I am, once again, sitting at my desk in kindergarten, attempting pay no attention to anyone around me. I do this well. My pockets are full of knick-knacks and I have one of those round, metal pea-whistles that gym teachers use to shut people up. The wooden ball inside rattles around and I'm wondering how it got in there. It's too big to fit through the air hole, so there must be another opening.After a thorough inspection, I deduce that the ball must have been put in the whistle before it was fully pieced together. The edges of the whistle are tight but it's clear that the whistle wasn't manufactured in one single piece.
The teacher continues to talk, given some lesson, to which my young, distracted mind is not privy.
I like to draw. I like to draw so much that I always have a pencil and a sheet of plain white paper--and I mean plain white, not ruled, not lined, not tainted with any pre-artistic renderings; it's just white. So, I decide the best way to examine my whistle is to draw its parts and try to figure out how it goes together. Beginning with the easiest bit, I turn the whistle over on its side and begin to trace the outline. Who needs that freehand methodology when you have a live subject to trace?
After the pencil makes it all the way around the whistle, I look at the result and I'm disappointed. It's not right. The outline is too big and some parts are jaggy, especially around the back of the whistle where it has a chain knob that got in the way of my pencil. I try again. It's still not right. Again, I trace the whistle. And again. And again.
As I'm tracing the whistle, the room is getting louder. The teacher isn't the only one talking anymore. Everyone is gabbing randomly at each other. Two voices next to me blend in with the four to my other side. Further voices mingle in with the fray to contribute more chaos and wild confusion. I'm now tracing faster and faster, trying to focus against the verbal cacophony around me. Soon, there is no more room on the paper to put another prototype of the whistle and I start to overlap my tracings. Now, my paper is coated with graphite in big swirly masses and subtle hints of form. The noises grow louder and I cannot distinguish any of them. I cannot focus with all this racket!
I pick up my whistle and blow. I blow hard and long.
For a second, my mind melts into peaceful focus and I see the inner workings of the whistle. The whole system is clear, brilliant, beautiful, a perfect machine, perfect in its simplicity.
"Who did that!?" This from the teacher, who was looking the other way when I ripped the atmosphere with rolling metallic ringing.
Every single student in the classroom raises an arm and points directly at me. They hold this pose for, what seems like, several minutes. I'm surrounded from all directions by pointed fingers and glares. Nobody is smiling; all are accusing.
Suddenly flustered by the onset of guilt and shame, I fail to notice the teacher standing in front of me, demanding my whistle. I just stare straight through the statue-esque figures and absorb what remains of the silence. The teacher raises her voice several times, each time louder, sterner, more an echo of impending punishment. Finally, I am jarred to reality and I loosen my grip on the whistle. She snatches it away and it's gone. It's all gone: the whistle, the perfect image of the mechanics in my mind, my inner tranquility, my dignity, my desire to explore the unknown.
I am but a boy, one breath away from living. I hold that breath within me, tightly, fiercely, unwilling to release myself into this unwelcoming world again.
Everyone looks away. The noise continues as if uninterrupted.