I went to this after-school with my cousin around the time I started studying for college placement exams. It was this small academy in another borough, about an hour drive. We only attended on the weekends.
My parents would have been conventional in how they made their judgements about sending us there, a perennial tip-off from a family friend, without really any thought as to the structure of the classes. My mother seemed to think of the act of studying in terms of sheer hours, that in the time I was there I would sublimate myself with singular focus and simply learn. My father was never too particular.
When I recall the experience, there are two things that come to mind. One is how much I realized at the time how it came as a relief that my cousin and I were in different classes, only ever seeing each other during breaks and when it was time to leave. I'd like to think it started in me noticing, all that followed. I'd also like to think that it was because I did well on my exams and coursework that an almost inane kind of boredom began to spring forth from inside of me during that time. And to have my cousin witness such changes in me so keenly — he was only ever perceptive to the things that reflected upon him.
The other is the building itself, so plain but with this inexplicable metal fencing that was painted red. There was a maintenance worker that the staff seemed to mostly ignore. I remember a certain day where I'd watch him through the window during class, repainting the fence with that same vulgar shade of red, wearing the most unconcerned expression.