Zayda Gallagher is mistreated by the popular girls on a special day.
|Zayda sat huddled at her desk, eyes downcast, wanting to disappear into the floor.
If only there was a spell for that, she thought morosely.
Behind her, Darla and her little group of viperous girls were tittering at something, and Zayda had heard her name whispered. They were plotting something. Zayda could feel it. She doubted she was going to come out of this unscathed.
She forced herself to concentrate on the work at hand - her math. Not her most favourite subject, but she was a good student and the neat numbers made much more sense that dealing with Darla and her group of mean girls.
The lingering feeling of dis-ease stayed with her even after Ms. Williams called quiet and gave her teacher glare to the girls behind her. That settled them. But when class ended, Darla made a point of stumbling into her and jamming her elbow into her ribs as she whisper hissed "witchy, witch."
Zayda tightened her jaw and tried not to let Darla's words sting or the jab, for that matter. She straightened up and twisted to ease the ache of the assault. She was still looking rather pained when she entered the hall.
Several boys came barreling towards her. They deked around her just before a collision could happen.
"Watch where you're going Witchy Witch," the ring leader, Rob Busby called out over his shoulder, as his buddies laughed.
"You okay?" a deep voice behind her asked.
Zayda's heart skipped a beat, then sped as she turned and raised her gaze up to Trace Wilder's concerned look.
She nodded unable to form the words.
The boy was far to amazing to look at and she felt tongue tied and stupid each time they encoutered each other. With was often in this small town.
Still, dispite her discomposure, she was able to look up into his soft chocolate gaze and notice the remenents of pain behind his concerned look. He hid it well, but Zayda was sure he had suffered something chaotic; some trauma which he hid well. She suspected his family life was not as pristine as he liked to pretend. She'd seen his mother visit the Aunts for their assistance on several occasions and the woman was always careful to hide her face from view. She' had also heard the Aunts mention alcoholism and a violent temper. Not a good combination.
She oftern saw Trace picking up his younger siblings after school He claimed his mother was busy, but those times often coincided with his mother's late night visits to the Aunts.
"They really are dickheads," he whispered to her and she could not help smiling at his words.
"Well, see you 'round," he added when she said nothing else.
She longed to draw out the conversation; to keep him with her for a little more time, but what fourteen year old boy would want to be seen with a twelve year old twit like her?
She raised her hand to give a wave just as he jogged to catch up to the other boys. She watched , her head dipped down so that she was watching subversibly from under her lashes.
The other boys bumped into him and jostled him around. She expected they were teasing him for having spoken to her, but he seemed not to care about their censure and jostled back until the moment was forgotten and one of the cute girls paraded past them.
The attention spans of gnats, Zayda thought rembering what Aunt Jess had said about boys of any age.
She headed for her locker takiing care to note that Darla and her gang were hagning out not too far away. They were talking and giggling over something.
Probably something inane, Zayda thought liking the new word she had picked out for the week.
When she touched the locker combination lock, a flash of warning surged through her. Something wasn't right. She bit her lips nervously, wondering if she should avoid opening it, but she needed books for her next class. Gingerly, she moved her hand to the opening slot to unfasten the latch. She eased the door open not sure if she should peak in or just pull the door open and get the thing over with.
At that moment, someoe bumped into her making the decision for her. The door sprung open. A can of black paint perched percariously on the top shelf teetered and before Zayda could stop it, it tipped over turning the black paint over her head and down the front of her new dress. The one she had just gotten that morning for her birthday.
A roar of laughter went up. She heard mutters of "Witchy, Witch." ring out.
Zayda was swallowed in the well of despair, too shocked to even cry as the laughter engulfed her, threatening to drown her. The laughter felt like poised prickles running over her skin, like someone was beating her with the metal spokes of a hairbrush.
"What the Sam Hill?" boomed the principal's voice, and the halls emptied, leaving Zayda standing in a pile of paint.
"Zayda Gallagher what is the meaning of this!"
Zayda turned to look at his red puffed face. She prayed he wouldn't touch her. She could already feel the waves of a volcanic eruption coming off him and he was still twenty feet away.
"Don't you dare move."
But the humiliation and the principal's angry demeanour sent waves of fear coursing through her. She could already sense Principal Gordon was going to blame her. There would be no violators found or called out. She was on her own. And with that distressing thought, she bolted, leaving what was left of her locker and the spattered black paint in a pool of ooze on the floor. Her fleeing footsteps creating a trail that lead straight out the school doors, down the steps and all the way home. Where she hid herself in the lush vegetation of the rose bush trellis, high in the leaves.
This was where Aunt Jess found her. Her no nonsense voice softened as she called up to Zayda urging her to come down.
"Come child. Let's get you out of those soiled things and see if we can't get you more comfortable."
Zayda dried her tears and shifted to lower herself down to the ground where Aunt Jess wrapped her in a comforting hug dispite the half dried black paint that still clung to her.
"Come, let's let small minds stew while we enjoy a simply wonderful birthday dinner Aunt Lydia has prepared."
"Let them stew?" Zayda asked not sure what Aunt Jess meant.
"Half the curse is worrying that they will be punished for their cruelty..."
"I would love to put a hex on Darla and her snotty little half wits," Zayda said angrily.
"We don't cause harm," Aunt Jess began.
"But, they did this to me.... to hurt me...." Zayda sobbed undone by Aunt Jess's kindness and her own frustration.
"And they will get their comeuppence.... in time. Patience, child."
Zayda wanted to rage on but Aunt Jess wiped her tears and said, "Karma is a bitch." She winked at Zayda who bit her lip as she tired to rein herself in. "We need not cast any spells on any of them. They will bring their downfall on themselves... and when that time comes we can take their money and help them, or we can let them slowly struggle in their own demise.... you have the power then." Zayda let this sink in. "Come let's get you cleaned up them have cake and ice cream. It is your birthday afterall and not every day does a young lady turn twelve."
At Aunt Jess's urging, Zayda felt the heaviness of the situation lift off her. She took Aunt Jess's hand and together they made their way in to do just that. The smell of Aunt Lydia's confections making her feel almost heady.