They're laughing loudly. They're probably discussing politics, satirising in that way only academic students can do. I want to join them; I do, after all, know several amusing anecdotes about several world leaders. Sometimes I think I read too much.
But I don't join them. I'm not expected to and, somehow, I don't want to. I can step back easily and look at them. They're children, so ruled by their emotions and opinions that objectivity is an unknown to them.
Our teacher of philosophy once told us something about statues. "Their appeal lie in their coldness, their unreachability. Like masks, they're something dead with life behind it." Relatively simple in comparison to what we would later study, but it stuck in my mind.
I remember thinking that it was also the tragedy of statues. Their creators made them to be loved and admired, yet they are placed on distant pedestals to be watched or mocked, depending on taste.
Or maybe I read too much of my own thoughts into it. Maybe I'm not viewing it objectively. Hypocracy and arrogance, my fatal flaws...
So back to real time. They've fallen quiet aside from the occasional giggle or exuberant outburst. I sit by myself with a book - currently "The Wicked Day" - and pretend to ignore them. Pretend not to be listening.
Pathetic, I know, but I'm not expected to care. I've never exhibited caring from the first day they met me, and should I do so now... Well, none of us would know what to do.
So I sit, pale and distant, uncaring to their worldly troubles. I was actually once told I seemed ethereal. I think it's ridiculous; it was a comment from an overly poetic acquaintance, so admittedly one cannot place too much faith in his observations.
He told me I was cold and distant; ethereal.
But I'm neither, really. I'm all too present, dragged from my childhood worlds and people. And cold... Oh, but I wish I were. I'm too much in turmoil.
Thus to concede to his compliment would be lying. I try not to lie; it's much easier - and, yes, more brutal - to tell the truth. Honesty is a virtue, except when you say the things others do not want to hear.
I've never been a virteous person.
Maybe I was warm once, when I didn't have to wear this treacherous marble facade that is so hard to crack from either side. But alas, children are cruel. I don't think adults realise how cruel - school is a world outside their own, with a hierarchy as rigid, brutal and senseless as that in a prison.
And just like a prison, so very few escape without scars.
But I am patient. And I am cold. And I am uncaring. I learned to be that way quickly, after I realised I lost my novelty if I never responded. And I never escaped the stone I built around me; forever caught in suspended animation due to foolish things said by foolish children. It's one story among thousands, some much worse than mine, but I've no interest in the tales of horror from others. I don't care.
So I let them talk, and never move to join them. This is who I am; this is who my past has made me.
Such a sweet, distant marble facade; such a cool, demeaning posture; such a frightening look in uncaring, shielded eyes.
Such a pathetic statue.