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1st Prize Winner (Group IV: 16-18 years) - Mrs. Loser

April, 2018
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Mrs. Loser

 

“Class.”

Stiletto heels on the tiled floor. Click-clack, click-clack to the front of the room.

A full class rustles with anticipation. Whispers flit through the room like bats in a cave.

Is she the new teacher?

What do we 

What happened to

I dont know

She seems

 

“Attention.”

The class falls quiet like she’s pressed the mute button. She holds up a single object. They crane their necks to see.

It’s a knife. It glints under fluorescent lights ominously, and the children’s hearts beat rapidly in tandem.

Are we going to die?

 

She’s despondent as she sees the students all looking at her, wide-eyed and silent. They’re all afraid of me, she realizes with a sinking heart.

She never wanted to be feared. Once, she was kind-hearted, generous even. But circumstance has hardened her. She doesn’t care anymore, she shouldn’t. But recently, she’s developed a soft spot for children. Damn children. Must be maternal instinct.

“Don’t worry everyone, it’s only a butter knife.” She sets down the knife carefully. The sharp edge winks at her. Lies.

“Now get out your pens…there will be a quiz.”

The class quietly shuffles to get pencil cases out of bags. There is an uneasiness in the atmosphere.

 

Ben has forgotten his pen at home. He feels a cold bead of sweat roll down his neck as he leans over.

Psst. Can I borrow a pen?”

The teacher’s eyes zero in on him. His heart all but stops as he makes contact with the black orbs. Pen forgotten, he quickly settles back into his seat, averting his gaze.

Don’t look up. Don’t. Remember that knife? That was a sharp knife. Butter or not, she could still-

 

“Do you need a pen, child?”

She’s right in front of his desk. How did she get there? He didn’t hear anything. He swallows once.

“Yes, I-I can borrow one, I just left mine at home, s-sorry.”

“No need.”

She slides a pen onto his desk. He tries to say thank you, but no words come out. When she passes out the quiz, he writes his name. Benjamin Fuller, in red ink.

 

As she glides around the classroom, around the hunched heads scribbling away, the thoughts begin to invade her mind. Wouldn’t it be nice…just one child, the silent slit of soft skin. Nobody would know any better please just to calm the urge the urge is so great sitting inside her chest like a ticking bomb. It taunts her.

Stupid loser, good-at-nothing

With your stupid dress and your stupid bag

Stupid stupid 

Her fingers itch to slice, to maim, to tear the chords in their neck and shut them up, shut them up forever…

No. The harsh voice comes from deep within her. It’s wrong. You cannot do it. You promised.

Her hand shudders as she touches the knife in her pocket.

Use me, it whispers to her. Use me.

No. I cannot.

Why do you keep me around if not to use me?

As a reminder.

 

After they have finished the quiz, the children are a bit more at ease. She tells them to open their math books and follow along. She picks up a marker, but it doesn’t cooperate – it slips, tumbles, downwards with a clatter on the hard floor. She feels the muted sniggers before she hears them. They come from the entire class, a quiet army ready to attack the monster. Hard fury flares up, and she whips around to send a glare. The class falls silent within seconds.

Choosing a different marker, she writes a problem on the board.

Ha-ha, stupid girl cant even figure out a math question, stupid girl. 

“Someone give me the answer,” she says.

One plus one equals loser. Ha-ha.

A girl raises her hand. “Thirty-six.”

“Good. What about this one?”

The bell rings. She picks up her bag, ready to leave. They stop her.

“Forty-three?”

Books, pens all spill to the ground.

“No, the correct answer is fifty-one.”

See you, loser.

 

She teaches them the lesson for the day, and thankfully, everything remains quiet. Everything is still quiet, until she assigns them the classwork and they are back to bending over their desks in concentration. Then the knife begins to speak again. 

Remember what they did. Remember what they did. Remember me.

She remembers. She remembers being cornered in the classroom. Locked doors, shuttered windows. The snide voices always there, in her dreams, in her head. No escape. Huddled against the wall, knees to her chest, eyes scrunched shut. That’s when they brought it out. It was cold against her neck. Her skin buzzed with fear where it touched.

Stupid girl, they whispered.

Stupid loser girl, you should die

We should kill you

But we wont

Because losers like you dont deserve our help

 

And then it was gone. She opened her eyes alone. A knife by her side, abandoned. She picked it up and thought the silver was quite pretty.

“Um, teacher? I have a question.”

It is the boy sitting next to Ben. Her fingers are clasped around the knife in her pocket as she walks over to him. He points out the problem he doesn’t know how to do and she can feel the knife biting into her hand, use me use me.

Control. No. Youre better than this, youre better than them. Dont do it.

Hes mocking you, the knife cries. Can’t you see? He knows how to do the problem, hes testing you hes making you look stupid.

 

“You simply factor the equation, then move everything to one side,” she says through gritted teeth. The blade digs into her hand, she feels it pierce the flesh of her palm.

At the end of class, when his classmates have left the room, Ben approaches the teacher’s desk. She looks up, startled.

“Your pen,” he says, placing in on the desk. “Thank you.”

She smiles at Ben, uncertain, as if she hadn’t expected him to return it. She looks a lot nicer than she did at the beginning. Ben thinks she might not be so bad after all.

“Thank you for returning it.”

“Of course, it’s not finders keepers, losers weepers here,” he jokes.

But instead of a smile, her eyes bore into his, a deranged look that sends ice up his spine.

 

Loser

Losers weep

Losers weak

LoserloserloserNOloserloserloserKILLloserloserDIEloserSTUPIDloserloserloserloserloserloserIT’STIMETOPAY.

 

Ben’s face is white as he sees the knife emerge, blood dripping from her clenched fist.

“I’m sorry,” she sobs.

Then the knife lunges.



By Tina Sang,

 

16 years, Western Academy of Beijing

 

 

 

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