Lockdown: intricate community
Lockdown (June 13!) is set in a middle school’s Career Day, when a spectrum of professionals are coming to talk about their work.
The school’s entrance archway is a mural of tiles and splintered objects that make for a history of the school, and there’s a brief scene where the principal stands looking at it, musing that this is a metaphor for the school itself.
A look into the backgrounds of eight hundred people at any given school across the country will produce a mind-blowing spectrum of ethnicity, family ties, and participation in the events that define our history. Even one classroom can provide a writer with a lifetime of stories, from the quietly personal to the headline-making.
The days when we could be confident about knowing our neighbors’ histories is gone.
Take Guadalupe Middle School, for example. An ordinary central-coast school, one eighth grader among hundreds, she looks like any of the other Hispanic kids. Except…
7:03 am, Career Day
Mina Santos had three mirrors in her bedroom, and they all showed a different person.
The one she was looking at now, hanging on the back of the door, showed a Nice Girl—at least, down to her ankles where the boots started. Long black braid, orange T-shirt, plaid skirt that reached her knees, black tights. Pretty much the same girl it showed last year, and the year before: a girl so short and fresh-faced, you’d think she was a child if you didn’t notice her chest. (One reason she wore baggy shirts at school.)
The dressing table mirror, the one with the circle of bright light to help her judge when she had more makeup than Mâmân would permit, showed Mina her too-large nose, coarse pores, and (oh, God!) what threatened to become a moustache.
The third mirror was on the wall next to the closet. Not much bigger than an iPad and surrounded by a pretty enameled frame, the mirror itself was so old its glass was dim, with freckles along the edges. It had belonged to her grandmother, who’d received it as a present for her thirteenth birthday back in Tehran. It was about the only thing Mâmân had from that whole family, and she gave it to Mina last year, when she turned thirteen.
At the time, Mina thought that was sweet. Later, she worked out that two months later, her grandmother had not only been married, but pregnant, too. Mina didn’t look at this third mirror much now. It had a way of showing her the face of a grown woman, which was more than a little creepy.
Anyway: three mirrors, and none of them gave her the same truth as the mirrors at school.