Unwillingly to school
She was tall and extremely thin, the belt of the apron winding twice around her tiny waist. Hair short and neatly tucked behind delicate ears, each containing a tiny diamond. Lips painted bright red against an extremely pale face. As she spoke small, white, pearl like teeth could be seen. The smile never reached her eyes and did not remain on her lips for long. She had long slender hands, nails painted the same shade as the lips - they had the look of having been dipped into something red and viscous.
When she concentrated on something, this could be a person or an inanimate object; her tongue would appear between her pearl like teeth as if it were a small pink animal trying to escape.
“Girls, show me your hands.” Miss Kirby walked along the line observing the outstretched hands, both sides, paying particular attention to the nails. Those not meeting her exacting standards were sent back to wash them again. Once she was satisfied they were allowed to rejoin the rest of the group.
I hated this because hard as I tried my hands just never looked clean. I knew what would happen when she got to me.
“Ah, Jayne . Have we managed to get it right this week?” and the little animal would poke its way between her teeth as her eyes searched for any sign of dirt. I stared at the red mouth, the pink animal and the pearly teeth and just before she raised her eyes to mine I saw something else. I could tell from her look that she knew I had seen.
“We really will have to do better won’t we Jayne? Go and wash your hands and show them to me before you begin.” She gave me the smile that was not a smile, keeping her mouth tightly shut.
Once given the all clear I returned to my place next to my friend Louise.
“Right girls. You know what to do. You may begin.”
There was a flurry of activity in the room as girls began their prescribed task. Miss Kirby inspected the activities dispensing help and advice where it was needed.
Louise looked at me and whispered “You’ve gone very pale. What’s the matter?”
“Nothing I’ll tell you later.”
“Jayne! Have you got a problem?” Miss Kirby came over to inspect my efforts.
She looked at what I had made and the non-smile smile and the pink animal appeared as she concentrated.
“Not a bad effort!” she said.
The bell went.
“Girls, you’ve just got time to tidy up before next lesson. Well done. Some very good work this week. Take a list with you for next time. It’s very important that you bring everything that is on the list.” She gave her non-smile smile and we left. Turning to close the door I could see that she was staring at me. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck and I had goose pimples on my goose pimples.
“What is up with you?” hissed Louise.
“It’s Miss Kirby, haven’t you noticed?”
“No talking in corridors.” The prefect glared as she passed us. I shrugged and mouthed, “I’ll tell you later!”
I didn’t have another chance to speak to Louise, we weren’t together for any other lessons and I had netball practice after school. I saw her again next day in assembly where it was impossible to talk with the all-seeing eyes of teachers and prefects on us. The staff, as usual, sat on the stage, and as always assembly ended with the school song ‘And all who have e’er in its school enrolled shall its name and its fame and its honour uphold….’ I couldn’t sing the next bit. I was aware of a pair of eyes staring at me and of a tiny pink creature. The eyes stared in a malevolent way and the creature seemed to be waiting for something. I had never felt so scared in my life and I knew that I could tell no one.
That is until today. At the end of that term she left. We were told that she had got another job in some Eastern European country and a new teacher came to take her place.
This happened more than forty years ago.
What was it I saw on that fateful day?
I just knew that there must be something wrong when the domestic science teacher never once tasted anything that she had instructed us to cook.
Hiding behind the small, pink creature were two large, fangs. And on the fangs were traces of blood.