Friday Angst: dystopian detention

December 21, 1995

[Age 14]

2:15 pm

As I sit in my first detention, I look about me at the bored, empty faces. I wonder, “Do I look as they do? Like criminals of some cold-blooded act…”

I wonder what they are in for. Theft, threat, or hooky? Or the horrid, disgusting act carried out by myself. An act so foul I deserve every bit of the misery of detention.

I was late to computer. I should be condemned.

And so I now sit at a cold, hard desk in a hot, stuffy room listening to the silence of those around me staring ahead with the calm fury of practiced inmates. I feel myself becoming like them as I sweep my caged eyes around my cell. The shades, the color of rot, are pulled far below the window sill so that no light, save that of the dim, florescent lights, is allowed to grace the room.

Every time a person walks outside the metal door, left open to taunt us with our freedom, I feel they stare for a split second at my face and wonder what heinous act I must have committed to be locked in this cell.

Would they guess that I had never before set foot in a detention room or a principal’s office? Would they guess that the reason for my imprisonment is being late for a class in which the sole purpose is to stare ahead at a screen and type letters about “Mrs. Peabody’s dog”?

No. To a mere onlooker, I appear the same as every other person in this room: a troublemaker at a rot-colored desk.

2:43 pm

I feel like a science experiment. There is a small window on the side of the wall separating this room from another. The window is decorated (or as an effort to be hidden…) by the same rot-colored curtains. The window seems to serve no purpose as it sits, alone and half-covered by a file cabinet. Maybe this is what they want us to think—that it has no purpose.

“They” are who watch us from that window. They are observing us in our prison. Watching to see how we react to the lack of sunlight, the putrid colors and dreadful silence.

Will we succumb to it? Crack under the boredom and run screaming to the covered windows behind which lies the hidden world? Those people behind the window watch us with pad and pencil. Recording and analyzing with no thought to the poor mice that are us. The window-watchers probably built the school. Built it so that computer class is so very far from history class. Built it as a trap to catch we who sit here for being LATE. And they laugh at this new addition to their experiment.

“The more, the merrier!” they cry as they press their faces, the color of the putrid curtains, against the window pane and laugh.

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