It all happens so suddenly. First, I’m standing there, awestruck by the not-so-dead thing cusped in my hands, with its very-much-alive eyes meeting my own. Then, cold hands grab my arms and drag me from the room. Men in police uniforms squashing frogs beneath heavy-set boots. (I scream, like it’s my organs being crushed) The frog in my hands leaps away and into thin air as the school hallway swallows me. I kick and shout and drag my feet along the floor, all in vain.
Now, I’m in the principles office. Not only that, but officers stand vigilant by the door. Their guns, though sheathed, feel pointed at me.
I’ve never been in trouble before. My cheeks heat with the shame. I wish I could disappear, just as the not-dead frog did.
A bald white man walks into the room. For a moment, I think he is the principle, but he wears the navy uniform, and has a gun at his hip. I hate him on sight, but my mom taught me to be polite, so I say “Sir,” and allow him to continue.
He sits in the principles seat as though its precisely where he belongs. In the purple plush chair, he towers over me, even more than he normally would. He scowls at my face, as though he’s assessing some damage. “My name is Mr. Green, I’m the chief of police.”
“Am I in trouble?”
“That depends entirely on what you tell me.” He says with such arrogance, I’m briefly reminded of Quinn and his smug face, “What happened today in room 107?”
I bite my lip and swing my foot, my toes barely touching the foul-smelling carpet, “You mean Mx. Rivers class?” I ask, “I dunno.”
Somehow, he seems even more displeased. He removes his glasses and pinches his nose, and I sink lower in my chair, embarrassed. I feel like Quinn, or any of the other misbehaving kids in my class, and I hate it.
He returns his attention back to me, his frown somehow deeper, “Miss Jenkins, we have already collected several testimonies from your peers. Allegedly, half a dozen frogs, all provably dead and almost entirely disemboweled at the hands of student scientists, were found hopping around the halls. I would not have believed such other balderdash, had my colleagues not caught and collected several of themselves. Now, please, all I ask is that you tell me what you can about said incident.”
I frown. Despite his poor demeanor, (and worse odor) it seems like a reasonable enough request. “But I don’t know anything about it,” I say. “Quinn knocked one of the frogs onto the ground, and the next thing you know, poof, everyone is screaming and running and there are amphibian guts trailing along the ground.”
“Your peers believe you to be the instigator.”
I blink. For the first time ever, my brain drew a blank. “I suppose that’s possible.” I say slowly. It certainly had felt like magic was pouring from my ears, but that didn’t mean it was. As I’m puzzling over this, there’s a knock at the door, and then it flies open. My mom runs in, still in her nurses scrubs.
She wraps her arms around me and shoots the deadliest glare at the chief of police. I see him wince backwards. “What are you going to do with her?” She demands.
Mr. Green raises both his hands in a half shrug and says, “Just trying to get some basic information from her, ma’am. There’s been some abnormal happenings today.”
“And I’m sure Kimberly has had nothing to do with them. She’s a smart, obedient young girl.”
“I never said she did.” He snaps.
My mom returns her nasty scowl and stands to her full height. She hovers above us at six-foot-four, and I can tell, little Mr. Green in his adjustable chair is just a tiny bit afraid of her. Which is silly, I think, because he’s the one with the gun.
“Come on, Kimberly.” Mom says, “We’re going home.”
I frown, “But, it’s only 12:37.”
I jolt to my feet and follow her as we leave the room, feeling Mr. Greens eyes on us the whole way out.
We pull into our driveway. My mom unbuckles her seat belt and twists herself around to look at me.
Her and I have the same black eyes, but beyond that, are nothing alike. For one, I’m several shades darker, likely taking after my fathers complexion.
Right now, she’s paler than ever. Mom is gripping the steering wheel so tight, her hands are shaking, and I can’t tell if she’s furious or afraid or both.
“Go inside.” She said, “And pack your things. Toothbrush, clothes, and anything else you couldn’t bare to part with.”
My eyes must bulge out of my head, “What?” I cry, “Why?”
“Just do it!” She yells.
I freeze. Mom never shouts at me, never. Tears sting my eyes. I unbuckle myself and run out the car, up the steps, and into my home.
Everything is too quiet. I choke back sobs as I drag an old bag out from the closet and stuff it full of everything I can fit. I don’t know where we’re going or how long we’ll be there, so I guess.
It dawns on me my mom didn’t come inside to pack. Panic wells up in the back of my throat. She heard what I did, I think, though I don’t know myself, she’s taking me away, out of her sight.
I don’t want to go back outside. I stand behind the front door, holding my breath and counting the seconds. The kitchen clock ticks in the background, and I find that I can’t exhale. I clutch for my heart, and feel it isn’t beating.
The world spins, but before the fear sets in, I find that air has returned to my lungs. I shutter a breath and turn the doorknob.