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By Melissa L. Webb
The rain drizzled around Bridget as she made her way to the portable classrooms at the back of the school. Children’s eyes followed her as she walked silently across the playground. She sidestepped quickly as a ball flew in her direction.
A kid scrambled for it, barely catching it before it struck her. She watched in shock as the kid took the ball and ran off without a word. With a sigh, she headed up the ramp and into the empty classroom.
Slipping inside, she flipped on the lights and looked around her. Loneliness greeted her as the cold, empty classroom came into view. This is what they thought of her. She was just something in the way, needing to be shoved out of sight.
“Why couldn’t I use one of the rooms in the main building? Would that really be too much to ask?” she muttered to herself as she walked over to a table and sat her bag down.
Bridget shook the rain off her coat and hung it on the back of a chair to dry before taking a seat at the table. She rummaged in her bag, pulling out the lesson plan and a blank notebook. At least she could get some real work done in the quiet of abandoned classroom.
Opening the book, she started taking notes as she studied the lesson. A fluttering in the corner of the room pulled her attention from the words she was writing. Glancing around her, she searched for the source of the noise. It was almost like book pages, rifling back and forth in the wind .
Everything remained still around her. Nothing moved in the empty room. She shook her head. That’s what happens when they lock you away by yourself, you start hearing things.
She went back to her work, trying once again to focus on the chore at hand. As soon as her eyes met the paper, the rustling started once more. Bridget’s eyes darted over the room. The sound stayed, growing in intensity as she searched, yet no movement at all stirred in the classroom.
She stood up as fear trickled into her chest. Shuddering, she realized how far she was from the main building and other people. She quickly reached out, snatching up her things, shoving them back in her bag.
A giggle erupted from all around her. It evaded her every pore. She stopped, looking around, trying to find the source of the laughter. Her mind told her to flee. She knew it was right. When invisible laughter fills a room, it is definitely time to go. Her body wouldn’t obey. The giggle sounded sweet, childlike. Her heart told her there was no reason to leave.
“Hello? Who’s there?” she called out, hoping for some answers to the strangeness around her.
The laugh filled up the room, taking all the emptiness with it. It felt as if the walls might burst from the presence of it. The fullness of it filled Bridget’s heart. Never had she felt so much joy in her life. Pure wonder flooded through her essence as she listened.
The giggling stopped and a faint shimmer started in the corner. It grew brighter until the whole room shined.
A gasp emitted from her lips as she took in the light in front of her. It brought back memories of warm summer nights, pink lemonade, and the fireflies that had danced just for her. It was beautiful.
She wiped absently as a tear flowed down her cheek. She couldn’t believe what she was feeling. How could that much joy and wonder come from a light in an empty classroom?
“Did you like that memory?” a voice asked her suddenly.
Bridget turned around, expecting more empty space, but instead, a small blond boy stood staring up at her. “Where did you come from?” she asked, shocked by his sudden appearance.
He shrugged his shoulders, the dirty rags he called clothes shuddered with the movement. “I can’t remember.”
She moved forward, a frown on her lips. “What do you mean?”
He shrugged again. “We’ve been here too long to remember the before.”
Her brow knitted as she looked around the room. “We?” she asked him. “You mean there are more of you?”
He nodded slowly as more children flickered around them, slowly fading into reality. Sad imploring eyes bore into her, filling her heart with instant sadness.
Tears flowed from her eyes as she looked at them. “Why are you here?”
“When people forgot about us and didn’t want us any more, we just ended up here,” the boy told her.
Bridget looked at their sad faces, and at the hope in their eyes. How could they just be discarded here? Forgotten and unloved?
A small girl looked up at her through long blond hair. “You must have been unwanted, too,” she said quietly. “You’ve been put out here to be forgotten.”
She shook her head. “No,” she told them with a smile. “I think I’m finally where I belong.” She sat down at the table, pulling out the lesson plan. She could make a difference here. These children needed her as no others could. “Take a seat, children,” she called to them. “We have a lot of work to do.”
© 2011 Melissa L. Webb
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