I hate this place. It’s just grey walls and hard beds, kids from five to fifteen wandering the halls between classes, the older ones staying in their rooms. I can’t wait until I’m eighteen and get to leave. I don’t know what I’ll do with my life but anything is better than here.
My parents died when I was only three. I wonder everyday why I couldn’t stay with relatives, whenever I ask all the instructors give me the same answer, ‘You’re not their child’. But I was still a child, a home would have been better than here.
There’s an older boy named Ralph that I usually follow around, he’s nicer than the others and even seems to enjoy my company. I dread the day when he turns eighteen and leaves me here alone.
“News time!” one of the instructors comes in to the main seating area with a paper in her hand and the kids rush over to her. I stay where I am next to Ralph and listen to her speak.
“Not much to be heard today, a few Magenta rallies shut down, books from before the purge found in a few homes, and an infertile couple arrested. Same ole same ole, nothing major. When you leave here I better not see any of you behaving like these scums.”
I tug on Ralphs shirt and whisper to him, “What does ‘infertile’ mean?”
“It means they couldn’t have children.”
“So? They got arrested for that?”
“Yeah. It’s against the law to…” he looks down at me and chuckles a little, “do ‘adult’ things if you can’t have children.”
“I don’t get it.”
“You will when you get a little older.” He wraps and arm around my neck and ruffles my hair, “You’ll get how shitty everything is in time.”
The instructor waves the kids away, “Go on, nothing else to hear. It’s time for recess, get yourselves outside.”
Ralph and I head outside with the other kids and go to our usual table. It feels better to be outside, at least we can see the blue of the sky but everything else is just as dull as inside; grey walkways, chain link fence, and dirt surround us.
Everyone is just sitting around. We don’t have much to talk about. I do hear a few words about the Magenta rallies being whispered between two boys about Ralphs age, they’re always together and seem sad when they’re apart. I wonder if they’ll join the Magenta marches one day?
I close my eyes and rest my head on the table. The days here are so long and boring. I miss my parents. I miss the world outside of this place, it may not be much better but at least I wasn’t trapped out there, at least I had room to one day explore.
When I open my eyes something catches my attention. It’s across the yard right outside the fence in the freshly dropped dirt; a little speck of yellow among all the brown. I can’t believe it; a flower! A flower growing out of what’s supposed to be dead grass.
I leave the table, Ralph only briefly raising an eyebrow before ignoring me. It’s so beautiful. I can barely make it out from this far away but the color, man the color of it! I’ve only seen that color in text books, I never thought it would be this amazing.
I try to walk over to the fence as calmly as possible but all I want to do is run over and cup that little flower in my hand. I look around as I approach it. The instructors are standing by the doors chatting among themselves, the kids at their tables doing the same. No one is paying any attention to me.
My heart is pounding. My smile is starting to hurt my face. I stand by the fence and look around again; still no eyes on me. Trying not to seem too suspicious I slink down against the fence until I’m sitting on the cold concrete.
I reach through the fence, my hand just small enough to fit between the diamond shaped hole, and touch the small petals of the little yellow flower. I have no idea what it feels like, all I know is that I’ve never felt anything like it before. So soft and smooth.
If I take it I’ll always be able to look at it, they’ll just bury it in dirt if I don’t. But how do I keep it alive once I take it?
“Lunch time!” an instructor stands by the doors and starts to herd the other kids back inside for lunch.
There’s no time left for me to think, I just grab the flower and tuck it quickly into my pants pocket along with a bit of dirt before trotting off to join Ralph by the doors.
I can’t stop looking at it. I’ve filled a small cup with the dirt from outside and a little water. It’s on my window sill where I can keep an eye on it during the day, but I’ll have to keep it under my bed at night.
It’s dinner time and I can hear the bell ringing for us to start to head down to the dining room. The little flower looks sad, it’s leaning over the edge of the cup and I don’t want to leave it.
Ralph raps on my door, “Are you alright?”
“Yeah,” I grab the cup and carefully place it behind the headboard of my bed, “I’ll be out in a second.”
I take one last look back at the little yellow flower before joining Ralph in the hallway.
I close the door behind me when I reenter my room and breath deeply. The little cup is just where I left it, the flower looking even more droopy than it did earlier. I don’t know how to keep it alive, at least not in this place, but it would have died anyway if I had left it outside.
I don’t want it to lose it’s color which is already starting to fade from a bright yellow to a sallow grey. This stupid place is already killing it.
My future is like this flowers. I feel like the older kids are so gloomy and plain, but some of the younger kids here still find fun in drawing little images in the dirt at recess. I’m not enjoying things like I used to, I’m losing whatever color I had in this place, it’s being taken from me so that I’ll be like them.
There’s no point in leaving the little flower in the cup anymore, it’s not going to survive.Leaving it on the window sill I curl up on my bed so that I can watch it. I don’t think I will survive either, not here, not out there, not as long as everything is grey and lifeless around me.