Ms. Dryer stopped a child running with scissors. She explained to the little girl the dangers of holding them with the blade out, careful not to scold; the little girl was only eager to get back to her masterpiece, and everyone always had a lot of energy for arts and crafts, having just sat quietly through story time.
The noise in the little classroom came at Ms. Dryer in uneven waves. But she had been teaching kindergarten for eight years, and the sound of children made her happy, triggering a response in her brain that released serotonin, dopamine, and other happy juices.
She was aware that by enjoying what most others would infer as stressful, she was not normal. But she didn’t care. She loved her job. Loved the children. Loved their laughter–
But someone wasn’t laughing, wasn’t enjoying the free time.
Nicholas sat alone, shoulders slouched, starring blankly at his green construction paper. He drew a few lazy strokes, mixed with intermittent quick scribbles, and then continued looking through the paper at the desk below. He would not be assisting Ms. Dryer with her happy juices today.
Ms. Dryer was surprised he came back so soon after what happened. And for him to have witnessed it all! Not that he could give the police any leads. Whatever he had seen was now suppressed, whoever did that to his father safe until Nicholas could unlock the memory. It probably won’t happen without years of therapy, and even then, who knew?
The funeral was only three days ago. Ms. Dryer had gone under the guise of the supportive teacher, there for Nicholas. Nicholas’ mother didn’t suspect a thing. She never had. The past couple of months with Nicholas’ father had been fantastic. They had met at the beginning of the year when he came to pick Nicholas up, and they had seen each other several times a week ever since. He was a man that was able to release her serotonin and dopamine juices, as well as her other happy juices.
Nicholas was then her favorite student. He was a homunculus version of his father, many of the same qualities shared between the two. She would allow Nicholas to pick his favorite stories to be read, play his favorite games during recess. It hurt her to see him like this. His eyes, usually such a bright blue like his father’s, were now dull and dark. Which, Ms. Dryer thought, probably still mirrored his father’s.
Nicholas shoved a crayon into his mouth. As he chewed, it mushed audibly, cutting through the laughter of the others.
Ms. Dryer hurried over to Nicholas, unsure what to say after the week he’d had. He probably hadn’t eaten much lately, so to eat anything–
Before she had a chance to speak, her eyes caught the paper before Nicholas. Her chest squeezed tight and for a moment she thought her heart stopped, but no, it was just beating so quickly that each tick was indistinguishable from the next.
A savant Nicholas was not–the picture merely stick figures–but she knew who the players were.
On the far side of the paper stood Nicholas’ mother, her frown drooping beyond the edges of her face. On the other side of the sheet, his father was on top of Ms. Dryer. Their pants were not pictured. A knife jutted from his father’s back, red crudely scattered everywhere.
Ms. Dryer felt an explosion of pain in her abdomen. She looked down, not surprised to see Nicholas holding the scissors buried into her. He dragged the blades upward underneath her sternum. Ms. Dryer collapsed to the ground, unsuccessfully attempting to hold in her small intestines. Her last thought before losing consciousness was, This can’t be happening. He’s not holding the scissors properly.