Evan Baughfman
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Disappearance of the 6th grade Disappearance of the 6th grade

Disappearance of the 6th Grade

This is a short excerpt from a longer piece of fiction.  It is inspired by a book read by a lead character in Wes Anderson's film, Moonrise Kingdom.

 

Disappearance of the 6th Grade

It was the perfect weekend afternoon to sit by the window with a good book. Christy settled into her reading chair, turned to the first page of a novel given to her by her friend, Judith, and attempted to escape into a world where she wasn‟t the weird new kid at school. However, no matter how hard she tried to focus on the story in her hands, Christy couldn‟t hide from a simple fact: no one in the sixth grade seemed to be interested in getting to know her. She was invisible to everyone until a classmate—sometimes even a few “peers” at once—called her a rude name or threw objects at the back of her head.

It was like Christy had cooties, except sixth-graders didn‟t believe in that still. Did they?

Maybe they believed she had the Plague, but most sixth-graders wouldn‟t understand the reference. Would they?

Quite frankly, Christy‟s younger brother, Eric, should have been the weird new kid. He was the one obsessed with aliens, monsters, ghosts, and bugs, drawing some version of creature in the margins of his schoolwork. Eric wasn‟t quiet or shy like Christy, though, so even he made friends fast.

“Fourth-graders are not hard to impress,” she thought, and then she was momentarily transported back in time a couple years to a happier place: Mrs. Huntley‟s classroom, where she would often laugh alongside Judith, Hope, and Laura, people who understood, and cared for, her.

In her reading chair, Christy cried, something she only used to do when particularly powerful words moved her on the page. Lately, tears fell whenever she realized the previous chapter of her life was finished, and that the current chapter...Well, it was one she hoped to someday forget. She worried it would stay with her forever.

Suddenly, Eric, who didn‟t even have the decency to let her weep in peace, exploded through her bedroom door wearing a grotesque mask on his head and scaly claws on his hands. He hissed and growled like some reptilian mutant with strep throat and slowly crawled to his sister, looking up at her strangely, as if sizing her up for a meal.

“Eric!” Christy screamed. “A closed door means something, you know!”

“Yeah, it means you‟re doing something boring in here,” he said, voice muffled beneath the mask. “Lucky for you, I‟m here to change that.”

“Leave me alone!”

“You wish.”

Alone! I mean it!”

“But someone needs to pay attention to me. Dad‟s watching football. Mom‟s taking a nap.”

“Go away!”

Eric reached up to her with a claw. “I hunger for your attention.”

Christy slapped the claw away. “Stop it!”

“Make me.” He waved the claw in her face.

She grabbed Eric by the wrist and tore the prop from his hand. She threw it over him, out the door, and into the hallway. “Fetch,” she said.

With his bare hand, Eric removed the mask. He studied his sister‟s face. “You‟re really mad, aren‟t you?”

“Get out!”

“Come on, we can even do something you want. Play a board game? Anything.”

“No, I‟m reading.”

His gaze fell to the book in her lap. “I know how that one ends.”

“No, you don‟t.”

“Yes, I do. Want me to tell you what happens?”

Eric enjoyed reading comic books and the ending of every story on Christy‟s shelves.

Too often, their sibling quarrels took a turn for the worse when he would spoil the conclusion of something she had yet to finish or even begin. Mom told Christy he only did it to feel closer to her somehow, like he wanted to bond over similar interests in literature. But that wasn‟t the case. No, Eric only ruined the endings because he was an immature, spiteful piece of—

“The Hydrogoblin acts all cool, like he‟s going to let Marnie use her spaceship to get off the planet,” Eric said. “But, at the last second, he destroys the engines and tells Marnie, 'There's more we can accomplish with you here.' So, Marnie is stuck there, and I guess that means there‟s going to be another book, but you don‟t have it yet.”

Eric displayed a Cheshire grin. Ending spoiled. Mission accomplished.

Christy gritted her teeth and trembled, a volcano ready to burst. She clenched a fist, gripped the spine of The Girl from Jupiter with the other hand, and wondered, “How hard do I have to hit him to break his nose?”

She immediately shook that thought from her head. Not because she didn‟t want to hurt her brother—he‟d get his just desserts soon enough, and they‟d be delicious—but because she didn‟t want to damage the book.

“I hate you,” she said, because at the moment it was true. “And I hate this house! It doesn‟t even have locks on the doors!”

Eric laughed. “Idiot. There‟s a lock on the front door. And on the bathroom door.”

“I hate everything about being here!” The tears were back. Had they ever left? “I want to go back home! To our real school, to my friends! Why do I have to be stuck here with you?”

Eric stood. He pointed at her with a remaining claw. “Because someone put a curse on you!” He cackled like a maniac. He turned serious for a moment. “Oh, and because Dad got a new job.”

Christy‟s gaze fell away from her brother‟s, her frustration spattering against her legs in thick droplets. “Go, Eric. Before you regret it.”

The truth was, she could hurt him easily. She was taller and stronger than the little twerp.

She just didn‟t want the inevitable lecture from her parents about maturity and responsibility after Eric ran to them crying like a baby.

Eric ignored his sister‟s threat. He didn‟t take a step toward the door. Instead, he moved closer to Christy.

“It‟s about time,” he said, focused on something behind her on the other side of the window.

Christy turned in her seat. Someone was finally moving into the haunted house across the street. Christy wiped the tears from her eyes.

The old building was two stories tall, although a boarded-up window just below the slanting roof suggested a small attic was attached. The house was covered in rotting wood and peeling blue paint. Other windows were cracked and dark. Dying grass, thriving weeds, and a looming tree with bare branches decorated the graveyard...er...front yard.

Christy didn‟t really believe the place was haunted like Eric did. She was a skeptic, another thing that kept her from getting very close with her brother. She was just glad it wasn‟t the home they had moved into; she imagined it full of dust, spiders, and rats. When the family drove down the street for the first time months earlier, Christy had seen the for-sale sign on the haunted house‟s lawn and nearly had a heart attack, thinking it was their new abode.

Now, she stared at a yellow moving van and an old brown station wagon in the house‟s crumbling driveway. She wondered what her new neighbors might look like. Eric hoped for werewolves; Christy would have been happy with a smiling family, one with a nice daughter her age.

No such luck. A sole woman with a cane stood on the dark porch of the house. Christy and Eric watched for a few minutes as the woman directed burly men from the moving company in and out of the house. She didn‟t lift a finger to carry a single box, which was probably a good thing, because she looked quite frail.

“Look at her,” Eric said. “A fart could blow her over.” He giggled. Christy did not.

“Can you believe it?” Eric beamed. “An old witch just moved in across the street.”

Christy didn‟t believe it. At least, not yet.