A Square Head in a Round Hole

Jasmine Papillon
Human Parts
Published in
2 min readApr 16, 2015


“Papillon-Smitte, Jasmine?’’

“Présente,’’ I say, “Pis c’est Smith.’’

“Smitte,’’ he says again. I hear someone snicker, but I nod anyway, glancing around. The desks are all cramped together, like we won’t be twice as big by the time the year’s out. Leave room for Jesus, they tell us in the halls, but they don’t even leave room for puberty.

I try to match names to faces as the list goes on, but they’re hard to remember. These French Quebs, it’s like they’ve got one algorithm for eight million names.

The teacher continues, labouring through it; we’re a big class this year: Tremblay, Boulay, Gagné, Sauvé. Every metal-filled mouth opens to accept its christening, 32 ill-fitted, uniformed sets of butt cheeks slipping around on plastic chairs, no corrections needed save my own.

At the break, Hugo, or François, or Julien assails me. “Heille, Jas.’’

I turn to him, smiling. “It’s Jazz, actually. That’s what everyone calls me.’’

“Jazz,’’ he says, drawing out the Z like it’s a punchline. “Is that because of your square head?’’

“I’m not a square head,’’ I answer, but there’s no fight in it. It’s the first day back and I’m tired of it already, weary of these boys who draw corners on my rounded cheeks.

“So what are you then?’’ he asks.

I shrug. “Too French for the English and too English for the French,’’ I say, but he’s stopped listening.

The glint of rocking lockers follows me as I wander away. I figure it must be hard being Vincent, or Mathieu, or JP. It must be hard when you only speak one language and you can’t even do it well.

At length, a freckled hand taps my shoulder. I look up and try to breathe calmly — only unfamiliar faces today. “Hey, Jasmine,’’ he says, holding his hand out. “I’m Phil. Phil Murray-Dupré. We were just in math together.’’

I smile, just as the bell sounds to hurry me back to my seat. “Murray-Dupré, eh? See you in English class, too, then.’’

If you like what you just read, please hit the green ‘Recommend’ button below so that others might stumble upon this essay. For more essays like this, scroll down and follow Human Parts.

Human Parts on Facebook and Twitter



Jasmine Papillon
Human Parts

English content producer at http://t.co/XnyvB0mNHg / hip hop aficionado / expert eyebrow mover / punch-line lover