Commencement

by C.M. Donahue

Commencement

I am sitting in the conference room waiting for the meeting to start

when the principal brings in one of my students,

 

a pupil named Lux in my college-credit writing seminar.

Lux nervously smooths short hair and pushes black frames

 

up their nose. I try to give them an encouraging smile,

but it goes unseen. The principal shuffles a pile of gown order forms,

 

selects one, and shows it to the group. Lux’s name, height, and weight

are listed at the top in their own handwriting. But the final section is blank.

 

“You need to pick a color, Lux,” the principal states. 

Lux does not even look up, their eyes trained on their own hands.

 

“All of the other girls are wearing white,” he reasons. 

The sound of the air conditioning vent feels deafening.

 

“And the boys are wearing blue,” the social worker suggests.

I look away, pressing my lips against each other so hard

 

my teeth leave little indents. The principal sighs and checks his phone.

“You have to make a choice if you want to walk, Lux.”

 

The calculus teacher beside me clears his throat.

Lux stands up and looks each of us in the eyes.

 

They pick up the paper, slowly folding and tearing it,

origami in reverse, a confetti of pieces falling to the tabletop

as Lux walks out of the room without a sound.

C. M. Donahue holds a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and an MA in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Connecticut. Works by C. M. Donahue have recently been published in Halfway Down the Stairs, Riggwelter, and other journals.

C.M. Donahue

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