Goals and Gavels

Haseeb Haider

© Copyright 2023 by Haseeb Haider

Photo courtesy of Wikimidia Commons.
Photo courtesy of Wikimidia Commons.

A psychological allegory, one that hopes to deconstruct the person I've become. It is autobiographical, but I made a conscious effort to write without bias, even making myself detail my issue with dandruff!  As much as I hate saying it, everything in this story is true. These people, their thoughts, my inadequacy, and motivations were all once true. I encourage those reading to consider the main character's perception, or lack thereof.  I've been told it's a fun read that way.

I joined my high school's mock trial club at the insistence of my friend, Josh, on account of his vehement desire for a girlfriend, which he honestly wouldn't shut up about.

So, driven by the aching desire to silence him and to watch him flail in the hands of a woman, or women as he hoped, I pushed open the door to my demise. The yellowish tint of the school lights never fails to make me nauseous, and as I floundered across the room, knocking into various chairs, desks, and people, I managed to make my way to the sign-up sheet. Luckily, nobody else was there because if they got up from their chairs to take a look at me, they'd definitely notice my green complexion.

'Wait, why was nobody else here?' I thought, halfway through signing my name. Overturning the sheet in my hands, I inspected the overwhelming blankness confronting my mind.

Thrusting it back onto the table with minimal sound, I kept my back arched over the paper. Driven insane by my meddlesome scrutiny, I adamantly remained engrossed in my puzzle. The other signatures had to be there; even Josh, who waved at me from his seat, must've at least thought of putting his name on here. I waved back, half-heartedly delivering a smile in agreement.

"SO, EVERYBODY, please take your seats," boomed a voice from the corner of the room. By the time he thundered EVERYBODY, I had scurried to the seat by Josh's side. I noticed that, on Josh's other side, was a girl in our grade. She was the one who sat in my seat the period before my math class, which isn't a creepy thing to notice.
ĎHeís already making moves,í I thought, smiling as I turned to meet the voice.
A spry man of 5"6 turned in his office chair, resting his arms on his desk, which boasted a lavish nameplate reading: TURNER. The letters were a uniform black, fitting well with the pristine whiteness of his desk.

He swiveled his chair for enough room to spring straight off of it. Mr. Turner then turned to the SMARTBOARD expectantly, almost ignoring our presence altogether. My neck could barely follow the oddly energetic Mr. Turner, so I wondered how well my brain would fare. Considering I was in all regular classes, aimless, and without a spine, probably not too well.

But even after thinking all that, I strangely couldn't find it in me to get up out of my seat and leave. Something in me felt that continuing to watch meant great things. So, having straightened my spine, I tried to focus on the room around me. Yet, as I motioned my neck to my Josh-less side, I came face to face with a pale, clean-shaven dude.

No, dear reader, I didnít kiss him; thatís illegal.

Anyways, I slowly retreated my neck back, muttering an apology as I turned to inspect the SMARTBOARD with Mr. Turner. My stare was potent, likely because I derived it from my embarrassing misdemeanors, which were consistently constant and frankly plentiful.

"Jess, could you get the video?" Mr. Turner pivoted to face a girl with a furrowed brow. She was two chairs from the clean-shaven dude and sat with her knees to her chest. Ignoring Mr. Turner, 'Jess' kept clacking on her Chromebook's keys. Mr. Turner couldn't tell, but from where I sat, I could see that she was playing the cupcake version of 2048.

"Yeah, sure," Jess retorted, forcefully shutting her laptop as she got up. Jess practically blitzed through the assortment of chairs and desks, some of which held visibly squeamish individuals. The only person whose face held onto composure was that of Abby.

I had previously known her from elementary school, which was honestly the peak of my academic performance. Abby probably can't relate to that, although Iíd love to see her in a rage room. Anyway, at Abby's side sat another girl I remember from elementary school: Hazel. She and Abby's desks were conjoined, which is also how I remember it to be in elementary school. I suppose the only thing that changed between them were their hairstyles. Hazel wore a high-tailed pony doused in red, while Abby wore her hair down.

Noticing their hair had me subconsciously feeling mine, making me cringe at my usage, or lack thereof, of conditioner. I needed to get on that, I lamented with a twist of my curious, dry strands of hair. A flaking mound of dandruff collected under my slightly overgrown nails. I swiftly hid my hand in my pocket; then sunk back into my chair.

I looked forward once again, engrossing myself in Mr. Turnerís effusions.

"Let me set one thing straight; Mock trial will take up a lot of your time. Some of you in the room today will definitely leave, and that's okay. I won't hold anything against you, even if I have the fortune of seeing you again. Just know that even if you don't think you're the best you right now, you will still be you as you are." He gesticulated as he spoke, waving his hands as if casting a spell. I was so mesmerized that I hadn't noticed people leaving until the door slammed closed. The room seemed a lot less stuffy until the silence began to shroud the absentees' place. Mr. Turner's stationary posture evoked great fear in me, causing me to half-heartedly push my seat forward.

"Well," he trailed off, theatrically clapping as he turned back to face the SMARTBOARD. It was still blank, a stark realization that caused him to swivel to us students once more. "Russell, where is Jess?" Mr. Turner inquired, leaning on a desk while looking dead at me.

His eyes were intrusive, and as futile an action as it was, I must confess that I scooted my chair to shake off his scathing glare. If I had used my admittedly small brain to comprehend his concise words, then perhaps I would've cut myself some slack and realized that Russell was the clean-shaven dude to my left.

Instead, I looked to my right, finding Josh deep in conversation with that girl. I pondered his chances, letting my eyes inquire about the situation:

Josh sat with his waist parallel to hers and with arms that casually rested on his desk and chair, which was connected by a cold bar, separating Josh from the girl. He still delivered his debonair grin, which was hilariously accented by the premature mustache resting above his lips. I stifled a laugh, trying to imagine his thought process. He must be tripping on confidence if he can keep struggling against the change.

I covered my own mouth, a bit of dandruff fell from my nails like snow, melting under my increasing apprehensions. My own mustache, a pubescent patchwork, appeared to be exactly like that of Joshís. In fact, I hadn't even considered for a moment that his misfortunes were mine as well. Suddenly, the crushing weight of my own standards seemed too heavy for myself to bear.

So I sat in wait, furthering the distance between Josh and me, and in turn, furthering me from myself.


Haseeb Haider is kenough. He is without any literary anything, but still enjoys writing things against all logic. He's a devout buffoon who enjoys reading, sleeping, kicking puppies, eating kitkats, working out, DOMINATING people in UNO, and watching various online video essays. When he's not doing one of the above, he can be found burning pictures of his old yearbooks, or playing Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

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