Don’t Forget Your Schoolwork

Stumbling out of the gymnasium, she noticed blearily that she was missing her backpack. Talk about a disaster—her homework, cell phone, schoolbooks, and worst of all her theme were in the backpack. Mrs. Marten’s theme, five hundred words on “what historical figure would you invite to dinner.” It counted for thirty percent of her final grade for Composition. Sara was positive her choice of subject and her research for this paper would be sure to score at least an A minus, and her GPA could certainly use the help.

No choice, she’d have to trudge back through the darkened and stinky gym for her stuff.

In Sara’s opinion, the gym was the dreariest building in Madison High. It didn’t help that she was the last to leave. The championship banners, celebrating Cougar victories clear back to the seventies, drooped like forgotten and abandoned shrouds in the dark. Absence of light sucked the color and joy right out of them.

All that remained was the sweaty-boy locker smell that always wrinkled her nose and clung to the gym’s interior no matter how diligently Mr. Saunders scrubbed the floors after games.

When cheerleader practice ran late, and it often did, Sara was responsible for cleaning up the girls’ locker room. At least it didn’t smell as bad as the boys’ did. All that entailed was picking up the wet towels, closing the lockers, and double-checking that the water in the showers was off.

Jenny’s locker was still open. Photos of Perfect Jenny, her Perfect Boyfriend, Miss Perfect Butt and Perfect Legs enjoying her Perfect Life plastered over the inside of the locker and its tiny door. How did I miss that on the way out? Sara pushed it shut and shook her head. I must have been daydreaming or something.

She missed the dark streaks that her fingertips left on the painted metal, turning to check the showers again.

Sara stepped carefully over the feet in the doorway and wiggled each of the shower taps to check they were off. No time for that, I need to grab my theme and get home. Never mind that crumpled shape in the corner or the pool of red slowly expanding over the tiled floor.

She hefted the backpack over her shoulder. This was such a good theme. Choose a Historical figure, avoid the obvious presidents and royalty, who would it be educational to meet, who would earn her the best grade? Who could help me most?

That’s why this theme was so perfect. It was still an unsolved crime, still a mystery, still a topic rife with lots of footnote material. Researchers still earned doctorates studying this dude.

Now Sara loved him. Looking over in that corner, I do believe Jenny loves him too. Throat slashed, twice. Ovaries removed with surgical precision. Jenny was the final bit of research for Sara’s theme about the Ripper. How would it feel to gank a whore and move up to head cheerleader?

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496 works. Inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought prompt.