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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes

Clear Glass
M J Norris

Sweeping the sixties beige-tiled fireplace with a frayed brush and a frayed temper, I discovered my younger sibling had beaten me to the last pair of clean socks. Now I would have to suffer the indignity of sweat-stiff socks as well as the outsize uniform inherited from my elder sister.

Schoolchildren are naturally cruel. They only adopt the veneer of politeness as they grow older and learn to manipulate feelings to their own advantage. They called me Michelin X. Because I resembled the tyre advert in my rolled and bunched uniform, chained around the middle with a three inch wide elastic belt with snap locks. It fitted someone whose father worked in a garage.
'Why it's the MX girl herself.' Lady Honoria Tatton-Jones pinched her delicate snout and lifted it high into the perfumed air. Chanel No. 5. Her 'mater' had bought it for her birthday. It was ages before I realised 'mater' had nothing to do with the procreation of animals but was what the toffs used for mum. When she flaunted her pedigree, which was most days, I realised I was correct.
'Can anyone smell something vile around here?'
I blushed. She knew about my socks.

It was cold in the World War II Nissen hut which was our classroom. The favoured few occupied the front row desks next to the pot-bellied boiler; the rest of us froze. I hurried into the cloakroom to find my hand-knitted gloves. I needed some warmth to flow back into my numbed fingers. An arm barred the door.
'No trash in here.' Katherine Lynn-Evans with a double 'n' stared down at me with her brilliant blue eyes and pouted her cupid mouth.
'Excuse me please, I need my gloves.' My voice was pitched just below menace. Inside I was melting like a jelly on a hot window-sill. A high-pitched chuckle tinkled around the concrete floor.
'Let her in,' Leticia Makepiece trilled, 'it will be good for her education!' Katherine's eyes narrowed. I found myself ushered into a circle of gawping girls kneeling around a circle of cards. Not the type that I was used to. Clubs, diamonds, spades, hearts. These had letters on, arranged alphabetically and in the centre, upside down, was a thick glass beaker, purloined from the chemistry lab.
'Well Mitchelin, what are you staring at, never seen a ouija board before?'
I hadn't the faintest idea what they were on about, but would I admit it? Never!
'I'm not interested thanks; I've just come for my gloves.' I turned to find my exit blocked by Katherine, now glaring with thinly veiled disgust.
'Who's a miss prissy then? No-one admitted to our secrets gets to tell them elsewhere.' She pinched my arm with her immaculately painted nails, twisting their filed points into my flesh. I yelped. Feigning acceptance I squatted down.
'Okaaay' breathed Leticia, let the fun begin.' She invited several of us to put our fingers on the glass and began to intone in a hypnotic chant.
'We call on all spirits present, come to us.'
I stifled a giggle.
'We call on all spirits present, come to us.'

Then I noticed their trancelike faces. All the hairs on my neck stood up. The glass began to scrape across the floor, rasping towards the letter S. My mouth parched. I watched it spell out my nickname. No-one knew this! I had always thought this psychic stuff was a con trick. A shiver rippled down my back. Suddenly the glass stopped, the silence shattered by a hysterical cackle.
'Well it looks as if our little scol-o is a natural,' glittered Katherine. I leapt to my feet. This was weird and I wanted no part of it.
'You're not thinking of leaving us now, it's just getting exciting?' Leticia, stood menacingly behind me, 'We've been waiting for someone like you.'

For the next half hour the glass jarred across the roughened concrete floor, expelling its pent up fury. I had the satisfaction of seeing Leticia blanch as it revealed a long dead twin sister. And things which even now choke me with fear. Revealing his name as Sir Roger de Courcey, the spirit amazed and tormented us all in turn. Then we made the mistake of asking when he died. The glass flew, spinning crazily in all directions until, without any of us touching it; it exploded into a thousand fragments. The stench that accompanied this was like a rotting corpse.

Waking from terrifying nightmares drenched in sweat for weeks afterwards, we realised we had to tell someone. Leticia offered to confide in the school chaplain. We were summoned to his study. Doused in Holy Water and a cloud of humility we had to swear on the Holy Bible never to indulge in dark deeds again. Not that any of us wanted to.

Katherine left the school shortly after. Leticia and I became best friends, shared experience and all that. But I never owned up to the research session I had conducted one rainy afternoon a few weeks later in my beloved library.
Sir Roger De Courcey was hanged at Tyburn Hill for the murder of his wife and two young daughters. Hated women apparently.

© M.J.Norris November 2008

M.J. is studying for her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth

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