling apology as he backs away from her as if she's a lion ready to pounce.
"Mate, that woman hates me, like really. She wouldn't be so uptight if she got laid." The venom seeped through his words. Ro never understood that not everyone's behaviour was dictated by sexual frustration like him. I ignore him because he's a tool most of the time, not that he means to be and then we walk out of the school, the echoing of the halls behind us and the great possibility of the weekend ahead. Ro obviously still wearing his bright green creature of a jacket. Ro brags about his latest "conquest" and I just stay mute, he may be a tool but I can at least give him the comfort that I believe him.