I believe that the term ‘write what you know’ is about including small details of yourself and your experiences into your writing in order to imbue it with authenticity, rather than only write about topics where you are academically knowledgeable. Because of that when I have a small memory from some part of my life that seems to stick around I like to write it down as I figure it must have some import for me not to forget it, with the added hope that one day I’ll be able to use it when it’s appropriate to a story. On that note, here is one of those memories.
I was in year nine at school, which would have made me fourteen or fifteen years of age. I had been at the same school for the whole of my education, the fact of which will become relevance by the end of this story.
In school I was very much an inbetweener. I was far from one of the cool kids, who in my school were the misbehaviours; the ones who got into drinking, drugs and sex before I could even consider that those things would one day have a place in my world. I was also not in the nerdy kids group, the unfortunate outcasts who were always just a little bit too different to fit in and could never figure out why. No, I was in the middle, I had a group of friends I fit in with, I was shy but not crippling so, I was well behaved and read a lot of fantasy books; I still do. I was, and am, happy to be an inbetweener. I think it makes school just a part of your life rather than the defining part. High school wasn’t the glory days of my youth nor was it an experience I’ll resent forever, it was simply the beginning of me figuring out who I am.
So, I was in year nine at the only school I had ever attended when a kid by the name of, let’s call him Leo Moretti (because the internet’s not such a small place and I’m not writing this as some sort of internet shaming), approached me. Leo was one of the cool kids, the kind of guy who’s arrogantly confident and hangs out with the older kids. He had more to do with my older brother, Matt, than with me, for example, despite the fact we shared a year level. I’m not even sure I had ever spoken to Leo before this day, but I knew who he was because he was loud and outspoken. I was undoubtedly the opposite. Because of this I was surprised when Leo approached me, but was even more surprised when he genuinely asked me “Hey. Are you new here?”
If you ever want to feel invisible try attempting to convince a kid you’ve spent the last three years sharing a classroom with that you’d always been there.
I honestly don’t think he even meant any malice to the question, he was just a self absorbed kid who saw a person he had never bother to recognise before. Nevertheless it was still shattering at the time to feel so unnoticed and unimportant, and to have to argue for my own existence.
If I ever write a story about a person who has to battle with loneliness and feeling invisible that memory will be my cold open.
Turns out that’s what I know.