The Long Walk

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Everyday it's the same. An agonizing countdown of minutes. Just an hour left, 45 minutes, 30, 25.... You're so close to being done, to getting out of here, and to what you've been waiting for all day - your couch. Nobody else in that room around you can even begin to understand. They think about other things, about friends, boyfriends, sport practices and so on. You wonder if you can make it through 20 more minutes of this.
Your head feels heavy. Your neck and back ache. And your legs? A radiating pain from hip to knee to ankle. Someone makes a comment and you cringe. You'd like to slap them across the face. How insensitive are you? you would shout. Do you know how I feel? Could you even begin to understand?
It’s just in time. The big hand hits the twelve with a click that outdoes its predecessors and you are up, grasping the handle and swinging the door behind you as you enter the hallway. You walk quickly at first, out of anger and frustration. But then your legs slow down, you remember your pain. Something inside of you is crumbling and you've lost any spirit you had left. As you walk down that long, long hallway, you are an empty shell. There is no fight left in you today.
An old teacher waves to you, says hello. They ask how you are. Good, you respond smiling. It’s all an utter lie. Maybe you have more left in you than you thought. Or maybe you've just gotten too used to the lies.
When you reach the nurses office they greet you. Some of the few people who know all about you. Who see you every day. They ask how you are. You tell them okay, but tired, ready to go home. Somehow that word - tired - doesn't mean enough. It doesn't have the gravity that it should. In your head it means so much more and carries so much pain. But it's said too much. It’s worn out. The word tired is just that – “tired.”

You swallow the pill. Smile a goodbye. Maybe hang around an extra minute to chat. It's not like you're in a huge hurry to get back to class.
The walk back always feels faster. You slow down as you get closer trying to hold off the inevitable. There are only five minutes until the bell rings. Five minutes is a lifetime in your world.
The bathroom is there so you turn in. It'll waist of couple of minutes, at least. You've become the queen of wasting time, when needed. You don't even enter a stall, just stare at yourself in the mirror or rub your eyes. Take deep breaths and remind yourself how far you've come, how far you are going to go. It doesn't seem to matter right now.
You leave and walk slowly to the room, not three doors down. You stop in front and take another deep breath. Here we go. And open the door. And walk in. And sit down. As everybody stares at you. Not one of them getting it, even for a second where you've been, where you are.
You're handed the homework as you glance at the clock. One minute to go. Click. The bell rings. You pack up your things as everyone else rushes out. You're the last one in the room. You slide your bag over your shoulder, say goodbye to your teacher who understands more than the rest of them do, as she looks on with kind eyes.
And then you're out, down the same hallway. This time you aren't alone, but it certainly feels like it. There is a dull roar of noise in the hall around you.
Everyday it's the same.





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