That day in school, he learnt a new idiom. It didn’t strike him as particularly remarkable.
He also learnt that at high altitudes, the atmospheric pressure drops making it hard to breathe. You can turn blue.
But nearly every day at school, he revisits some old lessons. Lessons that began years ago.
Like how in times of urgency, a belt is a nuisance. And how when machines are well-oiled, they do not squeak when used. Three Augusts ago until today, he goes home with a greasy zipper.
His mother never notices.
As a child, he used to spend a lot of time staring at the water swirling when he flushed the toilet. God forbid someone anger the dirty-water deities. A whirlpool would suck the whole of humanity in.
That’s how they found him one day, peering at the receding ripples in the school urinal. They said they’d show him the science of waterworks.
He was doused in milky spray. They convinced him he’d just encountered the first of many leaky faucets.
Before the lesson concluded, the teacher mentioned in passing that the pressure underwater can be tremendous too, weighing you down. He could relate more to this. He was pushed into the deep side without being given the chance to test the waters first. He wondered in those moments whether his face turned blue, or white.
At what atmospheric pressure does the colour of fear become apparent?
“Did you learn anything new today in class?” his mother asked, as she walked home with him from school. “An idiom. ‘Never wash your dirty linen in public.’ It means one should not talk publicly talk about one’s personal problems that are best left private.” he muttered. “Incredible!” his mother rejoined.
He wondered why despite the fact that his linen was washed at home, the stains refused to fade.
Via Daily Prompt: Atmospheric