Please Be Nice to Rena Saunders
Yeah, sounds pretty pitiful, I know. But get this: people used to tell Rena she’s pretty all the time. People liked to ask her how she’s doing. What kind of book is she reading right now? Would she like to come shopping after school? Is she free this weekend to go see a movie? Despite what literally every piece of fictional media said about high school, Rena Saunders was somehow the girl everyone wanted to be friends with.
Why, you ask? I’m glad to tell you. Now, I’ve only heard stories about Rena Saunders in passing from my older sister. Victoria said she had a few classes with Rena, so I’m mostly passing along what she told me and what she heard other people say about Rena. I guess being a grade below Rena means we have to rely on our upperclassmen to tell us about the girl responsible for…that.
Rena transferred during Victoria’s sophomore year. Something about her family moving a lot or being in foster care, I forget which. Foster care sounds about right. Anyways, so Rena wasn’t really noticed those first few weeks. Not like there was any reason to. She was quiet, stayed out of everyone’s way, didn’t make any friends, you know, that sort of thing.
It wasn’t until Natalie Kirkman’s crew started to pick on Rena that people started to pay attention. First, it was a gentle teasing, making fun of Rena’s clothes or glasses, that nonsense. Weirdly, every insult Natalie or some other girl threw was met with an odd occurrence. Natalie once mocked Rena’s hair when they were in the bathroom at the same time. Then, when Natalie went into a stall, her necklace broke and fell into the toilet. Joyce Bannon called Rena a swamp creature and tripped her during gym class, then found herself getting hit with a fly ball from the guy's baseball game. After a few incidents, they stayed away from Rena.
At the same time, the people who stood up for Rena started to notice good things happening to them. Holly Martinez helped Rena pick up her books after Lydia Richards knocked them down, then found herself getting a 100 on her Biology test. Chase Carmichael helped Rena reach a book on a high shelf in the library, then won $5,000 on an instant lottery ticket.
Word began to travel that there was something about Rena. People who were nice to her had good things happen to them, and people who did bad things to her had bad things happen to them. That’s when an idea began to float around the class; if everyone is nice to Rena and does nice things to her, they could all reap the rewards. Tests would be aced, projects would succeed, offers for scholarships would roll in, and other tidings of good fortune would present themselves, all because they offered Rena some candy or because they let her join them at lunch.
So as you might expect, everyone started to test this out. People told Rena that she looked nice, then found extra cash in their pockets. Victoria let Rena borrow a pencil in Geometry, and got asked out by the guy she was interested in. At the beginning, people tried to keep it small. A compliment here, a favor there. That’s when people started to gamble bigger.
Rena couldn’t walk through the halls without people asking her how she was doing, or if she needed help. Guys asked her out daily. Girls tried to be her best friend. People were buying her lunch, taking notes for her in class, and giving her gifts for no reason.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: this must be awesome for Rena. Everyone loves her and is treating her kindly, and now things are going so well for them. Well, not really. See, Victoria said there came a point where Rena stopped coming to school. Naturally, people tried to see if she was okay. They’d come to her house, bring chicken soup and get-well cards, and assure her that they were there for her. That made Rena shrink back even further.
When Rena finally started to go again—her family probably forced her to go or something—that’s when things became worse. Rena would start to avoid everyone she could. She’d leave class early, hide out during breaks, and began to cut school early. Naturally, this landed her in trouble with the school administration. However, this didn’t lead to much punishment. Any time a vice principal or teacher scolded Rena, she’d get nervous and start crying. That’s when a teacher found out his wife was having an affair, and where one vice principal discovered her car was stolen.
At that point, even the faculty was kissing up to Rena. Grades would be fixed so she was a straight-A student, she was allowed to come and go from school at will, and she got extensions on assignments that other students didn’t. If you’re wondering why the school board decided to give raises and new computers to all the teachers at our school suddenly, that’s why.
Now, I’m not sure exactly how this all worked for Rena. I don’t know if just people being nice to her made good things happen, or if she had to respond to them in a certain way for the good fortune to pay out, but it looked like things weren’t going that well for Rena.
So, it came to that day. You know the one. Okay, so here’s what Victoria told me. Rena came in late, said something about not feeling well. Victoria said she didn’t look well either. Rena had dark circles under her eyes, was really pale, and looked even more disheveled than normal—not that anyone would admit that—and had a general aura of exhaustion to her. So naturally, everyone in the class flocked to her aide. Some boys wanted to help her walk to her desk, while some girls were offering some medicine or makeup to help her.
That’s when Rena lost it. Rena started to scream and demand everyone leave her alone. Of course, that just made everyone want to help her even more. Rena ran out of the class, bolting for the nearest exit. Several students began to follow her in hopes of catching her and helping her for more good fortune. That’s when it happened.
If you saw the news report, Mr. Jamison’s chemistry class was working on some kind of experiment—I forget which kind, the kind that involves gas and fire—when Rena ran by. As Rena ran by, those seven students who were following her all passed by the Chem lab. For reasons that the police have yet to understand, something went wrong, and just like that: BOOM!
The Chem lab gets blown to smithereens, the students chasing after Rena get caught in the crossfire, and Rena just misses out on being seriously burned. A few of the students and Mr. Jamison were killed, while others were hospitalized for their injuries. Of course, the school had to be evacuated and part of the school burned down. It was definitely a dark day for our school's history.
Rena Saunders never came back to school. In a way, those students chasing after her were the last ones to see her. I’m not sure what happened to her. She might have moved to a new school, or got sent to a new foster family. Maybe she ran away or ended her life in some quiet corner of the world. Either way, no one saw her again.
What’s also weird is the fallout among the students after everyone came back to school. See, everyone was concentrating so hard on being nice to Rena that they were all becoming better behaved and friendlier. Maybe they all started to think that being nice to their neighbors would somehow result in rewards from Rena in that six degrees sort of way. Once Rena was gone, that was when things really went off the rails.
People started getting nasty with one another. Fights were common in the halls, bullying intensified, there was even a mass walkout one day. Everyone was pissed. There wasn’t anything to be gained being good to one another, and now there wasn’t anything to prevent them from lashing out. Maybe it was some more of Rena’s abilities being left behind as some long-form of bad juju, or perhaps just thinking poorly of her led to everyone in the class getting warped. I don’t know.
So yeah, in case you’re wondering why they’re still doing construction on that one wing of the school, why there seem to be fights regularly, and why they’ve started keeping police officers around the school, that’s why. I know it’s hard to believe, but that’s what people tend to agree is the cause of all of it.
What can I say? Karma’s a bitch, and apparently, her name is Rena Saunders.