Defining Peace


It’s the best place she could be. It’s big, it’s cozy, and it’s guarded round the clock.

“You’ll be happy there.” her mother had said.

She stood in front of the great gates of Markersson High School thinking back the one-sided conversation she had had with her mother a few weeks earlier.

She had come home after a fist fight, giving the rude boy across the street a bloody eye. Her mother had handed her a leaflet of Markesson and marvelled, “It’s as peaceful as a sanctuary, they say. Isn’t it beautiful?”

She looked down at the photo on the cover, and saw barren land, scooped up of its grass, life, and lusciousness. She looked at the caption that read: Our very own football ground.

She flicked the five-page graphic leaflet, pausing at a picture of a classroom. About 50 girls sat in straight rows, facing the teacher who clutched a book too large for her ageing hands. She saw that the girls in the photo wore blue pinafores, black shoes, and had braided their hair. Not a single streak had escaped.

She flicked on and stopped at another photo. There were parakeets, love birds, and even a cockatoo — all in cages. Students were feeding the birds, their faces alight with bright smiles. The caption read: A sanctuary; for birds and children.

The gates opened and a stiff, beefy-looking man walked up to her. His khaki uniform smelled of flowers, and as he picked up her trunk, she realised his hands smelled of disinfectant.

It was her mother’s idea of a sanctuary.


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