by ALL OF US!
Okay, you know the rules. Add a sentence or even a paragraph to the story and let’s see where it goes. Last time, a couple of entries were out of order. I’ll try to patch in every once in a while to move things along if necessary.
I hope this works . . .
Lorena Jackson stood just below the stage with her back to the angry parents assembled in the school’s cafeteria. She used a felt tip pen on the overhead transparency to explain why Walt Whitman Elementary School had failed to meet the state’s Adequate Yearly Progress requirements for the fourth year in a row.
“We’ve appealed the decision on several of the standards,” she said, regretting her misguided decision to be the school’s principal, to try to lift it up from its horrid reputation and ghastly neighborhood. “Given our demographics, it’s not fair to expect progress every year.”
“How about one in four?” shouted someone in the middle of the crowd. Other parents mumbled. Just because most of them worked two jobs didn’t mean they wanted to blow off their kids’ education. How dare this woman act so high and mighty?
“Now, now. Let’s have a little decorum here,” said the principal. “You wouldn’t use that behavior in front of your children.” These people were barbarians. Half of them never showed up for their parent/teacher conferences . . . let alone when there was a school performance or team-spirit event.
“Hey, Lady! Stop treating us like idiots!” yelled someone else. Didn’t the principal know how much it took for them to get to this damn meeting in the first place? The lost time at work?
“Stop acting like one,” said Alesha Freeman softly enough so that only her friend Rosa could hear.
They’d been sitting there in that hot building just like everyone else. But unlike some, they actually thought Jackson had been doing a pretty good job. She’d gotten rid of deadwood, cleaned up the drug problem– little kindergartner thugs– and had even gotten computers in some of the classrooms. Why were people trying to lynch her now?
Rosa frowned. This wasn’t how the evening was supposed to go. Jackson was supposed to give her presentation and get parents in the mood to visit their children’s classrooms to meet the teachers. It was supposed to be a real feel-good event, not a feel-like-hell one.
“Come on,” said Alesha. “Let’s get out of here before someone decides to shoot her.”
“Yeah.” Her friend nodded. “I want to meet Alejandro’s teacher. He’s real happy in her class.”
The two women edged through the pressing bodies of standing parents to the double doors. Outside, the air was crisp with the first real night of Autumn. Someone a couple of blocks away was cooking barbecue. Alesha and Rosa walked to one of the rows of portables, searching for their children’s classrooms.
Rosa found hers first. “Hey, let’s meet near the office and walk home together.”
Alesha smiled. “See you then.”
Two hours later, Rosa waited for her friend. She hugged herself, regretting she’d left her sweater on the kitchen chair when she’d rushed out of the house to get to the school in time. Rosa opened her cell phone to check the time. Alesha should’ve been there by now.
But Alesha never came.
"Alejandro’s teacher," she said. "Start there." She headed back into the school to check the posted schedule for the teacher’s name and room number.
There was still no sign of her, and Rosa was starting to feel the panic building in her chest.
Unable to find her friend, Rosa went back to the cafeteria, still searching. Along the way, she asked for both Alesha and Alejandro, but no one remembered seeing either one. Becoming more and more concerned, Rosa hurried into the large, echoing room.
At first she frowned, then she gasped.
Alejandro’s teacher, Ms. Gordon, was sitting upright on one of the chairs on the stage looking toward the door that Rosa had just come through, but there was a trickle of blood coming from the side of her mouth. Rosa realized the glassy stare only meant one thing.
Parent teacher night had just reached a whole new low.
Or high, depending upon how you view parents’ nights.
Rosa edged forward and realized that it wasn’t her Alejandro’s teacher at all. Rosa bent towards the woman and read the name tag. It was Sabrina Young, a reprsentative from Texas Tests of Entitlement, the group hired both to create the benchmarks for AYP and to evaluate the schools.
And then the lights went out …
[Zoe commented while I was making stuff up. Ahem. So, this happened first. Right before the light thing.]
Rosa covered her mouth with a shaking hand to stifle the scream she felt welling up from her gut. She backed away from the grotesque display and tripped over– Alesha’s purse? The sight of the distinctive homemade patchwork pattern laying in an abandoned heap on the stage sent cold fear racing through her veins. Alesha loved that purse. She never went anywhere without it.
She squinted against the glare of the stage lights, searching the shadowy corners of the deserted cafeteria, hoping to catch sight of her friend, hoping this was some kind of practical joke. Alesha loved to pull pranks and it was almost Halloween. Alesha’s favourite time of year.
She heard a soft scraping sound from behind her. "Alesha? Is that you?" She turned and, as if in answer to her query, the lights went out, plunging the room into pitch blackness.
Ooops. Just read instruction that we were to add "a sentence."
Is no one going to finish the story before bedtime? All it would take is one sentence. One very long sentence.