By Chef cryof0zen
//Original Title “My best friend was a girl crammed in my ninth grade locker.”
My best friend in the ninth grade was a girl I met in my locker.
I met her in the middle of the term. Never knew how she got into my locker. Strangely enough, the night before I found her, I couldn’t manage to get to sleep. You see, my area was notorious for being loud at night. Disco parties, car alarms going off, that sort of thing. Dad never managed to find much work, and so we were stuck where we were. That night was especially loud. First was the shouting. That didn’t really scare me, but what did get me was the sound of glass shattering. Screaming followed. Then silence. I was too scared to go to sleep, all I could do was huddle under my blanket. I passed out sometime around midnight.
The first thing I did when I woke up that morning was run full pelt down the staircase. Mum and Dad were in the kitchen. Dad was hanging up decorations to get ready for the Christmas season, and Mum was laying on the couch, fast asleep and snoring.
“Don’t wake her up,” my Dad told me. “She’s down with the flu. No lunch today, mate. You know I can’t cook.”
I got to school just in time for the late bell and rushed to my locker. It was tiny, about the size of a torso. Fumbling with the key, I struggled to unlock it. The lock was old, rusty and the complete opposite of pliable. Finally, I got it open and swung it wide open.
She was crammed into the locker. Her necked look broken, her back pushed against the bottom of the locker and her neck twisting up at the corner. Her thighs were on the opposite side to her head, going up the side, and lead to knees that were impossibly broken, bent in a right angle to run along the top of the locker, then broken again in the middle of the tibia in another right angle.
She looked like an irregular shape out of a demented geometry textbook. It made me sick to my stomach to look at her deformed, crippled shape. She didn’t seem in pain. It surprised me more that she was alive. Stiffly, she turned her head to face me, and blinked.
“Hello,” she said.
I looked behind me. Dozens of students passed behind me. None of them seemed to care. I looked back at the locker. Her eyes were still on me, expectant. Her skin was bleached, her hair a solid dead black, like her eyes.
“Do you need help?” I was still in shock.
“No, I’m not the one who does.”
The minutes ticked by as we stared at each other, in a deadlock.
“My name’s Peter,” I whispered.
She just stared.
“Uh, I’m Peter,” I struggled to think of something to say about me. I struggled to latch onto any memory. My mind had become a haze, I couldn’t focus. Usually, I was good at coping under stress. I said the only thing I could think of, “I have a geography test next lesson that I didn’t study for.”
“You… You look nice.” She did. Despite being broken and battered, crammed into my locker, her face was beautiful. Asian, somewhat.
A smile slowly crept on her face.
“Is it okay if I…” I started, gesturing to the locker door.
“No matter,” she replied, the smile disappearing from her face.
I closed the door just as the first bell for lessons rang.
I did my geography test blindly. Didn’t know a single answer. I didn’t go to my locker the rest of the day either, didn’t see her. I couldn’t keep any books there anyway, and my mind was too hazy to remember anything but the present moment.
The next day, Dad was still preparing the Christmas decorations, Mum was still sick. Dad said if her cold kept up we might have to take her to a doctor.
Before the first bell, I went to my locker once again. I slowly tried to insert the key into the lock. It was like trying to fit a thread through a needle. Gingerly, I swung open the door. She was still there.
“Hello,” she said once more.
I tried to ask her questions. Each time I did, she looked at me like I was speaking a different language. She looked confused, like her mind was as hazy as mine. But she was smiling. Not so much that it was noticeable, but a slight joy seemed to play on her lips. In the end, I said goodbye, closed the door and went on my way.
I aced the test.
First break rolled around and I went back to my locker. No one was around. That was alright, though. Some people had started giving me funny looks as I spoke to her, before lessons.
“Did you do that?” I asked.
Her smile grew wider. She nodded vigorously, to the full extent that her broken, twisted neck would allow.
That was the beginning. I’d ask her for small favours, tests and whatnot. No matter what I wrote down on the paper, even outright silly gibberish, it came back replaced with a perfect answer. She liked talking about me. It made her happy, I guess, to know someone outside her tiny space. Besides, she didn’t know anything about herself. As the days went by, her smile grew wider and wider.
The day before Christmas, I asked her for something special. There was another girl, Sarah was her name. She was really pretty, and I think she liked me too. I didn’t have the courage to ask her to be my girlfriend.
When I told my new friend, her smile, which had become so wide, completely disappeared. My gut wrenched at the sight. I wanted to apologise, but she nodded. I hesitantly closed the door and left.
I couldn’t go home just yet. I had to stay on after school… for something. I couldn’t quite remember what. Maybe it was homework? Did I have detention? No, it couldn’t be that, I was an obedient student. My memory had started to struggle as well. That afternoon was just an indecipherable mess in my head.
Christmas morning. I woke up and rushed down the stairs, burst into the living room.
Dad was hanging by a rope slung across the ceiling fan, his skin a pale white, criss-crossed with dark purple veins, his eyes popping out of their sockets. Mum had been thrown on the couch, splayed out, caked in blood and glass fragments, starting to rot as well. The stench of decay invaded my nostrils, overloading my head. Neurons that were never meant to fire did.
I stood still. Then blinked.
Dad was midway through hanging the Christmas decorations. He stopped to stare at me.
“You all right, chap? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
My eyes darted to Mum. Asleep, snoring. My repressed breath slid through my gaping lips.
“I’m sorry, sport. Ol’ Nick didn’t stop by yet. I have to finish up the decorations, see? He’ll have stopped by once you come home.”
I went to school, dismissing what I saw. My head was still acting up, after all. Minor hallucination, see?
I know, school on Christmas? It was a programme that my parents had enrolled me in. Education throughout holidays. We didn’t have television or anything fun at home, and I really did like school. It was just, these days, my head was felt… strange.
I couldn’t stay scared for long, I had to go see my new friend. I couldn’t get the key in the lock fast enough. I threw the door open, and it banged against another locker.
I fell back on the ground and started screaming. Heads turned, more screams erupted from the flow of people behind me. Books were dropped, people stood stock still.
Her neck crooked around the corner, tibia broken, back against the bottom of the locker. A pool of blood which had stagnated within flowed freely to the floor.