I don’t know why I stopped and touched it, I don’t even know why it was such a big thing. But something about it called to me one day when Becky and I were headed off to school. The high school is just a short walk from where the pause sign is located in the wall, so it’s a wonder that no one else pushed it or even touched it before now. Maybe they thought the same way that I did, that it was just defacement of public property and didn’t want anything to do with it. All I know is that it called to me at that point and I just had to touch it, no matter what happened.
When I stopped Becky kept going for a few paces before stopping to turn and ask me what I was doing. I didn’t answer her right away even though I knew she would keep asking until I answered. It was only when she actually stopped, right after I touched the symbol, that I finally noticed. My sister is kind of annoying sometimes but I love her all the same, so when her mouth closed it made me wonder for just a moment. Of course what happened next made me really feel like I was freaking out.
I told her I was coming, using that same tone that all older siblings seem to use with their brothers and sisters when they’re trying to get them off their backs. But when I turned I almost ran into her since she’d been right there when the world just, paused. My first reaction of course was to tell her to watch out, but as I moved aside it was a little too obvious that she wasn’t moving. Her gaze was fixed on something behind me was what I thought, and as I turned around I saw a few other teens coming up the block, but no one we really hung out with.
Century High School is a big place with well over a thousand or more students per class, so it’s easy to not know everyone. We knew mostly people from our own neighborhood and hung out with a few of the kids from other neighborhoods, but we couldn’t possibly know who everyone was. But the clothes, the backpacks, and the general attitude of a high school kid is hard to miss sometimes. But seeing them stuck in mid-stride is something entirely different.
I looked back to my sister at that point, thinking that I was seeing things, but then I noticed once again that she hadn’t moved, and was staring off into space as though not seeing me at all. Her right hand was holding onto one of her backpack straps as usual and her left was at her hip, her thumb hooked in her pocket as was normal for her. I turned back and forth between her and the others for several minutes at least, but each time I did no one moved, and I noticed more and more.
There were cars on the street between us and the school, but they weren’t moving. Looking inside one of them I could even see one of our teachers, Mrs. Greensby, checking her makeup in the mirror as she kept one hand on the wheel and the other messing with her frizzy brown hair. She didn’t notice me looking either, just as the others didn’t. Believe me, I was two steps away from freaking out right then and there, but then intuition hit for just a brief moment, and it was enough.
I decided to touch the symbol again.
(to be continued)