She glared at me with alien eyes across the tempest of her rage. Her antagonistic words tore into me across the classroom, cold and quiet in which the pupils hid their mirth as she shouted me down. She was one of the taller students, and she was too close to me for my liking. I had never felt so intimidated by a pupil before. The silence screamed around me and I wished that I could snap and lash back at this girl, seemingly possessed, as her words echoed around me, but alas, I could not, I must remain professional, no matter what.
Her essay had been shockingly appalling. Clearly the work of a few minutes of mindless scribble, no real thought or effort had gone into it. Full of spelling mistakes, it warranted a harsher grade than I had given it, part of me reflected and wished I had been more honest. I had wanted her to feel better about things, not worse.. My anger smouldered inside as I chewed the insides of my cheek rather than shout back. Her appraisal of my marking deserved a barrage of furious abuse. But I had to resist the bait. How many teachers had fallen into traps like this, it had cost people careers. I needed to focus and remain calm.
She was clever in her own way, and I would not be the mouse to fall into her trap as her unearthly eyes bored into me, searching for some weakness she could exploit. It annoyed me. To see someone so capable yet someone who cared so little for their work. She could have written something creative. She just simply had not bothered. The class looked on, hungry for my obliteration at her hands. Traitors all, ungrateful little swines. You would think after so many months, they would have some form of sympathy. To hell with them. Their wicked grins burned into me from all sides as they whispered to each other. Her shrill ranting egging them on.
I smiled weakly as I blotted out her madness. This girl was set upon destroying me over my simply pointing out the fact that she hadn’t cared. Heck, it’d been a secret until she started this private little war with me. I felt such terrors as I kept my mouth shut, it was becoming so very hard to speak. She was close, very close to me. My fist was clenched in my pocket. I reprimanded myself and I forced myself to relax it. She was so close now, eyebrows angry, fierce, a snarl on her lips. Her shoulders, shaking.
Had she put in one iota of thought into her damn essay, this would not be happening. Had I been less blunt and more constructive, maybe she wouldn’t feel such fury. Suddenly, I could bear it no longer. I asked her to sit down. Calmly.
I didn’t expect her to, but she did. Quietly. She apologised for her outburst, and sat down in her chair. The whole class looked at her. She glared back and they turned from her, fearful of becoming her next nemesis. I sighed and leaned on my table. It had been a tough few weeks. The exam period was always a tricky one. Maybe the pressures of home life had gotten to her.
The rest of the lesson passed uneventfully. No more outbursts. No problems with any of the students. I felt more at ease than I had, but a strange anxiety afflicted me. The pressure was off. I couldn’t help but feel the memory of the nightmare situation surging through my body. Those strange eyes, staring into mine, looking beyond my pupils and into my brain. They flashed like fire opals in my memory, a kaleidoscopic miasma of terrors waiting to tear my soul to shreds. I felt like someone was watching me… But then those thoughts were gone. My heartbeat was fast and I felt sick, but nothing happened. I ran and got myself a cup of water from the staff room. A little dizzy, but I would be fine. The next period was an easy one. I sat, bored out of my skull, showing the class a video I had seen at least 12 times before. It was even more tedious for me than them!
Once school had ended, I climbed into my car and sat there at the wheel, the cold car seat smooth against my back, my fingers trembling. It had to be the cold having this effect on me. I still felt a little off, but the dizziness had gone, replaced by a dull ache in my hands, probably the onset of arthritis. Great. What a fantastic way for the day to end, I mused. I looked up into the rear view mirror as I set my car to reverse.
A surge of dread. There, in the mirror were her eyes, glowing and alien, boring into my very soul. I felt sick with fear. What was wrong with them? Why did they sparkle? Like a myriad of eldritch colours, they mesmerised me. But she wasn’t there, it was a trick of the mind and nothing more. I felt so very sick again… What was wrong with me? The aching in my hands became a dull throb.
I started to drive back. It was a dark, cold evening. Most January evenings are similar. I found myself watching the white lines passing under my car, again and again and again. There was something soothing about it. I didn’t want to look at the mirror again, and avoided it all the way home. I felt uneasy. It was like I was still in the classroom, like the twenty odd children were all watching me, frozen in those eyes. This didn’t feel normal. I felt like I was on the edge of a breakdown.
Why couldn’t I remember her name?
I felt like I didn’t even know this girl. I had taught her for the past few months, why now was I forgetting stuff like this? I knew all my students’ names. Except for her for some reason. Everything about today exhibited a dreamlike quality. I was sitting in my lounge watching the television, but there was no signal. I was just staring at it, and I didn’t know how I’d got there. The air in the room felt so thick and heavy. Staring into the black and white dots as they danced around the screen, I began to make out colours. I couldn’t look away. Her eyes began to form in front of me, glittering, a thousand colours, burning with anger as they cut me to the core.
She was there in the room with me. I hadn’t seen her enter. It was like she had just appeared out of the noise on the TV screen. The hair on the back of my neck raised. The eyes were so hateful and I could barely look into them, but I could not look away. It was like a strange form of hypnosis had rendered me incapable of action, as she got closer and closer to me.
I tried to look away, to blink, anything! Fear overcame me, paralyzed like a rabbit in the headlights, I couldn’t move a muscle. There was nothing I could do, no essence of movement as my body refused to cooperate with the increasing urge to flee…
I must have blacked out for when I awoke, I felt stiff and rigid. The sofa behind me felt cool, hard and unusually uninviting. The television was still on, still showing mad static, which danced erratically around the screen – but there was no sign that anything had been in the house with me. Could it all have been a dream? I tried to think of the girl, but I couldn’t remember her. I couldn’t remember anything at all, not even the colour of her hair. Had she even been real? I sure as hell didn’t recognise my memory of her. I couldn’t even remember what she looked like.
I walked upstairs, feeling stiff. My clothes, far too loose, hung loosely off my body. My chest felt tight and I felt the urge to throw up. I felt dizzy and tired, as though I hadn’t slept. But I was sure that I had dreamed everything. I felt pain all over, like a thousand needles dragging against my skin. I looked over at my alarm clock as I entered the bedroom.
It was time to get dressed. I didn’t have time to shower, it was too late. I mustn’t be late. I wondered briefly if there was time for breakfast or if I should grab something at the local shops. I took a step towards the cupboard and tripped over something. Looking down to my horror, I saw my body, lying there on the ground. Eyes open, a mask of sheer terror on my face. I tried to scream but no sound came out. I stumbled to the bathroom and threw up into the toilet.
Looking up into the mirror, I saw someone I couldn’t recognise and yet I knew so well. Someone I didn’t know – but I remembered those kaleidoscopic alien eyes looking back at me, glowing like a fire opal. I open my mouth but I cannot form sound, a dull hiss of breath from my lungs. I can feel myself starting to cry as dizziness and nausea take their hold on me.
I am a girl that I don’t know, with no memory of how I got here. The only thing I recognise is my former body, lying on the floor, and the eyes that are staring back at me – which aren’t mine.