Math goes by uneventfully and we line into the stark lunchroom. The place is large with only one lunch hour, so year ones through twelves are are filing into the room. As our teachers gradually leave the room with only the row of silent lunch-ladies to watch us, kids of all ages start becoming louder. Lunch hour is the only place they get to be themselves, and I feel tiny.
I manage to squeeze into one of the shorter lunch lines. Ladies in white aprons with their hair pulled back stiffly dump a large spoonful of gray mush onto our paper plates. All along one side of the room, other kids are getting the same, along with a cupful of water.
I nod politely as a gray haired woman dumps my allotted mush onto my plate. Sliding into an empty table across the room, I stare at my food, poking it gently with a fork. It shifts slightly, and I push it away. It's supposed to contain all the vitamins and nutrients you need to finish the school day, but it tastes truly disgusting. Like a sock that's been forgotten in the laundry bin for a week until the smell drives you insane.
"You gonna eat that?"
I look up.
"What do you want, Trey?"
He leans against the table, smiling. His dark hair, so unlike mine, falls into his eyes. They're such an intense blue, almost purple, and I have to look away. I stare into my mush.
"I wanted to know if you were going to eat your mush or not, Alex," he says mockingly as he slides into the seat across from me. His overlarge clothes flap on his lean frame.
"No. Take it."
He pulls the plate eagerly towards himself. I watch him stuff his face, taking sips of water.
With his mouth full, he asks, "What's up?"
"Oh, well in that case, I brought you something."
Grinning, he brings out a flower. But it's not bright white, like normal flowers. It's like the color of my father's hair, but darker. I've never seen anything like it before.
"Where did you find that? What is that color?" I ask, full of curiosity. Then I glance around. We're starting to attract attention, a bright color in such a stark place. I take it quickly and hide it under the table.
He leans forward, so close I can hear him breathe.
"It's called a rose."