One day we were mid-round of musical chairs when my kindergarten teacher quit to become one of those circus ringmasters who exploits orphans. On her way out the door she left the music playing and said the winner would be line leader. My class has been walking around chairs for the past 12 years without breaks or eliminations. Our desire to stop walking is only trumped by our desire to become line leader.
At first things were civil; we walked around chairs in the day and slept-walked around them at night. We listened eagerly for breaks in the song that played on repeat: Send Me on My Way by Rusted Root. But the breaks never came, nor did our parents. My classmates who were once my greatest friends became my greatest opponents. The iPod became my Master.
The Master would grant us line-leader status if we became his loyal followers. The crayons and paint we ate for sustenance turned our poop red, which we used to paint tribal markings on our bodies. As we walked, we prayed, as we prayed we punched each other. When we were bad the Master punished us by denying us a basic education for over a decade. When we were good He rewarded us by playing Send Me on My Way by Rusted Root.
As time passed we outgrew our kindergarten clothes, and nudity led to liberation which led to masturbation. I had to choose between my love for a girl on the opposite side of the circle or the Master; I chose my Master. That same day, the Master rewarded my choice with a visitor: a man with mops and other cleaning supplies. He walked in the room and asked, “How long have you been here?” “Send Me on My Way,” I responded, as I was never properly taught English. After looking at the mass of naked teenagers, he wordlessly stripped and accepted his place in our circle.
Soon we were walking so fast we wore down the school’s tiles and ended up five feet underground. There we found the true meaning of musical chairs: asbestos.
And then one day, the music stopped; the school had been decommissioned for years and the electricity was being shut off. We removed a chair and continued playing in silence; it’s what the Master would have wanted.