The sound of spewing water from the sink tap filled the bathroom. My toothbrush was done for the moment, so I packed it up in my toiletry pouch and pulled out my comb.
With a quick swipe my comb was wet, and the faucet was turned off. A chill ran down my spine as silence consumed the room. I began combing my hair swiftly so I could go eat lunch. My stomach grumbled as the comb glided through my hair.
While staring into the mirror, I noticed my skin was almost luminous in comparison to the white tile floor and the white smooth walls, coupled with my white Psy Aca uniform pants, and my white undershirt. I was the only thing of color in the room. I stood for a moment staring at my black hair and tan skin. My defined, square face seemed to glow.
I stared into my hazel eyes. I thought about the small tussock of nerves located in the appendage behind the face before me. Everything I think, know, and experience is all located under the hair, and behind the eyes of the boy I see in the mirror. Relatively small, but astounding none the less. It was hard to imagine that all perception stems from the memories inhabiting such a small collection of thoughts. However, this is how we humans have come to accept the universe.
For all we know space, time, and matter are all just illusions of our collective perceptions, and we decided to shroud them in patterns and rules to further understand our own creations. Perception really is a miraculous thing, but if I really want to master the only power I have, I need to understand everything about it.
I flung on my shirt, fixed my collar, and headed off to lunch. Today was my first day of real classes. First off was American Military History.
I think I have someone from my bunk in that class. I forgot who.
Well, either way, filling my stomach was priority at the moment.
Smells of delectable potato, chicken, and string bean dishes meet my nose as I entered the Cafeteria. The room was somewhat smaller than I initially expected it to be. Whoever built Psy Aca must have really had a fetish for rectangles. The Cafeteria was a long white expanse with rows of rectangular tables stretched out, almost from wall to wall. A convenient arrow with the writing "Enter" hanging above a wide opening in the far wall told me where the line began.
There are three Cafeterias to ease congestion, Lena told me to go to the one closest to our bunk, which I thought was the one in front of me, however I became skeptical as I scanned the faces before me.
Darn, where is everybody? Did they all eat and leave already?
This put me in a pretty bad position, but I've sort of grown accustomed to feeling vulnerable as of late.
I stood and scanned the faces of the girls in the lunch room for several moments. I was about to start walking when I noticed a group of girls sitting at a table to my far right had all gotten up at the same time. They were all older than me, and en route towards my position.
I've woken the lion.
"Can we help you?" The girl asked, her face carried a heartfelt sneer.
"Certainly, I'm looking for a way to be treated equally and avoid prejudice." I responded quickly.
"What the hell's that suppose to mean?"
"Calm down, it's just a joke," I forced a chuckle. I couldn't help but shake with fear as awkward silence fell over the Cafeteria.
Suddenly my feet were pulled back and I felt the dull pain in my forearms as they met the floor with a thud. I was completely caught off guard. Before I realized what just happened, I frantically picked myself up off the floor. There were three girls standing behind me, I couldn't tell which one had shoved me down.
If only Amman were here.
The middle of the three spoke."Calm down, it's just a joke."
I saw Jessica, a bunk-mate, behind them.
Please do something Jessica. Please help me.
The girls started forming an odd, less than perfect, circle as the crowd grew exponentially larger.
"Stop it! Stop it!" Jessica screamed, trying desperately to make her way through. Her yells and screams were muffled by the concert of affirmations and protests resonating from the large mass forming around me. Two older girls shoved their way through the crowd. One grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the door.
"What are you doing, you little bitch?" The middle girl yelled to the student who had my arm.
"Suck it." She replied.
Moments later I was dragged into an empty hallway, Jessica and the other older student following close behind. I didn't know if I was saved or dead.
"Thanks for your help." Jessica and I spoke at the same time, hesitation in our voices.
"No problem, I'm sorry you had to experience that." The older of the two spoke to me.
"I'm use to it. It doesn't phase me anymore," I lied.
"Well, just don't get the wrong idea. We aren't all like those girls. They just seem to be the ones most often representing themselves."
With that, they left.
"Are you holding up okay?" Jessica asked once we were alone.
"Yeah, I'm okay," I lied again. "I just wish they could've waited until after I ate."
As I remembered how starving I was, my stomach grumbled loudly.
"Follow me." Jessica said as she started walking.
Minutes later we were standing in the doorway of another Cafeteria, this one noticeably smaller than the last. As I walked in, I noticed the faces of Ashley, Lena, Claire, and Nicolette. They were all sitting at a table talking, sipping their drinks.
Jessica walked me through the line, returning all the scowls shot my in direction.
The food was delicious. I was lucky the cooks gave me such a generous helping.
"They probably heard about all the commotion in the other Cafeteria," Lena explained. "The Cafeterias may seem miles apart, but the kitchens are all interconnected and the Cafeterias are actually right next to each other, the entrances are just all facing different directions."
The next 20 minutes were wonderful, the usual meal-time conversation for a group consisting of 12-16 year old students. Sex jokes, potty humor, and who's going out with who; all crammed together within two square meters.
Jessica got up to leave for class and motioned for me to join her.
That's when I remembered the conversation Jessica and I had this morning:
"So what's your next class, Pink?" Jessica asked.
"American Military History. I heard the teacher's great."
Within moments of the bell ringing, I found myself front and center of the American History teacher's class room.
The projector screen flashed on, and in large blue letters with a light green background it read "Ms. Matthews."
"Good afternoon class!" Matthews waved her arms in the air as she exclaimed her energy filled greeting. Matthews appeared to be in her mid-30's. She had short dark brown hair, and a very athletic figure, which is why she could pull off wearing tan jean shorts and a sleeveless brown shirt.
It was shaping up to be a great class so far. This teacher was highly appraised, and now I can see why. She was energetic, and overflowing with a teaching style favoring the student's interest. This was a history class few would be falling asleep in.
"Today," she continued, "We're going to go over everything we'll be learning in this class."
The students played the role Matthews had set for them by responding with unnecessary groans and moans.
"Hey, it's better than reading off some boring syllabus and jumping headlong into notes."
This time the unnecessary response consisted of laughter. Either I don't have a sense of humor, or this room is the epitome of unoriginality. Either way, I had a long class ahead of me.
Jessica, who was sitting to my left, gave me a nudge, then pointed at Ms. Matthews pants.
I looked away quickly after catching a brief glimpse of our teacher's boxer shorts. Her zipper was wide open. I found the random posters and completed projects hung around the walls an excellent means of averting my gaze.
"Starting off!" she made another crazy hand gesture, "Who can tell me what caused the Second American Civil War?"
Several people, including me, raised their hands. Matthews called on a girl to my left.
Actually, we already had socialism before the war started.
"Anything else?" Matthews asked again.
A few people raised their hands this time, I was once again one of them.
Ms. Matthews pointed to the far right corner this time.
"We had a bad government," the girl answered. Judging by her voice she was the same age as me.
"That's absolutely correct! But can anyone tell me what was wrong with our government?"
This time I was the only one to raise my hand, thankfully.
"Anyone?" Matthews asked again. "Only one? Well, alright. Let's hear it." She waved a hand in my direction.
"We gave our government too much power, which was eventually abused. A single military dictator, through the use of executive orders and the manipulation of congress, came into power of our country, and oppressed his people. That's what caused the Second American Civil War."
A moment's pause as the room lay silent.
"Careful there kiddo," Matthews did not smile as she spoke, "You have to remember, most of these kids have morning classes. You don't want to put anybody to sleep."
It took all the effort I could muster to not make a joke about her zipper being sleepy. I decided to just write it down and pass it to her instead. Thankfully, her response was a silent laugh, then a bright smile. But the thought of Jessica causing a disturbance leading to Matthews reading my note aloud was priceless.
The next 40 minutes brought me close to the point of explosion. Apparently Ms. Matthews doesn't seem to realize the fact that a vague attempt at summarizing history doesn't teach anything. The sheer mass of all the facts and details she left out was one of the most frustrating things I've ever had to listen to. I realize it's a brief summary, but the way Matthews bends the facts makes it look like America is a forever prosperous country full of amazing leaders who haven't lost a war yet. If soldiers from the war of 1812, Korea, or Vietnam had been there, they would've wept.
I can't wait until tomorrow. Who knows what I'll learn.
After class Jessica and I had a good hearty laugh about Ms. Matthews. Who knows, maybe that class will be worth it.
"So where are you off to now, Pink?" Jessica asked.
"Russian Military History. I heard the teacher's great."