Goals and Gavels
Copyright 2023 by Haseeb Haider
Photo courtesy of Wikimidia Commons.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
already making moves,í I thought, smiling as I turned to meet
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.
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.
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.
dear reader, I didnít kiss him; thatís illegal.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
looked forward once again, engrossing myself in Mr. Turnerís
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
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.
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.
I looked to
my right, finding Josh deep in conversation with that girl. I
pondered his chances, letting my eyes inquire about the situation:
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.
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.
I sat in wait,
furthering the distance between Josh and me, and in turn, furthering
me from myself.
Haider is kenough. He is
without any literary anything, but still enjoys writing things
all logic. He's a devout buffoon who enjoys reading, sleeping,
puppies, eating kitkats, working out, DOMINATING people in UNO, and
watching various online video essays. When he's not doing one of
above, he can be found burning pictures of his old yearbooks, or
playing Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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