8. No Exit

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8. No Exit
Freshman Year

I wish high school made things better, but being the youngest again was torture. I needed to defend myself a lot, and because of that I kept getting in trouble.

Friday afternoon detentions were the worst. I wasn’t mentally prepared for being stuck in a metal shed with the same bullies, bitches and punks who tormented me all week. But our war had its price, and being in constant trouble with authorities meant punishment. Now that school was out, I had to report for mine.

After-school detention was held outside the school, in one of the extracurricular facilities a few hundred feet away from the main campus—small, cheap, standalone buildings. The detention hall served a number of purposes, one of which was a dark room for the photography classes, and the lack of windows made it an abysmal place to spend an afternoon. I’d wasted a lot of time in that dismal cage.

David had not. He never got caught for his crimes, and so it surprised me to find my friend sitting outside the detention hall.

“They finally get you?” I asked him, smiling.

“Never. I need you to do something for me, though.”

“What is it?” How could I say no?

“I need to test a theory today. I think people define themselves by how other people view them, but I need to make sure. I can't tell you what I have in mind, but just trust me. Don’t give me away.”

Don’t give me away?“Whatever you say, man.”

“I mean it,” David said, pointing at me as he walked away. “I’m putting my trust in you, Jacob.”

Cryptic. I had no time to think about it. I stepped into the detention hall; the attending coach extended his hand, motioning for my cell phone.

“I don’t have one,” I said, tongue shoveling the words out the gap in my clenched teeth. The monitor relented.

There were maybe ten or fifteen students in detention, freshmen through seniors. I knew a few personally: some of my worst enemies.

“White trash,” one of them began barking out in fake coughs as I sat in the front corner. The muscular coach monitoring the hall glared, and the bully fell silent.

An hour into our allotted detention, a cell phone began ringing. Everyone searched around, eager to find the culprit—but the monitor was the guilty party. He glanced at the phone, looking shocked, then worried, fidgeting for a few moments before telling us there was an emergency and he had to go, but someone else would replace him in a minute.

I looked around nervously as the coach rushed out the only exit, the whole event having taken less than a minute. Detention attendees made eye contact, smiling in disbelief. A few students began picking up their backpacks, ready to leave if reinforcements weren’t arriving.

Then the lights went out. The door opened then closed; complete and total blackness. I couldn’t see the desk in front of me.

Nothing to do but sit perfectly still and wait for the lights to turn back on. Except, they didn’t.

“Hey!” A baritone voice shouted. “Hey, turn the light back on.”

No response.

"I'll get it." I heard whoever sat closest to the door get up, stumble over, nearly trip. The light switch was flipped, but only brought impotent clicks. No First Day, no 'let there be light.' We might as well be blind. The sounds were just abstract notions coming through an all-encompassing ebony veil.

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