10. Projects 101 and 202
Shera and I laid down on white cots that night. Shera fell straight to sleep, but I stay awake. I toss and turn, worrying about tomorrow. At what I suppose is daybreak, the same man in a grey suit slides the door open noisily. I hear a muffled groan come from Shera's cot. "You may exit to the dining hall for breakfast," he says. "Also, you will need to put on your Project Uniforms." He lays two white pleated, ironed knee-length skirts and two creased white blouses, which are folded neatly, on a white table. He continues by putting two pair of white crew socks and white loafers below the table. The outfits are bland, but Shera and I dress obediently and follow the man to a white long room with white plastic tables and chairs lined up impeccably. We sit where he directs us and food is served. The food is the only thing that is not white. Our breakfasts consist of a fried egg, a small bowl of hot grain, a glass of orange juice, and a glass of water. They are in white dishes on white trays. The utensils are white. Shera, who seems to have no problem with being provided food, drink, clothing, and sleeping area, downs her breakfast in a minute. I pick at the egg and force down a spoonful of grain. The man notices my resisting to clear my plate, and notifies me that I will not leave the hall until I have eaten everything. Apparently they have portioned the food down to a science so that we will have enough calories to get us to the next meal, no more and no less. Supposing I will have medical issues if I don't eat, I reluctantly force down every last bite. I also drain both my glasses. Then the guy lets me out. He marches Shera and I down a hall to a bathroom. It has a toilet, sink, bathtub, and shower stall, all white. There is a tiny square table in the corner that holds two white towels. It must be bathing time. "You have twenty minutes to either shower or bathe and use the toilet," the suit man tells us. Shera uses the toilet while I shower, then we switch. I dry myself with the white towel I have been provided and put my Project Uniform back on. After Shera has showered, dried, and put on her Uniform, we sit on the floor and talk. "What are they going to do to us?" she asks. "It's a lab," I reply. "Probably we'll live under these standards and they'll write crap down on their clipboards. God, I hate it." "It's not so bad," Shera says. "Proper meals, beds, baths?" It is so bad, Shera. It is.