Because the day, it was school. It was the bells too loud or rattly in broken speakers that would never get fixed. It was the bad floors squeaky and footprinted, and the bang of lockers. It was writing my name in the upper right-hand corner of the paper or Mr. Nelson would automatically deduct five points, and in the upper left-hand corner of the paper or Mr. Peters would deduct three. It was the pen just giving up midway and scratching invisible ink scars on the paper or suiciding to leak on my hand, and trying to remember if I’d touched my face recently and am I a ball-point coal miner on my cheeks and chin. It was boys in a fight by the garbage cans for whatever reason, not my friends, not my crowd, my old locker partner crying about it on the bench I sat on freshman year with a gang I barely see anymore. Quizzes, pop quizzes, switching identities during attendance when there’s a sub, anything to pass time, more bells. It was the principal on the intercom, two whole minutes of ambient hum and shuffling, and then a very clear “That’s on, Dave” and it clicking off. It was a table selling croissants for French Club knocked over by Billy Keager like always, and the strawberry jam a sticky stain on the ground for three days before anyone cleaned it. Old trophies in a box, a plaque with this year’s names waiting to be filled in on the tag, blank and coffin-shaped. It was the deep daydream and waking up with a teacher wanting an answer and refusing to repeat the question. Another bell, the announcement “ignore that bell” and Nelson scowling “He said ignore it” to people zipping backpacks. It was the paperwork in homeroom, stapled together wrong so everyone has to rotate them to fill them out. It was the bullshit and the tryouts for the school play, the banners with the big game Friday and then the big banner stolen and the announcement to rat someone out if anyone knew anything. It was Jenn and Tim breaking up, Skyler getting his car taken away, the rumor that Angela was pregnant but then the counter-rumor, no, it’s the flu, everyone throws up with the flu. It was the days the sun wasn’t even trying to get out of the clouds and be nice for once in its starry life. It was wet grass, damp hems, the wrong socks I forgot to throw out and so now found myself wearing, the sneaky leaf falling from my hair where it had nested for hours to surely someone’s delight. Serena getting her period and not having anything for it like always, scrounging from girls she didn’t even know during second. Big game Friday, go Beavers, beat them Beavers, the dirty joke so boring to everyone but freshmen and Kyle Hapley. Choir tryouts, three girls selling knitting to help people in a hurricane, it was the library having nothing to offer no matter what needed looking up. It was fifth period, sixth, seventh, clock-watching and cheating on tests just because why not. It was suddenly being hungry, tired, hot, furious, so unbelievably startling sad. Fourth period, how could it be only fourth, is what it was. Hester Prynne, Agamemnon, John Quincy Adams, distance times rate equals something, lowest common whatever, the radius, the metaphor, the free market. Someone’s red sweater, someone’s open folder, it was wondering how someone could lose a shoe, just one shoe, and not see it when it was hopeful on the windowsill for weeks. Call this number on the bulletin board, call if you’ve been abused, if you want to kill yourself, if you want to go to Austria this summer with these other losers in the picture. It was STRIVE! in bad letters on a faded background, WET PAINT on a dry floor, big game Friday, we need your spirit, give us your spirit. Locker combinations, vending machines, hooking up, cutting class, the secrets of smoking and headphones and rum in a soda bottle with mints to cover the breath, that one sickly boy with thick glasses and an electronic wheelchair, thank God I’m not him, or the neck brace, or the rash or the orthodontics or that drunk dad who showed up at a dance to hit her across the face, or that poor creature who somebody needs to tell You smell, fix it, or it will never, never, never will it get better for you. The days were all day every day, get a grade, take a note, put something on, put somebody down, cut open a frog and see if it’s like this picture of a frog cut open. But at night, the nights were you, finally on the phone with you, Ed, my happy thing, the best part.