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by M. Krasnoff
There is no rest for Simon as his church hopping mother enrolls him in a variety of schools in a quest to find him a good fit. His experiences at the schools offer an interesting insight for the discerning in this clever story from M. Krasnoff.
All summer long, Simon did whatever he wanted unless it was Sunday, in which his mother would take him with her to church…Or the one she wanted to try out for that week. His mother managed to cram five different churches over the summer break, in hopes of finding the perfect one to reflect her real nature of spiritual importance. Simon just thought that she just needed a new challenge, much like how he switched out his video games; beating three completely different shooting games–really different by the names of their title only. Other days were spent sleeping in till noon and staying within his bedroom; playing video games while listening to his favorite tunes of metal mayhem from his iPhone.
However, today was different as the early morning rays of sunshine slipped through the cracks of his bedroom window, prying his eyelids open for the first day of High School, leaving his middle school days behind. It was the first time that the district integrated the eighth grade class into the same school that harbored the other four grades ahead. But Simon didn’t expect anything different other than simply attending a different building; so he lazily packed his things up and cleared his mind in order to memorize the basic knowledge that would be introduced to him in order to survive out in the real world—as he was told. Or in his case, just to ‘pass’ tests. Fiddling through his book bag, he felt like he was missing something. So he searched vigorously in his bedroom until he found it; laid out on top of the window sill–the ear phones to his portable game player. He also noticed outside the window, the school bus passing by his home.
So he sluggishly went into the kitchen where his mom was prepping her lunch for work. He asked if she would drive him—however, he wouldn’t be disappointed if she said “No” taking the blame of him staying home. “Why don’t you ride your bike instead dear?” she replied. “Wouldn’t that be cooler than riding with your mom, especially since you’re now in High School?” He cast his mom a half-asleep zombie-like gaze, which he held until she caved and elected to drive him there.
Frustrated by running late for her own obligation at work, she dropped Simon at the curb and drove off without saying more than a “Good-bye”. Right away it hit him–too many smiling faces.
Even before he could enter into the school, he was bombarded with yearbook staff that wanted to take his picture and get to know what he was all about for their ‘High School First Timers’ print out. Giving them just his name and the fact of liking to play video games, he continued on.
While venturing down the hallway, he noticed a set up of tables being managed by seasoned students, acknowledging various roles that any student could sign up for ranging from being part of the Pep Rally Crew to enlisting as a Hall Monitor. Simon didn’t want to clutter his mind with anything extracurricular that he deemed as a waste of time so he continued onto his first class. After taking a seat next to a pretty blonde girl, the loudspeaker came on, welcoming back all upper class students and new students as well. But then instructions were told for all teachers to escort everyone toward the auditorium for a special announcement.
“Come on everyone!” the teacher said smiling. The students scurried around him as Simon moved slowly, as if stuck in the same gear that he woke up in. This was indeed a bigger school than the middle school that Simon spent his last two years at…And he started to become lost in the crowd of students that were rushing ahead. When he finally arrived, he noticed that all the chairs were full, obviously not planned accordingly with the grade shift that occurred. So he was escorted to a section of chairs laid out in the lunch room, allowing just enough visibility to see inside the auditorium.
The principal walked out on stage and was met with a thunderous uproar of applause. He mentioned how much he loved the school and took great pride in it. He then gestured for everyone to stand as the alma mater was going to be sung. When the singer approached the podium, one of the older students sitting beside Simon sounded a sigh, referencing her disappointment that it wasn’t the singer who did the alma mater last year.
Simon was all ready to go home…And class didn’t even start yet for the day… Therefore, he asked if he could be excused due to not feeling so good and if he could be escorted instead to the nurse’s office—already using the skills of manipulation he picked up during middle school…
As his mother checked in to pick her son up—not even close to the end of a full work day—she kept her mouth shut until they both were inside her vehicle. “Enough is enough!”, his mother released in frustration. ”I don’t know what else to do with you Simon! What is it that I am missing?” Simon paused…his mind drifted, but he found himself gaining the little energy he had in order to reply, “Its not what you’re missing Mom! Its what ‘I’ am!” Puzzled and worried, his mom shook her head in confusion. Simon continued on with the flow of energy he had, “I just feel like I’m missing something, something to electrify my spirit in order to ‘want’ to be there.” Bewildered and not knowing how to reply to her son’s concern, she escaped to her church—the current one she attended—to seek spiritual intervention.
Simon shrugged off the tension and plopped down face first onto his bed, resting his head on his pillow; he closed his eyes wanting to escape his day as well, and ponder his escape for tomorrow…
Keeping her eyes focused on the road, his mother held in her tears as she pulled into the church parking lot, hoping to grab the spiritual attention she so desperately craved; for direction from God…or even anyone present on the church staff. Therefore it came as a shock when she attempted to enter through the main entrance, discovering it to be locked. Caught up in her frustration, she release tears of anger rather than relief. “If the church can’t be open when ‘I’ need it, then I will find another that will!” She retreated back to her vehicle; where the engine remained warm—as if humming in a meditative state.
The next morning, Simon’s alarm clock beeped continuously at 6 AM. He rose up, only partially awake. After switching it off, he let his head crash back into the crater made on his pillow. However, his mother’s voice instantly entered his exposed ear, “Time to wake up sleepy head!” He muttered through the linen of his pillow, “For wha-? I don’t wan- to go ba– to dat school…” Interrupted by the doorbell ringing, his mother vanished and muffled sentences were exchanged between what sounded like his mother’s voice and a man’s. Simon felt himself creeping toward the edge of sleep once again, until the front door slammed shut—signaling the end of the ‘whatever’ conversation and Simon’s resting in peace.
The car ride that followed, lasted much longer than any other he had experienced to school. Simon noticed the buildings on the side of the road dissipating into an outline of trees and farm fields displayed with tall corn stalks. ”Wouldn’t it be nice to get away into the country daily for some fresh air, dear?” said his mother as if pushing for a sale. He cracked his window open, “Yeah, real fresh…” he said in a sarcastic tone, sensing the essence of cow manure in the breeze.
Finally arriving at a tiny isolated white building off a gravel road, Simon couldn’t refrain from asking, “What is this place?” noticing the outside walls that desperately needed a new layer of paint and wondered if there could even be a bad case of asbestos inside…
“This is your new school,” she said with a grin as Simon continued to stare at a sign that only read ‘Schoolhouse’; which creaked every time it swayed in the breeze. ”How in the world did you even hear about it?” he suspiciously questioned. Disregarding her son’s inquisition, “Listen, regardless of it’s appearance, the neighbor quoted that a lot of folks have heard about the school throughout the country.” With wide eyes of doubt, “Do you mean Mr. Early? Because he’s the only neighbor you speak to because he can’t hear his own phone ring…” A sullen stare appeared on his mother’s face,”Now, that’s not very nice Simon.” “I’m sorry Mom, but I don’t see how you would even take the advise of anything heard from someone who could possibly be the mascot for Miracle Ear!”
As if with a natural ability to sense tension near, a big round man stampeded out of the french doors of the front entrance already chuckling about something… ”Well, well, well. This must be young Simon Glass that I’ve already heard so much about!” Simon looked at his mother with suspicion. “Must have been the neighbor,” she whispered. However, Simon’s thoughts got scattered due to the audible excitement from the round man that vibrated his car door. “My name is Principal Honeycutt, but you can just call me Mac, okay?” Then his voice increased in volume, “Well, what are you waiting for my friend? Come on in!” Like a stray, Simon felt a constant tugging from the man’s vocals, pulling him inside. ”I’ll be back to pick you up after school!” his mother shouted aloud, hoping she was heard over the man’s harking.
Simon’s mother didn’t get more than a couple miles down the gravel road, when she received an incoming call on her cell from an unknown number. At the very moment of answering her phone, she was blasted with loud background noise. *CAN I GET AN ANSWER PLEASE?* the speaker sounded. “Hello?” the confused mother questioned… *YES! YES! I CAN FEEL AN ANSWER COMING!* Yet within the echoing banter a voice of familiarity hits her ear, “Mom! Can you hear me?” His mother, shocked by this said, “Simon? Is that you?” But before her curiosity could be fulfilled, she pulled abruptly back from the speaker as the shouts came again, *YES! YES! WE GOT ANSWERS IN THIS SCHOOLHOUSE!!!* Simon’s voice competed in maintaining it’s presence, “Mom, I can’t hear you! The teacher is speaking way too lou—”…Silence fell on her ears.
In dire concern, she turned the car around, ejecting a huge cloud of dust, and headed back toward the old schoolhouse. Simon was already waiting outside hunched over beside the portly round man. He was also dialing on someone’s cell, likely trying to reach his mother that he lost contact with due to the poor signal out in the country. As she pulled up, Simon handed over the cell to Mr. Honeycutt. ”Oh! Thank you Simon.” he said. When his mother stepped out of the vehicle, she asked “Is everything alright?” The man answered for Simon who acted deaf to his mother’s worry. ”Oh yes mam! It’s just our boy Simon has suddenly become ill. So we were hoping to touch base with you in order that you would pick him up—good thing you came back I reckon…” ”Oh I see.” she replied looking at her son with a suspicion of Deja-Vu. ”Thank you Mr. Honeycutt.” Interrupting, “Oh please, call me Mac!”. A slight pause passes, “Mac.” The man smiled at the sound of his name. She continued, “Thanks again for your time though Mr…”, the principal extends his corrective finger, “…I mean, Mac.” She enters back into the car. Simon didn’t move until ‘Mac Daddy Roundness’, as Simon referred to the man within his own mind, tapped him on the shoulder to gain his attention, and then motioning his time to depart.
During the ride home, his mother had grown quite flabbergasted toward her mute son. ”Do you really have no excuse for me of why we are back again in the seeking stage for the perfect fitting school just for you?” The boy did not answer, so his mother shouted, venting out all her frustration in a thunderous speech. ”Quit ignoring and answer me Simon!” If it wasn’t for the mild vibrations sensed on his upper arm skin, he wouldn’t have turned towards his mother; shocked by her facial expression. ”Sorry mom. I can’t hear so good right now!” His mom squinted in a state of confusion. Simon spoke in hopes of clearing up the reason, “Everyone shouted at that school! The teachers, the students; it was just a non-stop, always towering, shout-fest that echoed throughout my head. I mean, I literally now know ‘why’ that school’s been heard across the country…I bet folks in Russia even heard them as well!” While understanding his reason, she was still met by her son’s learning dilemma, “Well, all I know is I have to call into work and tell them why I have to miss today after leaving early for the same reason…I mean seriously Simon—you’re becoming just like ‘my dog ate my homework’!” Simon glanced at the motion of his mom reaching for her phone and speaking into it, but not sure if she was speaking to her boss by the way she began to smile…
As they approached their home, Simon got dropped off at the curb. The street was quiet since everyone was either at work or at school. “I’m going to the mall to meet my friend Shelly for a bit and no video games either!” she shouted before driving away. Simon knew of his mom’s friend Shelly who was a single parent once married to a well known lawyer. Now she ‘spends’ her days literally living off alimony and child support—two things his mother doesn’t collect nor wants his ‘always comparing’ mother to be influenced by Shelly’s spending habits…but he knew she needed to blow off some steam.
Walking down the shopping aisles, her friend, Shelly, was controlling the conversation, “My boy Jared, who is now in college, was going through a phase much like your Simon at one point, but he found his way through it with a little help.” Captivated by any hope she could grasp to, “What help was it that led to him changing?” “Structure!”, the woman replied. ”Its all about structure that will not even give your son’s mind a chance to wander.” With a questionable look, “Do you think Simon’s school is the one to blame for his disconnection?” “Absolutely! When my boy came back to live with me instead of his father; who basically let him get away with anything like playing hooky at his old school, I enrolled him in the school that I grew up going to the first chance I had!” A brief moment of wonder passed, “It’s that good huh?” ”Sure is!”, her friend replied with a huge smile before continuing, “and it is really close by to the church I attend. All I have to do is just make a call if you’d like for your son!” Simon’s mother couldn’t help herself and decided it was time to satisfy her curiosity, “What is the name of this school? …and ALSO of your church?”
The sign above looked like something from the dark ages, with the school’s name carved out; “Greenwich High”. Static shot out of a speaker outside his mom’s window—WHAT IS YOUR CHILD’S NAME PLEASE? ”Simon Glass.” The static remained when the speaker’s voice went silent—YES, HE HAS BEEN REGISTERED. PLEASE ENTER. The gates squealed open and Simon gazed upon the old brick towers that they approached. “Where in the world are you taking me now mom?” His mom gently put her hand on top of her son’s hand,”To your new school dear.”
Captivated by how early in the day it was, since his before dusk visitation at the previous school. Simon’s door quickly opened, unprepared to be welcomed by an enormous, towering man wearing a long white robe and shiny black shoes. “Pleased to meet you.”, the man gestured. Simon exited the vehicle out of pure intimidation. Casting over his shadow, the tall man smiled down at him, “Hello Simon. My name is Mr. Alines, and I am the principal of this esteemed establishment. And that must be your mother who I’ve already heard about from one of our very own past graduates, Michelle Lockwood. Don’t worry about your boy Simon here, we’ll take good care of him, and I’ll be sure to call you later about some other important details.” His mom, still trusting her friend Shelly, shouted out, “I’ll be back to pick you up at 5!” “Five??”, Simon replied, remembering how early in the morning it still was,…but his mom had already sped away, leaving him alone with ‘lurch-man’.
“It’s okay”, the slender giant-of-a-man said noticing the look of concern on the boy’s face. ”There is plenty to do until tonight.” ’It couldn’t come fast enough…’ Simon thought. But without hesitation the man said, “In fact, that is what ‘I’ was doing and need to get back to.” ”Preparing for the evening?” Simon tossed visions of the man spending his evening helping cats caught up in trees or secretly slam dunking at the YMCA. The man extended his 6 inch digits as an offering, “Come with me and I’ll show you.” He escorted the boy into the old stone building. Within, they entered a huge corridor that had posters covering the walls, illuminating the light entering from the stain glass off its glittered letters. Simon could barely make out the words but was pretty sure the starting capital letter was in the shape of a ‘P’…
“This way,” the principal gestured toward a classroom. Simon shuffled by, prepared to be greeted by the many eyes of his student strangers…but no one even glanced up at him since they were all busy sewing rapidly; both boys and girls. The teacher of the class, who Simon assumed by being the only middle aged person there, rushed over smiling and asked, “So how does that feel now Mr. Alines?” The principal slid his white robe over his head, taking great time covering the distance of his tremendous length, uncovering a black tuxedo to match his shiny black shoes. ”Fits so much better Mrs. Crenshaw.” The teacher rejoiced merrily to his answer. Handing over the garment, “Here is the robe you lent me to attend my outside appointment with our new student Simon here.” Gesturing with a slight waive, Simon was ignored by the teacher’s immobility to move from the previous topic…”Well, we can’t have dust and pollen blowing all over the new tuxedo I just tailored for you, now can we?” Simon wondered what the tux was for, until Mr. Alines finally introduced Simon formally to Mrs. Crenshaw after her statement. She showed him to an available sewing machine and informed him that any materials needed would be within the closet. Confused and not knowledgeable in sewing even a patch on anything—he asked the teacher exactly what he was supposed to do—but not surprising, the teacher gravitated back to the principal to assure his tuxedo’s fitting, ignoring Simon’s question.
“Hello, you must be new here.” Simon turned his focus toward a pretty blonde girl who was stitching a design onto a dress. “This is all new to me…” Simon replied. The girl smiled, “I’m Lisa,” and demonstrated how to operate the sewing machine. She also handed him a pair of black trousers and a white collared shirt. “Feel free to tailor this to your own fit.” “What for?” he asked, but with that question; Simon not only gained the attention of the girl, but the rest of the students in the classroom. “For the prom of course!” shouted out a redhead with sarcasm, while straightening out his bow-tie. Simon glanced at him with a ‘well excuse me’ look—in which the girl must’ve noticed as she interrupted him asking what he thought about the dress she has altered; pressing it upon her body. It was a good distraction indeed, as Simon smiled like a typical teenage boy. “I hope it looks nice, because I’m going to wear it to the prom.” “When is this prom?” he asked with eager anticipation to see his blonde acquaintance inside the dress she showcased. “It’s tonight after class.” Simon’s jaw dropped, “You mean after our last class when we go home and are able to change, right?” The redhead nuisance answered instead, “No she meant after THIS class! What do you think we are doing in here?”
Seeing how early in the day it was he asked, “What about Math or History class?” “We do use math and anything else of importance, intertwined within the things we are doing here until prom.” answered Lisa. Simon paused with a blank stare, “You mean we are going to be doing this in here for the rest of the day??” The redhead began chuckling at him, “Yeah, and I can tell using MATH that you don’t have enough time to get yourself to tip-top presenting shape for prom which makes your attendance there HISTORY pal!” Gloating in his statement, the know-it-all boy skipped over to the mirrors to admire his fashion. “He’s right,” Lisa confirmed. “You don’t have enough time…” Simon was bummed. “But he didn’t factor ‘my help’ into the equation either…” winking at Simon who posted a grin.
Prom night came and the main gates opened inviting the attendees and their guests. Simon, decorated in what would be passable even by secret agent standards, met up with his mother who entered the main entrance with grace—obviously principal Alines made contact with her later that day. She immediately noticed her son’s several stone-struck glances at Lisa; radiant in appearance, who wore her gown brilliantly, complimenting her eyes to sparkle like blue topaz. Soon after taking their place against the wall where their names were posted, the principal of the school entered the auditorium. Everyone quieted down. “Thank you everyone for being part of our 18th Prom!” After hearing Principal Alines’s cry—confusion set in within Simon’s mind. He asked the boy next to him “18th prom?? Isn’t this school like centuries old or something?” The boy shushed him without breaking his stance. Mr. Alines raised his hands upwards, accompanied by Mrs. Crenshaw, “We shall begin as we always do with the selection of this prom’s high rank!” Lisa had a large nervous grin on her face, stimulating curiosity from Simon to what exactly she was anxious about, so he continued listening… “This year’s High Rank will be…” Mrs. Crenshaw cracked a red seal of wax on a letter within her hands. The crowd goes silent to this honorary announcement. “It is Lisa Collinsworth!” Happy for his friend, Simon clapped his hands wildly—only to get stared down by the other inactive students. Lisa glided towards the principal and bowed as Mr. Alines lavaliered her with the image of their school’s mascot—the Lion. She then returned back to the same spot she left from. The room remained silent until Mr. Alines belted out, “To this prom’s High Rank!” Everyone repeated, “To the High Rank!”…everyone that was except for Simon and his mother, who started to manifest signs of discomfort. “Thank you for attending the 18th prom and we look forward to seeing you at the 19th,” and with that finishing decree, everyone began to dismiss out of the school. Simon noticed the redheaded boy mumbling dissatisfaction to himself as he left. And Lisa followed behind him while admiring her new trinket. Grabbing her attention, Simon asked her if that was it for the prom. “Yes” she replied as if nothing was wrong. “What about the announcement of the king, since you were indeed chosen as the queen…” Simon imagined himself being picked, “…And of course THEIR DANCE?!” Stopping Simon in his tracks—as if he said something rude, “First of all Simon, I was not announced as a queen here, but as the High Rank! And there can be only one for each ceremony of prom.” His mother did not interrupt—wanting to know more about how things work within the walls of the school and automatically referenced it to the church that her friend Shelly attended. “Okay, congratulations on being HIGH RANK, or whatever, until next year…” Lisa smiled, easing the tension building within Simon’s mind. “No silly! Prom is happening again tomorrow night and every night after!”
Simon’s face took on a similarity to the redheaded boy’s expression when Lisa was announced as High Rank. However, she continued, “So, we better start thinking about a new design for what you’re going to wear, since we’re only allowed to wear ONE design to each prom; that is the rule.”
After a moment of ‘needed’ silence, he spoke into his friend’s ear, which trembled from the excitement that resonated within her… “Listen Lisa, I hope you achieve High Rank at ‘every’ prom this year. But THIS is not me… I don’t want to get all formal every day at school. I’ll see you around…” “Yes, it’s time to go indeed,” his mother instantly agreed.
This time both of them sulked in the car due to their hopeful disappointment. Feeling lost, his mother looked off toward the side of the road more often than ahead…And that’s where she saw a SIGN; pointing direction toward a night school for high-schoolers she vaguely heard about…most likely due to its location on the other side of town at the corner of 66th Street and 60 Downer Highway. ’It’s worth checking out at least,’ she thought.
At the same moment, Simon reached over; turning on the car radio which begun playing “Revolution” by the Beatles—triggering lip-syncing of the lyrics, ‘You know that everything’s gonna be…ALRIGHT’, not focused on where they are going. Even his mom joined in with the mouthing of the chorus.
BUT SUDDENLY, a collection of static built up–breaking through the melody of the song; saturating the speakers with white noise. Straight ahead, where 60 Downer Highway intersects with 66th Street, the image of a large building presented itself. ’That’s big’ his mother thought; curious of why the school didn’t get any public attention at all. “Where are you taking me now Mom?” Simon asked. Determined, “School.” his mother answered. As they neared proximity to the school, Simon made out the detail of a ten foot, barbed wire fence that surrounded the perimeter of the building. “Are you sure this is a school? It looks more like a prison…” His mother wasn’t quite sure until they were exactly at the corner of 6 and 66. ”Yep” she uttered; pointing at a sign that illustrated three words written in Latin, but ending with the word SCHOOL….
However, this time, no one from the outside nor inside of the school approached the car. Instead the secured barb-wired fence squealed apart; allowing a walkway to appear. “You better go in before it begins to rain,” his mother insisted looking up at the sky which was transitioning from grey to a dark black. Simon exited the car and walked toward the entrance. After clearing past the fence, it squealed; returned back from its separated ordeal, closing with an obvious sound of locking. His mother remained in the running vehicle, watching her son glance back at her—but then furthering himself into the new school.
Once inside, Simon was shocked by what he witnessed—students in the cafeteria throwing food at each other, couples making out against the walls, break-dancers flipping, graffiti art being sprayed onto the ceiling, lunch money gambled by dice rolling in the corners, girls wearing the shortest skirts he’s ever seen; handling a set of red pom-poms cheering, “GO RAMS!!!” Simon knew just then…he was going to give this school a serious try.
Just after taking a few steps forward, he was swiftly ransacked by a boy darting across the open area; racing another. Shaken from the sudden collision, the boy stammered over towards Simon—but instead of helping him up, he shouted obscenely at him; disregarding his slow recovery. ”Watch where you’re going dude!”. Under his breath Simon muttered, “I’m fine. Thanks for asking…” The boy must’ve heard his sarcastic response cause he began hollering out, ”Joe! Hurry up and get over here!!” Simon reflected on how ‘just minutes inside and he’s already managed to collide with another student who happens to be wanting to involve his friend in a fist fight against him now.’ But surprisingly mistaken, Simon heard the boy inform his friend about his attitude as if he was ‘proud’ of it… Lifting his head up and peering straight ahead, he saw them both smirking at him. Still talking tough but not shouting anymore, “My name is Marcus and this brother here is–” Simon interrupted, “Joe… Yeah, I heard you shout out his name earlier”. Laughter sounded from the boy, “Don’t you just love this guy Joe? I mean he keeps on going with that underlying tone y’know.” Wanting to avoid a confrontation Simon submissively said, “Sorry fellas. I didn’t mean to walk onto ‘your’ raceway”. Marcus threw his arm over Simon’s shoulder and told him not to worry about it. In fact, he told him that he could walk anywhere he pleased and do whatever it is that he wanted. When Simon asked about the principal or whoever was in charge of the school; Marcus replied nonchalantly, “Oh, you’ll never see him.” Joe also put his two cents in, “Yeah, he hasn’t even shown his face since I’ve been going here…”. “How long has that been?” Simon asked. With a blank stare Joe replied, “Man, I can’t even remember…But who’s counting right?!” Suddenly the girls in mini-skirts skipped on over to meet the new guy; their fiery movements signaling everyone’s attention; stopping whatever it was they were doing. Marcus then made a proud announcement of introducing Simon. The girl-pack jumped up and down; igniting into a cheer, “SIMON SAYS his last name’s GLASS! Pucker up and kiss his—ALRIGHT RAMS!!!!” They shook their pom-poms up in the air while everyone continued to cheer. This was ‘definitely’ the ‘best type’ of attention that Simon has ‘ever’ received in school.
“Watch out!” Marcus hollered; saving Simon from the crossfire of pizza and corn. One of the girls slipped Simon her number followed by Joe elbowing him in the arm with a smile and a wink. Another person called out at the three boys from one of the corners, gesturing for them to come over. They approached a group of teens that were crouched low, observing a game in motion. ”So who’s gonna throw the dice next?” asked a rugged kid in a black hoodie. Marcus pointed at Simon, “How bought my boy SG here give it a toss.”. The hooded adolescent handed over the dice to Simon. He softly told Marcus that he didn’t know how to play. Marcus told him not to worry about it and just roll the dice. With everyone in the group staring intensively at Simon, he felt no choice in the matter and rolled.
When the dice became still, they displayed a 5 and a 2. ”Winner!” belted the hooded orchestrator. Next thing Simon knew—he was having money being thrown at him. Marcus smiled while handing over the dice again, “How bout another roll?”. Simon stood there a moment still unaware of the rules or even ‘how’ he won, but Joe elbowed him once again in the arm initiating a reflex of rolling the dice. They landed showing a 4 and 3 on top. ”Winner!”
After so many hours had passed, Simon’s pockets were full of cash and he finally felt like he belonged somewhere…but ‘was this actually a school’ he thought; since it felt more like summer camp. He couldn’t help himself from asking his new friend Marcus, “So when do we start learning stuff?”. “What do you mean?” he replied, “You’ve learned at least four new games to play that you just dominated!” He slapped Simon a high five. ”Yeah, I did learn a lot of that and really amazed myself even—but when are we going to learn important stuff; like math and science?”. Marcus switched from being excited to seriousness quicker than Simon has ever seen anyone do—even his mom. “Let me ask you something G, are those ‘things’ you actually WANT to learn? I mean right now you can have nothing but fun here with no authority nor anyone telling you what you NEED to know!”. Joe managed to put his two cents in once again, “Yeah, they want you to learn that stuff for what? So you could make some money?? Have you checked your pockets dude, cause I can see the cabbage right there!” Simon couldn’t see it their way, even though he really wanted too. He began to sulk, hanging his head low—similar to his portrayal when he first entered the school. That’s when he mentioned to them that he needed to take a break and get some fresh air. Joe instantly threw a verbal steadfastness, “You can’t leave. Not till school’s out.”. Puzzled by his statement, “What do you mean I can’t leave? I thought I didn’t have to listen to anyone.”. Marcus explained that no one is supposed to know about any of their so-called freedoms outside of the school’s walls—that’s why the building was camouflaged like a prison and why no one was allowed to venture outside until school gets out. ”So when does school end?” Simon questioned. All the students suddenly stopped what they were doing and emotionlessly stared at Simon. “Never.” answered Marcus. ”Never as in NEVER?” confirming his uncertainty. Marcus turned towards Joe smiling, “Dontcha just love his sarcasm?” before he belted out laughing. His laughter spread out across the crowd like a wildfire. The open room and hallways filled up with the echoing sound of hysterical laughter to the point that it was tortuous to Simon’s ears. Therefore, he bolted for the door in which he came through originally. ”Get him!” cried out Marcus signaling the mob of hooligans to chase after him. Simon heard them trotting near gaining distance upon his heels. He reached for the door that was once there, but now it had vanished. With great concern, he turned around seeing the young villains closing in. Simon realized that his pockets were still heavy, stuffed with cash. Then he remembered that absolutely nothing was allowed to leave the school that gave evidence of what was occurring within. So, he grabbed the wads of money and threw it at the faces of the menacing herd. Distracted by their own desires, the frenzy of boys and girls fought over the money that scattered across the floor. Right after, Simon heard a creak. He turned around; noticing the door reappeared. After exiting the school, the ten foot wired fence separated, allowing Simon a permissible pass. His mother watched him advance with a wide-eyed gaze, grasping the steering wheel within the running car. When Simon approached his mom, he told her how relieved he was to see her. But his mother explained, “How can that be dear…you were just gone for less than a minute?” Puzzled, he glanced back at the sign posted in front; displaying three Latin words followed by what now seemed to spell ‘Sheol’. Bearing enough confusion and disarray over the long day, he chose not to explain his situation and instead kissed his mother on the forehead before entering into the vehicle. As they drove away heading home, Simon said, “I think I’ve finally found out something about myself mom.” “Really…and what’s that dear?” ………………………..”I’m DONE.”
The alarm clock rang loudly causing Simon to open his eyes wide. After switching off the alarm—that was set an hour earlier than usual—his mother’s voice welcomed him, “Rise and Shine dear! It’s time to go out and try this new school that I’d recently learned about from one of our neighbors!” Simon looked up at his mom with a ‘No Way Jose!’ glare before mentioning, “I think I’ve realized that there is actually nothing wrong with my current school, Mom…it’s ME that needs to change.” After his remark, a smile of revelation appeared on his mother’s face, “Yeah…I think we should also go back to the first church that invited us in and pray about it…” The young man flashed a sincere smile at his mother, reminding his face of how long it’s been since. He then gathered up his textbooks and gave his mom the day off from driving him; riding his bike instead to school, soaking up the morning rays of sunshine on a non-cloudy day.
Copyright © M. Krasnoff 2011