Zach sighed quietly and truged to his chair outside the door, sourly taking a seat. It hurt to speak, but who cared. He’d talk anyway— He’d talk until his lips fell off to anyone who would listen. The office kept working, students passed by. Some stared, some didn’t. Some were turning in Valedictorian speeches. He hated sitting outside in the office like that, because he always felt like a criminal. At least, he looked like one, sitting in the office with a swollen mouth, seated next to people who were in trouble for one thing or another. Next to students with emotional issues who needed to see the counselor, and people thrown out of class for their disruptive behavior.
“I’m not like them, though. I’m not here because I’m being punished for something wrong, I’m here because I chose to be. I was always here because I chose to be… for better or worse, I’m fighting for a reason.” And he would keep fighting; they would not change him.
He told himself:
“I’m here because if I don’t stand for what I believe, no matter how sore things get, no one else will.”
Ms.Nasty walked by him, but didn’t look at him. Zach suspected that if she didn’t have anything mean to say, she wouldn’t say anything at all. Her gaze always shifted to avoid making eye contact with students, to avoid recognizing them. And keep from greeting them, because she often got their names mixed up. She only memorized the names of trouble-makers and honor students, and she would only acknowledge their existence if they stepped out of line--- and then it was to put them in their place. To enforce the dress code, school code, or whatever code she was supposed to enforce. In her line of duty, mingling with the lower subjects are was dangerous… as was acknowledging their existence, their feelings, or their point of view. Siding with students was siding with a threat; something volatile and difficult that needed to be monitored, overruled, undermined. Youth were radical, crazy teenagers--- could not be trusted.
It was easier to keep them in line and stay out of everything else.