Safety in Books

[Previous: For the Record]

Dear Whatever,

I finally had a break. After two weeks of Hell on Earth, the Mock Exams finished. I came out of it with one pen left. The others disappeared as the last week went by, because for some reason not a single person in my vicinity was capable of remembering that you need to actually write things down.

Things actually went okay in the second week. I didn’t have any more trouble with, well, anybody. It made for a relaxing, eventless week, and it feels weird to acknowledge that sometimes those actually happen. I suppose it helped that for the past week I’ve been able to listen to some vinyl records and relax at home, and my parents were supportive.

It really was a weird week, actually, now that I look at it like that.

We’re finally into the midterm break, though, so I don’t think it’s that important that last week didn’t suck as much as every other week. I can do whatever I like this week. I have a whole week to myself and the music, and I think I’m actually going to let myself enjoy it.

I just spent the entire day playing the ukulele, for the first time since last summer. I’m still not very good, but I like it. It relaxes me. It helped that I was home alone, so I didn’t need to worry about my mum or dad telling me to – and I quote – “cut out that shit.” I swear, if it weren’t for the record player last week, I wouldn’t think they cared about me at all.

(You know, aside from the lifts to the bus stop, and the dinners, and them not planning on kicking me out, and how they keep reminding me that I need to remind them how much my college fees will cost so they can plan in advance. All of those things that feel like they’re supposed to do them anyway. They don’t really seem to matter so much when I’m not allowed to have a hobby that involves me being in the house. Anyway.)

I decided that, in the spirit of not being scared of books when I go to college, I would start reading a bit more. We’ve been looking at some books for English, obviously, but I thought it might be a good idea to read a little more broadly. Neither of my parents are big readers, but I did find a copy of The Great Gatbsy on my dad’s locker. I think he bought it when he saw the film, because he thought he might enjoy it, but he hasn’t touched it since then.

All I’ll say is, in the tiny bit of the book I’ve read so far, there has already been the funniest case of drink-driving I think I’ll ever experience in my entire lifetime. Ever.

All in all, it’s been a good few days so far.

I’m trying not to think about what school will be like when we go back next week. I don’t want to get my results from the Mocks, and I don’t want to have an enormous pile of homework every night. Again. I don’t want to have to study all the time – not that I can, anyway. Whenever I try to study, I get distracted. I think the last time I tried studying before the exam pressure sank in, I ended up looking at videos online in a desperate attempt to not look at anything to do with Chemistry.

I actually started with good intentions. I tried to learn something from videos about what I was studying, but I eventually just turned to watching other videos. I went on a retro-buzz for a while, too, looking at some of the videos that were popular a few years ago that keep popping up every now and then.

Honestly, I don’t know how I’ll manage trying to study when it actually means something. And I don’t just mean for June. I mean, what about when I get into college and suddenly I have to try remember everything about everything. (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating slightly. Just most of everything. If that’s a thing.)

The worst part about going back will be the other students. As the Mocks came to an end, I got off light. We weren’t all always in at the same time, and it meant I was able to stay away from them. The library was, and will always be, my friend, I think. It seems like it’s the one place in the school where I can avoid persecution, because the librarian is the only member of staff that isn’t inanely oblivious to bullying. I think that’s mainly because she hates when people make any sort of noise in the library, including the sounds of punching, kicking, or screaming.

I try not to think about it.

I just sit in the library, usually just writing in the notebook I’m supposed to keep as some sort of diary – that’s you, Whatever – and let my social toxicity protect me from ever having to sit beside somebody. Not that anybody else ever comes into the library. It’s both a worry and a comfort that libraries and bookshops will be safe havens for me from the people I go to school with, because practically no one in this whole damn place actually reads for pleasure. I mean, I know I’m not a bookworm myself, but at least I understand the importance and value of books a bit more than they do, and relish in the protection offered by aisles of books stacked up high.

At least if I’m reading a bit more I won’t have to worry about the librarian getting sick of me never actually doing much else in the library than write in a notebook and do my homework. Who knows, she may actually smile at me for once. It would make a wonderful change.

That’s my goal for next week, Whatever. A smile.

Until then,

[Previous: For the Record]


About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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