Chapter 5:

Ring Around The Roses

School For The Mediums

The sounds of laughter were everywhere from high pitched giggling, heavy chuckling, and snotty throated snorting. Along with the laughter there was screaming and shouting, kids clapping and jumping, and feet pounding and running. Bookmark here

The playground was the literal definition of a human zoo. Bookmark here

I could see feet dangling from monkey bars and the other kids hollering as they ran down the slides and to the fields playing tag. Bookmark here

“Mommy! Mommy!” Bookmark here

I was almost knocked off the playground curb as something darted past me.Bookmark here

“Mommy! Mommy!” A crying sniffling 5-year-old boy yelled as he ran past me, playground wood chips from his shoes hitting my face. “Mommy! I want my mommy!”Bookmark here

Quickly, I defended my eardrums as the obnoxious noise travelled from me to an adult. Bookmark here

“Mommy! Waah! Mommy!” Bookmark here

“Darling, what’s wrong?”Bookmark here

I looked away from the mother and whining baby duo and back to my notebook. Bookmark here

This is why I didn’t like going to the park. Bookmark here

The noise, all the people, and the heat. It was all too much. Bookmark here

If I wasn’t only 8 years old and under the force of Mom and Dad, I would be at home sitting in my room right now. Bookmark here

I focused back to scribbling on my notebook. Bookmark here

“Hadi!” A familiar soft flowery voice and running footsteps neared me. Bookmark here

“What, Ko-tan?” I sat my pencil against the paper as I looked up to Aoko. Bookmark here

“Why are you over here again?” Catching her breath, she observed me. Bookmark here

I was at the farthest edge of the playground seated on a curb away from all the other kids. Bookmark here

“You should come play with us,” Aoko said, smiling. Bookmark here

“I’m good.” I went back to scribbling. Bookmark here

“Oh, come on Hadi!” She grabbed my free arm. “Come play!” Bookmark here

“I don’t wanna.” Quickly, I pulled my arm back hard. Bookmark here

“Why not? Everyone wants you to join.” Bookmark here

Ignoring her, I focused on drawing lines and shapes. Bookmark here

“…Haaah.” With a sigh, she dropped down next to me. “What are you drawing?” She peeked over at my notebook. Bookmark here

“Nothing.” I pushed my pencil harder into the paper drawing thicker lines. Bookmark here

“Doesn’t look like nothing.” She calmly tapped her feet. “It looks pretty. What’s it supposed to be?”Bookmark here

I looked from her and to my page. It was just random scribbles of shapes, lines, and shadows intersecting and meeting to create even more weirder shapes. “I don’t know.” I shrugged. Bookmark here

“Hmm?” She hummed, staring even harder. “It looks abstract. Like Picasso or Van Gough!” Bookmark here

I frowned at her joyful response. “I’m no Picasso or Van Gough. If anything, maybe you are.”Bookmark here

“Me?” Bookmark here

“Yeah.” My pencil was pushing down even harder. “You’re the one who’s good at everything.” Bookmark here

“Hadi….” Bookmark here

I didn’t have to look at her to see her frown. “And everyone likes you.” Bookmark here

“Hadi---.” Bookmark here

“--Ko-chan! Ko-chan!” The kids on the playground were loudly calling her. “Ko-chan come back! Let’s play some more!” Bookmark here

I pushed the pencil down so hard a dark hole was forming on the paper. “They’re calling you.” Bookmark here

I felt her eyes on me. “Hadiza.”Bookmark here

“Ko-chan! Ko-chan! Come on Ko-chan!” It sounded like a crowd was cheering her on…as usual. Bookmark here

She sighed again, more deeply this time. “I’m coming!” She shouted over to them. Bookmark here

My scribbling was getting more sporadic as Aoko stood and dusted off her bottom. Bookmark here

“You should come play with us. You’ll have fun,” she said. Bookmark here

“I’m fine.” Bookmark here

“Hadi, I like your drawing. And you’re good at things too.” Bookmark here

I didn’t look up at her. Bookmark here

“Ko-chan!” Bookmark here

“On my way!” I heard her footsteps receding and moving away from me. Bookmark here

With a light exhale, I focused back on drawing. The dark hole on the paper was getting bigger with every push and scrabble of the pencil lead. Bookmark here

“Yaay! Ko-chan’s back!” I could hear their voices in distance as I scribbled faster and harder. Bookmark here

“What are we playing this time?” Bookmark here

“Ring around the roses! Let’s play ring around the roses!”Bookmark here

“Okay! Who wants to start?” Bookmark here

“I will! I will! Ring-a-round the rosies---!”Bookmark here

--Crack.Bookmark here

My pencil tip snapped in half. Bookmark here

“A pocket full of posies!”Bookmark here

With a broken pencil and gaping hole on my notebook page, I glanced up and looked to Aoko and the other kids. Bookmark here

Their hands were connected as they formed a tight circle ring. They spun and bounced with the biggest smiles and grins. Bookmark here

It did look fun. Bookmark here

I caught a glimpse of Aoko and she caught a glimpse of me from our distances. Bookmark here

“Ashes! Ashes!”Bookmark here

We held eyes as she mouthed me to me something far off from what the other kids were singing.Bookmark here

‘Come…’Bookmark here

“…We!”Bookmark here

‘Join…’Bookmark here

“…All!”Bookmark here

‘Us.’Bookmark here

“…Fall Down!”Bookmark here

“Somebody call for help!” I heard someone shriek. Bookmark here

“What’s wrong with her?!” Bookmark here

There were voices coming from all around me. My vision faded in and out, the world like images flashing and fading out. Bookmark here

“Oh, my god! Hadiza!” Bookmark here

I heard sounds both unfamiliar and familiar between the dark and light of my shifting consciousness. Bookmark here

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!Bookmark here

“Doctor, we’ve got swelling in the mouth, hives, dizziness, and fainting!” Bookmark here

There was shuffling, thumping, and pounding exploding around my fuzzy and faded world. Bookmark here

My mind felt like it was sinking, and my body heavy but weightless. The thunder of my heart against my ribcage and beating of my blood escaped. Bookmark here

“Heart rate dropping! Blood pressure decreasing! We’re nearing a Code Blue!” Bookmark here

BEEP! BEEP!Bookmark here

With every weary breath and fading screenshot of the bustling action, I sunk below lucidness. Bookmark here

“No, no, no! That’s my child there! That’s my daughter!” Bookmark here

“We’re losing her!”Bookmark here

Melting ice. Was I becoming melted ice?Bookmark here

“Prepare the Defibrillation!” Bookmark here

BEEP!Bookmark here

Or was I in the Ocean? Falling below the waves?Bookmark here

“Ready?” Bookmark here

“Clear!”Bookmark here

Electricity zapped into my chest so powerful I felt it through my bones. Bookmark here

“Heart Rate?” Bookmark here

BEEP!Bookmark here

“Still decreasing!” Bookmark here

Or maybe it’s not the Ocean. Bookmark here

“Clear!” Bookmark here

Power surged through me again. Bookmark here

“Heart Rate?”Bookmark here

“We’re still falling!” Bookmark here

Maybe I’m just….Bookmark here

“Clear!” Bookmark here

Lighting went through me, and my body arched up and sunk back down. Bookmark here

“Heart Rate?”Bookmark here

Maybe I’m just….Bookmark here

I breathed out slowly feeling my weak breath dying. Bookmark here

“It’s stopped. The heart's stopped.”Bookmark here

….BEEEP.Bookmark here

Maybe I’m burning. Burning into ashes.Bookmark here

Miao Miao
Shahi John
Hungry Sheep
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