The Third Floor/Validation

It’s hard not to feel discouraged when the magnifying glass hovers over the imperfections. I’m forced to be around people I don’t want to be around. Out of the corner of my eye I simultaneously watch for them and try not to see them. They take his imperfections and chisel into the fissures. I search the eyes of the jury and follow the gestures of their pens, wondering if they’re buying into the bull$#!t.

During recess I go up a flight of stairs. I’d rather not have my mother corner me in the bathroom or accidentally lock myself in a box with her or any of the petitioners in taking the elevator. If they had the same idea they would most likely go downstairs. Besides, I could use a little exercise to relieve the pressure, though my legs feel like they’ll buckle under the burden in my chest.

The third floor is peaceful. The natural light is brighter here, and the colorful collages of smilies echo the phrase “Keep looking up!” I wish I wasn’t forced to be cold to the jurors; I’ve seen a lot of good taste and want to compliment their shoes or hair. I’ve wanted some sort of kindness to be expressed to me. For the past few hours I’ve listened to them badger and badger my husband’s reputation for hours and I am feeling pretty sick from it.

“I love your hair!” Light shines through the grey fog in my thoughts as I look in the mirror and then to my right. A juror, but not from my jury. I can finally be warm to someone! “My daughter has hair like yours,” she says.

“Thank you! It’s a hassle, isn’t it?” We both laugh. My laughter may have been overenthusiastic, relieved to finally be allowed to show kindness to a stranger.

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