Drummer Boy

Anya R. G.

In the morning, I will wake to the sound of drums.  During the day, the steady rhythm will entwine with countless other instruments, each playing to their own tune.  In the night, I will be lulled to sleep by the crashing chaos of a thousand melodies colliding in my head.

The Songs, pulsing in my mind, have been with me for as long as I can remember.  The cause of them, nobody knows.  The doctors mumble about over stimulation, but I don’t understand what would be causing it.  My life, as it is now, is very bleak.  I have been poked and prodded by curious researchers ever since my condition was recognized several years ago.

At first, I was thought to simply have a short attention span.  Next, they blamed my lack of learning on my “imaginary friend.”  The following years brought diagnoses of learning disorders, but they were dropped by the time I turned nine, and had finally learned to read.  All I could say to the doctors was that I heard music, and couldn’t hear much else through the racket.  I was given hearing aids at one point, but was no longer forced to wear them after my parents realized that I flinched at every noise.  The hearing aids only made the volume of the outside world go up.  It did nothing to the Songs.

The so-called “imaginary friend” I had when I was younger is still with me.  I learned quickly not to talk about him.  My parents don’t approve of anything that makes me seem any less normal than I already am.  We’ve grown up together, and he’s the best friend I’ve got.  He isn’t imaginary in my mind.  He wakes me up every morning with his drum.  He’s the Drummer Boy.

My Drummer Boy goes wherever I go.  He stays with me in my dreams, and steps right out of them as I wake up.  Always in view.  He doesn’t speak much, and mostly just stands with his drum, watching as life moves by.  Quite a simple creature.  He carries on with the same basic rhythm throughout the day and night, while the disarray of my mind slowly drowns out his tapping as the day goes on.

Currently, I live at a boarding school for people with disabilities like mine.  The student body is divided into three main groups: deaf, blind, and other.  I fit into “other,” though I mostly go to classes for the deaf, since I can barely hear over the Songs.  The school was designed to not only accommodate students with these disabilities, but to test our abilities and compare them to the general public.  In a sense, we live in a giant laboratory.  It’s a scientist’s paradise.

Despite the use of students as lab rats, the place is pretty nice.  It’s called “Bedlan School,” after the school’s founder, John Bedlan, but I’ve heard that it’s called “Bedlam School” by the folks in town.  Both teachers and guardians look at us scornfully when anyone in class calls it that.  I suppose the place is a bit of a madhouse at times.  Sometimes a student will have a breakdown, and it will set off the entire student body prone to them.  In those times, all guardians have to work full-time, day and night, for a few days to get everyone under control.  That leaves those of us who can keep it together unattended for large amounts of time.  Most of us aren’t in a state to help settle the situation, but many of us try.  The entire establishment seems to fall to pieces, and then slowly gets put back together.  In the times of chaos, the Drummer Boy is all I have to keep me from joining the shrieking, wailing, tornadoes of students.  He stands beside me in those times, and doesn’t leave until the mess is resolved.

Standards at Bedlan School depend largely on capabilities of the individual.  For students such as myself, there’s a focus on overcoming your disability.  I spend several hours a day picking out outside noises from the Songs, and have gotten much better at distinguishing the two.  The mornings are primarily when I attend regular classes, since the Songs escalate as the day goes on.  My classes were all pretty normal, for Bedlan at least, until yesterday.  I was transferred into a new art class in a brand new section of the building.

The classroom is bright and spacious, and the ceilings seem a mile high.  The Drummer Boy stayed at the door.

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