In The Margins Of My Test Paper, I Pencil In Flightless Birds, Quietly Ripping Them Out Later And Setting Them Aloft From My Bedroom Window.

We open the doors and in blasts Micheal Jackson’s Thriller, at full volume. Apparently, the children down the hall are preparing their end of year festival. I chew the end of my pencil and try (in vain) to still my sudden foot tapping. I’m in an exam.

It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart

It occurs to me that perhaps I’ve happened upon Wonderland. But then does that make me Alice? I never much liked her – who could, when the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Knave of Hearts, the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar (oh, especially him) are so entirely better?

You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes,
You’re paralyzed

Besides, is Thriller a good soundtrack to Alice in Wonderland? Maybe Third Eye Blind’s Semi-Charmed Life would be somewhat better. At least for my beloved pot head caterpillar. Or Franz Ferdinand’s Ulysses?

You hear the door slam and realize there’s nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand and wonder if you’ll ever see the sun

And what about textbook writers? Somehow I always get the feeling that they’re not entirely human. Do they go through ordinary days speaking to cashiers, waitresses, relatives, strangers like they write in text books? If they want to know what time it is, do they tap someone on the bus and ask “Pardon me, sir, but I understand you have a chronological time-keeping device upon your person, which is to say, the collective amount of tissues, organs and systems that form your anatomy? Would you be so kind as to inform me of the present time, meaning, the component of a measuring system used to sequence and quantify events?”

You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination
But all the while you hear the creature creepin’ up behind
You’re out of time

It may be Thriller that I hear, but I’m going through the chorus of Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien in my head. Not because I have any special preference for the French language (is it really so beautiful? Really?), but because Édith Piaf’s voice is more than a splatter of vibrancy in my thoughts during class – it is a constellation of burnished, high-velocity celestial rocks.

Night creatures call
And the dead start to walk in their masquerade
Theres no escapin’ the jaws of the alien this time
(they’re open wide)
This is the end of your life

Sometimes I imagine how certain scenes of my life would have gone had I been part of a soap opera. Can I be Belinda, the sweet but naive blind girl? No, scratch that. I want to be Gertrudis, the dark-haired villianess with the shifty eyes and the inner conflict!

They’re out to get you, there’s demons closing in on every side
They will possess you unless you change the number on your dial
Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together
All through the night I’ll save you from the terror on the screen
I’ll make you see

I’ll fashion a script for myself, a gorgeous thing, where there is no esprit de l’escalier (Google it, because, despite my distrust of French, it’s the most beautiful phrase ever) and the bad guys? Those stubborn creatures continually stepped on by doormat heros and damsel-in-distresses swooning over tru luv? Those bad guys?

They will always win.

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