Flash Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 97
Twenty-Eight Years Ago
I’ve lost the thread of what she is trying to tell me. All I know is I’ve done something wrong. I must have. She seems furious at me, and my seven-year-old brain is frantically searching for the magic phrase that will dissipate her anger, make her stop screaming at me.
If it were just the two of us, maybe I could deal with that. But it’s not just the two of us. Mrs. Henderson is scolding me (for whatever it was that I did wrong) in front of my entire second-grade math class.
Even as the hot piss begins running down my legs, I know two things; this woman is a monster, and I will never forget this humiliation (even if I don’t remember what I did to cause it.
No. Screw that. I was seven. I didn’t cause this bitch to do anything as drastic and humiliating as what she did to me. She was the adult; I was the child. What she did was wrong, period.
I told my folks what happened. Mom had to bring me clean pants to the school, and she looked good and angry for about an hour, during which she ranted and raved about having that fat-ass teacher fired.
But like so many projects, mom would pick up with vigor and enthusiasm; her anger cooled rather quickly. By the following morning, when it was time for me to return to school, return to her class, in particular, mom’s only parting words to me that morning were not to be so ‘damned sensitive’ today.
Mrs. Henderson’s right hand is squeezing my shoulder; it’s hurting me. I’m still crying about being yelled at and pissing my pants. My jeans are cold now, and I can’t remember a more miserable moment. I want to disappear.
The janitor, the one with the kind eyes, appears to mop up my pee.
Mrs. Henderson says nothing to him. In my mind, I begin to plan. I stop crying as I remember Mrs. Henderson always ignores the janitors as if they were invisible or some untouchable caste of people.
I’ve been busy learning. My studies have taken me to some pretty dark, hard-to-reach locations and to meet hundreds of unsavory people.
No one else sees her do it, but I did. I always watch her since the incident.
It was ‘show and tell’ day, and invariably some kid always chose to bring in a pet. Today Juliette brought in her hamster Reynaldo.
Mrs. Henderson came prepared. She’s smooth; I will give her that. I almost didn’t see her do it, but I’ve gotten good at watching her without her noticing my doing so.
After finishing her presentation about her furry best friend, Juliette returns him to his cage that sat on Mrs.Henderson’s desk.
As she went to pick up the creaky metal cage and return to her seat, Mrs. Henderson says, “Just leave him there until class is over, Miss Juliette.”
Her casual use of ‘Miss’ and ‘Mister’ usually indicated some vile cruelty was brewing in Mrs. Henderson’s twisted brain.
Then, like a magician with flawless misdirection, when the whole class’s attention was on Juliette explaining the rodent’s specific dietary needs, Mrs. Henderson sprinkled a few flakes of something into Reynaldo’s food bowl. Not once did Juliette say anything about white flaky powders being a part of Reynaldo’s diet.
I wanted to say something, but again, I was only seven. And this was the woman that had publicly and permanently humiliated me.
Reynaldo died the next day.
Color me skeptical, but I think our teacher poisoned Juliette’s pet.
Today is the day; I know fortune will smile on my quest. I have hope.
I wheel my cart into her shabby classroom. It looks as I remember it looking from nearly three decades ago. She looks the same. It’s like I’ve traveled backward in time. The only thing that has aged is me.
She pays no attention to me. She doesn’t recognize me.
I collect the classroom’s three trash cans and dump them into mine.
My heart is pounding a mile a minute, but I’m ecstatic, hopeful that today is her last day at Sparta Elementary grade school.
I return her trash can; it brushes against her floral print skirt (which I swear to god is the same one she wore when I pissed my pants in front of the class. So careful was I to avoid making eye contact with anyone; my eyes stayed glued to the white skirt with blue-green flowers printed on it.
I step back to my cart and open my leather bag. I rummage around inside.
The crap you read about monsters is nonsense. Not in the sense that they don’t exist, but in how wildly wrong they get the details.
I pull out the wooden stake.
They say vampires only come out at night because the sun will incinerate them. What laughable nonsense.
My other hand extracts the heavy mallet.
There’s no way she is human. She was old twenty-eight years ago. She should be dead by now. Or look older; she doesn’t look older; she looks the same.
I step towards her back. She ignores me; she always ignores the janitors.
She’s grading papers or plotting some new cruelty she will inflict upon her charges tomorrow. I don’t know which.
I step right up behind her.
In a cold whisper, she hisses, “Well, if it isn’t Peter pants pisser! Make sure you don’t miss my heart, sonny.”
My heart threatens to stop, but then my stake and mallet are flying, and I’m praying my aim is true.