Tear the paper in half. Rrrrr.
Then take your half-sized sheet and fold it back and forth again and back and forth and slide your now-red thumb across the bend. Perfect.
Left thumb on the left side of the paper, right thumb on the right side, and separate your hands as if you were welcoming a dear old aunt. Or just opening a new tab on your computer. Rrrrr.
Good. You place the piece on the steadily growing pile.
This continues for a while: folding, creasing, tearing. Rrrrr. Put the slice of paper on the stack. Watch it get bigger, occasionally line the pieces up again by jostling them against the table. Then run your finger along the ragged edge of torn paper and appreciate the paper cuts that you don’t have.
Somebody sits next to you. You glance up, and they nod at you with a quiet hello. You nod back, and bend your head down again to focus on your paper. Not rude, just focused on the task at hand.
“What are you doing that for?” They ask.
Your poke your head up again, a prairie dog risking death to see the outside world. You can practically feel the hot sun on your head as your face heats up. “No reason.”
“Then why?” They ask you again. Their voice is wild with confusion, but muted beyond the point of comprehension.
“Because I want to,” you say simply. You don’t have to have a reason. You don’t have to justify yourself to this stranger. You don’t have to justify yourself.
They shrug their shoulders, and something rises up out of you and tries to take the reins, tries to throttle you. You resist and go back to the paper. Still, you have been bitten. You have been infected. You are unclean. Now you have to justify yourself. But you don’t have to.
A few more seconds tick by. Your tries to scrounge up a reason. The only ones that comes to mind are bad reasons, reasons that are not good enough. You briefly wonder if this is proof of a higher power. This is bad. Terrible, really. Can’t get out of your head. How’s that for a news article? Some clickbait all-caps headline: “PERSON DIES AFTER BEING TRAPPED IN THEIR OWN SKULL”. This is not what you imagined for yourself.
Then it’s been too long. Too long, didn’t come up with a witty comeback quickly enough. Failure. And what does that make you? An abject failure. Oops.
So you go back to tearing and folding and stacking your little bits of almost-confetti and ignoring the lecture and enjoying yourself.