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As the rain pounded on the black asphalt of the school playground, the children gathered outside for their daily game of four-square. Nothing would get in their way of the game, not even the pouring rain. It was practically a ritual that they went through everyday after lunch, Monday through Friday. They knew that they would be damp for the remainder of the day, but this didn’t stop them from meeting on the faded white lines that made up the squares that were so sacred to the third graders.
A tiny blonde child missed the ball and it went bouncing to the other side of the court until it rolled to a stop next to a pair of red rain boots. In the boots, shining with wetness and the bottoms lined with mud, stood a young girl. She peered down at the ball and paused.
Whispers spread around the large group of children. She was the new girl. Rumor had it that she had killed her own parents. Swallowed whole when they had denied her of the newest doll that was popular. Rumor had it that she wasn’t a real girl, merely some imposter in disguise to trick the unsuspecting others into going into the land that lay beneath their beds and in the back of closets. Why was she here? Why had no one seen her parents? She moved in a couple of weeks ago, yet they had not been seen. She even walked to school alone, carrying her too-big backpack with a little tin lunchbox.
The little girl bent down and placed her pink lunchbox down with a tiny clang! She extended her hands towards the ball, picked it up, and then, ever so slowly, brought the ball to her knees, causing the hem of her pale green dress to turn a deep green with dirt and mud water, and threw the ball towards the group.
Everything was silent with the exception of the rain pattering on the ground around them and the occasional car that drove by. There they stood, all gazing at the new transfer student, wondering if what Tommy Jones had been saying about her was true. She didn’t look large enough to eat both of her parents.
Should we invite her to come play with us? The question was whispered by someone towards the back of the group, but exactly who it was, no one knew. No one cared. The only ting that they were focused on was what the new girl would do nest. Would she leave? Would she join them?
They stood there, neglecting their original purpose of standing in the rain, both the ball and the court forgotten.
Finally, a teacher emerged from the old brick school building, whose ancient bricks were crumbling and the concrete black with age, and called everyone in. the group hesitated, shifting uncomfortably while looking between the grey haired teacher and their newest addition to the student body. The teacher repeated that recess was over, only this time with an agitated tone.
One by on, the class started to file back into the warm, dry building through the double doors that led into the yellowish cafeteria. There, they would strip off their rain coats and boots so they didn’t get the whole school dirty with their mud tracks.
Only two remained motionless. The little blonde girl stood exactly where she was not four minutes ago when the rubber ball, once a bright red but now a dirty brown, bounced out of her square and into the clutches of the new girl. She squinted at her through the fat rain drops, and then ran to her. She extended her hand and looked at the new student in the face, something that everyone else had been unable to do.
Slowly, the new girl lifted her hand to grasps the blonde’s. They smiled at each other and walked off of the blacktop wordlessly. Whispers surrounded them as they crossed the cafeteria together, oblivious to their classmate’s stares that were a mixture of awe and worry.
You know what she’s doing, right? Tommy Jones whispered to the nearest ear. They’re going to the janitor’s closet so that the new girl can suck Sandy’s soul out.
Tommy. The grey haired teacher said sharply, disrupting most of the whispers that were spreading rapidly through the class.
The girls were oblivious to this. Whether they were not listening or couldn’t hear was unknown. But what was known was that, after weeks of being an outcast, the new girl finally met someone other than a teacher. People would have to start calling her by her name now. It was known that she would go running home, probably forgetting all about her large backpack and lunchbox, and tell her parents that she had met someone, and then beg them to let her come over for dinner and maybe even a sleepover. It was known that she had a friend.