by Hannah C Bialic
"2% originality." The robotic voice clanged out through the headphones as a thin receipt printed out of the wall. The boy frowned heavily, pulled the headset off, and then hung it hurriedly behind him. He jumped out of the seat, and rushed towards the exit, his cheeks flaming with embarrassment. The receipt drifted to the ground unclaimed.
The students still waiting in line shuffled nervously.
A girl, the same age, took the seat he had vacated and put on the headset. She waited for the scan to complete, sweat slicking her palms.
"12% originality." The girl's expression dropped. She removed the headset and hung it as the boy before her had done, then dejectedly vacated her seat, limply grasping the slip of paper.
The robot scanned, spat the report and printed receipts, boy after girl after boy. They all left the chair frowning in disappointment.
The headset buzzed atop a boy's soft black curls.
"89% originality," the robot spat out without inflection. A grin replaced the boy's contemplative countenance. The line collectively studied him in surprise; accustomed to the routine of sit, listen, frown.
The boy placed the headset behind him with pleasure then relinquished the chair to the next in line, a squat and pimply girl, glaring at him with jealousy.
"Good luck," the curly-haired boy smiled.