Finn steps softly into his room, careful not to ward off the stillness of the new school year approaching. His fingers skim across the desks of the front row as he makes his way toward the window. He stares out the window, watching the leaves rustle in the trees of the courtyard.
“Finn, would you care to answer the question?”
Finn snaps back from his trance beyond the windows of the classroom. “What?”
“Why do you think the character acts out and thwarts his chances to be something better?”
“Isn’t that the point? To be seen, especially since no one sees you otherwise?”
“It could be,” replies Mr. Brinkley quietly with a cautious gaze as he watches Finn’s mind slip back out the window.
He blinks and turns to the desk that was once his. Taking his seat he looks up and sees Mr. Brinkley at the front of the room without taking too much imagination. He looks around the room and can see his old classmates. He wonders if this class will be similar. Will they be troublesome or kind? Will they be studious or playful? Will they have all the answers or need him? He hopes they need him.
Finn was sure he would never come back to this place after graduation. But, that was at the start of senior year. That was before Mr. Brinkley made him start participating in his life and seeing what he could be.
“What could you be?” Mr. Brinkley glances out at his class, the petrified looks on all of their faces. “It’s the scariest thing there is, isn’t it? Realizing that you could be anything? Your mind races to try to locate some semblance of a shredded fragment of someone telling you what to be. Then you start rifling through your memories to all the things you have thought of being before. Maybe you find something and cling to it, maybe you accept the fate laid out for you, or maybe you just float along without a care.”
The students sit, stunned, pondering, trying to figure out which of the categories they fall in.
Finn doesn’t flinch, but merely twirls his pencil round his thumb. Mr. Brinkley snatches up the paper crane he had just finished off of Finn’s desk carefully holding it aloft for all to see. Finn’s demeanor falters momentarily.
“If you find yourself at despair over this daunting future, you simply need to see the beauty in it too. You can be anything you want. You can be anything in the world. The crane here can be taken as a symbol of hope and even healing in this despair. It has been said that making 1,000 of them gives you a wish. Some of you may need to get started on making them.” The students sit a little taller at the comment as Mr. Brinkley gives a small chuckle. “Not necessarily actual cranes, but you need to start taking every opportunity to put together the pieces of your wish. Every act and every piece that you could put into place for you dream, you should be doing. Some of you may already be taking steps without realizing it. I want you to take a piece of paper out and I want you to make a list.” Papers rustle as students produce a piece of paper from their folders and open notebooks. “I want you to make a list of 1,000 things that you need to do before graduation. You need to keep this list all year and check them off as you do them. They do not necessarily need to be done in order, but they do need to be accomplished.”
Finn stares at his paper in disbelief that he could ever write down and actually accomplish 1,000 things by graduation. As other students begin rapidly scribbling things down, Finn writes a title and his name and sits stunned.
Finn gets up from his desk, tidies a few more things about the room before heading out for the day. As he walks through the old school, he notices all of the same old lockers, the floors were no longer hardwood though and the paint had been updated, but for the most part everything was as it had always been. He makes his way down the front steps and leaves for the night, eager for the first day of school to be here. Tomorrow is it.