“Why are you so late?” Ms. Schiff remarked. The snide intonation of her voice was already escalating, not in the audibility of its volume but in its condescension as she inflicted it upon her current victim. The weight of the classroom door slammed behind Saden with suffocating absolute certainty of what the rest of the day would bring; its sound waves reverberating the ominous tenor of the rest of her childhood and the rest of her life. Ms. Schiff was still glaring at her, or through her. She was never sure if the woman was trying to impale her physical body with the sharpness of her eyes, trying shove those black daggers masquerading as irises through her vital organs and murder her, or if this cold and calculated sadist that somehow managed to secure a career as her second grade elementary school teacher even perceived her as sentient being that could be killed. Regardless of Ms. Schiff’s particular intent of emotional torture, it was always cruel and it was always terrifying, at least to Saden. Saden looked at the clock. 11:33 A.M. Four hours and three minutes late for school. This was typical. She was often tardy. The reason was usually much easier to explain though… (“Mom wouldn’t get out of bed”, “Mom forgot to gas up the car before school”, “Mom forgot that I go to school”). Saden would explain these things to Ms. Schiff and Ms. Schiff would proceed to explain to Saden in the most sardonically patronizing tone she could muster that Saden could simply set an alarm clock or simply leave earlier and walk to school or simply do something else that would simply solve any other normal seven-year-old girl’s simple problems. But Saden did not have a normal seven-year-old girl’s problems and today was not a normal day.
“I don’t know.” She replied, defeated, after several seconds spent probing her brain for an acceptable response that she knew her imagination was far too indisposed at the moment to invent. She wasn’t thinking about why she was late for school. Or it was all she was thinking about. The fact that she was late for school was irrelevant to her. It was the reason she was late that was consuming her cognitive function, rendering her helpless against Ms. Schiff’s humiliating attacks as the entire class stared at her in eager gluttonous silence. Waiting like a muted ancient Roman Coliseum mob, ravenous for the blood splatter and the glory kill of the most powerful victor. She didn’t care today. None of them mattered. None of this mattered. Her mother was still in the bathtub. The blood that was currently pooling around every crevasse of her mother’s body was so dark and dense that it looked black. Almost like she didn’t even bother to dilute it by filling the bathtub with water before she pressed the razor blade through the top layers of her skin, into her dermis and through her fatty tissue like butter and slid the cheap blade down the length of her radial artery.
“You don’t know? What on earth do you mean, you don’t know? You’re four hours late Saden. What were you doing for four hours that was so much more important than joining the rest of the class today?”
Silence. An archetypal response in Saden’s case. She often found it to be in her best interest to refrain from speaking. Especially on occasions when she had a lot to say. Realistically, what could she say? She could say that she woke up an hour after school had already started to drag her mother out of bed to get a ride to school. She could tell Ms. Schiff, in front of the whole class that she walked into her mother’s bedroom to find it empty. She could relay to them how she then turned around and walked out into the hallway. How the bathroom door was cracked open just enough to let the shallow light emanating from it cast that stale yellow musty glow that made her sick. The quiet that made her cringe. The only sound she could hear was the frequency of her pulse elevating. She couldn’t feel her feet moving beneath her but that malodorous piss light from the bathroom still seemed to be growing closer, approaching her faster with motive and conviction. Until she was watching the imminent inertia of her own hand as it made contact with the door in a predetermined motion that set it ajar. Iron and hemoglobin hung in the air that flooded her olfactory senses. Her feet still involuntarily moving beneath her until they stifled their motion leaving her stranded in front of the bathtub. Her eyes still to the floor. If she looked up it would be real. If the image of what she knew was in front of her carved and hacked away at her retinas there would be no way to unsee it. No way to negate what had happened.
“Well Saden, are you going to answer me or just continue to waste everyone’s time?”
Silence. Caustic unwavering stares. ‘ Don’t blink.’ She thought. ‘ Give the tears welling up in the ducts of your eyes a few seconds to evaporate.’ She never cried in front of Ms. Schiff. She prided herself on that and was indomitable in maintaining that last critical shred of dignity.
“Just sit down.”Ms. Schiff hissed with clenched teeth and pursed lips, “We can continue this discussion later when you stay in for recess, again.”
Saden made her way to her desk by way of weary suspicious footsteps. She could never be sure when Ms. Schiff would sink her venomous fangs into her unguarded back. Several pairs of eyes from the mob were still fixated on her, some accompanied by sinister smirks trying to stifle their slimy sniggering. They made her sick, these insipid simians. She had long lost any desire to assimilate with them. She hated them even more her petulant brute of a teacher that berated her day in and day out with obtuse jabs and ignorant insults. She didn’t hate them because they didn’t like her, or because they often made fun of her in the same fashion as Ms. Schiff. She could tolerate their incessant teasing about her dirty clothes, about her unwashed hair, about her broken glasses or the holes in her shoes. She put up with their taunts about how she was too quiet, about how her mother was crazy, about how she had no dad. She could endure being pushed into the dirt and being ostracized by every last one of them. It all made her livid but she didn’t hate them for doing it. She hated them because they never had an opinion other than the ones they were told to have. She hated them because they did not choose to hate her, they were told to and they blindly complied. They were the malleable sheople complacently accepting the slaughter of their individuality as their parents and teachers herded them into the jagged blades of productivity sodden with the blood of all those duped into social acceptance. She hated them because they were cowards.
She submitted to her seat in the far left corner to the back of the classroom. She aimed her eyes toward the front of the class and then subdued their focus into a blur as she attempted to tune out the sound of Ms. Schiff’s voice droning on about the difference between homonyms and antonyms and tried to lose herself the comfort of a daydream. Normally the reclusion of her mind would be a safe place for her. But today it was being pummeled with grotesque memories.