He slapped his thick palms against the scratched wooden frame and dug his nails into the red velour beneath his thighs.
Outside, he could hear the other kids playing and shouting. The regular thud of a basketball on the asphalt. Birds cawing in the distance.
The chair was deceivingly uncomfortable. It creaked and groaned whenever he moved and one of its legs felt like it was about to twist right off and fly across the room. The back of it was loose, too. One simple slam and the whole thing would probably smash into shrapnel.
The witch came in. Finally. Taking her bloody time. Her green face hovered beneath her quintessential hat. Warts peppered her pointed chin. They were green, too. As she sat down, he wondered where she kept her broom. His gaze wandered over to the cabinet at the back of the room.
‘Eric, you are in very serious trouble.’
‘What you did… And the fact that you showed it to the other children…’
‘It was meant for a laugh, you know. Cackle, cackle. A joke.’
‘It was a sickening joke, Eric. I don’t understand why you thought something like that would be funny.’
‘It was hilarious. And it was just a cat. Who cares if there’s one less cat in the world?’
‘Everyone cares!’ As if this was the most logical explanation ever. ‘What you did was malicious and abhorrent and this school will not stand for it. We’ve called your mother and your father. They’ll be here within the hour to discuss your punishment.’
He snorted. As if his parents could punish him. They, along with all their fancy doctors, had lost control long, long ago. He loved his parents to a certain extent.
‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’ he said, shooting her a defiant, garish smile. ‘The cat was already dead when I found it. All I did was tie it up. Who’s to say it shouldn’t have been flayed? The guts were particularly interesting.’
She recoiled, then corrected herself. She began berating him in her whiny voice, her crooked, wart-loving chin bobbing up and down.
‘Eric, we accepted you into this school on the condition that this kind of behaviour would not take place. After your fight with Bobby Franklin, we made it perfectly clear that…’
He looked at her hands as she spoke. They were green too, long and gnarled, like you would expect.
They reminded him of the branches of the old jacaranda tree that used to grow in his back yard. Before his father had blown his top and chopped it down. The bastard.
She waved her hands in some kind of unimpressed gesture and he noticed for about the twentieth time that each of her yellowed nails finished into a point. Like claws. She didn’t file them that way, he knew. They simply grew that way, as they did for all witches.
He crossed his legs and the chair groaned under his weight.
Just for a thrill, he thought about telling her that the cat had been alive. Not only when he’d found it (caught it) but for the entire experiment (dissection), including the grand (flaying) finale. The look on the kindergarteners’ faces had been spectacular.
‘Are you listening to me, Eric? I said, how are you going to explain this to your parents when they get here? Have you even thought about the things your doctors have said to you?’
He pulled the chair closer and leaned in, placing his elbows on her desk. A paperweight that looked like a crystal ball sat on top of a pile of student files. The placard displaying her name glinted at him. He nudged it aside.
‘I know what you are,’ he said, his voice soft and controlled, just the way he wanted it to be. He smiled a little.
‘I beg your pardon?’
He waved a hand in her face. ‘All this, masquerading as a responsible School Principal. When you damn well know you eat children for breakfast. Where’s your broom, huh? Your spices and dead frogs? Bubble, bubble and all that shit. I know my fairytales, you beast, and I ain’t going to let you terrorize this school.’
‘Eric, now calm down. Please. Your parents will be here shortly.’
‘You can’t fool me,’ he said, leaning back in the chair. ‘I see your green skin, witch. I know who you are. And if it’s the last thing I do in this life, I’m going to expose you. Innards and all.’
The Prompt: Write a 500-word fiction piece based on a mundane, inanimate object. The truth? There are no mundane objects in fiction. This prompt is part of the series: The Inanimate Object Chronicles.
(images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / Just2shutter (chair) / vlado (cat) / Victor Habbick (witch))