Thursday, September 30, 2010
The Mute Girl
There were always three favorites in any school election, it had been that way in Zephar High School since the beginning of the institution in 1936. Through the clothing and hair styles had changed with the times, the three teenage archetypes prevailed through each decade.
There was what would become known as the “Brittany,” the one who most fit a Hollywood version of beauty. She was busty, thin, pale, symmetrical and had a boyfriend in various forms since the fifth grade.
There was the “Chad,” the masculine counterpart to the Brittany. He was muscular, athletic and strapping, had a deep voice and fit the magazine version of male.
Then there was another viable frontrunner, a decent looking, if not a little awkward girl or guy who ran not just on popularity and body, but veered more towards principles than the other two, believing, truly, idealistically, perhaps naively, that they could do something unique for the school body.
This year, as in all years, there was a chance for a few select sophomores to join the reigning school senate, made up of Brittanies, Chads, and a few naïve faces. There was one significant detail that made this year’s elections worth noting, for as far as Den could tell, the school yearly ritual was just as lame as the one that washed through the country every few years. But this time, there were not just the usual candidates, but a fourth one as well.
The mute girl was running.
According to the pollsters from the statistics class, the mute girl’s chance of winning was whispered to be extremely low, since no one communicated with her or even knew her name. The sign up in front of the office, alerting the school of her intention, just said, “MUTE GIRL, 2009.” No one sat with her at lunch or walked home with her after school. She stood alone in a school of 2000, not one person taking the time to read her notebook scribbles.
Den sat at his desk in Spanish 4, staring into the back of the mute girl who sat in the front row. He thought back to last year’s student election, John and Ivan were defeated by the prettier Laura. He wondered if muscle would replace breasts this year. Or maybe idealism would trump muscle. What would the mute girl offer?
All the posters and speeches and promises, it seemed a bit pointless to Den. Besides adding a vending machine with soda, what had the student senate ever done?
The school was the same drab institution it had always been. They all still sat in rows of uncomfortable plastic seats, read the same old books that had been in the mandated curriculum for 30 years, there were lots of tests and teachers that seemed to only be waiting for retirement or summer break. Everyone learned what they needed to learn for tests and then quickly forgot it. The students were powerless, and the elections only made a joke out of them. It was the illusion of some sort of democracy, but the school had a clear hierarchical structure and Den wondered why everyone went along with the game.
Den’s enemy were the school administrators, he disliked each one he recognized and he knew there were dozens more in unmarked office buildings in the center of town, others in the state capital, still others in the presidential administration. He disliked them all, hated what they imposed on the students of the country- the same standardized tests, the plastic chairs and hard top desks and school lunches.
The student body was akin to factory farms, a processing plant of breathing, living things that came out dead on the other end. The elections were the same thinly veiled joke as the American democracy, promoting the illusion of power in the hands of the people. All the administrators smiled and went along with the elections, like parents nodding and laughing at their children’s buffoonery, smiling through teeth stained with a thousand cups of coffee, smiling and knowing it was all a sham.
The same type of people were elected year in and year out. It was a title to put on college applications and resumes for the local retail jobs that hired teenagers, but nothing more, at least nothing that Den could see. So why was that girl running? What had made the mute girl decide to run?