An award-winning short story by Isabelle Sorrells
Rosa never was a fan of school. It was all just a waste of time and energy. While she was in class listening to some boring lecture, she could have been exploring the world with her friends. That was her dream after all. They would all go to Hawaii and Italy and France and Spain. By the time they were done they would know the entire planet by heart. It was a certain December morning in her science class that she was day-dreaming about exactly that.
While she was staring off into space she was completely oblivious to the world around her. She was unaware when a new student was introduced to her class. However, as the days went on, she never saw or heard of the new girl. It was as if she hadn’t come to the school at all. She had no presence. Whenever she was standing right next to someone or in front of them, even, they wouldn’t notice. Rosa only learned about the girl when she was eavesdropping on a conversation between two boys during her lunch.
“Dude, that girl is so creepy!” one boy said to another across the lunch table.
“What do you mean? What girl?” the other boy asked.
“The new girl. Callie, I think her name is. She looks identical to Coriana! It always seems as if she’s never around. And when she is you don’t notice. She just disappears!” the first boy waved his hands in the air frantically to emphasize his point.
“You seriously don’t know who Coriana is? You haven’t heard the story?”
The second boy shook his head and leaned in, curious to what this story was about.
“Well, around the year 1988 there was a girl named Coriana in this very school. She was constantly being bullied all because she was blind. She couldn’t take much more of it. Finally, she snapped. Do you know the girl’s bathroom a few halls down from the science corridor?”
The second boy nodded. “Yeah, but I’ve never seen anyone go in there.”
“That was the place she chose to carry out her terrible deed.”
“What ‘terrible deed’?”
“She hid away in one of the stalls and when she was alone, she killed herself. When they finally found the body they also found a small folded up slip of paper in her hand. It said, ‘I will be able to see once again. I will get my revenge.’ Everyone’s heard the story. Well, everyone but you of course. No one goes into that bathroom anymore. They are all too scared. Even the adults don’t because the event was so disturbing.” The boy leaned back and smiled, satisfied with his results. He wasn’t the best storyteller out there but he could see by the look on the other boy’s face that he was surprised, if not frightened.
A few students had gathered for the story, all nodding their heads vigorously.
“It’s true,” said a girl with long braided hair. “None of us go in there. If all of the other bathrooms were out of order and only that one worked, I guarantee you that anyone would choose a bush outside rather than have to go in there.”
More boys and girls began adding to the conversation but Rosa turned away. She had heard the story thousands of times. She found it frightening to the bone but she didn’t actually believe it. It’s just another story that was created by some nut-job looking to get some scares and was lucky enough to have their story passed down through generations of students. Speaking of the bathroom… Rosa thought with a smirk. I need to get all of this paint off my hands. She stood abruptly from her seat and pushed her way through the growing crowd.
She walked onto the cold dark tile of the girl’s bathroom. The entire room was pitch black. She ran her fingers blindly across the wall until they came in contact with the light switch. She flipped it on but the room remained dark. She continued to flip it back and forth to no avail. The hallway lights seeped into the bathroom from the open door, making the shapes and objects barely visible. Rosa sighed and found her way through the darkness to the sinks.
She watched her silhouetted figure through the mirror as she stood in front of the sink and warm water ran down her soap covered fingers. Behind her, another silhouetted reflection appeared. She looked up and focused all of her attention on the figure. She could see the girl almost as clear as day now. She had long brown hair and thick bangs that went down to her nose. Her skin was as pale as a ghost and she wore a short blue dress and brown sandals.
The temperature in the room suddenly dropped and Rosa felt goosebumps prickle her arms and legs. Her breath puffed out into a foggy cloud in front of her. Condensation popped and crackled as it slowly began to cover the mirror. But Rosa noticed none of this. All of her undivided attention was focused on the girl. The air around her thickened.
Rosa spun around to face the girl. To her surprise, no one was there. Rosa inched toward the spot where she saw the girl until she was only a foot away. She leaned forward and swept her arm through the air where the girl should have been. Nothing. She could have sworn there was someone there! Rosa turned around again to turn off the water. She shook the water off her hands above the sink before reaching for a paper towel.
As she was shaking her hands above the sink her eyes traveled up toward the mirror again. Her reflection was blurred through the fog. Rosa reached up and wiped off a strip of fog off the glass. She froze in place once her reflection became clear. The girl was there again, standing right behind her. Rosa spun on her heel to face the interior of the bathroom. Once again, no one was there.
Rosa looked back into the mirror to find all of the condensation that was on it before melted away. The temperature of the room rose back to normal and the goosebumps on her arms faded away. Her face was the only thing that reflected in the mirror. Rosa finished drying her hands and hurried back to the light of the hallway.
I must be hallucinating. Rosa thought. I’ve been thinking about that story way too much.
A week later she had forgotten all about her hallucinations. She sat at her desk, staring at the floor, running through daydreams of Italy in her head. Her thoughts were crudely interrupted when the calling of her name rang out through the classroom.
“…Sa! Rosa!” The teacher snapped.
Rosa’s head jerked up from the square tiled floor to her teacher who was sitting at her desk in the front of her classroom, glaring at her pupil sternly.
“Yes, Mrs. Jones?” Rosa asked quickly.
“Would you come up here please?” Mrs. Jones beckoned Rosa forward with her index finger.
Rosa sighed as she slammed her hands on her desk and stood up with a loud clatter. A number of students jumped at the sudden noise and their heads shot up from their work to see what the commotion was. Their curiosity soon ended when Mrs. Jones shot them a warning glare and they all went back to work.
Mrs. Jones was probably going to scold her for not doing her work again. Rosa scuffed her feet as she walked up to the teacher’s desk, shoulders slumped. Her gaze was trained on the floor.
“Would you please escort Callie to the bathroom?” Mrs. Jones gestured next to her. Rosa’s head shot up from the floor and she noticed that Callie had been standing next to her the whole time. Rosa turned her attention back to Mrs. Jones, groaning and rolling her eyes all the way to the moon.
“Seriously? Bathroom escort?” Rosa complained. “Why can’t she go find it herself?”
“Watch your tone young lady, she is our new student. She does not know where the bathroom is and has requested someone to show her. Now, move along.” Mrs. Jones waved them off toward the door.
“Yes, Ma’am.” Rosa stood up straight with her hands at her sides and gave a sharp salute before turning and marching stiffly out of the classroom with Callie at her heels. Chuckles could be heard from the students behind them but soon ceased when they were given a deathly glare from their teacher.
As the two girls walked to the nearest bathroom Rosa watched Callie out of the corner of her eye, getting her first good look at her. She had long brown hair and a short blue dress with brown sandals. She wore blue rimmed shades that obscured her eyes from view. Rosa found the girl vaguely familiar but couldn’t place where she knew her from.
“Why are you wearing shades indoors? Do you have sensitive eyes or something?” Rosa asked.
“Something like that,” Callie replied with a faint whisper. Rosa became speechless. She never expected Callie to actually answer her. From everything Rosa’s heard about her, Callie was mute. They walked the rest of the way in silence as Rosa ran through all of the rumors and ridiculous stories about the mysterious girl.
When they finally reached the nearest bathroom they found a sign on the door with the words ‘Out of Order’ scrawled across it in large black letters. They walked on toward the next closest bathroom only to find the same sign taped to that one as well. As they walked from one bathroom to another they found that each was either out of order or locked.
“That’s odd,” Rosa commented as they walked down the silent hallway. “Must be some sort of water break.”
“That one’s not out of order.” Callie pointed at another bathroom door at the end of the hallway in front of them.
“It could be locked though.” Rosa jogged down the rest of the hall and turned the handle. The door slid open with little effort. “I guess it’s not!” Rosa turned around to face Callie, assuming she was still making her way down to her. She was puzzled to find she was the only person in the hall. “What the…?” Rosa started but was cut off by a voice behind her.
“Are you just going to stand there?”
Rosa spun around toward the voice. Callie was standing in the doorway, holding the door open patiently. Rosa thought it was strange that Callie never made eye-contact and always seemed to be staring at the floor.
“No. Let’s go.” Rosa pushed past Callie as she shut the door behind her.
Rosa stood in front of the mirror and stared at her reflection as she waited for Callie to come out. Before two minutes could pass she heard the creak of a stall door open slowly. She looked into the corner of the mirror at Callie’s reflection. She froze where she stood.
She stood against the opposite wall of the bathroom. Callie’s head was down and her bangs covered her face down to her nose. Rosa suddenly remembered where she recognized her from. One week ago when she thought she was hallucinating. Was she hallucinating now?
“Don’t turn around.” Callie’s voice ricocheted off the walls of the bathroom, sending shivers up Rosa’s spine.
The lights began to flicker as Callie walked slowly over to Rosa, pausing after each step before taking another. Rosa’s entire being filled with panic and fear. She tried to move, run away if she could, but her feet remained planted to the ground as if chains were holding her in place. Her eyes danced around, frantically searching for an escape route or something to defend herself with. She was helpless.
The lights stopped flickering and Rosa looked up into the mirror. Callie was right behind her now. Her hair still covered her face and her eyes remained fixed on the ground. She reached up and tore the glasses off her face, throwing them to the ground in one swift motion. Callie’s right-hand clamped over Rosa’s mouth. Rosa tried to pry her hand off her mouth but her arms hung limp at her sides. She tried to speak but her muscles were unresponsive. Slowly, Callie’s free hand began to creep forward. Finally, Callie picked up her head and looked into the mirror.
Rosa nearly puked at what she saw. Callie’s eyes were completely gone. Her eye sockets were pitch black holes in her skull. Bloody scratches and cuts littered the skin around her eye sockets. Pools of blood oozed out of the holes and poured down her face like waterfalls. She was smiling. Her smile reached from ear to ear, revealing sharp pointed teeth.
“I will see again,” Callie chuckled maniacally.
The last thing Rosa saw was Callie’s blood-soaked face before Callie placed her left-hand over Rosa’s eyes, taking away her sight forever.
No one ever saw Rosa again after that day. They never would. After all, they were all too afraid to go into that bathroom anyway.