This is a fictional story but it’s also based on my own thoughts and experiences as a child.
John lived in two worlds, the one we all inhabit and the one inside his head. Each as real as the other, however the world inside was rarely chosen by him. It could be a happy place, full of wonder and beauty. But if he wasn’t careful, it could be a dark and isolating place, where thoughts could hound and corner him, leaving him cowering inside, frightened of even being seen.
He had spent most of the summer holidays in his room, intentionally separate from social interaction. But he was content, pouring countless hours into painting his figures with a precise touch. Each one as close to perfection as he could get. Lined up on the shelves that adorn his walls.
Time does not stand still and it can feel cruel. With every passing day the dread crawled it’s way into his mind, strangling his own thoughts, abrasive and unwanted. By the time it came time to return to school a war was waging. After all he had to follow the rules, he had to go to school, but school can be a very different place for some compared to others.
Each corridor and staircase is filled with dread, feeling like prey, walking into a predator’s lair. With each step his mind was screaming to him, get out, run away, it’s not safe here.
He finally made his way into the classroom, shaken from what felt like a wall of noise while navigating a swarm of people. He lifted his chair off the ground so the sound of the legs scraping against the floor didn’t get to him, placed it behind him and sat down. He could see the other children looking, not understanding what he was doing or why. These are not things he could explain. He had tried many times before but without hearing what he hears others just don’t get it, and deep down he knew that.
Hand shaking, he tried to follow the teacher’s lesson. But concentration was fleeting and writing difficult. The classroom wasn’t as noisy as the halls but it was still intense for someone that needed quiet.
Each part of the day had a different challenge, another battle to overcome. Words hurled like weapons, fists and feet not uncommon. Lunch time felt so intense for him. Sitting at the table on his own but with a heightened sense of fear. Overwhelmed by a noise made up of a thousand sounds. Watching everyone, trying to anticipate everyone else’s actions just to keep himself safe, because he really didn’t feel it.
By the time the school day was done, John was mentally and physically exhausted. Others had gone to school, he felt like he had gone to hell and back. Hiding in his room to recover, hand still shaking, he picked up his paint brush...
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Words – Ross A Fraser
Imagery – Ross A Fraser
Graphic Design App – Canva