by Quarter Over
Our protagonist is anxious about going back to school. Writers Cramp entry.
|It was that time again when students came back from their summer vacation, getting ready for another school year, Typically, a student would have one of two reactions.
Number one was enthusiasm, perhaps the trip to visit a distant aunt was boring, or maybe this was the year to finally land a date with that certain crush.
I belonged in the far more common reaction, number two. Dread.
However, my dread wasn't caused by a lack of interest in school or a classroom bully.
No, it was Mrs. Anderson, the librarian.
You might ask, how could a librarian be frightening, and I might respond, you've never met Mrs. Anderson.
It was the beginning of grade 5 when I first met her.
I'd just transferred from my old school, and the secretary was giving me a tour. After a rough rundown of my classes, we finally arrived at the Library. There, sitting at the front desk, was Mrs. Anderson.
At first glance, she looked like a kindly woman. She had graying hair and always wore her reading glasses by her neck.
She seemed to be hard at work on her computer, giving a brief nod of acknowledgement before returning to her work. It only took 5 minutes before I saw her true nature.
The secretary was showing me the pencil sharpener when a loud shout had broken out.
A couple of the older kids had started a pseudo pillow fight in the back room, only instead of pillows, they used textbooks. Mrs. Anderson looked at them with daggers in her eyes and gave a smile. She simply said this.
"Clean the closet."
The secretary never mentioned the closet when we were touring the library. Mrs. Anderson led the 2 troublemakers to a small unmarked door, hidden between two bookshelves. She quickly shut the door before anyone saw the inside.
The two never talked about what they saw in the closet.
I'd later heard the rumors about that place. Some said it was a portal to another world, and the two that came back weren't the same as the two who came in. Others said that the two were eternally traumatized and couldn't speak a word of what they saw.
Obviously, I didn't believe them. Ok. Half believed them. I only worked up the nerve to go back there in grade 6. Gradually forgetting the incident, I'd started taking out books regularly.
Mrs. Anderson always greeted me with that same smile.
It was one fateful afternoon, near the end of the school year that started my dread. I was reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe while eating lunch. I still remember the snack I ate, red apples that were cut in little slices.
My water bottle was open on the desk when I turned and accidently hit it with my elbow. Guess where all the water spilled.
Right on top of the book which I'd borrowed from the library.
I suddenly thought of Mrs. Anderson and that smile on her face, then I remembered the closet. A warm ball of regret sat on the tip of my stomach.
Hurriedly, I waved off the surrounding spectators and quickly shoved the book in my backpack. All thst was on my mind was what I was going to tell Mrs. Anderson.
I stopped going to the library for the last week of school. Every morning, I'd catch myself just short of the watchful gaze of Mrs. Anderson and hurry to my classes.
Soon it was the last day. The teacher held a few pieces of paper and recited names. I heard mine in the middle.
"All of you who have unreturned books, please return them by the end of the day."
He handed everyone who was called out their own little strip of paper. Mine read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
The clock kept ticking and soon it was the end of the day.
Everyone eagerly ran out of the school building, ready for summer vacation.
Without a thought, I was the first one out the door.
I'd gradually forgotten about it. Until today.
Now we jump to the present. Today is the first day of grade 7, and all I'm thinking of is excuses not to go to school.
Like a summer cold, or a broken backpack strap. Anything to avoid Mrs. Anderson.
But soon, the clock strikes 8 and I head to school.
As soon as I walk through the entrance, I see her. I try to avoid eye contact, but she ends up right in front of me.
She says my name.
I look up, and quickly hand over the water damaged book, explaining myself. She just listens.
When I'm finished, she tells me to head to class, but not without glaring daggers at me and smiling. Go to the library afterschool she adds as I head upstairs.
"Clean the closet."
Afterschool, she shows me to the little unmarked door in between two bookshelves.
I take a deep breath, and open the door.
Now I know why those two never talked about what's in the closet.