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Purgatory Institute

The autumn leaves descend from the winding branches. A handsome white barn owl sits perched, looking outward with its deep neutral gaze as the leaves are being carried off by the soft wind. It jumps off, flapping its wings in mid-air. It soars through the cool breeze, hovering across the empty streets. It heads downward towards another tree, planted near a large high school building with cool, grey walls and sky blue balconies. On the side of the building, the owl lands on the subtle tree branch staring at the third floor of the building. It peers through the window, observing inside the classroom.

It’s 10:13. I stare blankly through the lesson as I sit amongst the first row of students. My eyes fixed between the glossy floor and the soft orange wall. As my mind wanders away, the voice from my English teacher fades into the background. After for what seems like hours, I have no desire of continuing the rest of the day confined in this place. Especially, when I have to tolerate every annoying gawkier, every taunting stare, just so I don’t have to feel cringed inside in the act of avoiding them. I hate them. Well, I wouldn’t say hate but being around them just irks me in frustration. And yet, because of this, sometimes I feel I’m a terrible person inside.

I gaze towards the window on my left as I pull my bleach messy hair to one side, noticing the white owl looking back at me. Meeting the interesting bird bend his head to one side in a curious silly way, captures my attention, and the negative senses inside me die down. I manage a small smile. Suddenly, I get startled. Only brief, I felt something hit me from the back of my head. I turn around observing my classmates, a few writing in their notebooks, others doing something else to pass the time. I narrow my eyes down, feeling foolish. Quickly ignoring it, I let out a heavy sigh as I turn facing forward, getting back to the lecture. After a minute, I feel it again. I’m able to distinguish something soft, yet with hard edges hitting the backside of my scalp, rolling down behind me. Turning around a second time I search among the students in the back desperately trying to capture the culprit, but again, nothing. Just a few heads popping up, watching me with strange glances. Looking down at the floor, I find two crumpled paper balls behind my chair’s leg. I click my tong, bothered by the evidence left behind. Eyeing one more time at the back, I breath out heavily, letting out the steam building up inside my chest.

Miserably swinging forward in my seat, I give up troubling myself searching for the prankster. After all, I see no point badgering everyone as a suspect. No good will come from just picking a fight with a random person, and making yourself appear more insane. All I can do is bear with it and hopefully, it’ll to stop. By the third ball, that was it. I quickly twist my full body around and notice at least three students with their faces completely leaning in on their desks, hiding behind their notebooks, as they chuckle silently. My hushed breathing came in and out of my nose, escalating as I view the scattered bystanders that were witnessing the game unfold. I glance over at my row behind me. Two desks down, April behind the Jonathan sitting in front of her and makes eye contact with me, giving me a mischievous grin. Watching that, I start gritting my teeth tightly as the saliva in my mouth makes its way down my throat. At the same time, my fingers grasp the back-end of the chair as if I’m about to jump out from my seat, make my way down to her and slapping that proud grin off her face.

“Tania?”Abruptly, Ms. Kennedy, the teacher, calls out my name. It was like a switch went off, waking me from a disturbing vision playing inside my head, stopping my body in the process. Still seated, I turn my head towards her direction, noticing her stance switching sideways only to look at me.

“Are you with us?” she begins to interrogate me.

Taken back by the sudden awkward silence of the classroom, I stammer a little. I want to expose the idiot rascals that were deliberately vexing me, but I was hesitant. The students draw their attention to me, waiting for my response. I can already feel their wide eyes fixed on me, probing me with their cynical interested gazes, waiting for me to speak. From the corner of my eyes, I invisibly attempt to glare back at April and her friends sitting behind me. Slowly bringing my eyes to the floor, I become trapped in this blank state; struggling to let my voice be heard. Unsure of myself.

“Yeah, yeah,” I finally said silently.