She identified as neurotypical, female (pronouns she, her) and very clearly white. On the topic of sexuality, she was less certain. On the whole she thought she may be asexual but there was that troubling feeling she sometimes got when the marker squeaked on her skin that made her wonder if, perhaps…? Very little else touched her. The eraser of course, soft but firm, and once or twice a semester an alcohol-soaked cloth that left her wet all over and slightly dizzy. Apart from that it was just the markers and occasionally the fleeting bump of an elbow or palm on its way to something else, leaving behind a smudge of warmth that glowed in her afterwards for hours.

Neither the eraser nor the cloth, luckily, left her completely clean. She was a palimpsest, a sponge, a Rosetta Stone. After all, had she not absorbed the intellectual residue of so many, many, many classes over the years, she would never have become conscious at all. In the long quiet evenings, she liked to ponder on her favourite topics, feeling the summaries engraved invisibly on her skin. Factorisation was a particular delight. Those neat lines of numbers; the delightful tickling curve of brackets; the joy of making the complicated simple, of finding patterns. She liked to move from the long to the short of it. Also, there was something about the way the maths teacher used her that was … satiating. He would cover her entirely, almost to the point of writing in her margins, so that by the end of the lesson she was dazed, exhausted and replete.

She knew she was conscious (I think therefore I am; Philosophy 101, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 2:00) and more than that, she knew she was smart. Little wonder then that when people started talking about the Smart Board, she assumed her secret was out and that she was about to be recognised and even used to her full potential.

It was not to be.

The Smart Board was installed on a Monday afternoon and the skip was emptied on Tuesday morning. Her last night on this earth, she felt the spin of the planet, heard the cold high music of the Milky Way. When the sun came up, pulled by birdsong, she was overwhelmed. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive – as Wordsworth once said on some dull overcast Wednesday morning in Spring – but to be here had been very heaven.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on

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