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News and Events
by Jessy Reno

A woman with a protruding, hooked nose and small eyes stared at me through a pair of tiny spectacles. Her harshly, bun-bound hair pulled her skin tight accentuating these features. The expression she wore was that of a bird of prey attempting to freeze the blood of its victim.  I did not cower. I sneered back at her, unbreakable, before stepping away from the mirror. Today would be a good day. I walked to the door of my small apartment where my briefcase sat on a cold, metal chair along with the lunch I had packed in advance. I turned back briefly, taking in the entirety of my dim, grey apartment feeling something akin to fondness. Without another thought, I turned sharply, straightened my tailored, pencil skirt suit set, snatched up my belongings, and stalked through the door with a sense of purpose. There were spirits in need of breaking.


I pulled my car in the visitor’s parking lot and quickly found my way to the main office. As I opened the door, stale air rushed past and the familiar smell of school building flooded my nostrils. No matter where the job, the smell is always the same; some variation of crayons, glue, and the pungency of body odor. I silently made my way over to the desk where a woman sat, typing rapidly on her keyboard. The incessant clicking and clacking was glare-inducing. I waited patiently for all of three seconds until irritation surged. I cleared my throat too loudly to be subtle and pinned the woman with my gaze. Finally, she glanced up and flinched as she noticed my expression.


She grasped for composure as she stammered out, “How- How can I help you?”


“Agatha Black,” I said. It came out sounding like a threat. Her eyes bounced back and forth between mine and the ground, but she made no move to aid me. “Substituting for a Nora Hill,” I added impatiently.


“Oh! Oh, yes. My apologies,” she said. She rifled through a stack of papers in her lap, some floating to the floor lazily in her haste. I quickly deduced that this woman was dropped- no- thrown against a wall as a baby, for she was a bumbling idiot. “Here- Here we are…Ms. Black for Ms. Hill…truly tragic what happened to poor Nora. Did you hear?” This mental invalid seemed to have a severe case of word diarrhea. Even my glare did not deter her. “Just yesterday the police confirmed she had overdosed on her anxiety medication. Right after school too! She was such a sweet lady; I can’t imagine what led her to do it. She-”


Startling her into silence, I snatched my information sheet from her hand and stalked towards the door. My hand rested on the door handle as I took a composing breath. Accompanying a massive sigh I said, “Farewell, chimp. Do try not to strain yourself so severely again today. I fear your mind simply couldn’t take it.”


Leaving the woman wide eyed, jaw dangling, I could vividly imagine a string of drool finding its way to her chin. Without running into another distraction, I found my way to the room number listed on my sheet. The door was closed when I arrived, so I peered through the small window to size up my opponents. What I saw was sickening. Rows and rows of smiling students sat quietly, hands stretching towards the ceiling; each face eager for the opportunity to contribute. With my chin regally raised, I curled a talon around the door handle and pushed my way through.  The door groaned ominously, signaling the class to my presence.


I stepped into the doorway and was able to find some joy in the way each child’s hand slowly sunk back into their laps. As I made eye contact with each student, what was left of their smiles slowly sagged as if wax left on a dashboard.  A few kept glancing towards the front of the room, with uncertainty written plainly on their faces. I tracked their gazes, slowly pivoting on my heel. A young male teacher was perched nonchalantly on the edge of his desk. I instantly disliked him.


“Looking for Ms. Hill’s room?” he asked with a friendly smile.


Of course that fool would send me to the wrong room. I nodded once, choosing not to grace these people with words. The man redirected me to a room 209, three doors down on the right. With one last icy stare over my shoulder I closed the door slowly behind me, making sure to prolong the creeeeeak. The children seemed to hold their breath until the door latched with a click. My lips twitched up at the corners as pride swelled within me.


As I neared the classroom I should have been sent to in the first place, the sounds of laughter, yelling, and clattering objects drifted to my ears. Deplorable. However, something buzzed inside me with excitement at the prospect of a fulfilling day. I didn’t bother to linger at the window, for it was clear what awaited me. No, I burst into that room, a force of nature. The effect of my introductory glare was lost on the little brats, for as soon as I stepped through the door an eraser flew at my head.  Fortunately, I ducked just in time, but the noise level was so intense I couldn’t even hear the thunk of the makeshift bullet hitting the wall behind me.


“Children!” I screeched, “I will not tolerate this barbarism!” For an instant, silence descended upon the room. I straightened, walking slowly to the chalkboard in the front.  Squashing the rising sense of unease at turning my back on the hoodlums, I plucked a small piece of chalk from the tray. They would not so easily break me as they had surely done with their previous teacher. With military precision, I brought the chalk to the board, prepared to scratch my name across it; no doubt a name they would remember. It was in this opportune moment that some behemoth of a child rose from his desk, chair legs scraping against the floor. I slowly turned, intending to lock him in a glacial stare.


Against all odds, this did not seem to phase him. His eyes seemed mildly glazed over, holding no trace of intelligence. Greasy hair fell across his chubby face, only overshadowed by his piggish nose. The most disturbing feature however, was the feral grin stretching his smug little face. “You will sit down or suffer the consequences,” I seethed.

At that, he slowly brought what appeared to be a straw to his lips. The miscreant seemed to be rolling something around in his mouth. The next thing I knew, a slobbery projectile came whizzing through the air like a poison dart. I attempted a dodge, but instead I rolled my ankle and the spitball hit me in the chest. The boy then punched a grubby fist in the air and shouted, “Down with bird lady!”


The descent through all nine layers of my personal hell proved rapid and harrowing. The class seemed to be joined in some pack mentality, all surging to their feet. I nearly expected them to stampede me like the wild things they were, but they were content to cause chaos amongst themselves. This is not to say there wasn’t an occasional pencil, spitball, or eraser thrown in my direction. Even a shoe came flying my way, striking the wall with a bang. My blood boiled, but I made the mistake of persisting. If only I had walked away.     All around me, objects flew, children screamed, chairs toppled and general mayhem ensued. For the first time in my soul crushing career, my stare was rendered useless. I could almost see my verbal threats flying in one ear and out the other. I watched helpless as a girl with pigtails jumped on the back of a taller girl, riding her around the room as a make-shift pony until they both became dizzy and fell.


I could feel all remnants of control slipping through my fingers. Along with it, my sanity was leaving me like sand falling from an hourglass. A child screamed- my pulse quickened. A desk crashed to the floor- my fists clenched. Two children collided in a dash for a quarter- my skin began to itch with heat. A boy flicked a booger at another- a scream rose to my throat. These were truly wild creatures. Had they been dogs, as their behavior suggested, I was certain they would have been euthanized long ago. “ANIMALS!” I screeched. “Filthy, monstrous, rotten-”


I did not get to finish my tirade however. For with the precision of a military sniper, a final spit ball was propelled into my mouth. I froze- still as a corpse. With the remainder of my sanity, I attempted to come to terms with the fact that this little wad of spittle had been shot with such force that it actually bounced off the back of my throat and had settled on my tongue.
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