Rosa had the hope shattering realization that she had left her journal of creepy stories in the gymnasium at school. She was only about a half mile walk away from the school, which was an easy feat to accomplish, but she hated the thought of being at school after hours. She pressed the little button on her phone to reveal the time, and it was 7:30 pm, well after school had ended. She knew that the school was putting on a freshman Halloween party and that there would be security guards to let her into the school, but she also understood that they were not going to take the time to walk with her about the hallways to the gym. She decided to dry swallow the pill of disappointment, and push back binge watching Netflix for when she returned home. Her walk was short-lived, and chilling. The autumn leaves snapped beneath her clunky boots like bones and it made her recall some especially ominous stories she had written about breaking bones. Her stories were quite gruesome, and the thought of a janitor or some gym teacher acquiring her notebook and peering into the her dark mind made her cringe and wilt like the leaves of a dying flower. She increased her pace.
The school was empty, and she stood in the crisp fall air that always seemed to smell faintly of cinnamon alone, completely beside herself. The school hadn’t a sense for the creative touch, and the faintest amount of gore in her writing could potentially get her an appointment with a counselor. “There has to be something wrong with her” they would say, gleefully believing they had drowned her dark mind, but they wouldn’t even have even gotten her toes wet. Nothing ever could quench a writer’s thirst.
The front doors of the school were unlocked, and she walked in hurriedly, silently praying that no one had found her little book of horrors. Her boots hit the smooth surface of the floors as she stepped on a piece of fruit and cursed under her breath. “What are janitors for if not for this exact reason?” she uttered much too loud for anyone’s good. The air did not echo her back, and perhaps the absence of sound was more insidious to her than a response could have been. She quickened her pace and soon found herself softly loitering about the gymnasium doors. Her courage shot through her veins like some sort of illicit drug motivating and changing, she felt her clammy skin embrace the cold metal of the door handles, sending shivers down her spine.
Just as she began to turn the handle, she heard laughter in some distant room, and she stood awkwardly waiting for some comfort from the thought of others in the school, but it did not come and it did not warm her through as she had hoped. She was still trembling horribly, overcompensating for the fact that she had taken her sweet time, but her movements were forced and uncomfortable as she tried to put the thought of being alone in such a vast space, but she could not. She felt small.
The gym was not empty in the same way as it felt when she was running to keep up with the athletically inclined children; it was empty in a way that made you question just how empty it had to be.
There she saw it, silver dazzling joy shining through the dull wood and plastic of the bleachers, honey coated and glittering in a cloud of cheap deodorant and the unrelenting scent of socks that had not been washed since last May. Her notebook was a godsend, a glistening recompense for her despairing heart. She stopped to let the moment flow through her veins, for moments like this did not often reach her beating heart.
Around the corner of her sentiment was not simply a bump in the night, but the absence of sound that fell suddenly like a shot bird and pierced into her eyelids like broken glass tear drops, she dared to breathe out, or breathe aloud at all. This was not an elementary feeling of being watched, but a deep rooted longing for the great reveal, the moment when the hair on the neck has reason to stand on end, the tongue that ceases to twist any longer but hangs like the neck from a noose disrupting the tranquility of the air. She coughed. Nothing but silence, and nothing to indicate the presence of another.
Nothing was there. Nothing ever could be there. She traced her finger around the circumference of her pendant and sighed, walking with her hope tucked into her sock, she gripped the thin metal of the pendant and slid the cool silver along her finger tips. To touch something right then, something real and tangible, well, that was a blessing. She dared not to run out of the gym as fast as she possibly could, but step with purpose, and she nearly chewed off her own lip in the process.
But this is when she faltered. She decided to turn around and what she saw brought relief to her anxious mind and writhing, twisting fingers, but in the same moment filled her very core to the brim with dread.
A figure, somewhat of a clown, was staring back at her. It looked as though it had gone through the wash, or been lurking since the 1920s. It stood, not speaking, but just observing.
“Oh my god! Haha you scared me! You’re from the freshman Halloween party right?”
The figure only stood. Watching.
“So I’m gonna go… it’s been great though. We should do this again some time. “
She left, trying not to show her anxiety, so as not to embarrass herself.
The next morning came too slow. She showed up for school, feeling as though she was inside of a ghost that was alive just a few hours prior.
She felt like wilted flora in her English class, but she breathed in and breathed out again. She moved her pencil to look as though she was doing something. Her English teacher walked by and she decided to inquire about how the freshman Halloween party went, and her teacher’s response chilled through her like water hitting ice.
“The freshman party was canceled due to a power outage.”