BY: MELISSA MARTONE
I heard my name come over the intercom speaker as I was sitting in Science class one morning; “Melissa Martone please report to the guidance office, Melissa Martone to the guidance office.”
My young teacher, Mr. Carlson looked up from the papers he was correcting, “You heard ‘em Martone; have fun.” I collected my bag and my books, and walked out the door. At the time I didn’t think anything of it; I had been trying to switch from pottery to music, and figured that that was what it was about.
When I arrived at the door of the guidance office I saw the school nurse, a police officer, and my guidance counselor, Mrs. Wlodarczyk, all sitting in the conference room. The ancient secretary lifted her wrinkled hand, directing me in. A pit grew in my stomach and I leaned over and dry heaved into a garbage can, the meaning of the meeting hitting me all at once. As I walked in, Mrs. Wlodarczyk pasted on her fake, friendly, “I care about you” smile and patted the chair next to her, motioning for me to sit down.
“Melissa, do you have any drugs or weapons on your person or in your backpack today?” The police officer, Officer Larson, as I recall, asked in a condescending tone.
I stammered, not sure what to say, not wanting to lie to him and say yes, because I didn’t have real drugs on me, only ground up Tylenol. But I didn’t want to say no either, because I supposed that no matter it was, it was suspicious. I began to cry, fighting with myself internally, not sure what to say, what to do. I combusted.
I decided on the truth, the whole truth, if I could ever remember it anymore. I opened my backpack and took out the baggies of Tylenol, and an Altoids tin, with a razor blade taped beneath the wax paper and a few mints. “This is ground up Tylenol” I told the officer and the rest of my audience, “And there is a razor blade in this tin, but it’s not what you think.” I began my story.
I told them about my problem with lying, my craving for attention, and my desperation for the concern and pity of my peers. I elaborated, telling the story of my desire to be anything but normal, the rationale of bringing fake drugs to school and cutting myself for show. As I rounded all the bases of my story, I watched the faces of the adults turn from anger to confusion to concern. I swear I saw flashes of amusement across their faces once or twice. There was silence throughout my story, and when I finished, the silence stayed.
I sat there, waiting for someone to speak, not sure if I was going to be punished for my fake life or not. I mean, there wasn’t a rule against lying, right? After what seemed like an hour or silence, Mrs. Wlodarczyk sighed. “Melissa, I’m not even sure what to do, how to proceed.” she said. “We received an anonymous tip from a student that you were doing drugs on school grounds, and its obvious you’re not, but your story is extremely alarming.”
Damn it, I thought, if I could’ve kept my cool I wouldn’t be in this situation. I looked at my jury and decided on a professional tone as I addressed them, “Well, it looks like we are at an impasse,” I pulled out all the stops in sounding more mature and sure of myself than I was feeling, “I realize that my lifestyle is odd, dramatic, and alarming. I apologize for bringing fake drugs to school; you can be sure it will never happen again, but I see no difference between my lying about my life and guys lying about how many girls they’ve slept with, or girls lying about their hair color and their weight. I don’t see any reason for you to take action against me, because I haven’t technically broken any rules, I’ve simply made some people uncomfortable.”
I hoped that was enough. The looks on their faces turned back to confusion, as if they knew that I was right, but didn’t want me to be. The police officer asked me to step out while they deliberated for a moment, I obliged.
After about ten minutes they called me back in. Officer Larson addressed me first, “Well Melissa, we see that technically no laws or rules have been broken, so we won’t be taking actions against you as of right now.” He nodded at the other adults and left the room.
Mrs. Wlodarczyk went next, “Miss Martone although there will be no punishment, I urge you to consider therapy, or perhaps letting your parents know what is going on.”
I told her that I would, although it was a lie. I thanked her for her time, and left. My heart pounded and my mind raced as I walked the hallways and digested what had just happened. I decided to leave school; I just couldn’t take the noise inside my head. I walked out through the gym and through the parking lot, aiming myself at the playground. And that’s where I saw her, sitting on the swings, rocking back and forth, looking just as contemplative as I felt. Sitting on the swing next to her, I introduced myself.