Petrified

My name is Bianca Allyson. I’m twenty-two going on twenty-three, I live in a little hamlet tucked in the South of the States called Pertaville and I’m currently taking up part-time jobs at numerous stores, fast-food centres and boutiques all the same time. Talk about multi-tasking! My favourite thing is art, and I simply adore little children. So just a couple of months ago, I thought to myself, “why not add both my best stuff together?” So I did just that, and voila! They became into an art class! Now I teach aspiring young kids, and it’s so not easy. But, that aside, I never knew that one of my students would be the cause of many-a-nightmare of mine…

 “Hello Miss Bianca!” Little Sophie Marshall greeted as she and her twin brother, Derek, took places on my art table. “Hello sweetie!” I welcomed, and she beamed. Derek just smiled. Then, with a mischievous grin on his innocent face, in came Shawn McGill, his best friends Travis Napper and Ryan Lloyd trailing close behind. ‘Good evening, Miss Bianca.’ They chorused, and then sat down. I replied to their greeting, and then waited for my other students to arrive.

Sure enough, the door of my cottage was soon flung open by a panting and puffing, filthy rich Tamara Lopez. “Sorry I’m late Bianca!” She exclaimed, and then covered her mouth. “I mean…I’m sorry Miss Bianca.” She corrected herself. ‘That’s okay, Tamara.” I forgave. She plopped on a chair and then she fluttered her eyebrows and sighed dramatically. There she went again! The only girl left to come was the most talented artist of the lot, Kathryn Baird. Kathryn is really a genius at art, and she’s also very dedicated to her work. The only problem is her trouble of speech (as I put it). She’s so silent, and keeps to herself all the time. It’s kind of hard to cope with it if you’re her teacher. I waited and waited, and then finally was forced to start the class without her.

But first, I needed to check that everyone had remembered what a special day it was. “Do you still recall what I’d told you last class, Travis?” I asked, pointing to the little chap. “Yes Miss Bianca.” He returned. “What did I say?” I persisted, and he gave me a sheepish grin. “I forgot.” He answered. Oh boy! “Shawn? Sophie? Derek? Anyone know what I’d said?” I repeated my question, but this time, their replies came bursting in.

“I know Miss Bi!”

“I know it too!”

“No fair! I said that I knew it first!”

“Miss Bi! Ryan is tugging my hair!”

“No miss!”

I groaned, and then secretly smiled to myself. So cute were their petty quarrels! “Kids, quiet down now. Yes, that’ss better” I said. They looked at me, waiting to hear more. “As you know, I will be driving you to the inter-state competition today, and I hope that all of your’ll have informed you’re parents about it.” I announced. “Oh that!” Travis let out a sigh. “That was close. Miss Bi? I did get my supplies and application form. I just didn’t know what you were talking about.’ Travis added. I knew it. He’s always forgetting things, this little boy. Just then came in Kathryn, the magnificent artist. It took me a moment to adjust to her fragile manner. She was petite, brunette and had a few freckles scattered on her cheeks.

She mumbled something and then took her place. It took me a minute to ask her about her art material, and, as expected, she’d got it along with her. She’s really responsible, another characteristic of hers. The little ones and I thumb-printed a bit (just for warm-up) before leaving for the competition, and Kathryn hummed as she painted a portrait of her mom, which is strange, because it looked to me as if she didn’t know exactly how her mom looked! She kept re-drawing her rough sketch, and I thought it really peculiar. But I let it slide of me as water would slide of a duck’s back. Today was the day my students would make me proud and win something. Nothing was going to ruin Bianca Allyson’s best day when she says that it won’t!

                 ^.^

The kids squeezed into my car (I call her ‘Bling’) and we managed to reach the competition’s ground in one piece. I first made sure that everyone had their entrance forms and then we went inside the ‘Pertaville city hall’, a.k.a ‘Gallery Abstract.’ I lead all the kids inside, and after the long wait and the equally long procedure, I was allowed to take them inside with their art stuff.

There were still five minutes left for it to start, so the kids chose their own easels and set up their canvases and the rest. There would be a time limit of three hours, and I had coached each child individually, telling them which painting to make on the day. Now, all prep finished and tips refined, my students stood poised, waiting for any sign to be shown that they could begin.

Soon enough, a whistle was blown and the audience cheered wildly as the nimble-fingered children began their masterpieces. I clapped whenever I got a glance at anyone’s painting. Shawn was doing realistic forest scenery, and Tamara was doing a very shaggy-headed Golden retriever. Sophie and Derek were too young to actually be in the ‘senior’s’ level, but upon insisting, they demanded their way through, they had to only shade a picture (which they are very good at). Travis was busy sketching a market-day’s hectic scene, and Ryan was making a caricature of a pop star on stage, giving a concert. Kathryn was busily working on an on-the-spot abstract. It looked marvellous. All of them did.

I waited and waited till the time was up, and then congratulated all of them, and telling them that they’d made me as proud as punch. Sophie blushed a bit at the compliment, and then I asked them whether they’d like to go out to eat some ice-cream as a celebration. We’d anyway have to wait for at least half-an-hour for the judges to inspect every picture carefully, and then decided on winner.

But then, Ryan told me that he’d noticed that on his form, it was clearly written that the participants and their coach couldn’t go out of the gallery till the results were declared. I praised him for his observing skills, and we huddled in a corner and waited for the winners. The hour dragged on like a month would, but finally, we were called to hear the winners.

The kids crossed their fingers (I secretly did too!) and we waited with baited breath. The first judge then came up and here’s what he said:

Judge 1: Without further ado, let me let you in on the winner!

Judge 2: The second runner up is… Miss Carmen Freck!

The audience went crazy, and a little blonde went up the stage to collect her prize of a 100$ and a bronze medal.

Judge 2: The runner-up…Miss Kathryn Baird!

The audience erupted in applause (and I was jumping up and down in excitement) as Kathryn went up into the lime-light to get her certificate, medal, a sash that said “I LOVE art” and cash. But instead of the girl before her, Kathryn stormed onto the stage, snatched her prize, and let out an unexpected, ear-shattering shriek into the microphone. Everyone clasped their ears. I tried to ignore the excruciating pain coming from my temple and concentrated on getting all my kids out of the hall. When everyone was present, including Kathryn, we made a dash for it. I quickly loaded them into my car and we zoomed off. This was so not going as planned. And I’d just got a few doubts, which would prove to be very valuable if used in the right way.

J L J L J L J

Despite the fact that Kathryn had spoiled what was supposed to be one of my most enjoyable and glorious evenings, I decided to put that behind me and still go for the ice-cream. The kids deserved it, and I had a bit of snooping to do.

Kathryn didn’t apologize even when I told them that I was still going to take them to the ice-ream parlor. She didn’t even show a flicker of victory that she’d won something as prestigious as the ‘Pertaville lil’ artist cup’! She was impossible, and all the figures of her when she grew up and was nice and well mannered that were in my head faded away. I parked the car at the parking lot and then jogged up to the London Dairy store. As all of them chose and ordered their cones and various flavors, I went back to Bling. There was something in my purse that I needed. I took out my magenta folder and scanned it for Kathryn’s birth certificate.

It had a different feel from the others, and the sequence was odd. I kept checking it, over and over again. There was something strange with this girl. I knew it. I just did. I then came across her birth date. It said that she was born on May 12th July, 1997. But wait! It looked like that wasn’t her real D.O.B! There was a bit of invisible tape stuck neatly onto her birth date, and her fake b-day, May 12th July, 1997, was on top of it. If only I peeled out the tape, I could see her real age!!

There was some tape on her birth place and name also. I took a pen that was empty and used its nib to scratch all the sticky tape it out. Here was the final outcome:

Name: Barbara LaForge

Birth place: Spellzdale

Date of Birth: 98th Noctumber 1376

I gasped. Where the heck was Spellzdale? And are there really 98 (plus) days in a month? How can she be so old! I thought and thought and tried to figure out the answer to this equation.I spun around when I felt a chilly wind caress my hot cheek. ‘Kathryn!’ I gasped. She stared at me, her eyes aflame with the deepest shade of scarlet I had ever seen. He lips broke out into a shy smile and that was the last thing I ever saw.

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