The English Classroom


I couldn’t hear anything. Music was blaring into my ears. I can’t remember what it was, but it numbed the outside world. I remember standing on the escalator and looking across the shopping centre foyer. Just a stream of images flashing buy: people buying things, mothers resting their arms around the shoulders of their children, and friends taking photographs of one another. Everything seemed normal and nothing seemed irregular. Just another day, I guess.

As I stood on the escalator, two men were looking over the side of a balcony, glaring at something out of my sight. And then a woman joined them. Three women who worked at the café ran out, abandoning their stations to look down at this strange abyss. The music continued to play. A woman looked up and began pointing. Above me, a group of men, maybe in their 20s, were looking down over the fifth balcony. Their faces were contorted into shock and confusion. One was biting the ends of his fingernails. Another was lightly combing his hair with his fingertips.

My feet roll off the escalator and I peer over the side of the balcony. Below is a white tent in the foyer of the shopping centre. All eyes are on this tent. I tap someone on the should and ask what happened. Someone jumped. She points up. And then she points down.

This is when everything burns. A soft wave of melancholy creeps into my lungs and tightens across the ventricles in my chest.

I stare.

Others take photographs.

Others remain oblivious.

And I stare.

In that moment, I can feel my breath loosen. Like it was never there.  People start to move, and they exit the building. Someone is dead, but life goes on. Like it never really happened. And they take photographs of that white tent – now an unmarked grave. They laugh and continue their conversations. Like it was all for nothing. In a moment, a whole life escaped the world. A whole life derived to a single moment.

Later, I heard the ambulance sirens fade into the echoes of the buildings. I need to leave this city.

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