NEW 📗Story: School Photo

Recess on the Roof

Monday, Oct 4, 2021

Tzipora had smoked since she was thirteen, and so she did for the rest of her life. What started out as a nasty habit in California’s decaying boarding school system eventually became a social medicine in the severe anxiety of her school years in Vekllei. She used her packs strategically, afraid of building a dependence that would dilute nicotine’s effects on her frayed nerves.

You were not allowed to smoke in government schools. Tzipora retained a pithy contempt of such methods of social control and smoked anyway, on the roof. She’d read science fiction there or listen to foreign radio. Sometimes she would read dangerous books — things she liked to pretend could get her in trouble. Tzipora’s brief phase as a self-described Bolshevik began during recess on the roof of the Lola 6th School’s science block.

She was actually indulging in a sort of play-fantasy of the past; a revision of herself. There was nothing illegal about what she was doing, but she liked to pretend there was.

In a place of deep shame were fragments of a memory. Echoes that shot white hot in her mind — a telephone booth; a lady answers; the face of a girl who told everyone she was pregnant; a handsome teacher; two students dragged out of class; rumours about communists; the end of year dance; four arrests and a suicide.

It was a memory she could not disclose even to herself, and so she recast her role in it subconsciously. She should have been dragged out with them. Maybe if she’d been less of a traitorous bitch, she wouldn’t have made the call.

So she read her banned books on the roof, smoking like she shouldn’t, sometimes hoping someone would come up there and shoot her for it.