The only times my theater class is ever quiet is during lockdowns.
Lockdowns make me anxious, I am very anxious; I did not bring my lavender oil to school today; lavender oil helps me stay calm; I am not calm I am panicking; I do not want to have another panic attack; I had my first panic attack less than a month ago. My lungs got heavy and I thought I might die; during lockdowns I think I might die; I do not want to die. I want to get my sat schedule and stress over my math score; I want to go to my precalc class, even though I hate my precalc class; I want to learn.
The only things I am learning now is how loud a train can be when it is the only sound heard in a theater, when it is quiet, because there is a lockdown. I am learning that the white tape on the stage glows when it is the only light in a room, when it is dark, because there is a lockdown. I am learning that glow in the dark tape in a silent room will almost look like stars, and it will almost be nice, until you remember the footage shown to you by a tall woman which proved to be fake, but which made you panic nonetheless. It will almost be nice until you remember you have had all these lockdowns to prepare you for becoming a news story, an ugly picture chosen by your parents because you’ve never told them which picture you want them to use at your funeral, the one taken of you by a girl you love during golden hour. It will be almost nice until someone laughs and your teacher tells you to be quiet.
I don’t want to be quiet; I have been told I am a quiet person; Even when I am not quiet, I am not heard; I don’t want to be quiet; I want to scream.
My foot starts shaking and I am worried that the zipper on my boot might make too much noise; I am afraid that the next noise I hear might be gunshots.
The only times my theater class is ever quiet is during lockdowns and even then we barely are. In a few seconds there are whispers, and flashes of cell phone light. I am scared something might come of it. I am scared that we are quiet, because we are only ever quiet during lockdowns, and lockdowns make me feel like my school is a war zone waiting for a bomb to drop.
The silhouette sitting in front of me is illuminated by the soft glow of her finsta feed. I want to tell her to shut it off because maybe if we follow the rules it will end sooner and we can leave and I can get out of this increasingly tiny tiny room, but then I remember it doesn’t matter. I remember that there is a literal one in a million chance of dying in a school shooting, and a girl getting off her phone isn’t going to matter if I do.
I start biting my nails even though I told myself I was going to quit that habit because it’s gross, and I think to myself that maybe disrespecting protocol is more productive than following it, and maybe if over time no one complies with the lockdowns we might stop having them, and I might stop struggling to breathe in a dark classroom, while my theater class beautifully fails at being quiet. I hate being forced to be quiet. Another minute passes, and I feel like we’ve been in here for an eternity and I miss Sidney’s voice.
Someone waves at me from the floor, because they’re on the floor for some reason. I wave back. It’s too dark for me to tell who it is, but it’s probably Ronny and I’m glad that it’s Ronny because he always makes me smile, and I really want to smile.
My toxic mixture of imagination and anxiety is getting the better of me. I remind myself that this is not real; I am not really dying; Ronny is real. This chair is real. The paper I was given earlier that I will definitely throw away, that’s real. I’ve been in this room enough times to know that there are two steps between me and the floor, and two feet ahead of that is the stage, and behind the stage, across the room from me, is a wall full of graffiti. I always read the graffiti when I’m back there and I’m bored, but I can’t read the graffiti now because it is dark, because there is a lockdown.
Lockdowns make me feel like I’m in a war zone waiting for the bomb to drop; I don’t want my school to feel like a war zone waiting for the bomb to drop. Every time there are metal detectors I feel like I’m walking into a prison more than I already do; I don’t want my school to feel like a prison, I want it to feel like a school; I spend so much time here and I actually kind of love it, despite not liking it.
I don’t want my theater class to be quiet, because we never are. I want to be loud.