I have just arrived home from the hookah bar, my body went into convulsions, my legs, already working on will power alone gave out on me and I crawled the 20 feet from the front door to the bathroom. In my 29 years of life I have learned that proud men craw if they want to avoid death. I leaned my head over the toilet bowl and expelled bloody bile into the chemical blue water. My body felt like a furnace, heat radiated off of it like warm asphalt during a summer rain storm.
As I rested my head against the cool porcine, trying to not think of how unclean my room mates are, my eyes losing focus, it reminded me of a time long ago, when I was in Elementary school...
Elementary school was always a little strange for me. There were times when the adults would bring me into these rooms and have me put together handfuls of shapes into all sorts of configurations. Then they would say things like
“Have you taken this test before?” or “How are you doing this so quickly?” or “Are you sure you have not been shown the solutions?”
At the time I had no idea what they were talking about. Things like I.Q., gifted classes, and magnet schools were concepts that I had yet to discover. The only thing that concerned me was the fact that there were seven red shapes, four blue shapes, and two yellow shape one of them plastic and the other was a cut bit if cardboard painted yellow. The thing that bothered me was the fact that there were two different shades of yellow. I could jump through whatever little hoops they wanted, I was willing to be the strange disabled child that was both well spoken and unable to walk without swagger, but for the life of me I could not figure out why in the name of the old ones these people were not bothered by the fact that there was clearly a missing peace, they felt that a cardboard clone would somehow replace it, and while the cardboard clone did a good job of helping complete the shapes so they would form the patterns the adults would ask for every since told me that there was just something not right about it. The feel was not smooth, it smelled like paint and paper, it even sounded off when it was moved across the table.
When I brought this up to the adults asking them why they had done such a thing they told me that the other peace had gone missing and so they replaced it. I was overcome with confusion. My first line of questioning involved their lack of search parties for little plastic shapes, and how long was the little shape missing before they decided to replace it? I was told that because these particular adults move from school to school in an attempt to find students they thought to be gifted they were not in the habit of making the rounds to all the schools but once a year, so it must have gotten “lost in the shuffle.” It bothered me that this was somehow acceptable, the missing shape was given little to no thought, it was so easily replicable, I felt bad for the shape, alone lost somewhere without its clan, left to wander the classrooms or guidance councillor offices of some other school never to see its people again.
The next line of questioning I dove into involved asking them why they had chosen to replace the missing place peace with cardboard and not plastic. I was told that it was easier to just replace the peace with what they had on hand and that it made the set different, they had lost a shape and replacing it with a shape that was the same but slightly different was in a way like me being in a classroom full of “normal” kids.
It was then I felt my world shifted slightly at the implications of that statement.
Was there another me? If so what happened to the other me? Was there a “normal” me who was somehow lost and I was the replacement me? Was there a me that looked and acted like the “normal” me at a glance but upon closer examination would be easily noticed as something not quite like the rest of the kids, not quite “normal”? Was I that cardboard me?
They marveled at the deftness of my hand eye coordination and the ability for me to casually complete what they considered complicated puzzles, my surface thoughts focused on the tasks at hand and my inner mind clicked away at the possibilities that I was somehow a replacement unit for something, or in this case someone that had come before.
Later I would go to the library and research replacement people, and it would be by chance alone that after finding scientific journals on the concepts of cloning, books about working out to a new you and even books about androids that may or may not have been having nocturnal memories of electrical farm animals I stumbled upon an old book of folk stories and poems that made mention of something known as a changeling. A man by the name of William Butler Yeats had written a poem titled “The Stolen Child” that poem told the story of faeries who lured a human child away to there wild places to spare him the pain of dealing with the hard reality of the real world.
Often I have wondered if the “normal” me was spirited off to the happy land of freedom and dreams and a cardboard skin was slipped over some imperfect Fay child and left in the incubator at the hospital….
…It would certainly explain the odd bent goat legs I have anyway, my inability to fit into society in a way that is acceptable on anything more than the role of "What can he do for us?" type of a creature...
Oh well, regardless of if you are the original you, or some other you who is living the other you's life, as always all I ask, is that you, and you, and the other you, believe in everything.