English Class

This little bit was inspired by all the annoying, sadistic, self-righteous english teachers out there.

It was the first day of creative writing class after the winter vacation. The classroom was partially filled, remaining seats would be taken later in the hour as the obligatory stragglers arrived in their own time. The professor, Mrs. Smith, manned her spot at the front of the class with a slight smirk on her face. There were many new faces in the crowd, and it was one of her most favorite things to initiate the rookies into her world. It was a common saying amongst the students that Smith was one of those teachers whose courses you immediately dropped unless you had no other choice. This pleased her. Some teachers would be hurt to hear themselves described in an unpleasant light, but not Smith. She cultivated it, and regarded her English degree as a license to mess with people’s minds. She could hardly wait to whittle her class enrollment down to the nothings. She impatiently looked at the clock, watching the second hand move with anticipation. The students chatted with one another, talk of Christmas gifts received, and vacation spots visited drifted out through the double doors at the back of the class. Smith noted that the second hand was on the 11, and seized her moment.

“Alright class. That will be quite enough now. Save your meaningless chitchat for lunchtime, because this is my time now.” She paused to savor the looks on the newbie faces, while all the veterans of Smith World rolled their eyes and took out their pens. “Class has now officially begun. Anyone arriving after this point is tardy and will be dealt with accordingly at the end of class.”

As if in response to her threat, the doors opened for a brief moment, and another student walked in. Heads turned to observe this newcomer. The young girl walked with her head held high, but her eyes were downcast. She did not slink into the room as Smith’s late students always did, but walked with the confidence of someone who was not intimidated by their professors. Smith’s smirk turned into a full-blown grin. Rookie. This one was going to be fun to break. The girl continued walking boldly down to the front of the class, and sat on the end of the row. A seasoned veteran of the Smith world, Mr. Daniels jumped up to go over and introduce himself as well as offer her some friendly advice.

“Hey-” No sooner had the first word formed on his lips, than the girl looked up sharply. She stared at Daniels, and something in her eyes caused the rest of his greeting to die in his throat, and Daniels hurried back to his own seat, visibly shaken and confused. Smith rolled her eyes. Men. Well, contrary to popular belief, she was no man, and would not be swayed by a pretty face.

“Young woman, you are late. See that it does not happen again.” The girl smirked to herself, but remained silent. Hmm. Smith was accustomed to hearing apologies, and the class was accustomed to giving them. The silence implied a nonchalance that did not bode well with Smith. Oh well, there would be plenty enough time for apologies later on. Smith cleared her throat. “Well, since it is the first day of class, I expect that everyone will have brought their books and is ready to read.” She relished the groans elicited by her announcement. Purposely ordering too few books for her students was another of her little amusements. She loved her job. “If you don’t have your book, that’s too bad because your first assignment tonight will be to do a two page, double spaced report on the story we are going to read today.” The groans were joined by cries of protest. As usual, Smith lapped it all up. “Oh, stop making a fuss. The sooner we begin, the sooner we finish, and the more time you’ll have to work on your reports. We shall go by rows. Now, Miss Thomas, please begin the reading for us.”

Everything had been going smoothly. Mrs. Smith took great delight in embarrassing her students by correcting even the smallest of their errors, and rudely cutting them off so the next could begin. “And the-”

“Thank you, Mr. Conner. Next.” Smith cut in abruptly. The class was silent. “I said, next person begin.” No one spoke. Smith looked up from her own book, annoyed. If Conner had just finished, then the person to his left was next. The young woman who had walked in late was sitting in the spot, absently toying with a lock of her dark hair. Figures it would be the rookie causing the trouble. “Young woman, it is your turn to continue reading.”

The girl looked her dead in the face and said simply, “No.”

The class murmured uneasily. Such a thing had never happened before. They looked back between Smith and the girl, wondering who had the stronger will. Something in the girl’s eyes unsettled her, but Smith had no intentions of being denied by some uppity brat. “I am not asking you, I am telling you.” she replied, enunciating each word.

“And I am telling you, no. And do not talk to me as if I were feeble-minded.” the young woman responded, enunciating her own words to get her point across.

The class collectively held their breath, knowing that a show-down was inevitable, and there would only be one winner. It would be Smith of course, it always was, but she seemed to be fairly matched this time. Smith knew this as well, and was thoroughly displeased. Hmm. Well, often times students acted a certain way in front of their peers, but turned into sniveling cowards once you got them alone. That’s just what she would have to do then. “Young woman, stay after class. I want to have a word with you.”

“Oh, I think we’ll have several.” the girl replied, casting her eyes downward again, and toying with her hair.

Smith rolled her eyes. “Yes. Anyway, since this young lady is apparently too feeble-minded to read, Miss Baker, continue.”

The class seemed to race along after that, the anticipation at the words that would be spoken once the hour was over was evident in the face of every student. Smith was annoyed that she would not be able to humiliate the girl in front of her peers, but when they saw how humble she’d be if she even returned to the next class, they would know that Smith was still the champion. She would make this girl into another notch on her belt, and get home with plenty of time to make up the test for the story she intended to give tomorrow, just in case anyone else had caught this rebellious virus.

“And she leapt from the balcony, falling to her death on the cobblestones belo-”

“Thank you Miss Dixon.” Smith interrupted. Glancing at the clock she noted that the hour had passed. Time to plow down that bad seed in her garden. She wasn’t sure whether she was glad or not that the time of reckoning had come, but it had come nonetheless. Her class stared back at her, expecting the absurdly difficult first day homework she was sure to assign. Smith had no intentions of disappointing them. “For tonight, in addition to your reports, I want you to do a five-paragraph essay on each of the stages in the main character’s life. Start with her troubled childhood, to her naïve adolescence, finishing with her depressed adulthood where she finally loses her will to live.”

“Now, there’s something I know quite a bit about.” murmured the bad seed.

Mrs. Smith bristled. “In this class, we do not make irrelevant, albeit false statements. Especially when you have not been called upon to speak. I want those assignments in my office box by noon tomorrow. Class dismissed. Except for you, young lady.”

The students gathered their belongings hastily, casting uneasy glances over their shoulders as they headed for the door. Daniels was the last one to leave, hesitating at the double doors. As much as that new girl unnerved him, he wasn’t too keen on leaving the two of them alone. Smith noticed him at the doors and sighed. Nosy students. So intent on meddling in other’s affairs. “You are dismissed Mr. Daniels. I suggest you join the rest of your peers, and get to work on my assignments. Unless of course you have too much time on your hands, and you would like some extra homework.” The implied threat in her tone was too clear to miss, and reservations or not, Daniels turned and exited the class without a word.

Now, time to get down to business. “I’ll deal with you in just a moment, young lady.” she announced. Smith turned to gather her ledger, and when she turned back around the new girl was standing not two feet away from her. She jumped, startled and angry with herself for being frightened by this worm. “Do not sneak up on me like that again, you delinquent.” Smith hissed, visibly shaken. The girl said nothing. “Suddenly shy? Oh, don’t tell me cat has got your tongue now? You were so gregarious during class, adding your two cents wherever you saw fit. Do not tell me that you can only perform in front of an audience?” Silence. Smith was growing annoyed. Something in those weird-looking eyes had made her forget what else she had intended to say to her. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the girl appeared to be studying her. Studying me?! she thought. The nerve of this girl. “I have no use for the likes of you in my class, young lady. I tolerate only whom I please, and your kind pleases me not. Do not bother to return to my class, for you have been awarded a failing grade.” Still the girl said nothing. Smith didn’t know what else to say, all the other students had been in tears after hearing such a proclamation. This girl didn’t even look perturbed. She merely stood there calmly, and looked back at her with those creepy eyes. Smith tried to avoid her eyes, and finally giving up, turned her back to her. She wished she had never even asked the girl to stay after class. “You are dismissed. Exit my classroom immediately, or I will have security escort you out.” Silence. “Do you understand?” Still no response. Holding her breath, Smith turned back around to see that the girl was gone. She sighed in relief, and continued gathering her things. What an odd girl. Smith shook her head. She didn’t have time for this nonsense, she had a pop quiz to make up for the story. The story… the girl had seemed strangely interested by it. “I wonder what she meant by her statement. Probably just trying to be funny.” Smith muttered to herself.

“On the contrary, there is nothing funny about it.” announced the girl from directly behind her.

Mrs. Smith screamed, and immediately wished she hadn’t. So much for posterity, she thought, blushing a deep crimson. “I thought I told you to get the hell out of here.” she gritted angrily, turning to face her opponent.

“You inquired about my statement. I am merely telling you that it is no laughing matter. I spoke the truth.” the girl answered evenly.

Mrs. Smith sneered. “And what exactly is it that you’re trying to get me to believe? That a spoiled young thing like you has lost her will to live at some point? Even if I cared about your petty little problems, such a thing is simply not possible. But I suppose you’re going to tell me anyway?”

The girl stared at her for a moment, seemingly deciding whether or not to speak.

“What’s the matter? Can’t think up a good lie?” asked Mrs. Smith with mock concern.

The girl made her decision. “You see, my boyfriend was enrolled in your class, Mrs. Smith.” she began. “He was always an exceptional student, and determined not to let your class mar his perfect record. So when he found out the campus bookstore was out of your book, he drove out all around the state, looking for bookstores. He finally got the book, but on the way home he was hit by a truck and killed. When the police told me, I was devastated. That’s when I lost the will to live.” the girl finished, leveling her with those nearly transparent eyes. Mrs. Smith was unsettled by the girl’s story and wished again that she hadn’t asked her to stay after class.

“I see… Well, I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m curious. How did you regain your will to live?” Smith asked.

“Who said I regained it?” the girl responded in the same emotionless tone of voice.

Smith tried to laugh, but it came out sounding fake and scared. She cleared her throat, and looked the girl in the eyes. “Silly girl. You obviously did. Or else you wouldn’t be standing here alive before me right now.”

Silence. Then the sound of the clock ticking in the back of the room. Smith once again wished she’d at least kept the rest of the class late too. “Well? Young woman?”

The girl smiled, a sight that was terrible to behold but impossible to look away from, and turned over her wrists. Smith looked down to see the pale limbs, pale except for the bright gashes of red that flowed freely out over her small hands and into a pool at their feet. Smith was horrified. She tried to run away, but her blood soaked feet didn‘t seem to want to move. Overcome with terror, she looked into the girl’s pale eyes once again and saw madness there. That madness was the last thing Mrs. Smith ever saw before her own impending insanity spilled out of those eyes and swept over her in a wave that would carry her into the mental institution in which she would live out the rest of her days. “Who said I was alive?” the girl answered and disappeared.

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