Introduction: In what is becoming a recurring theme, my prompt for today is the first few words of the story. I feel I should make it clear that I don’t plan these. I sit down, start writing and hope what comes out isn’t total nonsense. As anyone who has read a few of them will tell you, the results are mixed. Anyway, I hope you enjoy today’s effort.
‘Please shut the door.’
Cara pushed the thick wooden door shut, but as it creakily cut off the corridor outside, she questioned whether it was a good idea. The room in front of her was downright creepy, lit by a single lamp which threw shadows across the jars full of goodness know what which were stacked along the walls.
‘Why don’t you take a seat?’
It was phrased as a question, but it was spoken like an instruction, and she slipped into a chair that was far too ornate for a teacher’s office, the wood twisting and turning around itself.
‘So, Cara, how are you enjoying school?’
‘It’s, em, fine, yea.’
‘You feel like you are settling in okay?’
‘Well, it’s hard you know, new town, new people, but everyone has been nice so far.’
While she could have spoken about the cruel words that had been thrown in her direction or the multiple times she had been tripped in the corridor, the unwritten rules of the playground kept her mouth shut.
Ms Templeton seemed to know that she wasn’t being honest, though. She stared down at her through the glasses perched on the end of her nose, running her tongue across her teeth.
‘Hm, indeed. You are an orphan, yes?’
‘Em, yes, but I live with my foster family.’
‘They are pleasant?’
‘No, they tie me to the bed and make me do all the chores.’ Cara smiled as she said it, but got a steely glare in return. ‘Sorry, orphan humour.’
‘Is that orphan humour? I didn’t realise that was a genre.’
‘Oh, it’s not. Not really. I was making another joke.’
‘I see, you do that a lot?’
Cara could feel the conversation spiralling away from her. She couldn’t tell if this little old teacher, wearing a baggy old cardigan and hiding away in her creepy ass office, was taking the piss out of her or interrogating her.
‘Interesting, we do not encourage humour at this school.’
‘Okay, I’ll remember that.’
‘We encourage hard work and pain.’
Cara’s eyes widened, ‘sorry, did you say pain?’
‘Yes, I did.’
‘You encourage pain?’
Ms Templeton’s stare felt like it was burying into her brain, picking through it and finding whatever was in there unsatisfactory. Cara suspected that most things in Ms Templeton’s life were rated unsatisfactory.
‘Because we do not believe in fun or games. The school is for learning, and anything that gets in the way of that will be shut down, do you understand me?’
‘No, not really.’
Ms Templeton suddenly stood up, which would have been more intimidating if she’d been more than five foot tall, but still made Cara jump as she stomped around the table, her clunky walking boots shaking the room. She came to a stop in front of her, waving a finger in her face as she did so.
‘Listen to me, child! You will suffer at this school, and you will pay for your sins!’
‘My, my sins?’ Cara was wide-eyed and quite frankly terrified. What the hell was going on?
‘You and your filthy generation, you must be made to feel pain!’ Ms Templeton was shrieking by this point, and when the door flew open behind Cara, letting a stream of light in from the corridor and revealing a confused looking Mr Jones, the headmaster, she almost wept with joy.
‘What on Earth is going- oh, Jesus, Sarah, what are you doing?’
Ms Templeton had quickly retreated to her chair, looking sheepish as she did so. ‘I was just getting to know the new girl.’
‘By screaming at her? Have we not spoken about this?’
The little old teacher mumbled something under her breath in response, although Cara was pretty sure she heard the word pain again.
‘Look, Sarah, this isn’t on, you know it isn’t on.’ To Cara’s amazement, Ms Templeton stuck her tongue out in response, drawing a sigh from Mr Jones. ‘Cara, I’m very sorry about this, please ignore everything you heard in here. You can go to your class now.’
Cara looked from one teacher to the other, still not entirely sure what the hell was going on. Mr Jones’ smile told her it was probably better not to ask questions, though. ‘Thank you, sir.’
‘Don’t mention it’ before adding under his breath as Cara slipped past him, ‘please, really don’t mention it.’
As Cara walked away she realised that a day full of cruel words and minor abuse might not be so bad after all.