It had been a while. They had all known that. But denying any potentiality of the ominousity was easier than admitting it. If they did, they would have gone mad.
One last kick at the back of Kiera's chair and Josh slumps back, setting himself into the agitating silence that floats around the classroom.
Among the darkness, they can hear wind whistling, trees shivering and rain plummeting, and occasionally the splashes of leaves shaking off heavy droplets of water, falling and exploding into the flooded road. Henry places a harrow hand on the misted windows, feeling the cold moisture sink into his warm skin and his shaky breath clears the cloud of condensation over the murky glass. He watches his blurred reflection, wide eyed and cold before it fades away, clouding and spreading like water crystals.
"OK, that's it." Daniel stands abruptly from his chair, causing an agonising scratch against the matt floor. "Who's coming with me?" The others look at him in a daze, their heads resting at the side of their hands.
"Who's coming with me?"
"What d'you mean who's coming with you?"
"I mean, who's coming with me?" Daniel stares at the voices in surprise at first before it quickly fades to a huff. Without a glance back, he swiftly but cautiously finds the door and at the moment the handle screeches down and the click of the door-
"Alright, alright I'm cominggg." Jerry sighs.
"Yeah." Terry stands up immediately. And after Yasmine struts to Daniel's voice, he puts a hand automatically up to stop his classmates who are rising from their chairs.
"Right, just us three will go in case another teacher comes back, alright." Jerry squawks. The uncertainty is scrawled over their anxious faces, although hidden, and they only hesitatingly lower back into their seats.
"It's been at least an hour. Or even longer...what's going on d'you think?"
"Bloody Mary came out from her mirror and took all the teachers and other classes with her and-."
"Shut up, Katy."
"It's just so cold..." That's when the silence settles again, like a feather in a storm, a thing so delicate blowing in a midst of thunderous storms. The feather only drowns in the deep puddles of winter rain when class 9DJ hear the door click and shut.
"Do you think they'll find their way?"
"Or trip up on a banana peel." They laugh ironically at this, ending in them being swallowed in quietness again, all with the same thought of Mrs James.
"I mean, surely a teacher should have come ages ago. Surely they heard us rioting in here."
"There's a power cut in school: teacher leaves students for over an hour and no other teacher bothers to pop in, you know, just to say hi." Lilly and Madeline laugh. Half the class laughs. The others huddle in themselves, fiddling with their nails and twisting their fingers in their hands.
"Well, I'm surprised no one has tried this yet." Rafi perks up in the mute classroom and reaches blindly for the cold smooth table and gripping to the wood, he pulls himself so he's standing on top and reaches high, fumbling for the light bulb.
"Rafi, what are you doing?"
"Hold his legs."
"No trip him up, heh." But these comments are slurred and mixed among each other within seconds and Rafi has already found the glass light bulb. Frozen at the touch like an icicle, he feels the thin coat of ice around it in that quick second, his fingers tingling at the iciness, melting into icy liquid and, being the only support, his hand slips in the grip of the melting slippery bulb and he skids of the table with a panicked hum and his head wallops back on the hard wood. He feels the pain numb his nostrils and water his eyes, the agonising fervid sharp throb from the middle of his back like a knife drawing deep down his skin and he thumps to the floor, legs toppling and kicking his fellow classmates in front as he falls.
"I told you."
"God." But as soon as Rafi bursts out into a fit of laughing, everyone else does, even the one fumbling and fidgeting with their hands. They laugh as he climbs and limps his way back over the table, feeling generous hands shaking with hysterical laughter guiding him into his seat.
"Wack!" David imitates the sounds, stretching the tired howls of chortles. Rafi presses his head and feels the burn of the bruise with his hand, still cold from the frozen light bulb, and that cuts his giggles like a book slamming shut.
"It was frozen." The books continue to shut across the class, each thirteen and fourteen year old feeling their own smile fade, lifeless in humour. "The light bulb. It was frozen when I felt it. That's why I fell. Isn't that weird? A light bulb...freezing within an hour of being lit?"