Small towns are supposed to be quiet and calm. They’re the kind of place where the kids that grow up there long to leave. They dream big dreams and though most never come true, they still dare to dream. They’re not the kinds of places where anything interesting happens. As the town comes alive so do the local busybodies. As the town goes to sleep, so does everyone else. At least that’s supposed to be the case anyway. This is supposed to be the truth of a sleepy picturesque small town. Everyone knows everybody and they know your business even before you do. It was why Darcy had chosen this very location. It ensured her the quiet life she desperately desired to live. And although there were prying eyes they were the eyes of the curious and the bored. They were not the eyes of the menacing and judgemental that she had grown up with all her life. At least that’s supposed to be the case anyway. No one would be able to believe the darkness that was about to settle over this sleepy little seaside town.
Darcy sighed as she leaned against the dark wrought iron of the false balcony outside of her bedroom window. Her home had a European feel mixed with an American bungalow. It was interesting and unique and she had fallen in love with it at first sight. The iron bar pressed against her forearms as she leaned out and took deep greedy breaths. She ignored the slight pain it caused and sighed once more as the early morning wind rushed across her hot features. Darcy knelt on the bench under her window as she tried to quiet her erratic heart rate. The dream that had her running from her bed before being completely awake had been particularly shocking. Dreams like those were a significant factor into why she had gone with this particular house. She would be able to lean out the window and not worry about falling. While she tried to calm her mind Darcy looked around the quiet neighborhood in which she had decided to put down roots. She couldn’t help but smile when she saw the lights flicker on in the house across the street. She knew that the older couple that lived there would be headed into town soon. She enjoyed watching them. They made her hope for something she had long since thought was gone from this world. As soon as she found herself hoping and wishing for that same something her smile disappeared. She pushed away from the false balcony and closed the window forcefully. She stood up from the bench that she had been kneeling on and stretched her sore muscles before making her way down the stairs. Her mind filled with the thoughts of her dreams and past as she made her way to the front door and stepped out onto her porch. She stepped up to the railing and immediately her head tilted back so she could watch the sky. The early morning sky reminded her of black velvet and the stars brought back memories of glittery dresses and high expectations as they shimmered against the velvety horizon.
Darcy was a woman that simply longed for the quiet and peacefulness that she had been denied all her life. Her long honey blonde hair that shone like gold in the sunlight shimmered under the light of the falling moon was damp with sweat. Her pale skin glowed in an ethereal way that, if there were people awake they surely would have mistaken her for a fairy or goddess. Her green eyes framed by long honey lashes stared listlessly out at the early morning sky. She took deep greedy breaths, inhaling the salty winds of the ocean less than a mile from her own home. It helped soothe her erratic heartbeat and calm her tumultuous mind. Chaos. That was the only way she could think of to describe her current state. If someone had been awake and passing by they would have assumed that she was having some sort of mental breakdown with the way she was currently gripping the banister of her porch railing and staring up at the early morning sky with blank unseeing eyes. This was her daily routine because her sleep was plagued with nightmares of being dragged back to that god forsaken family. As she finally got herself under control she slipped back inside. She paused at the threshold and looked back out at dark street as she felt her skin crawl with the familiar sickening feeling of being watched like prey. Darcy brushed the feeling aside and shook her head before stepping inside and quietly closing the door behind her. She dragged her weary body into the kitchen and groaned as she stretched her back. She flicked on the lights and blinked rapidly as her eyes adjusted to the bright light.
Darcy muttered to herself about needing to replace her stove light as she made her way to her coffee maker. Since she had already filled the reservoir with water and grounds, she simply pressed the power switch. The button lit up a dull red and soon the sound of percolated coffee filled the house. She grabbed a large cup and set it next to the machine that, despite modern advancements, lacked all the bells and whistles. She didn’t feel the need to have something so sophisticated in her home. At times like these she found herself staring at her smart tv dubiously. While she had grudgingly bought the item she was pleased that it was one of those things that helped her save money in the long run. She knew that the reason she was so against modern machines was because of her background. While it was ridiculous she couldn’t help but wonder if certain luxuries would end up making her exactly like them. While she knew that she was being ridiculous believing that having modern and sophisticated luxuries would end up making her like them. She just couldn’t help herself. Everytime she bought something “vintage” or “antique” she would smirk as she stepped further and further away from what their ideals were.
Darcy’s thoughts were interrupted as she thought she heard the sound of a car door shutting. She stepped towards the window trying to catch a peek at the noise but there was no movement. A cat in the distance let out a yowl and a dog barked but other than that it was still and silent. Darcy shrugged her shoulders and went back for her coffee. When she saw the mess on her counter she let out a stream of curses that would make a sailor blush. From the look of things it seemed like her coffee maker had exploded. The black brew was all over her counter and dripping down onto her floor. Darcy groaned and wondered if she had once again failed to put the basket in correctly or if it was the pot itself. She turned the coffeemaker off, checked the usual culprits and sighed with annoyance when she realized that it wasn’t one or the other but both.
“Honestly, I’m like a caveman when it comes to technology.” She muttered under her breath as she unplugged the coffeemaker and set it aside to clean up the mess.
Once she was done, which had taken longer than she cared to admit, she restarted the coffeemaker. She looked up at the sky and frowned when she saw the first rays of light. At this rate she would be running late. She quickly made some oatmeal and toast, choosing to top her oatmeal with some crushed almonds and blueberries. She sweetened it with honey and carried her bowl of oatmeal and plate of toast to the table. She went back for a spoon and her coffee and then seated herself at her table. She grabbed the remote and turned on the smart tv. She watched the news while eating until she finally got fed up with it. She broke off a piece of her toast and dipped it in her oatmeal as she flipped to her music playlist. Soft music played as she sipped her coffee. As soon as she was done she carried her dishes to the sink and filled the bowl and pot with water. She would let them soak while she got ready for work. She ran up the stairs and into her bathroom. She turned on the shower and stripped out of her clothes. Normally she would let the water warm up but on mornings like this she preferred the cold spray of water. Darcy jumped into the shower and braced for the cold water against her skin. The shock was enough to take away her breath. Her teeth chattered as she stood under the water letting it shock away the still lingering feelings that plagued her. Once she was thoroughly awake and no longer focusing on those feelings that soured her mood she turned on the hot water. The hot water burned her skin and she sighed as it cascaded down her body. She washed her hair and soaped up her body. She finished her shower as quickly as possible and sighed as she turned off the water. She wrapped a warm fluffy towel around her body, and stepped out. She wrapped her hair up in a towel and patted her body dry. She squeezed a dollop of body lotion into the palm of her hand and slathered it on her skin. She slipped into a robe and tied the belt before wiping away the fog on the mirror. The dark circles under her eyes told the story of how little sleep she was actually getting and she couldn’t help but frown at the thought of having to take the sleeping pills prescribed to her. She hated the way they made her feel the next day so she avoided taking them unless necessary or on the weekends.
Darcy washed her face and applied a little bit of light make up. It was just enough to cover the dark circles under her eyes and bring color back to her face. Once she was done she applied a little bit of product to her hair and began styling it. Her long honey blonde hair shone with brilliance by the time she was done and she sighed tiredly as she looked at her reflection. She was already exhausted just getting ready for work. She didn’t want to think about the people that she would be dealing with. Once again she was thankful that the next day was saturday.
She slipped into a simple outfit that was modest and befitting her position as a teacher. She braided her hair in a simple side plate. She frowned at her expression once more as she donned a pair of simple diamond stud earrings and a silver necklace with a small diamond pendant. She slipped on a pair of comfortable flats and mused over how one of her colleagues would nitpick her appearance once again. She sighed and shook her head as she checked the time. She grabbed her coffee, purse, and the tote she kept her lessons in. She grabbed her keys as she headed towards the door. She glanced around her empty yet eclectic house, smiled softly, and rushed to her car. She quickly placed her tote, purse, and coffee in her car before climbing in. She took a few deep breaths and started her car. She plugged her phone into the auxiliary cord and started her playlist. This was a different one from her early morning list. It was hard rock and Japanese rock. She made sure to keep the volume down as she didn’t want to disturb her neighbors. She glanced into her rearview mirror after checking to make sure that both sides of the street were clear. She frowned when she noticed that her neighbors lights weren’t on. While it was a momentary thought she didn’t have time to dwell on the unsettling feeling that had settled into the pit of her stomach.
Darcy pulled up to the school parking lot and parked her car in the back. She gathered her keys and yawned. She sat there blinking her tired eyes for a moment as she tried to ignore the memories that were trying to push their way forward. She shook her head and slapped both of her cheeks before climbing out of the car. She shut and locked her door after gathering her belongings and made her way inside the school.
It had taken some time but Darcy had adjusted to her move to the small seaside town in North Carolina. She had needed to get away from everything and decided that instead of just taking a vacation she would make her stay permanent. She never once bothered to look back . She did the necessary work to get her teaching certificate after moving to the small town and soon found herself hired at the small elementary school.
She unlocked her classroom and put her things down. She would be busy the rest of the day and then she would have papers to grade followed by lessons to plan. It was always the same. A never ending cycle of what most would consider tedious boredom, but not her. She loved it. Darcy was lost in her thoughts as she set up her room for the day and didn’t notice that there was someone standing at the door.
“Hey, Darc.” Called a voice from the door startling her as she dropped her chalk.
“Patricia.” She said, smiling tightly at the woman that had once again decided to grace her with her unwanted presence.
Darcy knew it would be an understatement if she were to say that she tolerated the other woman. Patricia was the type of woman that started rumors about everyone she met. The tall stick thin blonde had an attitude to rival her aunt’s and she couldn’t stand it. Her sharp judging gray eyes appraised her appearance with disdain once more.
“Darc,” Patricia tutted, shaking her head. “You really need to start putting more effort into your appearance.”
“I’m dressed just fine.” Darcy mumbled as she bent down to pick up her chalk that was now broken into five pieces. “And you caused me to break my chalk.”
“Chalk isn’t the problem, here Darcy.” Patricia sighed, placing a dainty hand on her bony hip.
“And what is so awful with the way I dress?” Darcy sighed, rolling her eyes in annoyance.
“You’re so young yet you’re dressed so plainly!” Patricia sighed exasperated with the younger woman.
“I’m also a teacher. My job is to mold young minds, not dress for attention. Attention that I don’t even want.” Darcy groaned.
“You’re never going to catch a man if you don’t start showing at least a little skin. With the way you’re dressed you might as well be a nun.” Patricia huffed as she tried to stomp off in her impossibly high heels.
Darcy groaned and shook her head. She grumbled to herself angrily when she saw the time and realized how far behind she was. She hastily grabbed the largest broken piece of chalk and continued with her lesson of the day. She wrote as fast as she could, and sighed with relief when she was finally done.
“That has got to be some of the fastest writing I have ever seen.” Chuckled the custodian, shaking his head.
“My hand hurts.” Darcy sighed, tiredly.
“My hand hurts from watching.” Laughed the older man. “That frantic writing and angry grumbling can only mean one thing. Patricia?”
“Patricia.” Darcy grunted, tossing her lesson plan aside and sitting down in her chair.
“What was your mistake today?” He asked, laughing.
“My clothes.” Darcy grunted, rubbing away the tension between her brows.
“What’s wrong with your clothes?” He asked, frowning as he took in her appearance.
“Too plain?” She asked, rolling her eyes.
“You’re dressed properly though. I-I I don’t understand.” He grunted.
“Me neither… but then again did you see the way she was dressed today?” Darcy asked, raising a brow.
“Nope. Not at all. However, I know you won’t say anything further on the matter because you’re not one to gossip. So, I’ll just draw my own conclusion later when I see her.” He laughed.
The school day had been uneventful for her. Aside from Patricia’s incessant nagging and nitpicking about her clothing and nearly every other aspect of her appearance, Darcy had no complaints. Though she was already tired when the day started, she felt slightly more energized than before. The final bell rang and she called class to an end. The kids excitedly packed up their things as Darcy stood by for them to line up. Once everyone was ready they filed out into the hallway and went to the pick up spots to wait for their parents. She smiled and waved them off one by one until only one remained. She smiled down at the brunette boy and sat on the ground next to him.
“Hey, Jamie.” She said, smiling softly at him.
“Hey, Miss Walsh.” He said, smiling sadly at her.
“What’s the matter?” She asked, tilting her head to the side.
“Mom’s already thirty minutes late.” He sighed. “Dad’s going to be mad that he has to come and get me.”
“I’m sorry, buddy. I have to call him.” Darcy sighed. “Someone has to come pick you up.”
“Okay.” Jamie sighed, hiding his tears.
Darcy knew that there were things going on at home that Jamie refused to talk about. She understood it but she didn’t like it. Instead of pushing, she told him the same thing everyday. She would smile softly at him and tell him that whenever he needed to talk she would listen. She thought about these words as she dialed his father’s number. She listened to it ring repeatedly for a moment and groaned with frustration when it went to voicemail. She left a message and pressed end with a sigh. She led the little boy back inside to the classroom. THey talked as they cleaned up. When they were done and his parents still hadn’t shown up she gave him some paper and crayons to draw with while she called them again. Neither of his parents answered once again. She stifled a groan of frustration so as not to let Jamie know that she was beginning to lose her patience. The two of them were busy playing as the afternoon wore on. She called two more times before sighing with annoyance. She tossed her phone aside into her bag. She was just about to sit next to Jamie once more when she heard a commotion in the hallway.
“What on earth?” She mumbled, going to the door and peering out down the corridor.
“Aleister!” Patricia whined, pressing her fake breasts into his arm as she clung to him.
“Miss Taylor,” He said, disdainfully. “Perhaps your time would be better spent actually teaching your students.”
“I put my whole heart into teaching my students. I am still young though, am I not?” She whispered, batting her eyelashes and biting her bottom lip.
Aleister Wright stood staring down at the woman with annoyance shining in his brown eyes. He peered down his nose at her. His lips were pressed into a firm thin line as he removed her hand from his arms. Patricia stumbled back a little pouting in response.
“Miss Taylor.” Darcy barked sharply at the other woman.
“Is there something I can help you with, Miss Walsh?” She ground out in frustration.
“I really don’t think that this is the place for this sort of behavior.” Darcy sighed. “Some of us still have students in our classrooms.”
“This is nothing compared to what he sees at home. I could strut around naked and still be more of a lady than his mother.” Patricia sneered. “Superior breeding and all.”
“How dare you!” Darcy seethed, angrily as she stomped further out of her room and into view.
Aleister Wright watched the young teacher with interest. Her green eyes sparkled with anger as she took up the mantle for her student. She was dressed plainly but appropriately for a teacher. She wore a woolen plaid skirt of dark blue, black, and gold. Her cream white turtleneck was paired with a matching dark blue sweater. Her honey blonde hair was plated over one shoulder. Despite the loose clothing he could tell that she was thin.
“You are a teacher! How dare you talk about a student with such malice!” She seethed quietly. “Your actions as a teacher are disgusting. Instead of criticizing my appearance every time you see me, you should consider your own actions first.”
Aleister watched as her small fists balled up at her sides. He could see the desire to lay the other woman out. Still she walked back to her room with her back straight.
“Miss Taylor, I suggest you heed the words of your junior. After all, between the two of you, she seems to better understand her role as an educator.”
“But Aleister!” She whined, latching onto his arm again and pressing into him.
“That’s enough! Do your job and stop throwing yourself at unmarried men!” He grunted, shaking her off and stalking down the hallway.
Patricia watched him go with a desperate look in her eyes. The sound of Darcy’s voice floated into the hallway which had Patricia turning towards that direction. Her eyes gleamed with rage towards the young woman that dared to call her out. She could hear her voice raise slightly while speaking. She sneered at her closed door and decided that she would use that opportunity to file a complaint with the principal.