Franz Kafka High

I am lost in a large building with many identical hallways. All the hallways are lined with lockers and somewhere, in one of these hallways lined with lockers, is my locker. I have been to the locker and even put some books into the locker, but the locker is so inconveniently located that I never have time to get to it, and now I have no idea which hallway houses my locker and which locker houses my books. Even if I do find my locker, it won't help because I've forgotten the locker combination.

The hallways are full of swift students I've never seen before. I am much older than all the students but I am still a student because the office sent me a letter declaring that I am short of credits and need another semester to graduate. But I haven't gone to class because I don't have my books because they are in the locker I can not find.

Now it is finals. I have not studied. I have no idea where my classes meet nor who the teachers are. Often, I go to the office to try to find answers to my questions, to ask if they can help me find my locker and give me my locker combination so that I can get my books so that I can study for my finals. But there is always a long line at the office. I stand in the line during every passing period, but I never make it to the front of the line before the bell rings and the office door slams shut.

Suddenly, after many days, I am at the front of the line. An old balding woman standing on a step stool in order to see over the office counter, sneers at me. I tell her my problems. I tell her I was assigned a locker too far away from my classes to use and now I've forgotten where my locker is and that I can't go to class unless I find my locker because my books are in my locker. Even if I find my locker, I tell her, I can't remember the combination and even if I get the books, I can't remember where my classes are being held. With a grunt, she climbs from her step stool and limps down the administrators' corridor slipping behind a far off door that closes with a snap.

Now, the hallway is empty.  All the classroom doors are shut.  I can hear the teachers, muffled behind frosted glass, beginning their lessons. I panic. I am missing finals. The old woman does not return. I roam from one classroom to the next. Each is full of strangers. None is 6th hour math. One classroom is empty except for a gnarled one-armed teacher. I ask if this is 6th hour math. The teacher says that 6th hour math is over, that all the students have already finished their exams. I ask if I may take the exam.  The teacher says the exams are over. I explain that I must take the exam to graduate, that I must graduate because I am too old to be here and have to get on with other things. The teacher frowns, disgusted with me, but gives me an exam paper anyway.

I sit down, my heart pounding. But the exam makes no sense. I sit staring at nothing. Then the teacher calls my name. I look up. The teacher keeps calling my name, shaking an envelop, searching the room as if it is packed with students.  Finally, I raise my hand. The teacher glares at me, not believing I am who I claim to be. The teacher flings the envelop at me. The envelop is from the office and sealed with a wax stamp. I open the envelop and pull out a typewritten letter.  "Dear Valued Student," the letter reads. "Due to your continued carelessness and truancy, it will be required that you remain at this institution for two more years before being eligible for graduation. Please report to the office at once with your locker number and combination in order to receive your class assignments. Thank you for your cooperation. Your future is at stake."

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