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Today they are going to tell me why I am here. Why we are here.
Most of the girls come out in tears, drunkenly stumbling down the corridor, supporting their unsteady heads as if the new information is weighing them down. As if it is a burden.
The girl before me comes out laughing hysterically. A man in a white coat scribbles frantically on a blue notepad, whilst a pale woman leads her away with a look of trained indifference on her face. I wonder where they take her.
The man with the blue notepad exhales uneasily and calls my name. I turn to face the girl beside me, but she refuses to meet my eyes.
The room he leads me into is large; I would never have guessed from the outside. I flinch as he closes the door behind me and gestures for me to take a seat. Glancing around nervously, I am wary of the video camera pointed at my face. It looks like a gun.
As I glance to my left I notice the window. Clouds hang low in the sky, as if suspended by invisible strings. It has been like this for quite some time, always making me feel claustrophobic.
From the corner of my eye I can see a bird, flying precariously in the stiff breeze. I focus my eyes, but cannot make out what type it is. It bothers me that the unidentifiable bird refuses to follow the flock. Then again, the flock appears to be flying straight towards the eye of the storm. Perhaps my bird is the only one with any sense.
The man with the blue notepad coughs somewhat abruptly. My head snaps back towards him, and I examine him sceptically as he rips off the previous page.
‘Do you know why you are here?’ he asks cautiously. I shake my head, and we sit in silence as he taps the table with his pen impatiently. It irritates me. Get on with it. Did you really think that I would have an answer to your question? Now tell me what I want to know.
I keep things to myself. The psychologists told me that when I was younger. Well, they didn’t tell me. They wrote that on the notepad and I sneaked a peak on the way out. Only it wasn’t written by an old man on a blue notepad, it was a young woman. And her notepad was red.
They observed the way we interacted, me and the other girls. They were intruders, and they were unwelcome. But I was the only one who saw them that way. The other girls had no problems with their obscure questions, and gave them detailed answers.
One time when we were very little, they gave each of us a hamster. They were in cages. We weren’t allowed to take them out, just to stroke them through the bars. It made me uneasy, and in my great distress I tried to take mine out. A stern man took the cage away, and in the corner people made extensive notes. They told us then that it was an experiment, and I used to think they meant on the hamsters. Now I’m not so sure.
The other girls won’t think of them in the same way anymore. The psychologists. That word will gain new meaning. They will no longer be the friendly guests who provided a temporary escape from our monotonous lives. No, now, they are the intruders. They are the people who turned us into the experiment; they are the people who used us for their own ends. All in the name of science.
Later, the other girls will start asking questions. Why did they choose us? I will shrug and say nothing. I should tell them I think they are asking the wrong questions, but like I said, I keep things to myself.
The man with the blue notepad tells me. His words are not the surprise they were to the other girls. I think this shocks him. He tells me that we are subjects of an elaborate experiment to investigate how isolation affects human behavior. A psychology experiment.
I nod slowly. It explains why for my entire childhood, I was never allowed to leave this place. That’s the difference between me and the others; they never wanted to know. They accepted that there were boundaries which we were forbidden to cross. That is why most girls came out in tears, drunkenly stumbling down the corridor, supporting their unsteady heads as if the new information was weighing them down. As if it was a burden.
My burden is about to be lifted. The man with the blue notepad asks me if I have any questions.
Now is my chance to learn what is out there. From the corner of my eye, I see that the clouds are beginning to part.
I take a deep breath in anticipation of his answer.
* * *