School For The Mediums
“It’s over 30 acres. 3 dormitories. 6 recreational buildings. 3 pools. Oh, and I haven’t even gotten started on the food amenities,” Dr. Satori oozes, regurgitating information like she memorized a textbook, front and back.
“That’s amazing.” Mom flips through the school’s pamphlet in big-eyed, smiling wonder.
I don’t know why she’s so surprised. Dr. Satori has been talking her ears off for the past few days about ‘The Institute’ and all the ways it’s going to help me.
Mom said she wasn’t completely convinced by the success stories, but I’m almost certain she was sold the moment Dr. Satori came to our house with a huge fancy professional blacked-out mini limousine.
“We have a generous amount of school funders and donors who keep the operations running strong.” Dr. Satori says, joining in Mom’s smile.
At least today Dr. Satori looks normal---with the exception that her black hair is now dyed bleach blonde yellow. A sudden change she claims came from a ‘bad hair day.’
Although I find that hard to believe.
But Mom keeps telling me to think of Dr. Satori as eccentric and unique. Strange how that’s a weird way of putting that she’s a freak.
SHUT UP. CAN THEY ALL JUST SHUT UP!
I look away from them and turn my gaze to the passing scenery through the car window.
Or maybe that’s grand coming from me. I’m the one who’s being taken to a mental place.
“Oh, and not to mention, the education and curriculum here are unbeatable. We’ve got the best teachers from all around the world,” I hear Dr. Satori continue.
“That’s just more than I was ever expecting, Rina-san.” Mom happily fangirls with her.
Why in the world are they on a first-name basis?
“Well, I promised you we’d take care of her. I assure you the Sakamoto Institute is all about helping others using revolutionary techniques..”
“You guys are doing wonderful things. I am truly grateful that you’ll allow Hadiza to come free of any costs.”
“Yes, yes. We just want to make a difference in the world and if we can by helping Hadiza-san. We will.”
“Tch.” I click my tongue and snuggle further into my little corner in the car.
I know they both heard because suddenly I feel all attention towards me.
“Hadiza?” Mom is burning holes into my back. “Do you have something to say?”
I tug at my hoodie strings, my face shrinking into the jacket. “No.”
“Are you sure? Because I’m almost certain I heard you arrogantly click your tongue?”
My lips pull to the side in a grumpy pout, and I keep my eyes on the blurs of trees outside. “I have nothing to say.”
“Yeah.” I don’t look at her.
Mom sighs. “Dr. Satori, I promise you she’s not like this on most days.”
Yeah, because before most days I wasn’t hearing voices that would have put me in a situation like this in the first place.
“Oh really, don’t worry about it. Many of our students who come to the Institute are coming from situations that require a high level of empathy and understanding.”
“Are you saying troubled backgrounds?” Concern fills Mom’s voice.
“I wouldn’t say troubled backgrounds. Perhaps, more… complicated predicaments.”
“Oh. So, what will that mean for Hadiza?”
“It just means that it is even more likely that she will find a crowd that understands her and her situation. Many of our students dealt with similar issues before they spent some time at the Institute. Now, they have gotten better and lived better lives.”
Ah, I want to pull my ears off so I don’t have to hear any more of Dr. Satori advertising about this ‘Sakamoto Institute’. She’s just trying to put flowery words on describing a mental hospital.
“That’s good. I guess, now, I’m just excited to see the school,” Mom says.
I ball my hands in my jacket pockets.
For one, the place is in the middle of nowhere.
Two, how do I explain to everyone else why I’m transferring schools in the middle of the school year?
There’s no other answer except that everyone thinks I’m crazy.
Suddenly, the car comes to a full stop.
“Well, good thing that we’ve just arrived.” Dr. Satori says, and I can tell by her tone she must be wearing some face stretching, gloatingly happy smile.
“We are?” Mom questions.
That’s my question too. It’s been about a 4-hour ride away from town.
“Romeo?” Dr. Satori lightly taps the privacy screen, blocking us from seeing the drivers. “Unlock the car doors and pop the trunk, please.”
The doors unlock, and Dr. Satori and Mom eagerly crawl out from the back seat first. But I keep still with my butt remaining firm flat in the seat.
“Wow!” Mom’s voice raises and just nearly explodes in amazement. “The pictures don’t do this place any justice!”
Do you know what else didn’t have justice? I didn’t. I didn’t deserve to be murdered. Does anyone ever deserve anything? Huh? Do they?! DO THEY?
I squeezed my eyes shut.
With a heavy groan, I reach into my jacket pocket and take out my earphones. I’m only one earphone in when Mom pops her head in through the open car door.
“Hadiza.” Her eyebrows are raised, and her eyes are firm as she gives me a stern look. “Come on. Get out of the car.”
I respond with a stare.
“Come on, Hadiza. This was the last resort for me, too.” Her face shifts from stern to weary.
I heave a long, dragged-out sigh. “Fine.”
Huffing and puffing, I stumble out of the car only to be greeted by a smack of fresh, earthy air.
It’s so fresh, that I can’t help but take another deep swallowing breath.
“You said this place is over 30+ acres?” Mom shuts the car door after me.
“That’s correct.” Dr. Satori tosses some sort of blue mesh stress ball in her left hand.
“Well, I could be convinced it’s larger than that.” Mom puts her hands on her hips, tilts her head up, and stares.
The red-bricked gothic castle-styled buildings tower over us, the sharp points of the triangular black roofing cutting into the sky. On every floor, there are huge arching ornate windows and crouching golems decorating its exterior. There by the doors and the other smaller building entryways were placed statues, fountains, and other stone works while the trimmed and cut greyish grass stretches for what seems like miles.
I crane my head down. Just to see the tops of the building, I had to push my head back into a crunched tight angle.
This place is way much larger than I could have ever imagined.
I could get lost just trying to find my way to the main doors.
A draft of powerful air came quickly and without warning. It was warm outside, before, but the wind came and zipped past, burning a brief snow coldness on my cheeks.