Title Undecided by Squidmanescape
NOTE: This story is subject to acute thematic and story changes. If you like where the story was going and then I completely overhaul it, #1 Thank you and #2 make a comment about it.
I tend to flinch at loud noises. For some inexplicable reason, people tend to think that this completely colors everything I do. It does not. I'm a self-entitled narcissist because of personal choices, not because autism hijacked my brain and forced me into it. Most of the other people I know with autism have been so beaten down by constantly being told their opinions are wrong that they really don't care about it, so I'm actually a deviation from the norm in that respect.
That said, I went into secondary school with giant headphones on to absorb the sound of people yelling at each other. I had never done it before, but I knew that it would be louder in secondary than primary, so I had my parents buy me a pair.
I also had plastic rings with painted-on faces on my fingers. They were cereal rings. I had collected them because they were awesome and also because it was fun to pretend they were magic when I was something like 8. just to enjoy the surprised looks on people's faces. I decided to put my hands in my jacket pockets so I could save that surprise for later.
Walking down the hall with giant earmuffs on was fun, because people stared at me and they don't usually. It made me feel popular, so I smiled at everyone and they looked kind of scared because I was being weird. Then someone took my earmuffs off and then I got really overwhelmed.
The guy was one of those really tall guys who like to show that they're dominant by putting tiny people in pain. I guess he felt really good about himself, because he thought I couldn't hurt him. Except I had plastic rings on, and they were kind of like brass knuckles. I was also wearing boots. Hard boots. Long story short, he gave me back my earmuffs and I apologized profusely for hurting him. I think he might have been sad, but maybe he was angry at me and sad for himself. I don't know.
Some other students had alerted a teacher by this point, and the teacher said that I shouldn't punch people. Now that isn't true, but I tend to just pretend I think that everything grown-ups say is gold, because most of it is, so I didn't say anything back.
The teacher also said that I would probably get bullied because of my plastic brass knuckles. They don't really fit, so I promised to never wear them again. Then I went and read a book. I had a book, because I didn't have any friends, so I drowned my sorrows in books.
When first period started, I was bored and didn't listen. Then I kept being bored and not really listening. We had to fill out quizzes, but they were the kind of quizzes that I hated because they asked a bunch of questions that I didn't want to answer, like, "What's your favorite kind of music?" or "What's your favorite kind of food?" I don't like those because I don't want to choose just one. Eventually we all got homework and went away from the school.
A few people wanted to hurt me the next day, but they stopped the day after that. It was hard to bully me because there wasn't anything that would make me look sad. I'd become a master of smiling at mean people like that over the years because it made them angry. I did okay on tests and homework in the first few weeks, and I think I was in the top 20% of the class.
No one cared because they had friends they could talk to. Maybe they talked about me, but they never talked to me. I made up stories about certain people every day when I had finished all of the books I had brought, but I can't remember exactly how they went. For the most part, I buried myself in books and paid no heed to the outside world. I thought that would be how I'd spend my entire middle school career, but then they started playing loud music at lunch, and things got interesting.
When it started, I set my earmuffs to their highest setting so the noise couldn't possibly bother me. As the days went on, it got louder and louder. Maybe if I'd been like everybody else I wouldn't have noticed, but I can pretty much automatically tell when something's too loud. When it got to that level, I decided to take action and notify my guidance counselor.
Did I forget to introduce her? What a pity. Her name was Mrs. Well, and she was a nice person with black hair. When I came to her and talked about the noise, she said, "Why don't you come inside and sit in the classroom?"
I didn't have anything else to do, so I obliged. There were a lot of books there, and I made a habit of going there. After all, I didn't have any friends to entertain. Not that I needed to entertain, because everybody really seemed to like the noise. They would crowd around it at lunchtime like moths to a flame. In those early day, I sometimes wondered what they were doing, but I couldn't muster up the courage to go and look.
About a week after they had first started playing the noise, I mustered up the courage to ask Mrs. Well. This was a confession that I was willing to be guided by her hand, and I assumed she wouldn't take it as seriously as I did. Her cheerful smile and exuberant manner immediately showed me I was right. She said, "See, NAME, people like to listen to music, and so we play the music loud so everyone can hear."
"However," I said firmly, "it is possible for people who want to bang music into their ears to just use their phones, right?"
She got a pinched on her face, and I wondered why. "Do a lot of people say that?" I blurted out, and as my reward, she no longer looked pinched.
"Yes. I'm not the one responsible for the school rules, though, so I can't really change the no-phone policy."
"Why do people ask you to change it, then?"
A weary smile crossed her face. "You know, a lot of children at this school treat the staff badly. At least you don't."
"Honestly, Mrs. Well, I think the only reason that happened was because the staff has to babysit me all the time, so I feel obligated to be at least a little deferent to them."
"Still, you could treat us all like servants."
"My parents say that sometimes, but then I remind them that they were the ones who made me do chores. And they say 'both' in place of 'all'."
She beamed at me. "You're a nice person. Don't change for anyone."
I thought that was a mean thing to say, because if I hadn't changed for my parents and my teachers, I wouldn't have been nice. Still, she was the teacher, and it wasn't like she had created the idea of people being inherently good or bad, so I smiled back at her.
After school, when the noise had been turned off, I was still burning with curiosity. I decided to look for some student to confront about the noise. I found one and I asked him, "Why do they play music loudly at lunch?"
He looked at me snobbishly and said, "Dude, do you ever have fun?"
I assumed by that response that he found the music fun. I asked a second question, pretending to tie it to his response. "Well, does it have to get progressively louder to be more fun?"
He looked at me quizzically now. "It's getting louder? I didn't notice."
"Yeah." There was nothing more to say. I was about to walk away when I remembered to thank him for the information. "Thanks."
"Yeah, dude, anytime."
I was walking away, thinking about why someone would need to constantly make noise louder, when a goose flew overhead. Its raucous honking jolted my thought process, and that's when I realized the cord of the boombox that played the music was connected to the roof. I didn't pass the lunch area when I walked home, so I had always thought it was connected near the ground. The fact that it was connected to the roof didn't make any sense to me, and so I spent my walk home thinking about it.