Day 6: How was your characters childhood? Write a scene about them as a child. How was their home life? Their family? Their upbringing? Where did they grow up? What friends did they have?
Primary school was pretty normal for me, really. I played, fought, bullied and got bullied. The whole thing was just normal. It was only in my first couple of years of secondary school that I really started to feel different.
“Genius” is a word we here a lot these days. Footballers, actors and musicians can be geniuses in their fields as much as physicists or biologists. I don’t mind that so much, but I did mind when it started being applied to me.
Thing is, when I was about 11 or 12, I started being able to answer questions. Any questions. About anything. If you asked me a question on any subject, I could answer in a snap. I didn’t really know how at the time, but I just could.
They pushed me into advanced programs and gave me extra homework and the rest of it. It was all very scary and exciting for a kid who was being told he was the best in the class, school or school history. Of course, that was when the beatings started. A day didn’t go by where I wasn’t bleeding, bruised or humiliated in some new and creative way. It’s funny how the stupid kids come up with the most inventive tortures, isn’t it?
Then I began to fail all of my advanced classes and a few of my normal ones. Since I just knew things, I’d stopped studying. This was fine for the simple, direct questions where they ask “who” “what” “where” or “when”. I had no real grasp of the answers I was providing, so I couldn’t analyse them in any real way. When I got all those pesky “why” questions I had absolutely nothing to say.
That was when they started testing me for autism and other learning disorders. They poked and prodded me; gave me a tutor, councilor and a “specialist”. It was never explained to me what his specialism was.
None of this helped with the daily beatings, of course.
One day I was putting on my shoes for school. Dad was usually still in bed while mum prepared me for the day. My older sister usually left half an hour earlier than me. That day was different, though. I had pulled on one shoe by the front door when I heard my mum call me into the living room. I answered its call immediately since adolescence hadn’t yet stripped it of all its power.
There they all were: mum and sister sitting on the sofa and dad in his time-worn armchair. He told me to sit. I did; on the floor by the cold fireplace. They told me that I would be changing schools to one that was much better suited to me. Somewhere were I could get more help. They didn’t tell me that the school board had voted to have me removed as a “divisive element” or that the counselor had given up on me. They just told me that I was going to a nice place, and that I’d sleep there during the week as it was very far away.
I remember sitting there on the cheap carpet wearing one shoe and one white sock and wondering what I had done wrong. Of course in hindsight, that was probably the most important day of my life. And maybe the worst.