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School can be a scary place when you don’t know who or what you’re dealing with. I was the new kid at school and I’d heard stories already.  It seemed like the whole school had been talking about how some of the teachers were monsters. I figured it was just something to give people a way to talk about tough teachers. Middle schoolers are like that, but what if I was wrong?  I had no idea what would happen if I got off on the wrong foot with one of these monsters.

It all started in Mrs. Hollaster’s class, she was my computer teacher. Everyone in my class dreaded going to her class. You could tell by the way they begged our teacher to let us stay in the classroom.  Mrs. Hollaster always told us to make sure we go to the restroom before class began. She threatened noon detention, counting us tarty, and even after school detention. No one thought she could actually do that, but when the lunch room started getting less packed people started going the the bathroom before class..

About five minutes into computer class one day,  my stomach started to hurt. Was I hungry? No, I had just eaten. Then I remembered, I hadn’t used the bathroom. Could I hold it until class was over?  No, it was an emergency. Oh my, I’m going to have lunch detention for the first time.  I was dreading having to ask Mrs. Hollaster to go, but I slowly walked up to her desk.

“Can I go to the restroom,” I quietly asked. She was nodding her head like she was saying “yes,” but she wasn’t looking at me. Even though I didn’t think she was saying “yes” and I should probably ask again, I went anyway.  If she had been saying “yes” she would yell at me for asking again. “How many times do I have to answer you, young lady?” she’d ask.

As I was washing my hands in the bathroom all of these thoughts started scaring me. Had she heard me? What if she hadn’t? What happens now? I was completely freaking out.

“What am I going to do?” I asked myself.

A few seconds later, the door slammed open. My heart started to pound.

“What are you doing in this bathroom without permission?” Mrs. Hollaster screamed.  I wanted to hide behind the trash can but that only make her more mad. What would provide me the most protection if she was a monster? Why didn’t I think of all this ahead of time, I wondered. I would have just held it a little longer!

“I don’t know,” I replied, half whining. “I came and asked you if I could.”

“And what did I say?” she demanded.  

“Nothing, but you were nodding your head.”

“Well there's nothing we can do about it now, can we? Just don’t do it again!” she exclaimed. I was embarrassed and shaken up. I didn’t want to go back to class because although her words said it was over, her past threats made me question the situation. What would she do when I got back to class?

Turns out I didn’t need to worry. When we got back in the classroom everyone was laughing because they knew I had gotten in trouble. They probably heard our conversation from the restroom. She’d gotten pretty loud. She told everyone to shush up or she’d give the whole class lunch detention. They instantly got back to typing, all of them in unison, just like little minions. Could it actually be that she was a monster with mind control powers? I took a seat and got back to work, too--just in case. That incident messed my whole day up, but the next day I was back up and running. Surely there were no monsters with mind-control powers--unless they’d already gotten to me.

I didn’t see anything suspicious that morning, but that changed when I got to the cafeteria for lunch. Everything’s suspicious in the cafeteria! We were going through the lunch line. At the doorway to the kitchen, Mr.s Chang made us point to the list of lunch choices she had. It was supposed to show what we had reported to our teachers that morning. I had told Mrs. Armstrong I wanted crispy chicken, or option two in cafeteria speak. But, when I pointed to my name on the list, it was blank.

Mrs. Chang started screaming at me, “Well, I’m going to give you lunch detention for today because you didn’t put your lunch option down and then you tried to lie about it.”

I tried to explain to her that I had put the option down. “I asked for crispy chicken,” I said.

“No you didn’t or you’d know you put it down. You’re lying again.”

“Well, I didn’t write it down. Our teacher wrote it down for us.”

“Well, then that’s another lie, isn’t it?”

I decided not to even argue about it anymore. There was a whole line of kids waiting behind me and I clearly wasn’t getting anywhere with this lady!

I turned and walked toward the door, headed to the lunch detention room.

“No,” Mrs. Chang called after me. “You’ve got to get a salad from the salad bar if you’re hungry!”

I sighed and turned toward the salad bar. Why was she so concerned about my eating all of a sudden? As I got my tray and started picking out salad toppings, I realized that Mrs. Chang was standing behind me now.

“Let me help you”, she said taking the tongs from my hand. “You obviously don’t know how to use them.” She started pinching carrots and dropping them on my tray.

“That’s enough,” I told her as the pile started to grow.
“Just a couple more, honey,” she said in a high-pitched, cackling voice. I couldn’t help wondering if she might have a little witch in her. As she kept piling carrots on my tray, I began to wonder what her obsession was with them, but I dismissed it and headed to detention.

I sat down to eat in silence as the detention rules stated. I looked at my salad and noticed the carrots were all dried and crusty. Could this possibly be the same carrots I’d seen in the cafeteria? Oh well, I thought and I ate them along with the rest of my salad.

Detention’s not so bad. You just have to eat quietly outside the cafeteria. Then, when you’re done you go out to recess like everyone else. I threw my trash away and headed out, glad to have this experience past me. “Guess there were no monsters involved afterall,” I thought.  But then it hit me. A nauseous feeling began to rise in my stomach. Strange as it seems, it felt like I had a headache in my stomach and little tiny creatures might be crawling around in there. I made a u-turn and headed to the nurse’s office.

On my way there, Mrs. Chang stepped out of the cafeteria and blocked my path.

“Why are you roaming the halls?” she asked. “Aren’t you supposed to be outside?”

I almost told her that I was headed to the nurses office, but what if she was one of the monsters? What if she’d intentionally done something to those carrots? I turned around and went back out to recess.

Mrs. O’Loughlin was on duty that day. “Why didn’t you go to the nurse,” she asked.

“I thought I’d get better out here--fresh air and all,” I told her.

“OK,” but let me know if you need anything, she told me.

I sat under a tree to rest and think of my next plan. I noticed others sitting around talking. Maybe I wasn’t the only one. Should I do something about this? Tell someone? Who was safe to tell? Were there really monsters in this school?

I decided my safest bet was to wait and see and that’s where I am now. Watching carefully and trying to lay low to see what’s going on. I’ve never asked to go to the restroom in Mrs. Hollaster’s class and I always bring my lunch to school.

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