Lost in the Desert This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

January 22, 2011
I sit alone at the back of the school eating my pallid, boring lunch. I stare blankly out at the vast desert wasteland around me, only if I turn around will I see that my back rests on what passes for civilization around here. I live about twenty miles outside of Palm Springs in a tiny “city” called Desert Springs. It’s not really a city in the true sense of the word; its a few residential streets, a post office, and a high school. There’s only one highway exit leading to the town. One blink and you’ve passed the city by. Why anybody lives out here is beyond me.
I ball up my paper lunch sack and drag my self back to the hell that is Desert Springs High School. I take a long glance back at the desert and wish I could just wander off into its vastness and end up somewhere with people, rain and oceans. My school only has about two different types of people. Tan bottle blond ditsy girls forever planning their next shopping trip to Palm Springs, and self absorbed motocross boys constantly comparing their latest injuries, thinking that somehow crashing is impressive. None of them know what it’s like to live in a city with millions of different people and something going on all the time.
I do. My parents sent me here last year to live with my aunt, a teacher at Desert Springs High. I use to live in Berkeley, before I got in to some pretty deep trouble. I am, was, in a band. We were called The Kleptomaniacs and I was the bassist. We were about to play a big show at Ruthie’s Inn, so we wanted something big to promote it. Johnny Livermore, our drummer, thought we should just do some graffiti the back of our school, El Cerrito High. But Scorch, our pyro guitarist, wanted to use fire, and Lint Trap, our singer, thought we could make a huge mark by burning “The Kleptomaniacs live at Ruthie’s Inn Oct. 31 9pm” on the grass at the front of El Cerrito High. They all thought it was the perfect plan. I was opposed to it the whole time, I had no problem with vandalism I just didn’t want to do it where the pigs (our word for police) could find us so easily. Unfortunately I was right about getting caught. Just before the end of first our set the pigs came and arrested us all for vandalism and destruction of school property. Because this was my first offense I got off with a warning and my parents sent me here to suffer through the rest of high school. Johnny, Scorch, and Lint weren’t so lucky they all had other arrests on their records and are now stuck in a juvenile detention center for a year.
Desert Springs is hostile; the first day I was here all the other kids took one look at my pale skin, purple hair, biker boots and black leather jacket and decided I was some kind of freak from another planet. After about a week I figured out that it was way too hot to wear jeans and a long sleeve shirt every day, and after passing out from heat exhaustion a few times I got the picture nature was trying sending me. So now I wear shorts and tank tops, but I still wear my leather jacket, biker boots, and a ton of sunscreen in defiance of the desert sun.
During school I feel as if I can’t breathe; with all the people around me staring as if I’m the devil herself. They breathe down my spine constantly looking for new reasons to hate me, new things to twist into their next joke. I’ve given them plenty of reasons; after all I am a punk, I never wanted to fit in with these people, and more than that I never wanted to move to their beloved little town. This place is also constricting. Even though I can look out and see to the horizon in every direction I feel like I’m trapped in a tiny box with no way out and no holes to let air in. After I get released from school there’s never anything to do, so I sit alone in the desert behind my Aunts house and stare into the never ending vastness. In those moments I’ve never felt farther away from home. I feel like I’ve been removed from reality.
I wait for the day I turn eighteen and I can leave this place and go back where I belong.

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