This is a short list submission for the YOUTH Award

Purgatory High


Joey To

After almost three hours, the glaring lights were irritating but he was nearly there. Jack knew the answer to the last question and quickly wrote it down before closing the booklet.


Once released, other students ecstatically exchanged their views and answers in a pointless attempt to enlighten each other. Jack knew it had ended and although he was relieved he also strangely felt… drained, empty. The grey uniforms around him were crying that high school was finished. Jack didn’t agree with that sentiment but, naturally, he momentarily reminisced his years of schooling.

Over twelve years of modern education. Well, that was nice… didn’t learn much.

Jack snickered at the thought that with every passing school day he died a little on the inside. It was the same routine, the same arrangement every weekday. He simply went through the motions and walked through his part out of a sense of duty and because he knew he had no choice.

Enough of this purgatory. And I still have to crawl and fight my way to the subway-

“Hey Jack. You going to that party tonight?”

“Nah, can’t be bothered,” Jack dismissed.

“But it’s over! Don’t you wanna celebrate? Aren’t you happy?

“I don’t have the energy.”

“I guess there’ll be plenty of other parties. What about speech night?”

“What about it? We’re gonna get a piece of paper in the mail which officially tells us we’ve passed which we know anyway. Why add another piece of paper?”

“But it’s speech night, it’s like… the graduation ceremony.”

“Yeah, I might show,” Jack answered with faked enthusiasm, just to bury the conversation.

When speech night came some days later, Jack got dressed and checked himself in the mirror. He was quite comfortable in his new pajamas. And then he got comprehensively stoned.


Referenced Lyrics:


Music & Lyrics by Joss Whedon 2002