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Grade
9

An open envelope drops onto the table. Another one. A third, then one more. 

My hands are shaking, stained with ink. Papercuts line my fingertips. I don’t want another letter. 

Several more fall onto the table. The boy next to me works with a vacant stare, stamping addresses indifferently. I wish I was that mindless. 

I reach for the next envelope, folding back the flap. I pause. 

What if I didn’t close this one?

A shadow appears on my right, sensing my hesitation. Inching closer, it seeps like ink over the floor, the table, my clothes. Until I can feel it’s darkness on the back of my neck. 

I will myself to move, but I can’t even breathe, frozen. 

“Aw honey, cat got your tongue?”

The voice purrs above my ear, sour breath so close I gag.

“Get back to work. NOW!” 

The words shatter my defiance, sending ice slithering down my back. My hand jerks to my mouth. I run my tongue over the envelope so fast I cut it. My mouth fills with metal, but I reach for another. 

“Much better, kitten.”

The shadow slinks away, hovering just out of sight.

I reach for another envelope. 
 

State
CA
Zip Code
94070