A Robot Speaks to Ralph Waldo Emerson (Part I)

Matt Maday

I’m in fourth grade, and I have a special token about the size of a quarter: a round thing that looks like it’s a punched-out piece of scrap metal. I know the token is monetarily worthless, but I’m obsessed with it. I lose it at school one afternoon and beg my mom to help me find it. Because the token has an overwhelming personal value that isn’t communicable to outsiders, I’m wary to ask my teachers about it, but I feel compelled to ask. My computer teacher finds the token, bringing a surge of relief. I lose the token again, this time permanently, but gradually, I don’t care; the token’s mental value depreciates. The obsession evaporates.

The obsession changes to involve the radio. Instead of focusing on my homework after school, I turn on the radio and anxiously wait to hear my favorite songs. Then I want to hear the songs again. I wonder if I’m addicted to the radio. At a parent-teacher conference, my teacher expresses concerns about my low grades, instilling a sense of anxiety so extreme that I fear my teacher will hold me back a year. Her stern visage frightens me at the beginning of the conference, but by the end, she smiles reassuringly and I promise to improve my grades. I’m able to complete elementary school. 

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