I look down at the tiles on the sidewalk. Of course – I always look down at the tiles on the sidewalk. I wonder if, one day, they would suddenly say "hello". Why not? So much has happened already.
Today I am going to school. No; that's not quite right. Today is my first day of school here, at this strange place.
She didn't waste time on explanations. No-one ever does. It was just:
"Pack your stuff. We have to move."
Why are we always moving? Father says I was born to live, not run. But how can I not run when I'm on a highway? If I stop, the next car that comes along will hit me. Then again, that might not be a bad thing.
She is always running. Twice, three times, countless times now, I've been wrenched away from schools, friends, places… Why do I even bother growing roots? For the sake of life? I'm not a tree; I don't need roots. I know that. But it seems to happen by itself; I can't help it.
Is that what she's afraid of, growing roots? Not being able to run?
It hurts to be uprooted. You know.
Ah. Here is the gate. I go to the office. Someone hands me my schedule and tells me to look for the person who will show me around. I don't want to be shown around; I don't want to be here at all. But never mind. I'll pretend I'm part of the wall and maybe people won't notice.
But they do, or at least the person does. She says hello. I say hello back; it's not as if I have a choice. She asks if I'm alright, if I like the school. What am I supposed to say to that? The truth; that I hate it? That I hate the superficial smile stretched across her plastic face? In the end I tell her that I don't know much about it.
Wrong option. She starts to give me a history of the school that she must have memorized either for my benefit or for the History class. I'm not interested, but I listen. It might be good to know, if, after all, it was for the History class. However, I doubt it.
We are at the hallway now. Apparently my homeroom is somewhere near. She still drones, on and on about the principals, the teachers, the valedictorians…
What do they matter? Sooner or later nobody will remember. Sooner or later they'll be just nameless faces, or faceless names, taking up too much space in governmental archives. Sooner or later, their voices will fade away behind the veil of time. That's to put it in a pretty way. I would prefer to say that they would crumble to dust. Or perhaps our memories will fail us. Maybe that is the case.
We have fifteen minutes till the first bell. She asks me what I think. I don't say anything, because to say the truth would be to hurt her feelings. And there's no point in hurting people's feelings, is there? True, it adds some spice to life, but my life is exciting enough. Too exciting. Like an old Bond film. A broken videotape. A scratched record. It grates on my ears and I wish it would stop.
"I wish". Again with those two words. They don't mean anything, do they?
Oh, now she's tapping my shoulder. We have ten minutes, and she wants to walk back now. I follow her into the classroom. People are watching me. I suppose it must be my over-large schoolbag, or the suit that she insisted I wear. Either way, it doesn't matter.
Sooner or later, they won't remember.
I probably won't remember either.
But if no-one remembers, what is the point? Is there a point?
Father told me I was born to live. What does "living" mean? Is it what everyone is doing? Being born, getting into trouble, passing exams, failing exams, falling in love, starting a family, having an affair, getting divorced, arguing over child custody, running away, getting ill, dying?
If so, then there isn't much point. Mother has lived, for the most part, I think. Look at who she is.
If the only certain thing in living is dying, then what do we live for?
Father said, "To make a difference."
What kind of difference? A difference like Mother has made?
Or a difference…like Father's? To tell someone else to live, even though you're not sure exactly what it is, because it is only when you live that you can find the meaning of it?
I suppose that is true; I suppose you cannot search for an answer without an existence. But then I don't really know anything beyond grammar, French, Latin, calculus…
What do we know, really?
I suppose I have to live to find out, much as I hate it at this point of time.
Is that the "difference" Father meant? Finding out, and letting people know.
I don't know. I can't ask, either. Even if I dug him out of the ground, I couldn't ask. Dead men don't rise up and give you any answers. Maybe that's a good thing.
I don't know, and of course I can't ask. She would say I was crazy.
Does it matter, though?
The teacher enters the classroom and asks for my name. I wonder what my name means, but I answer anyway.
People want answers. It is better to give them answers; that way you don't get into trouble.
Though, I wonder – are there really any answers?
Should I live? Yes, no. Are they answers? Or merely choices?
There are a lot of things to wonder about.
Dead men don't give answers, but maybe living ones do.
Do you have any answers?