Remember to Stay

By Leighton Tanaka, TIWP Student

A cold, hard chair pushed up against me. It was brown but it was covered in the white buzzing glow of the lights. My teacher droned on in front of us, her heels clicking on the linoleum floors as she paced back and forth. Over and over her shoes found their way to the same exact crack on the floor and a hollow sound echoed throughout the room.

Papers lined the walls, they were all frayed and ripped at the ends as if they had been there a long time, although some of them had been put there just yesterday. Windows were so grimy that I could not see through them, only perceiving the hues of green and gray that shone through them.

Bored out of my mind, thoughts raced through my mind, though none of them managed to decipher themselves before losing grip. I was just as blank-minded as I was bursting with thoughts. Someone leaned over from the seat behind me, whispering in my ear.

I heard the train going by as I stood under the great blue sky, admiring the broken skyline. The stars shone faintly from behind the light of the sun, slowly retreating below the horizon. I shivered slightly from the cold and avoided the cracks in the sidewalk. I held an orange in my hand and started to peel it, my shoes scraping against the concrete ground overrun by weeds. The green dotted the streets and crawled up the houses. Yellow painted lines on the streets were slowly fading away, and the streets were damaged beyond use. I heard a faint humming sound coming from a generator in the distance. The power lines above me sparked with electricity as I walked past the unsteady rotten pole. I took another step. A stray dog barked at me, making me jump and back away from it carefully, hiding my orange behind my back. I continued on to my destination, pulling my long sleeves over my hands and my socks back up my heels.

I reached up and touched my face with my hand, it felt cold, which was comforting. The gray sun beat down on me, a breath of air made the hair on my neck stand up. I heard someone gasp, the sky was filled with smoke. I stood on the floor of my room, pacing. The metal floors rang with every step I took. I walked over to my backpack and hoisted it over my shoulder, feeling its weight on my body. I smoothed out my skirt and fixed my hair before descending the stairs. The sound of my careful footsteps reverberated through the air. I looked out across the crowded buildings.

The tan buildings with teal trims housed everybody like me. Their delicate steps cried out through the air like an alarm. Under my feet the stairs pressed up against me, urging me to move forward. I took one last look at the people like me, with straight haircuts and once nice uniforms, now messy and wrinkled like the rest of us. I merged with the crowd at the bottom of the stairs, mindlessly following the flow. Rain dripped from the sky as I pulled my sleeves over my hands. The crowd squeezed in around me as if there was no space for me in their sequence. A haze covered the world, I looked up at the pale yellow board that had been posted in the street. On long rusted legs, the board was raised above the ground. REMEMBER TO STAY, it said.

Someone touched my shoulder and I turned around to look. Old, dead eyes stared back at me. The eyes were cruel though their smile was warm. They held me gently as the crowd flooded around us and held a wilting finger to their lips as the alarm sounded.

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