Counting

Alright, we’re back to normal around here today and posting about Writing. Actually today I’d like to share with you a piece I wrote while exploring character. The prompt was to write from the perspective of someone who is developing an understanding of what it means to be different.

This is a complete work of fiction. It’s not based on anyone I’ve known or taught (at least not directly) and any resemblance of anyone you’ve met or interacted with is purely coincidental.

247.

That’s how many steps there are from my front door to the front of the school.

It’s an average. That means some days it takes me more and some days it takes less. Average is my favorite measure of central tendency. It likes to pretend everything in life is fair and equal. It pushes all the data out until everyone has the same. I like that. My least favorite measure of central tendency is mode. Mode is just worried about which number is the most popular number. I don’t really understand popularity.

The first day of school it took me 285 steps. The second day I took bigger strides so it only took 228. On the third day it was 230. On the fourth day 245. The last day of that week it took me exactly 247. Ever since then I’ve been really counting to make sure it takes me exactly 247 every day. Some days I have to take big steps and some days I have to start taking small ones at the end, but it’s always 247 steps.

The girl who lives next door to me also walks to my school. My mom says she’s my best friend. She walks one or two sidewalk squares in front of me all the way. One street over another girl meets up and walks beside my neighbor. They walk so close they are practically touching arms. They talk about all kinds of things. I think that seems more like best friend behavior, but I’m not really sure. I haven’t asked them how many steps it is from their houses to the school. I’d like to know but Mom says I shouldn’t ask. She says counting steps is not something everyone does and asking them about it may make them feel different. I really think Mom’s worried it will make them feel like I am different.

Once I get inside the school I cannot possibly count the steps. There are too many other things for me to focus on. There are other kids and lots of noises and teachers trying to say hi. I have to remember which teachers like high fives, like the one by the cafeteria, and which ones prefer to have their fist bumped like a punch. I am too busy to count.

Counting is something that makes me feel focused and in control. I like that. I only really count things when I need to. I know there are 15 big rectangles on the carpet in my reading teachers classroom, but I don’t know how many there are in math. I know the Science teacher has three more than twice as many floor tiles as she has ceiling tiles. That tells me the floor tiles are much smaller. I have counted these things when I feel overwhelmed.

Mom says overwhelmed is something everyone feels. She says lots of people have lots of mechanisms they use when life gets too complicated. She says it’s okay for me to talk about those with people as long as I’m not too specific. I can’t expect everyone to count everything. I can’t expect everyone to understand why I count. I think I’d like to find just one other person who does. Maybe we could both count the steps someplace and see if our steps are the same. 

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