I looked down at my shirt, today I got my first warning label. The words felt like a prison sentience, forever this is how they would all see me. The words blurred before my eyes. Its not like I hadn’t seen them before, a lot of people had them. It changed the way you saw people, it changed the way people saw you. Mine said, “outspoken, violent, foul language.”
I would never be able to change the label they gave me, I could add more labels if I wasn’t careful. I had seen people who’s labels shouted diseases, disabilities, crimes, mine seemed mild compared to what it could have been.
My mother came in looking at my new shirt too. She seemed disappointed in me. She didn’t have any labels yet. “Breakfast is ready.”
I nodded and followed her to the kitchen. “I’m sorry mom.”
She shook her head, there was no fixing what I had done. Even if my reasons were good. I had explained to the authorities what had happened but there was no avoiding the labels. I would be under house arrest until my condition stabilized, meaning no more fights, or yelling, or cursing.
I would be allowed back out eventually. I looked out the window at the people outside, many of them had warning shirts on too. My dad came down his shirt read, “Alcoholic.” He grabbed some food and headed to work. I knew there would be normalcy eventually, he lived his life with his label I could too.
I didn’t know if I would ever feel normal again with everyone being able to see my demons. They were things I had been fighting to control for years, and just couldn’t get a handle on it this time.
Weeks passed and I got my letter of release. I walked back to my own apartment. I was nice to be home and not under my mothers watchful eye. I felt people without the label shirts on looking at me like I was a direct risk to their safety. The others didn’t even seem to notice me, I was one of them now. I could go back to work in another week, they were working on finishing up my re-employment paperwork. Luckily my manager understood and fought for me to keep my job.
I showed up for work the next week. My coworkers greeted me like I had never left. Most of them already had their labels. Maybe I fit in better now that I had mine. A friend of mine patted me on the back.
“Hey, glad you’re back.” He said.
I settled back into the routine at work. I didn’t feel bad about my label any more, I stopped noticing the weird looks people gave me. Things were back to normal.