Distressed murmurs shoot around the classroom like bullets, and I take every hit. Today? Right now? Why? How could there possibly be a change in the system? It’s been like this for years, the same date, the same time.
Miss Roberto’s face is pallid and the dark circles under her eyes stand out. Slowly, she nods and turns to us all.
“Very well then, do as Michael says. Stand in a line and head straight to the Test Hall immediately! No talking just silence.” We stand up, obeying the commands, and file out silently. My head rings with all the questions flying around my mind.
We approach the Test Hall and troop in, worried and anxious, staring at all the other ashen faces who stare back. I’ve never been in the Test Hall, but it is nothing special. Just a huge room with dirty white walls and five sectioned cubicles at the front. Each of them are big and open.
You can see the equipment, the clipboards, the buckets, the warm water, the various dyes, the scissors, the extensions, the benches where we sit. My stomach jolts and smashes against my walls, and I try not to gag.
Everyone has filed in, and now come the staff. Dressed in all black, black blazers, black skirts and trousers, black tops, black socks, black shoes. They all have black hair too, cut into a jagged bob or neatly shaved sides with zig-zag patterns. In total there are ten staff members, and they stand in pairs by each cubicle. One has a clipboard and the other just a pair of hands.
“Anders, Michelle,” says the first staff member. Michelle, who I have never seen, steps forward nervously. You can see the tiny shake of her hands, the anxious swallows, the fingers picking at a thumbnail.
“Andrews, Adam,” says the second staff member. Adam, a scrawny boy with gangly limbs, steps forward. His head is down, his eyes glued to the floor.
“Please step into the cubicles and begin your examination to determine your colour,” says the third staff member and gives a sharp smile. Michelle and Adam nervously head into separate cubicles, Adam with his head still bent low and Michelle shaking even more.
And so it goes on. First the A’s, then the B’s, then the C’s and so forth. It wasn’t long before the E’s were called out. I was amongst the last of the E’s, and Maxwell is behind me. Something urges to twist my head and smile, but I stay fixed on the closed door of the cubicle in front of me.
After a few minutes, the door opens and the girl in front of me appears. She has extended white curls with streaks of violet and pink ends. Her hair looks incredible, and she smiles smugly at me. I can only hope to get something like that.
“Evelyn, Cassy please step into the cubicle and begin your examination to determine your colour,” says the fifth staff member with a mechanic drone. My heart pounds hard and fast, as if it will break any minute. The walls of my stomach feel like breaking and I can no longer feel my knees. Terrified, I take a step forward into the cubicle.