Prompt Day #151: Set an evening activity (Night class? PTA meeting? Frat prank?) in a haunted classroom.
Jealousy Never Dies
“Billy, sit outside for a minute and play on Mom’s phone while the grown ups talk, ok Buddy?” Bill said to his son. Billy nodded. Jackie handed her son the phone. Such a good kid. They would get to the bottom of this nonsense and if not, they could explain his sons new bruises to the court. She kissed him and ruffled his hair. She and Bill walked into the classroom.
“Thank you for coming Mr. and Mrs. McNulty. Let me introduce myself; I am Mrs. Janson. I’ve been the school’s principal for the last thirty-five years. I’m sure you know Mr. Hyde, Billy’s homeroom teacher.” An elderly woman with a white bun held her hand out to Bill and Jackie McNulty in turn.
Jackie was only half listening to the woman, instead she was intrigued by her son’s classroom. She had spoken to Mr. Hyde many times (too many actually) on the phone but had yet to visit the class where her son seemed to have all the trouble. Billy had never really described his classroom, which wasn’t odd really, she never asked him about it. But this room was completely devoid of the usual posters about history or the magic of science. There were no models of human organs or the solar system. In fact there was nothing. It was almost even devoid of color. It made her think of that Pink Floyd song with the kids singing about not needing an education. It felt institutional.
“I felt it was time we all sat down to discuss Billy’s outbursts as they do seem to be getting worse.” Mrs. Janson said.
“You know, I realize children often lie to get out of trouble, Mrs. Janson, but I have to say Bill is adamant that it isn’t him and I have to almost believe him because he never had a problem at his previous school. I’m sure you could call them and ask.” Bill began
“He comes home with bruises. He is being bullied and set up” Jackie blurted out. She couldn’t help it. Bill had told her to remain calm, let them present their case and they would then lay out the evidence to the contrary. That was how this worked. He was an attorney, he understood these things.
“Mrs. McNulty, I assure you that Billy is not being bullied. Now, I will say that since these…episodes…began, many of the children have shied away from him. He tends to spend most of his time alone. But if anything they avoid him because they fear him. No one is bullying him.” Mr. Hyde responded. Bill had already laid a hand on her knee. She nodded silently
“What my wife means, is that Billy has spoken to us about a certain boy who seems to be, let’s say instigating some of this. Now who is actually throwing chairs and flipping the desk over, I think, is yet to be determined.” Bill finished
“Well, I have to disagree with you there” Mr. Hyde said “his classmates swear it is Billy throwing the chair, and it is his chair that is being thrown, so, one would have to assume they are telling the truth.”
“They’re second graders! Have you seen my son actually throw the chair? Has it ever once occurred when you are watching?” Jackie yelled, she was getting upset. This room made her feel claustrophobic. She realized it wasn’t just the lack of décor, but the room was colorless too. Grey, black, and white dominated. She felt antsy here.
“Mrs. McNulty, I’m sorry. We understand how distressing this might be for you. I have a son myself and I would always take his side but the facts speak for themselves.” Mrs. Janson interjected in what was meant to be a soothing, motherly tone but was mostly condescending.
“Mrs. Janson, you’ve seen my son, haven’t you? I have to say that I had a hunch that I now believe more firmly; Billy would not have the strength or physical ability to pick up a chair almost as big as he is and throw it anywhere.” Bill said in his lawyerly manner.
“Ok, perhaps for now, we can agree to disagree about the chair and desk throwing. But can we agree that Billy is having outbursts? Screaming, Shouting ‘NO NO NO’ and ‘I’m not coming with you’…I think he may be exhibiting signs of ADHD and impulse control. His mind wanders; he daydreams and I think sometimes his daydreams become nightmares so real they disturb him back into reality.” Mr. Hyde said “And I think that is what we are really here about. We want to help him, find a way to bring back into the fold as it were.” Hyde smiled. It was this smiled that sent Jackie over the edge. This was not the smile of a caring teacher but rather the sadistic smile of a predator.
“I think we made a mistake moving here.” Jackie said slowly. Choosing her words carefully so as not to sound unhinged. The door to the room slammed shut. Jackie jumped.
“One of the classroom windows must be opened” Hyde said and abruptly left the room
“I think we started this meeting off on the wrong foot” Mrs. Janson said “What we really want to do here is what is best for Billy. We in no way meant to imply Billy was doing anything wrong. In fact, if I might be so bold, he reminds me of my own son Henry who I lost in a fire when he was just 8 years old. The same age as Billy, I would venture to guess.” She smiled now and her smile seemed even more predatory. “Mr. Hyde, he can sometimes sense when I pick a favorite like Billy and he can then perhaps be a little harsher with him for that reason.”
“I don’t understand.” Jackie said “are you trying to say he gets jealous? Mr. Hyde is jealous of my son? So what, he is blaming Billy for things?” A thump echoed from the front of the room where Mr. Hyde’s large antiquated desk sat. Jackie spun in her seat and could have sworn she saw the desk fall just a hair before settling into the grooves in the floor.
“Emotions can have a power all their own, Mrs. McNulty. Billy has emotions, too. He is angry that you took him away from his friends. He fears Mr. Hyde and some of his classmates. Sometimes, those emotions manifest in strange ways.”
Bill interrupted. “Mrs. Janson, if you are implying that our son has some psychic powers that are causing furniture to fly around the room then I have to stop you right there.” Bill held his hand up.
“No. I am suggesting that perhaps I am responding to Billy with my own emotions and it is MY emotions that are causing my son to overreact.” Mrs. Janson said, standing up and taking a step towards them.
“I thought you said your son died in a fire?” Jackie asked also standing and unconsciously backing away towards the door. The monotone cabinets lining the wall began to open and close, each time shutting harder and with more force.
“Yes, in this very school. In fact the whole school went up in flames. No one on the elementary side made it out alive.” Janson said. A chair flew up in an arc and crashed into a window on the opposite side of the room. Bill grabbed Jackies arm and started towards the door. Just as he reached for the knob, it swung open and Hyde stood there.
“I don’t think we’ve finished our conversation, have we?” He said, his eyes wild
“Henry, leave them alone. You chose to grow up and teach here. Can I help it if I want my little boy back?” Mrs. Janson said
“I didn’t have much choice, did I? I’m stuck here. I didn’t want to be the dead boy haunting this place forever. I wanted to try being a man.” He was angry and the room was responding to those emotions. A whirlwind of furniture crashed into the walls, the windows, the chalkboard. Bill and Jackie ducked just in time to miss a desk full of Dick and Jane books, charred and melted.
“Well, you shouldn’t have burnt the school down in the first place Henry. Now, my only choice is to come here everyday and spend time with children I pretend are my son. You couldn’t have stayed my little boy until I was dead too? Now you’re just pretending to be a man. Your childish emotions are dangerous and you’re hurting and scaring my Billy.” She said yelling over the roar and crash of the supernatural twister in the room. Jackie heard her and ran at her.
“Your Billy? You think you can take him because you want your dead son back? Well, you can’t have my boy!” Jackie started towards the old woman but a burst of heat shoved her backwards as the whole room exploded into flames.
“Mother gets what Mother wants.” Hyde said standing now in the center of the flames. He held up a hand and fire shot out at first Jackie and then Bill. Mrs. Janson was heading towards the door, presumably to get her new son. “Mother, where are you going? I have something for you too.” He threw a burst of thick, almost solid looking flame towards her. It hit and oozed down her body like molasses. She screamed. “You said I could wait to be a man after you were dead. Don’t worry, I’ll get Billy so you can still have your little boy too.”
And then, as it was thirty-five years before, the school stood in flames.