We entered the hallway with the ribbons draped across the windows. The Sun was bright and cast shadows over the tables set up in the hallway. People were moving, handling packs on shoulders, backs and in carts which they pushed in a wheelie dance in and out of the groups.
All kinds of people were lining up and standing around at side tables. Many didn’t look happy, and several were chugging on a sour looking green bottle. Girls with bright colors on their nails, packs and hair ribbons ,were chewing on their hair, nails or tassels of their packs. Colors that I had been searching and which were missing from the flower books, were here in the hallway. Everywhere around me was a canvas of colors , reminding me of the riot of clothes worn on 60’s day at work , a short time back. The air wasn’t cold, but the fur tufted sleeves and pants fashion didn’t show it. Smiling , I twisted sideways to let a “horsey set ” of kids mosey on.
” They are going to have to clean up before they go to class. Thesh bok.!” He looked angry and put offish. I straightened up and puzzled. ‘Thesh bok!’ I murmured. ” We certainly are from different parts of the country!” He didn’t smile or respond . I frowned and squeezing his hand, I smirked a half smile.
” What do ya mean, clean up? They look clean and colorful . ” His expression irritated me. Somehow, I felt like defending their rights. They weren’t prisoners in uniforms?- I stopped . maybe? there were some stringent uniform codes. I grimaced .
” I certainly am not dressed up anywhere nearly as much as some of the girls lined up across the hall.” I was shuffling through the packet I had been handed, when I walked in . I hadn’t read any of it, from the looks of the lines of students, I should have. Several groups juggled their books and walking past me, spun me around. My packet scattered like petals in a wind. I looked around and found myself the center of attention amidst many smiles ,several girls caught at the paper petals.
Tall, dark and mysterious stranger smiled at the girls and collected the papers without a sound. Tucking the papers into his own notebook. ” Come on , let’s go in here. ” He slid between tables and through an open door. I followed into a small carpeted room with the usual bulletin boards, table and chairs . The colors were a soft lavender and some greenish teal that were popular in several of the rooms in the manor. Dropping the notebook and his pack onto the chair, he pulled out some money and put it in a box on the table. Opening a cabinet , he took out some glasses and a bottle of green stuff. It still did not look appetizing. I curled my lips and nose, looking around, all I saw were some napkins in a basket: some slots with reams of paper, cabinet doors and small wire boxes with pens, scissors and stained rollers of rubber?
” Approve day is chaos. ” He chuckled, “Everyone standing around usually not in the right place. ” He pulled an opener from the basket.
“Admin trying to sort out the students and the visitors. Instructors trying to see who is admitted into their compounds. Bickering over the type of people and the standards of who is to be here? ” He stared off at the wall behind me.
” Values are hard to agree on. Even Instructors, who agree on ideas, collide on principles. Values and ideas selections are hurtful and helpful. The reasons for – ?” He stopped ,threw his shoulders back and look over my shoulder ,that far away look again. “There are no clear, short or easy principles to decide ways. Wounds are deep even the new denial ones.”
” I’m sure that there are some critieria to balance needs and fairness. ” I wetted my lips and,staring at a poster of rules above the supplies on the wall. I pondered and felt my ID badge. ‘ I had not had to stop at any lines, I didn’t have to answer any questions or do anything. There were many students with backpacks and demeanor who look far more like they belong than I did. ‘ I looked around a “teachers’ lounge” obviously, off limits to any of the people outside the door. Shoving the green bottle across the table, he smiled -a full smile at me. ” You look thirsty, AND YES Marie arranged everything for both of us. Yes, we are ready for class and do not have to stay in any of the lines.” I smiled and licked my lips. Maybe it didn’t taste as bad as it looked. I leaned forward and grabbed the bottle.
” We are here to listen! We are here to memorize what is given to us. We are not to tell them where they are wrong! ” He caught my hands and his voice lowered ,quietly. “How you are treated and how you survive out among the people will depend on you adopting whatever background you are given here. ” He squeezed, adding emphasis to his stern voice. ” I know what my background is , I am good with history and science. I am not DUMB.!” Pulling loose, I lifted the bottle and took a long swig of the green slime stuff. Swallowing and shivering , “How can ya’ll drink that stuff?? I wiped my mouth out with my sleeve.