Short Story #9

Content warning: none

Please keep in mind that this is a piece of fiction, and is meant to portray a characters experience with a mental health disorder/learning disability.


There are many times when I wish I could speak. 

Our desks in my high school English class had been rearranged into the dreaded class discussion circle. My teacher organized them in such a manner as to facilitate a normal conversation. 

I usually sit at the desk in the back of the room, but in the circle everyone can see me. Everyone can see the desperate look in my eyes when I want to give my input on a book. I love to read. I’ve read every book under our classroom’s syllabus so many times over, imagining all the different facts I could retort about symbolism or irony in the text, but I can’t. 

“What are your thoughts on the symbolism of the windmills in Don Quijote, class?” my perky, loud English teacher asks. 

The class remains silent for one long, awkward minute. Had nobody read the book? I felt it’d be easier to avoid eye contact like I usually did, and I looked at the cold gray tiles on our classroom floor. I didn’t want people to see my yearning to speak, I was already alienated enough. 

“Really, no ideas?” my teacher asks again. Everybody looks around the room, staring into the walls behind them, away from the center of the circle, but I pound my desk out of frustration. These people were given the gift to speak and are choosing not to use it? The way everyone looks at me after I pound my desk with slight confusion is so frustrating. How could they not understand that I was an autistic boy who just wanted to communicate and talk about something I love, but can’t? 

I decide in this moment of frustration to write down my ideas on a lined sheet of paper in my bag. I hold it up around the classroom to my apathetic classmates, but my teacher looks very impressed. 

“Yes, the windmills do represent Cervantes thoughts on Spanish Aristocracy” I smile the biggest smile ever amongst my expressionless classmates. I had expressed myself, and although it would never be talking, there is beauty in the way I did it.

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