I wish I could say that was the last I had ever heard of the Lucienne twins. I wish Abigail’s story ended with the month she spent at the psychiatrist’s office after the incident. But wishes rarely come true. And this was no exception.
Abigail never came back to the school that year. A teacher that was her family friend gossiped with me over a cup of coffee in the break room three weeks later, filling in the details that had kept me awake deep into the night.
“She’s staying at home until this whole thing blows over. Three times a week she goes to counseling, though she won’t talk to anyone, and only eats if you put two plates in front of her. If you ask me, she was an accident waiting to happen. Poor thing, her grandfather was just diagnosed with terminal cancer now too. And the doctors were able to sew the ear back on- can you believe that? Apparently you can barely even tell it came off. Miraculous.”
Miraculous. I’m not sure if that was the appropriate word. Or if they should have sewn it back.
At the end of the year, the school board informed me that I would be moving to another school, a smaller institution for brighter children. I accepted- not because the pay was better, but because I knew it was their kind way to fire me. I could hear their whispers. That I was the one who made the freak crack.
So I packed away my things, and was admitted into Carrie’s School for the Gifted. There were no current openings for kindergarten teachers, so I taught second grade. My first year went by smoothly, and I received a small bonus at the end for my student’s high test scores.
When I returned from the Summer to start my second year, nineteen out of the twenty desks were filled by young children, their fresh crayons tucked away in pencil bags that still smelled like Walmart. I smiled at them, and introduced myself, writing my name on the board as I talked.
“Hello class, my name is Mary Watkins, and I’ll be your new second grade-“ Behind me, the classroom door opened, and I heard the footsteps of two students enter. The smile froze on my lips, and my marker jumped across the board as I heard her voice.
“Hi Miss Mary.”
I turned. Abigail stood alone in the center of the room. Her silver locket dangled from her neck. Bridget was still burned into her right ear, which looked as if it had never been missing.
“We missed you.”
And maybe it was the lighting, but I could have sworn I saw two shadows.
I sat Abigail near the windows. The sunlight calmed her, and she spent most her time staring up into the clouds. Despite this, she still managed to test better than anyone else in the class.
Once, realizing she was not paying attention, I called upon her for a simple arithmetic problem.
“Abigail! What’s two times four?”
She continued to stare off, her eyes glassy. The rest of the class twisted in their chairs to watch.
“Abigail!” I repeated, my high heels clinking against the tiles as I walked over to her. Still, no response. I waved a hand in front of her face, flexing my fingers, then touched her face.
Abigail threw her head back and gasped, drawing in a breath so deep it was as if she had been held underwater. Her desk rocked from the momentum and I held it down, forcing my hands over the chilled wood. She thrashed, looking from left to right wildly.
“Abigail! Honey, I’m here!” I shouted, and her eyes met mine.
Tears spilled outwards and she embraced me, her nails digging through my dress and into my shoulder.
“We're sorry Miss Mary. We're so sorry.”
“Shhhh, it’s OK Abigail. Everything’s going to be OK.”
“It was Bridget. She took me somewhere and we couldn’t find our way back. It was dark. And cold.” She shivered. I suppressed my own shudder.
“You’re here now. You’re back.”
She sighed and I released her. The recess bell rang and the rest of the class hurried out, carrying lunchboxes away along with questions they were too young to know the answer to. Questions that I, at twenty-seven, am still too young to know the answer to.
“Miss Mary?” She said when my back was turned.
“Bridget says the answer is eight.”
Since Abigail had returned, her speech had greatly improved. No longer were there intermittent pauses where Bridget used to speak, but the tenor of her voice continued to change at those intervals. It wasn’t until four weeks into the semester that I realized why.
In her front pocket, Abigail always carried a fountain pen. It was grey, the color of the clouds she watched outside the window, and came to a sharp point at one end.
“I like your pen, Abigail.” I said one day, and she beamed, thrusting her pocket out like a badge of honor.
“Thanks Miss Mary. My grandfather gave it to me. He writes storybooks. He wrote us one once, me and Bridget, about how we’d always be together. It had our lockets on the cover.”
“Did he now? Well that was sweet of him. I’m sure he’s a nice man.” “I love him more than anything else in the world. It’s just sad he can’t visit anymore.”
“Why’s that, Abigail?”
“He’s in the hospital, Miss Mary. Bridget says she keeps him safe. And daddy says everything is going to be alright.”
“I’m sure it will be.” I said, and left the discussion. I forgot about it, until one day Abigail misplaced her pen.
“Miss Mary!” She tugged at my dress, her hand jerking urgently. I had been teaching the class cursive, but she walked up to the board like nothing was happening.
“We can’t find” Pause, “but we just had it” Pause, “My pen. We need your help.”
My hairs raised. The come and go speech pattern was back again.
“Abigail, sit back down. I’ll help you after the lesson.”
“No!” She shouted, stamping her foot. “No! We need” pause “or else” pause “will die.”
It would be fruitless trying to continue the lesson, so I helped her search.
With every minute, she grew more frantic, throwing over rugs and backpacks in her search. When she was on the verge of tears, I found it underneath one of the bookshelves.
She sighed. “Thank you Miss Mary. We’re better now. There was still time.”
No pauses now, just inflections again.
The two girls seated behind her sniggered. One was Natalie, a redhead with freckles peppered across her face, and the other was Jane, whose shoes were always shiny and school supplies always new. The week before I had caught them poking Abigail during class, much to her distress.
I continued my lesson and instructed the students to write a sentence of their choice in cursive. Abigail took the cap off her pen and, for the first time, used it to write an assignment. She took her time, eyes furrowed in concentration as she worked.
The rest of the student had left when she finished. She looked it over carefully, making adjustments for a full ten minutes, before she turned it in. I let her work- even after the transpired events, I had grown to love Abigail. And her dedication made me proud. I wanted to see what her handwriting would produce.
“You worked a long time on that, Abigail.” I said as she walked up to my desk.
“I wanted it to be perfect, Miss Mary. This pen writes so beautifully. I love the ink, it’s the most pretty blue. And it sparkles in the light.”
“It certainly is. Go home now, Abigail. Your family will be waiting.”
The sheet was blank. There was no blue ink.
She picked up her bags and headed out the door. She could walk home from this school, and I hadn’t seen her parents drive her over in over a week. When she was gone, I looked at her paper.
I held it up to the light, and could see the scratches the out of ink pen had made against the lines.
Abigail belongs to me.
Just before lunch the next day Abigail’s pen went missing again. We searched for fifteen minutes, and each passing second her panic became more evident. It wasn’t under the bookshelf. Or under the rug. Or in her backpack, whose contents she had strewn across the floor in rage. She shook, wrapping her hands around her face and pulling her hair. Behind her, I saw Natalie and Jane share a knowing look. A flash of grey gleamed from Natalie’s pocket.
“She’s such a baby. Baby baby baby!” Taunted Natalie as I took the pen from her.
The shrieks had already begun by the time I brought the it to Abigail. She grasped it, her knuckles bone white, and for a moment all was silent. “It’s too late. He’s gone.” She whispered, and looked me dead in the eyes. “He’s gone.”
Then she screamed so loud that I had to cover my ears and feared the windows would rupture.
“Baby!” Shouted Natalie, putting her hands on Abigail’s desk. Her voice was drowned out.
Abigail threw the pen as hard as she could at the board. It ricocheted, bouncing at an impossible angle, flying up above my head and slamming point first deep into Abigail’s desk, straight through Natalie’s right hand and pinning it to the wood. It was so embedded that I couldn’t remove it, and Natalie had to wait the fifteen minutes for the paramedics to arrive until she could move.
They rushed her to the hospital, and the school board suspended Abigail for two weeks. She spent it in Pennsylvania, at her grandfather’s funeral. The day of the accident he had died, and the doctor marked the time of death in thick blue ink at 11:44 AM.
That morning I had returned the one sentence assignment, and Natalie’s blood now stained Abigail’s paper. On the way to throw it out, I stopped, something catching my eye. Under the blood, sparkly blue writing crossed the once blank sheet.
Abigail belongs to me.