Still in a bit of a void at the moment writing wise and so I thought I’d post one of my very early Shortbread Stories. The site is in a flurry of excitement at the moment with voting underway for the Self Publish or Perish competition and the huge numbers of entries that engendered. I have read all of them and voted and now we shall see. This is the competition link Self Publish or Perish competition but this is one of my very first submissions.
The cloaked figure drew back into the gloom beside the window. From this vantage point he could see a shaft of bright spring sunshine slicing across the paving stones of the old playground. He didn’t want them to see him, not yet. This pretence at invisibility increased the pleasure and anticipation, it was childish really but it warmed his soul nonetheless this watching while unseen, undetected.
The poor little fools, look at them, long hair flying and short skirts flipping around the healthy limbs. They were blessed, oh yes they were. Girls from wealthy families, they took their holidays in Europe, they kept ponies and Labradors and gathered in the evenings in pretty pink rooms decorated by frills and flounces and furbelows. Smiling to himself at his old-fashioned choice of word he acknowledged that they laughed at him for his vocabulary, thought he was old and past it and it was common knowledge that sometimes they called him The Fossil. Well he would show them now. This was his moment and oh how it pleased him, a flush of pure delight swept his being as he thought about what was to come. Fossil was he, well now they would see.
He stood a moment longer and listened to the noise of the bright day drifting in through the open transom. The birds sang and if one listened carefully the rumble of the main road overlaid the peace. The traffic noise didn’t bother him, it was just so much life dressing, background soundtrack. What did bother him, and he had to admit it always had, was the giggling. The breaking glass, shattering sound of the giggling, twittering shards of sound spiking up from the sun-kissed area below. Well not today, oh no they wouldn’t giggle today.
The old school bell chimed out, bringing them to him now, all unsuspecting. He moved across the room to take his place in front of the old desks. These desks, he mused, had seen so much, generations of “young ladies” passing through this place. Well here you are desks, enjoy this now.
“Come.” He heard them lining up outside the door whispering and shuffling in the corridor, observing old rules, they would not enter until instructed to do so. Oh look at them, see them trailing in still warm from the sunshine, still gleaming with the light of the shining day. It added to the drama for him knowing that in just short moments from now the atmosphere of light and young energy would shatter. It was in his gift to change it even now, he could spare them if he wanted and let them go home in high spirits, go on to whatever it was they had planned for the evening with nothing more in their heads than the sunshine and the giggling. No, he had made his choice and this was how it would be.
Silence fell on the room, for a long moment his eyes roamed amongst them. Fifteen of them, fifteen pairs of eyes staring up at him now. He watched them arrange their faces into expressions of respect and still he didn’t speak. Make them wait. He had to make them wait. Just a little longer, but look, now, did he see the beginning of alarm in the set of the shoulders of the ones nearest to him. Could they already detect the threat, yes there it was. He heard a cough, one of them reacted to the sneaking tension building in the room. Oh this was it, this was what he had waited for.
Sophie in the front, actually Sophie P as she was known with three Sophies in this class alone for God’s sake, gripped her pen, the skin over her knuckles gleamed bone white so tightly was she clutching the small piece of plastic. He looked into her eyes, she knew didn’t she, she saw now, maybe not the detail of what was to happen but enough, enough to cause a frisson of fear. She glanced quickly at the girl beside her. Was she trying to gain strength from this other human contact or attempting to alert others to what she thought she had detected. Oh Sophie, it’s no good now, it’s too late Sophie we are in this thing, all in this together.
He waited just a few more moments to reflect on the consequences of what he was about to do. He knew and freely acknowledged that there would be tears in the privileged houses tonight as he took his small revenge. He wasn’t to blame, they had made this choice. They were as much to blame as he and even as they had filled out the application forms and driven away satisfied that they had done the right thing for their daughters this moment was already in the future, this glorious justice. Put them into private school, get them a good education, and give them the best that you can. Well this was it, now these daughters would suffer the results of those choices, now they would learn just what they had done.
He slid open the desk drawer. He didn’t need to look, long years had taught his hands where to go, instructed the fingers now groping in the darkness. He raised his arm. Oh that sound. All fifteen gasped in horror. A susurration of fear and desperation as they stared panic-stricken at his hand-held high before them brandishing his weapon of revenge. He heard a groan from the back seats, “Oh my God, no.”
Now he allowed a smile to crawl across his lips, not as far as his eyes, just a curving of his mouth as he watched them frozen in terror, transfixed by the bundle of papers in his raised fist. Now it begins, “Yes, ladies. Today the lesson will be an examination on the conjugation of Latin verbs and the results WILL count towards your final grade.”