The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
Rainy Day Dismissal
Words and image by Garrett Ray Riggs
A suburban American version of the Japanese stories of Ameonna, or the Rain Woman
James pushed the blinds aside and looked at the sky. The sun wasn’t fully up, but he feared it looked like rain was on the way.
“Jamie,” his mother called, “breakfast is ready! Get up! We can’t be late again.”
James pulled the covers off the bed and put on his slippers that looked like puppies.
His mother had put Thrifty Maid syrup on the table and was taking a plate out of the microwave. All of their meals were frozen things that had been nuked so some bites were burning hot and others were ice cold.
“French toast sticks for the birthday boy!” she chirped.
“Why do I have to go to school on my birthday?” James asked.
“Because I have to work,” she said flatly. Then she perked up, “We'll get a pizza for dinner tonight. You can even get pepperoni, if you want.”
James poured a thin line of syrup on his plate. He picked up a French toast stick and swabbed the syrup with it.
His mother looked out the window.
“The maintenance man’s van is already in the parking lot,” his mother said. “We need to get a move on or you're going to be late.”
“I hope it doesn’t rain today,” James said, looking out the window at the decidedly gray sky. “I hate Rainy Day Dismissal.”
It seemed like there had been more rainy days since their regular teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, had left three weeks prior to have her baby. James wanted her to come back to school. He didn’t like Miss Onna, the temporary teacher. Everything about her was weird from her hair and the big black bag she carried everywhere to the way she spelled her name: A-M-E instead of A-M-Y.
James really didn’t like Miss Onna at all. She had long black hair that sometimes covered her face and made her look like a witch in a storybook. And, maybe even worse, she had a habit of licking her right hand when she was distracted. Sometimes, Miss Onna would stand at the side of the playground in the shade of the trees, looking at the horizon and licking the back of her hand during recess.
He hated when she reached out with that hand to help him with his work or to pass back his homework. There was a faint pink spot in the place she always licked. The skin was shiny and no little hairs grew there; it was like scar tissue or a burn. He was afraid that spot would brush against him. He knew it wouldn’t be, but he was afraid it would be slimy, like her saliva would ooze back out of that raw-looking spot on her hand.
When the radio announcer mentioned the child who had gone missing from James' school the previous week, James’ mother quickly changed the station. She was always trying to protect him, but everyone in school had whispered about what had happened to Olivia Joseph.
Olivia had disappeared without a trace. It had been a Rainy Day Dismissal, and when her mother came to pick her up, she wasn’t there. No one else had signed Olivia out. The surveillance video had shown nothing out of the ordinary. According to the tapes, she had never left the building, but the police and school staff didn't find even a trace of her in the school building. Her cubby was empty—only the yellow sweater on the coat hook was evidence Olivia had been in school that day.
“Mom! Look out!” James shouted as the stoplight up ahead of them turned red.
His mother slammed on the brakes.
“Crap!” she said and then corrected herself, “Crumbs. I meant crumbs.”
James smiled at her reflection in the rear-view mirror and said, “It’s okay, Mom.”
“I'm just stressed out,” she said. “The school sent me a letter about all the tardies you've had this year. One more and I have to meet with guidance counselor to come up with an 'action plan,' whatever the heck that is. People just don’t understand how hard it is to raise a kid by yourself and work two jobs.”
Rain droplets started to sprinkle down on the windshield. On the radio, the weatherman said there was a sixty percent chance of rain by the afternoon.
Shit, James thought as he watched the rain getting stronger.
“It’ll be okay,” he said out loud.
“Thanks, Sweetie,” his mother said. “You’re the best kid in the whole wide world.”
The light turned green and his mother turned onto Red Bug Lane. They were almost to his school.
“If it is raining later, can you come get me early? Say I have a doctor’s appointment or something,” James said.
His mother used the rear-view mirror to make eye contact with him.
“We’ve been through this a hundred times, James. I will always be there to pick you up,” his mother said.
“I know. I just hate Rainy Day Dismissal,” he said. He could hear himself starting to cry, so he stopped talking and took a deep breath. “It’s always confusing and scary and after what happened to Olivia...”
“Have I ever not picked you up?!” his mother growled out as she turned into the school parking lot. She pulled into a parking space. “Come on, if we run, you might make it before the bell rings.”
The rain had beat down steadily all day. They had to have recess in the gym and James got hit in the face when Miss Onna made them play dodge-ball. James put in an Oscar-worthy performance of tears for the nurse, hoping she would call his mom to come get him.
“You just got your nose a little scraped,” the nurse said, eying him. She'd been a school nurse since forever and all the kids knew you practically had to have bones sticking out before she would call parents. That, or vomit.
“We’ll put an ice pack on it for a few minutes, give you a nice bandage for the scrape, and you’ll be right as rain,” she said.
Thunder boomed loud enough to rattle the windows in his classroom as everyone was gathering up their backpacks and coats. Miss Onna looked at the dark skies outside, and then smiled at her young charges. She had tiny, sharp-looking teeth.
Miss Onna said, “It’s okay, friends! Let’s get ready to line up. Moms and dads will be here soon.”
There was a knock on the classroom door and Miss Onna opened it. The third-grade teacher from across the hall whispered something to Miss Onna. They both glanced quickly at the kids and then nodded grimly to each other.
Miss Onna turned back to the kids and put on another razor-tooth smile.
“Come on, friends, the bus riders are going with Mrs. Hernandez today. Car pick-ups and parent pick-ups will be with me until your name is called.”
James looked out the window. The sky was very dark, almost like nightfall. He was the only one left with Miss Onna.
Miss Onna had gone into the supply closet to get out materials for the next day.
James could hear her scuffling around in there, moving stuff.
The red second hand on the clock seemed to catch, ticking ahead and then dropping back, slowing the minutes as they passed. He wasn’t totally sure about telling time yet, but he thought the clock said it was 3:05. If his mother didn’t come soon, he would have to go to After Care in the cafeteria.
There was a thud as something heavy fell off a shelf. He couldn’t make out the words, but he was pretty sure Miss Onna was cursing.
“Are you okay?” he asked and peeked into the supply closet.
Her back was to him, but James thought he saw the red of her tongue flicking above her head, like a giant frog trying to catch a fly.
That couldn’t be. His imagination was running away with him.
I’m just scared because of the rain, he thought, and because my mom is late. She'll be here. She’ll be here any second.
“Miss Onna?” James asked, his voice shaking.
She turned quickly and James screamed.
Miss Onna's eyes were totally black. Her dark hair moved like the jagged lightning outside and she roared at him.
Her tongue had grown as long as her arm and it whipped back and forth like a snake, continuing to stretch longer and longer.
James backed up. He willed his legs to move faster.
Miss Onna’s tongue lashed out and wrapped around his arm. Up close, he could see it had suckers like an octopus’ tentacles.
James screeched and used his free hand to grab a ruler from the bin on the shelf. He raised his arm and came down as hard as he could with the ruler.
The inky daubs of Miss Onna’s eyes narrowed and she hissed as dark, nearly black blood sprayed from small cut James had given her.
Miss Onna’s tongue gripped his arm harder, squeezing down despite the wound.
She pulled him toward her, her mouth opening wider, revealing rows and rows of needle-like teeth.
James put his arms and legs out, trying to use the supply closet door's frame as leverage against her strength.
James screamed for help.
“Somebody! Anybody! Help me!” he yelled.
Miss Onna’s arms wrapped around him. She wrenched James free of the door frame.
He did what any seven-year-old would do—screamed and kicked and flailed as much as he could, making it hard for her to keep her grip.
Saliva glistened on Miss Onna's teeth. Her nostrils flared as she pulled him closer. He realized she was smelling him, taking in his aroma the same way he did when his mother put a plate of tacos in front of him at dinner.
James made a violent kick at her mid-section. The blow to Miss Onna’s stomach doubled her over and her grip on his waist loosened.
James kicked again and twisted. He fell to the ground, Miss Onna’s tongue still wrapped around his arm. The momentum was enough to pull her down with him.
James spied his salvation on the bottom shelf of the supply closet. He pushed at her scrabbling hands with his tennis shoes and made a sweeping pull toward the shelf and the old paper cutter resting on it.
James knocked the paper cutter to the ground, snapping the safety latch.
Miss Onna's eyes darted toward the sound.
She reached out, but James was faster. He kicked at her face, making her yowl.
He pulled the paper cutter toward him and opened the blade.
Miss Onna grabbed his leg.
James slid Miss Onna's tongue onto the board, trying to keep his own arm out of the way as he pulled down on the blade with all his might. Years later, he would marvel that he had had enough adrenalin to cut through the strong, fibrous muscle, but at that moment, all he felt was the sudden slack in the tension as the blade sliced through Miss Onna’s tongue.
She fell back, howling as the inky blood spurted from what was left of her tongue. The other half uncoiled and fell from his arm leaving behind a series of round red welts that were already beginning to bruise.
James slid back and tried to stand. He slipped in the blood and caught himself on the door jamb. James darted out and slammed the supply closet door behind him.
He ran out of Miss Onna’s room and raced down the hall and past the teacher’s aide who was taking names of children whose parents had arrived to get them.
“Young man! Come back here!” she called out. “You have to wait for your parents!”
James ignored her and pushed through the crowd of parents at the doorway.
He spotted his mother’s car turning into the parking lot and he bolted toward it.
His mother stopped the car when she saw James and he climbed in.
“Go!” he yelled.
“James, they want us to sign you out,” she said. “After what happened to Olivia...What is all over you? Is that ink?”
“Mom! Go!” James yelled again. “Please.”
She put the car in gear and pulled around the line of cars in the pick-up lane.
“James, I told you I would be here,” she said. “I would never let anything happen to you.”
#Unreal #ShortStory #CreativeWriting #Fiction #RainyDayDismissal #SubstituteTeacher #WeirdGrownUps #SchoolStories
Visit our shop and subscribe. Sponsor us. Submit and become a contributor. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.