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The Secret

Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 8 Next »


When the first light in morning shone into the lobby, Mrs. Manager’s shouted at the full height of her voice so as to let us rise from our beds. Students started to make out a two-thirds wave of moaning, like the murmur of a congregation at litany in church. This kind of moaning had been accepted by Mrs. Manager as a commonplace, so she didn’t say a word about it.
   She only expressed her annoyance in action.
   I put on my clothes as quickly as possible, listening quietly to the painful howling made by a student who snoozed in bed for a little while longer. A guard blacked his eye with one powerful punch.
   All other students acted as indifferently as I did, being afraid to get involved in this daily bullying. These armed guards routinely subjected students who “behaved inappropriately” to abuses including physical violence, threats, intimidation, and deprivation of food. So we never interfered with other one’s business, realizing each one of us would possibly be the next victim. This had already become a principle——Let everything alone.

   At about six o’clock, floods of students poured out of the lobby and stormed into the dining hall. I followed the flow of people. Alex’s words at last night still echoed in my mind and I couldn’t help thinking about them over and over again.
   “I am the only one in this school who knows the reason of Howard’s disappearance. I witnessed the school leaders took him away. I don’t know where they were taking him to, but I am sure it definitely isn’t some vacation place like Hawaii.” Alex’s face was hidden in the darkness so I couldn’t see his facial expression. But the tremble in his voice was enough for me to catch.
   “Are you kidding? What the hell are they up to?” I regarded this whole thing as an absurd joke, despite Alex’s serious look.
  He turned his face to me, shrugged and looked away.

  Breakfast-time came at last, and this morning the porridge was not burnt; the quality was eatable, the quantity small. I wished it had been doubled.
  While thinking about Alex’s words, I looked up and tried searching for Howard. He was still absent. Then the scene of students sipping their porridge quietly struck me with a strange feeling——as if they were all robots instead of living humans. Their black uniforms, their reticent faces, and their identical movements of spooning the porridge into their mouths…
  “Jesus! What the hell are you idiot thinking about!” I murmured to myself.
  “Miss. Warder, keep quiet while having breakfast.” Mrs. Manager’s voice rang suddenly.
  I lowed my head quickly and continued eating my valuable portion of breakfast.

  I slipped out of my mind every five minutes of class. I was coped with some scenarios from the old days. I thought about the white moonlight shining upon the corner of my bed, not the one in the lobby, but a much more elegant-designed and more comfortable, my own bed in my own bedroom. I thought about the days when many people, as my parents’ friends, visited my home to see me. I thought about their compliments for my flushed cheeks……
  My attention was called off by Miss.Chaff, who was looking for someone to analyze the historical material. Then she said: “Mr.Jones, could you help me analyze this paragraph?”
  I sighed with relief.
  It was History class. At the commencement of the lesson, Nicholas Jones’s place had been at the top of all the 100 students in this fixed class, but for some error of pronunciation, or some inattention to stops, he was sent to the very bottom last week. Even in that obscure position, Miss.Chaff continued to make him an object of constant notice; she was continually commenting on his subtle behaviors, “Mr.Jones, you are standing on the side of your shoe; turn your toes out immediately.” “Mr.Jones, I insist on your holding your head up; I will not have you before me in that attitude,” etc.
  Still, every little difficulty in this esoteric paragraph was solved instantly when it reached Nicholas: his memory seemed to have retained the substance of the whole lesson, and he was ready with answers on every point. I kept expecting that Miss Chaff would praise his extraordinary answers; but, instead of that, she suddenly cried out “You dirty, disagreeable boy, you have never cleaned your nails this morning!”
  Nicholas made no answer: I wondered at his silence.
  “Why,” thought I, “Didn’t he explain that he could neither clean his nails nor wash his face, as the water was frozen?”

  Miss. Chaff asked Nicholas to go out of the classroom after class and sternly admonished him for another ten minutes. I saw him dropping his head so low that it nearly touched his knees. When he walked back to the classroom, his head was still hanging low.
  I approached him, but he didn’t seem to notice my existence.
  “Nicholas, did Miss. Chaff have something against you?” I asked.
  He didn’t have a look at me, just staring at his hands——or rather, his nails.
  I knew I had violated the basic rule in our school: Let everything alone. But I couldn’t help it. As expected, he didn’t reply me. I waited with a little bit of hope.
  As soon as I finally gave up and was about to leave, he suddenly blurted, “ I refused her confessions of love.”
  Jesus. That. Was. Unexpected.
  He finally turned his face to me, “She is insane, but she is my teacher. I don’t want to fail in my History tests.”
  “That’s why you repeatedly have to endure such reproach?”
  “This scares you, right?” he said with a smirk, “Actually, I could understand her love.”
  Paused for a little while, he continued, “ People like us always desired for love. Because our bodies are vacant without memories.”

Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 8 Next »

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