Room 105

I always feel a kinship with people who admit they were also after school detention detainees.

My friends with perfect records are no less my friends
(of course)
but they don’t understand the longing of release
that came with being kept in an adolescent prison after the daily sentence had been served.

Parole denied.
No time off for good behavior.
Please report to room 105 at 2:35 p.m. for sentencing.

The preferred method of punishment was boredom.
No talking.
No homework.
No whistling.
No tapping your fingers on the desk pleasethankyouverymuch.
This brought out the OCD in all of us
and afterward we would compare the numbers.

“I counted 42 notebooks stacked on the shelf.”
“There are 152 dots on the first ceiling tile on the left hand side.”
“Sixty-six prayer cards stapled to the prayer wall.”

Occasionally, the school needed our manual labor services.
We welcomed chair stacking and paper sorting.
It unfolded us from our desks
and allowed us to converse in hisses and whispers.

However,
the option of reading the Bible was always open to us,
the administration well aware that there was nothing we wanted to do less.

For my first high school detention, it was me and two male students. Boys.
The detention moderator was a tiny religion teacher
with a white beard and jovial personality.
Kids called him David the Gnome behind his back.

He greeted us,
“Good afternoon, gentlemen- and lady,” bowing toward me.

To the boys:
“There’s some cleaning up that needs done on the soccer field.”

To me:
“You can stay here and do some reading.”

He winked as he placed the Bible on my desk.

For an hour, I kept my head down, eyes on the pages.
I wanted to get up.
I wanted to leave.
I wanted to do anything but read these passages over and over, making patterns in my mind with the letters, playing word games, feeling guilty for not taking the book seriously.

I wanted to not be afraid of the consequences,
but I was 14 and terrified of getting in trouble.
Paranoid and certain that he must have someone watching me somewhere.

Why would he leave me here alone?
What teacher does this?
I’m in trouble.
I was late for class three times.
Doesn’t he have to babysit me while I think about what I’ve done?

It wasn’t until they came back
that I realized he knew I would never leave.
I wasn’t that kid
even though I thought about being that kid.

I don’t regret many things but I really should have made a break for it while I could.
The warden only leaves the cell door unlocked once.

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About Andrea Laurion
Andrea Laurion is a writer, improviser, and performer. She lives in Pittsburgh with her cat, Harold.

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