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Tensions were already high in the still classroom.
It only got worse when Rebecca’s chair screeched across the tile when she stood. Her classmates - and her partners in a science paper they had to finish by tomorrow - raised their heads at the sound. Rebecca was almost to the door when a voice call after her. “Where are you going?” it said, annoyance heavy in every word.
Rebecca slowly turned, glaring at Laura, the one who spoke. Neither girl liked the other, and knowing this fact, their teacher paired them together in hopes of letting them “get over their petty problems and achieve together”. And poor Claire, the other project partner, was caught in the middle of the two girls mutual dislike.
“I have to pee.” Rebecca spat, causing Laura to narrow her eyes. “Do you have a problem with that?”
Laura tapped her pencil twice, glanced at the clock, then back to Rebecca. “Be quick,” Laura sighed like she was dealing with a difficult child, “because we need to finish this paper and you haven’t done much.”
Rebecca snorted, then slammed the door behind her. An awkward silence hung over the room, only broken by Claire’s nervous laughter. Laura threw her a nasty look and tapped her pencil angrily. She cringed at the thought that she may have to work with Rebecca again someday. She never got along with that girl, she never knew why, but there was one thing Laura knew for sure about that girl.
She is a slacker.
And Laura hates slackers.
Almost ten minutes passed before Laura snapped her pencil in half and kicked her chair away. “I’ll be back.” she hissed when Claire raised her head in alarm.
Laura flung the heavy science lab door hard enough for it to smack the wall. The harsh sound echoed down the deserted hall, bouncing off the overly perky color of the lockers that lined the walls. She had never been so angry, not when terrible names were whispered behind her back, or even when she got a C- on her history project last year. Right now, Laura was seeing red.
She didn’t understand why Rebecca would put off working, or why anyone would do it. In Laura’s perfect world, people followed her directions (because she was always right) and the Rebecca’s of the world disappeared. If it wasn’t for her, Laura thought angrily, I wouldn’t be here at seven at night working on a paper that should have been done weeks ago, not the day of.
Fury surged through Laura’s veins, making them feel like they were on fire. Her jaw clenched as she stormed around the corner. She makes me so frustrated! Laura fumed quietly, drawing closer to the bathrooms. She could just make me - make me -
Laura snapped out of her thoughts and blinked in confusion. She was heading toward the class, not the bathrooms. When’d I get turned around? she thought, fixing herself and marching back to the restrooms.
She hesitated outside the entrance to the restrooms, took a breath, then stepped inside. “Okay Rebecca,” she called out, rounding the turn that took here next to the hand driers, “I get that you don’t want to work with me. Lets just get this done and -”
Laura froze in mid step, her eyes widening in shock. The mirror directly in front of her was smashed, shards of glass laying in the sink and on the tiled floor. And slumped next to the sink, was Rebecca. Laura felt like screaming, but her mouth wouldn't open.
“Rebecca?” Laura whispered, kneeling next to Rebecca’s body. Blood trickled from a cut on Rebecca’s forehead, and when Laura glanced at the destroyed mirror, she saw a small smudge of blood. “Oh my god, Rebecca are you okay?” Laura nudged Rebecca’s shoulder.
When Rebecca didn’t say or do anything, Laura pressed her fingers to the girls throat. She waited, hoping for something. Thats when Laura noticed the red marks on Rebecca’s throat; red circles the size of fingers. “Oh my god.” Laura whispered again, then sprang to her feet and ran.
Her heart raced with terror. Someone did that to Rebecca, and to Laura’s horror, she remembered Claire sitting in that class by herself. All alone, and a perfect target for the person who killed Rebecca. If she reached Claire in time, then she could use her phone to call for help.
Laura raced to the science lab. She grabbed the door and flung it open, bracing herself to expect something horrid. “Claire, something terrible has happened!” she cried, but pulled short of running into the room. The empty room. Claire was gone. Laura back pedaled into the hall, running her fingers through her hair in frustration. Is she too late? Did the mysterious killer get to her? “Claire!” she yelled down the hall, her voice sounding hollow in the vacant school.
Then, she heard a door slam down the hall.
Laura jumped at the sound. Hope and fear was spinning in her stomach. Maybe that was Claire, fine and alright and alive. Or it could be Rebecca’s killer, coming for her. Either way, she had to find out. Making up her mind, she dashed off toward the noise.
Her feet carried her down one empty hall, and up another. Every now-and-again, she would call out Claire’s name softly, but she didn’t get any replies. Laura tried to keep low as much as possible, peeking around corners before rounding them and ducking by tables. Through the cafeteria she ran, and towards the front doors. She prayed that Claire ran this way as she pushed through the main doors and out into the cool night air.
Jogging down the sidewalk to the parking lot, Laura heard a voice. Then she spotted a shape crouching next to the benches. The dim light from the street lamps was able to barely shine onto the person, and with a sigh of relief, Laura recognized the shape as Claire. She drew closer and realized Claire was on the phone, speaking quickly. “- please you have to send someone.” she begged, her voice cracking, “I witnessed a murder, please help.”
“Claire.” Laura said, reaching for her classmate. “Everythings alright -”
Claire turned when she heard Laura’s voice, then screamed. She spun away from Laura’s outstretched hand, her phone flying from her hands and shattering on the pavement. “Get away from me!” she shrieked, falling backwards onto her hands trying to get away from Laura.
“Claire,” Laura began, holding up her hands, “it’s okay, it’s just me.”
“Just you, yeah.” Claire sounded like she was nearing hysteria. “It was just you who went into that bathroom and did that. It was just you who killed Rebecca!”
Laura stepped back like she was slapped. She opened her mouth and closed it several times before she spoke. “You’re not making sense Claire. I didn’t kill Rebecca!”
Claire shakingly got to her feet. “I know what I saw!” she hissed, backing away from Laura like she was a wild animal. “You were so angry at her, I didn’t know why. I nevered asked, it wasn’t my business. But when you stormed away, I followed you to make sure you two didn’t get into a fight. And what do I see when I come into the bathroom?” Laura took a step forward, but Claire held her hands out to stop her.
“You know what I saw? I saw you grab Rebecca from behind and slam her into the mirror. You were so angry, but I never knew you were a cold, heartless, murderer!”
Claire spun away and sprinted across the parking lot and into the growing dark. Laura watched her go, her words echoing in her brain.
“I didn’t know either.” she whispered, but no one was around to hear.