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Initiation This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The calm was omni-present; it wrapped the room in a too-warm blanket and slowly bled the life from still faces. I watched as eyes once bright with curiosity flickered, dimmed, and died. Twitching fingers stilled and fell silent on motionless laps. Breaths taken were slow and even, barely rippling grey clothes.
I stood in the front and watched the slow death, mourning the loss of each personality as it fled the quiet atmosphere. My eyes roamed over rows of identical grey faces until I settled on one.
The eyes were half lidded and the face showed one emotion; boredom. A short, quick breath was followed by a slow inhale, trapping me in the a-rhythmic pattern. I started as green eyes caught my grey and held, daring me to do something before dropping again to the desk top.
Green. That color I had thought was lost among the grays, blacks and whites that formed the world. I jumped as the face containing those eyes widened into a yawn, showcasing a pink tongue. A hand rubbed an eye and suddenly the area blushed into sun-kissed skin.
A longing glance at my own ash grey hand and I was watching him again. A foot jiggled and color crept into the pants and sneakers covering it. The yawn was back and rosy pink filled formerly grey cheeks.
Red lips, brown hair and flushed cheeks glowed at me. The colors assaulted my eyes and I gasped as the shirt gained colors. I had no name for the shades contained. I had never seen half of them.
Stunned though I was, amazed by the color, I knew the rules all too well. "Jacob. Office, now." No one else blinked or moved but the colored boy's face looked up, disgusted. He slid to his feet and sauntered down the aisle between seats.
Suddenly he stopped, halfway to my desk. Green eyes caught mine, challenged me as he laughed in my face before swinging his arm. The boy seated beside him yelled in shock and pain as red gushed from his nose. Lifting a grey hand he stared at the red blood then touched his face. I watched in horror as the red stain seeped into grey skin, flushing it a gentle pink. He blinked and his grey eyes faded to a soft brown.
Jacob was still moving, hand lashing out to leave a red handprint on a girl's cheek. The irritated color spread, revealing golden hair and hazel eyes.
Max was up now, rubbing the blood from his nose onto any skin he could touch. Living statues collapsed into color under his ministrations.
I just stood, speechless, as the class exploded into color though the room was silent. The noise came from the colors, not the people.
The class turned as one to me, standing grey in the front. Rosa stood and walked slowly towards me, her brown skin and chocolate eyes getting gradually closer. Stopping inches from my face she smiled gently, reached out and touched my forehead with one long finger.
The color elsewhere was nothing compared to seeing my own skin. I was a vibrant brown, tanned by years spent under the grey sun. I studied my hands, my feet, touched my face as though I could feel the difference.
I looked up as a sound broke the silence. Jacob stood in the center aisle, eyes locked on mine, clapping deliberately. Others joined in until the room was filled with noise. It was breathtaking to see all the smiling faces, cheeks flushed; applauding for no reason other than they wanted to.
As the class left for the day I winked at Jacob. He grinned back and stopped by my desk. Leaning in, he whispered, "I love Initiation days, don't you?"
A grin was my only response.





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