The sun stretches its warm arms through the gloomy fenced windows. A much calmer feeling, in comparison to the inhabitants on the other side of the windows. Old wood, pencil shavings and cold coffee aromas fill the antique room.
Children of various heights each at their paired wooden desk bring life to the gloomy room. Cheesy posters, calendars, and bright colored numbers hug the walls of the aqua room assisted by push pins and staples.
A screeching sound bounces around the room, similar to a heart monitor signalling death. It blares for long, as if a doctor had forgotten to unplug the heart monitor after their patient had died. Despite its devastating comparison, it brings smiles upon the little rascals.
Dressed in colorful clothing with images of superheroes and princesses, the rascals cheer on the screech until it goes silent. Their lecturer in the center of the room closes the textbook in their hands and proceeds towards a small desk.
Slowly placing the textbook on the center of the desk, he sits on the corner. Before him, the little rascals rush to clean up their mess, throwing rulers, markers, pencils across the room to others with open arms.
Stuffing thin notebooks and bulky pencil cases into their “Jansport” backpacks, fairly popular despite their expensive cost. Finding assignments and homework in those backpacks, is like finding a ring in a landfill.
Calm and organized is the young boy near the front desk. Blind to the commotion and screaming around him. Unbothered.
Bumpy Tan skin, small freckles, a gothic-walnut colored curtain over his dark brown double-eyelid eyes and tips of his ears. Fairly curly hair that sways like a swing on a playground set as he picks up objects on his desk.
An orange-bugs bunny shirt, with a long sleeved navy shirt. Khaki shorts down to the knee, laceless blue shoes with white rims on clearance at Walmart.
“Jin” reads the rectangular cardboard nameplate before the boy. And he continues his slow moments, cautiously placing each utensil into a designated bag in his tangerine-colored backpack, with sky colored clouds duct taped backpack-straps.
A young girl taller than the rest of the rascals remaining in the room, slides through outgoing traffic of children and enters the room. She walks with a spring in her step through the crowd, a blue smurf among a meadow of flowers, her gray backpack bouncing with each step.
“I’m almost done,” groans the calm boy as the blue haired smurf hops his way, avoiding eye contact.
She places her hands on the boy’s desk, and taps her fingers slowly to the beat of her humming. She smiles brightly watching each movement the boy makes.
“Well, you better hurry. You know how my mom is,” the blue haired girl chuckles, “she won’t wait for us long.”
Jin zips up his backpack and swings it over his left shoulder. He caresses his duct-taped straps and looks at the girl before him.
Stephanie, Jin’s cousin from his mother’s side, has a dark blue stereotypical emo haircut and dark brown skin. She wears a lavender-white striped long sleeve crop top, black knee high shorts, as well as a black beanie that barely touches her bangs.
She holds onto her backpack straps and hums cheerfully before breaking into a smile.
Side by side the cousins navigate through the traffic of students rushing to leave. Excited, the rascals run around and bump into one another, much to Jin’s annoyance and Stephanie’s amusement.
Being the bubbly joy that she is, Stephanie greets teachers and students that cross their path. She flashes them warm smiles, drawing attention from some of the rascals in the crowd.
“Steph is popular as always,” ponders Jin gleefully.
Eventually the duo arrive at the youthful garden that welcomes all to the campus. Their chauffeur awaits them in a grey Honda van.
Their chauffeur, an older woman in her forties with noticeable wrinkles, fixes her brown shoulder-length hair while looking at the car’s side mirror. Then she honks and waves with her left hand towards her passengers when she notices them approaching.
Hiding her face behind her palm and with heavy feet Stepahnie walks towards the van, Jin chuckling at her embarrassment. They wiggle their way through the bundles of students and reach their carriage.
Embarrassed and annoyed, she opens the middle passenger door and throws her backpack in.
“How was school, kids?” asks the chauffeur as Stephanie hops into the van.
Jin replies, “Okay… same as always-” before being cut off by Stephanie slamming the passenger door shut.
Their chauffeur groans.
Softly he places his tangerine-colored backpack in the first passenger seat and says, “I forgot something, back in the classroom. I’ll be back.”
As he turns on his heel and begins running. The chauffeur hollers, “Make it quick!”
───── ⋆⋅☆⋅⋆ ─────
Running through the halls and avoiding any crowds, he pushes on until he reaches his classroom. Quiet, flickering lights the usual of the hallway seem much scarier without its usual inhabitants.
He brushes off the eerie feeling.
“I guess everyone really wanted to get out today. I wonder, is today a holiday? Is it Friday?” he ponders.
Carefully he twists the classroom’s door knob, it creaks with every slight rotation. The full circle only ends in disappointment. Locked.
“Wasn’t there an after school tutoring session- or was it yesterday?” he asks himself.
He knocks awkwardly on the door. No response.
Using all the strength in his little feet he stretches to peer through the window sill on the door.
Empty, all chairs pushed into the paired wooden desks. A textbook at the desk across the door, a computer and scattered sheets of papers.
He tries to twist the doorknob in vain, eventually acknowledging his defeat.
Disappointed in himself, he backs away from the door and sighs.
Faint noises and screaming resonate through the hall. His hands on his waist begin to tremble at the sound.
Confused, he looks around. The hallway remains the same as before.
The sounds slowly get louder allowing him to deduce their location. Holding onto his silver bird-shaped necklace with trembling hands, he walks towards it.
He drags his feet along, flinching at the squeaks his shoes make from rubbing on the floor. Like a meerkat he peers around him with each step he takes, making sure no one attacks him from behind.
As he approaches the noises towards the end of the hall, the grip on his necklace tightens with each scream.
He crouches below the hall door’s windows, and cautiously puts his ear over the door. He slows his breathing and releases the tension on his necklace.
“Ey! Where is that money you promised me?” a deep voice grunts.
A pause- then what appears to be a heavy object is thrown against the hall doors. The impact causes Jin to lose his balance and fall into a sitting position.
He slides across the floor back in order to eavesdrop again.
“I don’t owe you anything!” a squeaky voice shouts.
As Jin stands up and dusts his shorts, another object, smaller than the first is thrown against the hallway doors.
“Hey! Give me that back! It’s mine you-” yells the squeaky voice.
Curious, Jin stretches his small body and peers through the hallway-door windows. The view is blurred by bird poop and other stains, but he makes out one figure peering downwards towards the hallway doors.
Dark ash hair, blue eyes, a fair skinned figure as tall as the doors themselves with an oversized t-shirt and shorts. A sidekick behind him, rosy cheeks, tan skin, green shoulder length hair, oversized shirt and pants.
A mouse guarding a lion. And an impala on the ground, injured from the bite its predators took into its face.
It hugs its limbs and rubs its bruised arms. Its eyes sparkle with tears and confusion.
The outside jungle is surrounded by trees and 5-year old sized bushes. At the heart of the campus it is nicely comforted from the flashy entrance of the school.
The impala trembles as it stands up from the ground, it walks towards the pale mouse. It’s red-orange coat stained by blood from its facial injuries, its tail between its legs.
He is much smaller in size compared to his predators. He is a slim boney looking kid. Skin as white as snow, red-orange bangs hang over his bright black eyes and swollen pink lips.
“He looks pretty hurt…” whispers Jin, peering through the window.
The impala doesn’t last long before it is slammed against the concrete once again. The mouse puffs a cigarette in front of its face and chuckles.
It stretches its little hooves towards the hallway while it is pushed down by the lion’s claws on its back.
Between breaths it pleads, “Anyone… please…Hic-”
Jin sighs and shakes his head. “If I try to help him, I might get hurt too…”
He places his forehead on the door and tries to sound out the impalas pleas, “But I can’t- I- ugh…”