A beam of afternoon sunlight leaked through the grimy window, casting a golden angelic glow over the crumpled, scuffed-up Sondheim sheet music littering the footprint-covered floor. Melody sat cross-legged in one of the choir room’s ordinary blue plastic chairs, watching the clock as it murdered the time she so desperately needed, a history book spread across her lap. A cold breeze swept over the ground, awakening the dust that coated the furniture, causing it to dance wildly in the spotlight for a fleeting moment before getting the vaudeville hook. In the background, she heard her friends chattering away; but the clock demanded her attention. She wanted to listen to Randi tell his insane stories, wanted to laugh crazily with Javier, wanted to take part in the frivolous felicity that was passing by her, but her enemy robbed her of that joy.
Melody knew she shouldn’t be in the choir room again, but she couldn’t bring herself to miss out on the merriment. Images of failed tests and bleeding papers floated through her brain, faintly calling for help. Distress bubbled inside of her as she forced herself to look down at a picture of Andrew Jackson giving his inaugural address. The soundwaves from Javier’s booming laugh blurred her vision, shaking her eyes; but she restrained herself from looking across at the joyful scene unfolding in front of her. She smelled the green tea that Quinn drank every afternoon in order to “keep her voice silky smooth.” The smell engulfed her in a green haze, in which she could see her friends lounging in their usual places on the royal blue couch- Javier at one end, tears of joy streaming from his twinkling dark chocolate eyes; Quinn at the other, intense smile accentuating her well-defined cheekbones; and Randi sprawled across the two of them, ludicrous tales spewing from his gigantic pink lips. Beaming, she reached out to the image, wanting to insert herself into it; but just like that, it faded away, and she was left staring into the cold eyes of Jackson once again. She viciously added bite marks to her already shredded pencil, each laceration adding to her stress level. She could hear her purple macerated planner from inside her florid backpack, taunting her with unfinished tasks, as if she were a cat gazing at a ball of yarn dangling just out of reach. The assignments sat in her mind like a cinderblock, restricting her from letting loose, reminding her that she could define freedom, but not experience it.
“OMG, listen!” Randi yelled over the boisterous cackles that filled the air. “Midnight madness, guys. It was a time! Mel, you’re gonna wanna hear this one for sure.” She grimaced as Randi’s voiced drowned out her desperate desire to engage. Gazing helplessly back at the clock, she begged the blood red hand not to move any further, feeling the worry building in her chest each time it ignored her pleas. Another eruption of resounding laughter caused her chest to tighten. The sunlight that had once radiated through the room disappeared, playing hide-and-seek behind the grey clouds that floated past. Going against her own instincts, she glanced over at the babbling group. Instantly, they enveloped her, pulling her into the vortex of distraction.
As Melody sank deeper into the realm of irresponsibility, she begged herself to leave them, to finish her work, to be sensible; but just like the murderous clock, she ignored her own desperate pleas. After all, why do today what you can do tomorrow?