Tied Up In Ticker Tape

I remember sitting in a physics lesson when I was younger, learning about equations of motion. I'd just started attending the church, and I was still flesh and blood; nothing to show for my three weeks of worship save a pair of singed eyebrows and an oil stain on my jeans. I was hooked, though. My notebooks were covered in doodles of gears and mechanical men with laserbeam eyes — whenever I went to sleep, I dreamed of stomping through the city, tearing up buildings and crushing cars. It was wonderful. On this particular day, I was already halfway to robot-land, my eyes unfocused and staring at the board while the summer sun beat down through the windows. Cogs and pistons blurred with coefficients of friction, and after twenty minutes of tedium I was about ready to face unconsciousness head-on.

At some point, the teacher must have noticed the class flagging — it was apparently not just me who was struggling to remain lucid. We were all still teenagers, after all, and our collective sleep schedules were frankly appalling. To add to the fug, British schools are not built for air-circulation: like much of our country's architecture, our educational institutions were designed to reduce heating costs in the winter as much as possible. Thick walls, thick roofs, and a hearty amount of insulating foam between the two. We could only pretend to be engaged in terminal velocities and two-part vectors for so long before the heat reduced our spirits to a kind of metaphysical slurry.

The man, bless him, must have understood this, and so he began to draw up a problem on the whiteboard, creating a little miniature narrative to grasp at what little attention we had spare. He'd use our names, and put us in ridiculous situations, each of us jerking upright as we heard ourselves referred to, putting in that little extra effort that marked the line between participation and absence. And we'd note down the diagrams, and we'd answer the questions, and eventually we'd run out of time and be allowed to slink off into the world of Anywhere But Here. And the stick-figures on the whiteboard, with their cannons and jousting lances and catapults, surrounded by shiny letters and numbers, would be erased.

Little facsimiles of us, drawn up for the entertainment of the real thing. Only existing in the first place because we couldn't be bothered to observe a world without them. Demonstrating a point, briefly, and then disappearing forever.

I don't know. I just thought it was interesting.

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