My morning is fast and strangely abrupt. I pull out my school clothes, a grey flat dress with no shape and a horrific circular collar. For accessory, we are allowed a simple grey piece of fabric we can tie around our waist in a plain, thin belt. Today the weather is reasonably warm, so I leave my grey tights lying on my bed and let my legs breathe for once. Staring at myself in the mirror, I tug loosely at my dull hair.
Tomorrow, one day, this hair will be different. What colour? Blue, green, pink, orange, brown? My grey hair lays limp on my shoulders, ugly thin strands with splitting ends. The thought of changing my hair entirely tomorrow relaxes me a little. Every colour has a different hair style, all of them look nice enough. Anything but grey and frizzy is fine by me.
Sliding my only book into my school bag, I run downstairs and grab my lunch from the fridge. Sandwiches, an apple, some cheese and onion crisps, a sneaky chocolate bar and some strange pink liquid. Head says every seventh year must drink the mysterious drink seven days before The Test. It tastes fine, rather plain, like a kind of flavoured water. What that flavour is I have no clue.
Breakfast is a few gulps of milk from the cardboard carton, a habit I seemed to have developed, and a breakfast bar. What more do I need? In school, no energy is ever needed, just brain power for the ever-dragging lessons.
Ma steals occasional glances at me and Da has disappeared, probably still snoring upstairs. Family breaks apart when seventh year comes, even before seventh year, family never really exists. What use are they? Love doesn’t exist, everyone is by themselves. Nothing is forever; family, friends, jobs, life. Something inside me aches to say something. Yet, I don’t.
Slinging my bag down on the floor, I slip on my grey buckled shoes. The fabric is un-comfortable and ugly. Making sure the buckle is in place, I pick up my bag and leave the house. Ma glances over at me again, and I see her face as I shut the door. Maxwell, my brother, will soon be behind me.
Sometimes I feel terrible for Ma. How horrible must it be, to raise your child in silence, to answers their calls for food but never hug it. Never kiss them goodbye on the first day of school, hug them when they scrape their knee, comfort them when they feel down. To create this wonderful, intelligent human being and never know one thing about them. I do not know anything about Ma, apart from her appearance. But nowadays, in this judgemental society, appearance is all you’ll ever need.