The Day of the Jackhole

The Day of the Jackhole

Celebrating 40 years on this earth

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1984. In high school, no one hears you scream.

October 22, 2011

High School. In town. On the big bus, with the big kids. I’m going to the same school my brother goes to. Oxley High. The agricultural high school. I find out that most kids in my class live in town and have never planted a radish, let alone stuck a cow in its ribs with a cattle prod or had a grumpy sheep snot a dirt-filled mucous ball on their jeans.

None of my friends from my old school go here. I am totally alone. Set adrift in a sea of unfamiliar faces with scruffy mullets and handball-playing obsessions. It’s hard to remember at times, as I sit at the edge of the quad and eat my brought-from-home sandwich, that I wanted to go here. That I am not zoned for this school.

Classes are assigned based on the name of the school, with O being all the Einsteins, then stepping down X, L, E, Y and so on. I am in E, initially, and then there’s some sort of reshuffle and I end up in Y. I am gutted. They have sliced me across my abdomen and my intestines are hanging out onto the floor.

Do they not know WHO I AM?! At my small primary school I was ace in english, the frickin’ Red Baron flying in to take out enemy story turrets and drop word bombs of narrative on unsuspecting teachers! Out of 25 kids, the top banana. But now I’m at big school and just one of hundreds in my year. And I am in Y. Y, which does not mean you’re ace at anything. You’re middle of the road. Grade fodder to be churned up and spat out in year 10 to go get pregnant or something. Well, that’s what it feels like to my bruised 12-year-old ego.

I go to the library to seek asylum in books, as has always been my way.

My brother is there. In the library. Willingly! I don’t think I’ve ever seen him even HOLD a book, other than a comic book. Could it be, after all these years, that I have this secret kinship with my brother?! A love of the printed word, the quiet sprawl of a good tome?


He’s in this scared place with his louty mates. They’re mischief makers. Punching each other in the arms and taking up space that could otherwise be occupied by those who appreciate the turn of a good sentence, the smell of old paper and texture of a woven book cover. They are laughing, being loud. Skylarking. They’re here, stealing comfy yellow seats from people who actually want to explore literature. He ignores me for a while, but I know he knows I’m there. Watching. We make eye contact. I get the distinct ‘you’d better not come over here’ glare. So I don’t.

I sit in the corner and flip through a choose your own adventure book and wait for the school bell. The one that signals lunch is over and I have just the afternoon to slog through before I can escape this horror.

Later, on the school bus, Michael sits behind me with his mate and they flick little bits of chewed up paper into my hair and laugh their dumb-boy laughs.

I spin around and do my usual drawn out ‘dooooonnnn’t!’

I look him square in his dumb, freckly face. It’s as though we’ve never met.


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