Today the double doors of my school entrance looks like the prison bars of the toughest jail in the world. What is a simple hallway from Monday to Friday has morphed into death row on this particular Saturday. I stop in front of Cell 228, and open the door.
I walk in, and am greeted by multiple pairs of eyes, studying me. Obviously the inmates are glad that there’s one more person sharing in their collective misery.
I claim my spot in a corner of the cell and sit down. I gaze into the eyes that study me. In a flash of mutual understanding, I realize that these people are all very different from each other.
The Warden walks in. “Hello, class”, she announces softly. It’s obvious she wants us to like her. That was unlikely. “My name is Mrs. Jones, and I will be your SAT prep teacher for the next couple of Saturdays at the school.
It’s only 8:31 in the morning, I’m already bored out of my mind. I decide to study the inmates further.
Scrawny, short-haired, and a head that’s proportionately larger than his body, he is the closest possible to the stereotypical Asian kid. He’s got crooked teeth, pants that are a little too short for his legs, and a perpetually tired look on his face. Apparently he’s one of the smartest kids in the grade, and he’s in a remedial SAT class. I even heard that he scored a 2300 on the SAT last week. Could it be his parents? They can’t be crazy enough to send him to this prison just so he can raise his superscore to a 2400. They can’t possibly take their child for granted, and assume that if he’s not the absolute best, then he’s no better than the kids that won’t graduate. They can’t be that ridiculous… can they?
She’s quiet. She never stands out in school, so it’s extremely hard to read her. I recently heard rumors that her family was a mess. With a dad that’s out of a job and an alcoholic mother who’s siphoning out the family emergency funds for her addiction, she’s developed an inferiority complex that consumes her. Maybe that’s why I can’t read her. She doesn’t want to be read. She prefers to have nobody understand her, to block out the possibility of anyone judging her. It’s a shame, when you look at it. She’s completely shielded herself from criticism, when that’s the one thing she needs to make herself better. I guess that’s what happens when you lose faith in yourself.
People call her the drug princess. As a freshman, I see her every day in the corner of the campus smoking cigarettes like it’s her job. In school, alongside her friends, she’s aggressive, outspoken, and unafraid of what others think of her. Here, now, she’s looking around cautiously. Without an army of friends to back her up, she is nothing. She now must deal with the constant fear that someone is labeling her as a drug addict in their minds and she cannot stand up for herself.
She’s a nutcase. A complete introvert, I haven’t seen her talk to anyone but her special education teacher. She constantly mutters to herself, and her mutterings seem to make no sense when pieced together. But now, there’s something I realize about her. She’s the only person out of all of the inmates who isn’t fake. Everyone’s bizarre, it’s just that some people are better at hiding it. She chooses not to. She sees no point in it. Why hide what makes you you? In that sense, maybe she’s the most sane out of all of us.
I look up at the clock. 8:34.
Crap. As if this prison cell wasn’t bad enough, time slows down in here.