The Murder of Laurel Smith
The class fell silent when Becky Johnson asked for Laurel. It had already been ten minutes since then, but Laurel hadn't budged.
"Laurie, you should really go see her," advised her 'best-friend-for-life' Cindy. Laurel didn't look at her. Couldn't. Her face, plastered to the graffiti-covered wood, was swathed in blonde waves.
Cindy bit her lip. If she didn't do this, Becky would ask for her too.
Should she really have told them?
A seat was flung back, clattering against the wall. The echoes remained long after Laurel had trudged out of the room.
"Why hello, Freaky Laurie!" purred Becky in the girls' lavatory, her expression as vile as urine. The other girls there were already chortling with glee, crowding around their prey like vultures. With buckling knees and a knotted voice, Laurel tried to glare at them.
"What do you want?" she squeaked, having untied her voice.
"Well, it seems like you've become rather comfortable this year, no?"
She nodded slowly.
"So the girls and I were thinking," Becky paused, waiting for agreement, "that maybe a little punishment is in order."
"For what, she asks!" exclaimed Becky, incredulous. She turned to the other girls whom, like a choir, replied:
"For dreaming about her grandma dying!"
Laurel's face paled.
How did they find out?
She had never told them about having that dream the day before her grandmother died, so how did they know? Laurel wanted to scream, but, like everyone else, her voice had deserted her.
She didn't really remember what happened back then; only that she was forced in front of the mirror to witness it. She faintly recalled her face being rammed down a used toilet bowl, but that hadn't been the end of it.
When Laurel went home that evening, passing children whispered to each other and giggled. Her white shirt stuck so close to her that it was see-through, her socks and t-bars were smudged with wet filth and her skirt was torn.
But that wasn't what they were laughing at.
Shortly after this, the fourteen-year-old Laurel Smith transferred to another school.
"How long did it take you to grow your hair that long?" asks Amanda.
"I was fourteen when I last had it cut, so I guess it's taken around fifteen years," Laurel replies, her grey eyes ever-so-slightly distant. She strokes her long hair fondly then beams at the young girl.
"I love your hair. You obviously take good care of it."
Amanda smiles back.
"Well, of course. A woman's hair is her life."