The rain, it started raining about an hour ago. Kassie watched as the silken drops hit the classroom windows in neat quiet pelts. The sky a dark indigo, hiding the after noon sun with blurry grey clouds. She secretly wondered if it would rain hard enough, maybe just maybe…school would let out early and she wouldn’t have to take that dreaded math test Miss. Hysher promised to pass out today.
She tore her eye away from the hypnotic scene from outside, Miss. Hysher had decided to start class, and her brown hair was tied neatly in a bun, so tight that her eyes looked Asian. She pursed her lips in a smirk and squinted those narrow eyes until they looked shut.
“Ahhhemmm!” She cleared her throat, causing an instant silence. She smiled, her pursed lips twitching. She bent over her desk and picked up a neat stack of papers. “Today, as promised students… I have devised a test based on the lessons we have gone over this past week”. She paused, her sharp eyes darting to the small titters coming from the back of the room. “Miss Julie! Miss Whitney! I’d appreciate your full attention!”
Kassie turned quickly to glance at the two popular girls who always sat in the back row. Her grandma called them spoiled brats, the kind that didn’t even know what a dishwasher was because they never had to go into a kitchen. Best friends, rarely apart aside from sleeping in there own houses.
Julie glared directly at her and snapped. “What about miss ‘I-like-to-stare’? Can you tell her to stop looking at me Miss. Hysher? It’s making me uncomfortable.” She batted her long blond eyelashes for effect, her blue eyes round and innocent.
Miss Hysher shook her head. “Kassie has as much right to be here as you do Julie, now please remain quiet for the rest of the class”.
Julie smirked and Whitney snickered like she always did. Miss Hysher ignored this and handed out the neatly typed papers.
Kassie watched in silence as she waited for her turn to take a copy and pass it down. She could feel Julie’s cold hard stare bore into her back. It took all her might not to turn around again. With a deep breath, knuckles white from gripping her number two pencil, she began to take the dreaded test.
“Kassie…” She glanced up at the soft call of her name, almost a whisper. Her hazel eyes scanned the room, everyone one was bent over, engrossed on the test.
“Kassie Peterson,” She paused, pencil in mid air, the voice clearer and closer. She glanced quickly in the back; Julie and Whitney were also engrossed on their tests.
“Kassie Peterson… do you really want to take this test?” The voice asked, this time right next to her- she reached up a trembling hand to touch her ear- still hot from it’s breath. A chill ran up and down her spine. She shook her self. It’s nothing, keep taking the test, your freaking out.
“I can make it go away…just say the word”. The voice offered softly. Kassie felt her palms grow wet with sweat, her fingers plastered onto the paper making soft wet dents. Her ears braced them selves for more.
Seconds ticked by like minutes and still…silence. The voice had disappeared. She swallowed, desperately trying to focus on the numbers before her. She could feel her heart thump inside her chest. The numbers jumbled together …twos merged into fours and tens became zeros.
She stopped, looked up and watched in horror as the room began to slowly spin. The other students failed to notice, heads still bent over, lost into there own torment of addition subtraction and multiplication.
Go away. She pleaded silently. Please stop.
“Just say the word and all this will stop.”
“Yes or no Kassie…”
I can’t…this isn’t real
“Oh I’m very real” she felt a cool damp breeze as one of the windows flapped open, wafting it’s way thru the room, gently lifting the corners of her papers as if to carry them away.
You’re not real. She shut her eyes, her heart beating faster.
“You hate math don’t you Kassie? Wouldn’t you rather be at home…helping grandma bake those oatmeal cookies of hers?” Suddenly the numbers moved around the page… quickly building themselves into a picture of her grandmas house, the old white and blue Victorian standing proudly behind it’s white picket fence. She could smell the dampness of the un-raked leaves in the front yard. The breeze gently blowing the willow tree branches as they swept the ground.
“Just say the word Kassie…and you can be here instead…”
She sat, her spine frozen with fear; she couldn’t breathe… her mouth dry as her fingers gripped the edge of her desk. Go away… she pleaded. Please stop.
Are you sure you don’t need to get home right away… looks like grandma left the cookies in the oven too long.
With that said; small trails of smoke emerged from the pointed roof…the scent of old burning wood reaching her nostrils as she watched the flames leap from the tiny windows in horror. Grandma…
“KASSIE!” She jumped a mile at the shrill sound of Miss. Hysher’s impatient voice. With all her might, she tore her eyes away from her page that had suddenly turned back into the test it once was.
Miss Hysher towered above her, hand on hips. “The test is over now Kassie… it’s been over for the past ten minutes.”
Kassie glanced around, the students had left, their desks empty. “What happened?” She asked, feeling dazed and very confused.
Miss Hysher let out an exasperated sigh. “What happened? What kind of question is that miss Kassie? I’ll tell you what happened.” She reached and tore the test off Kassie’s desk, wadded it into her fist and sneered. “You were day dreaming again…how many times is this going to happen? Look, (she held up the test with the blank questions) you didn’t answer any of them.”
With that she stomped over to her desk, the sharp heals clicking loudly on to the tile floor. She reached for her red marking pen…the one she used for grading papers.
“I’m tired of this nonsense Kassie… I want to set up a conference with that grandmother of yours.” She quickly scribbled out a note, and handed it to her. “ Make sure your grandmother gets this.”
Minutes later Kassie stood out side Smith Middle School; the rain had stopped, leaving behind glistening wet sidewalks and sparkling grass. She quickened her steps, leaving the harsh words of Miss Hysher behind her as she rounded the corner and crossed the street making her way home.
Quietly she trudged along. Her long blond hair tied back in an awkward pony tail. Her favorite hair-tie loyally holding back the curly mess. The shadow that stretched before her was long and awkward, the feet looking like large blocks of cement attached to two bean poles for legs.
Her thoughts were clouded and confused as she rounded the corner, bringing her closer to home. What had happened in there? Was she dreaming the entire time? That voice…she shivered…it was so real, she could feel its owner’s presence but there was no one there. She shut her hazel eyes tightly, stop it, who cares; you were cracking up because of the test, that’s all.
As her mind pondered over the strangeness of the voice she noticed Julie and Whitney, two peas in a pod, coming out of the local convenience store, giggling as they each took a long sip of there newly purchased slurpis. She attempted a smile; it was hard to hide her sudden jealousy of the two best friends.
“Hi guys” she managed but soon, the fragile fake smile vanished as Julie saw her and snorted, spitting out a mouth full of lime green slush.
“What are doing? Stalking me now? UGH! Get out of my way FREAK!”
She marched past Kassie, letting her shoulder deliberately brush against Kassie’s arm, causing her fingers to loosen there grip on Miss Hysher’s note. The small white paper drifted in a circle and landed at Whitney’s feet.
Kassie waited in silence as Whitney bent over to pick it up. Her long cat like green eyes twinkled with delight at the new found gift. This was something important she held in her plump fist and she knew it.
“What’s this?” She snarled, showing teeth that were already slightly stained with slurpi. She grinned, watching the horrified look on Kassie’s face. She turned her dark head to Julie who smiled and shrugged.
“Well…don’t just stand their…OPEN IT.”
Whitney nodded, her thin lips pursed in concentration as she slowly undid the neat creases Miss Hysher had put there only minutes ago.
“Stop!” Kassie found her voice, it sounded strange and far away, she felt her eyes grow larger and her face grow hot. “Please…”
If they read it she really would be a freak. She would no longer be a quiet girl who kept to her self because she was shy, and shy people were easy targets to pick on. She would be the one who claimed there was a voice tormenting her in math class today.
But the two girls only saw her anger and frustration as fuel for their torment. Julie smiled, her wide awkward mouth stretching over her teeth and their over-bite. “What? This?” She snatched the note from Whitney and flipped it open, her blue eyes glowing with satisfaction.
“No don’t-please!” Kassie begged… feeling a sudden chill in the air. It drifted its way over her head, tickling the escaped hairs that danced about her face.
Just think the word Kassie and I’ll take care of it…
It was back…she shivered; hoping no one had noticed her face had gone from red to white.
What harm could it do? She swallowed and took a deep breath.
YES…make them stop.
The chilly wind grew stronger, blowing the unfolded paper right out of Julie’s hands, letting it drift carefully to the safety of Kassie’s trembling hand.
All three girls stood in silence, there shocked faces turned toward each other. Julie stared at her hand, turning it in disbelief.
Suddenly, both girls dropped their drinks, turned around, and ran as fast as they could.
Kassie turned to a small dark shadow next to her own slink away into the creases of the pavement.
She felt the air grow warm and damp once more, and just as suddenly the rain came pouring down, instantly soaking her jacket so it clung to her arms.
All thoughts escaped her and all she could do was run… as fast as her legs could carry her… far away from what just happened, the worn tennis shoes splashing into puddles as she made her way to the safety of Grandma’s house.