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From the farthest seat to the left, in the second row of Mr. Decker's first period English class I would watch her. At 7:56 every morning she would take her seat at the front of the class sitting with her hands folded-always right over left- staring blankly at the chalkboard until the bell rang at 8:05.
Her name was Madeline Finch, and in her entirety, she was unremarkable. Tired brown locks loomed over her shoulders, fair skin littered with freckles across a flat nose, and eyes the shade of the tussled soil on a freshly dug grave. Yes, she was plain. So plain in fact, that I could not help myself in stealing glances at her whenever the opportunity presented itself. Often, I would try to catch her gaze if only for a moment, but she never did look my way. In fact, she always seemed to be fixated in the direction of Samantha Greene.
I suppose I couldn't blame her. Samantha was a spectacle; the blonde-haired blue eyed dove was no doubt gawked at by many a passing face, but it was different with Madeline.
She would just stare.
At first, she would avert her gaze when Samantha would glance at her, feeling her eyes burrowing into her own profile, but after a month or so, when a fellow classmate would whisper to Samantha, "She's doing it again." And when Samantha would turn to her and glare, Madeline simply sat with her hands folded- always right over left- and continued to stare with that vacant expression, until Samantha would raise her hand and ask to use the restroom, excusing herself for the remainder of the period.
This became the norm, until about half way through the semester, while Mr. Decker was out of the room, Madeline subjected Samantha to one of her routine stare-downs, only this time, instead of excusing herself, Samantha stood up, and walked over to Madeline. The class fell silent as Samantha proceeded to verbally assault Madeline, who at this point had concentrated her stare back at the chalkboard. Samantha continued spewing profanities left and right for nearly five minutes. Her tanned skin had boiled to a light crimson by the time she was finished.
We all expected Madeline to run out crying, I found myself wanting to run to her side but the deafening silence kept me seated. Samantha took her seat and continued her work, and when it looked as though Madeline was not going to form a rebuttal, we all did the same.
After a few minutes an unfamiliar voice pierced through the atmosphere of the classroom.
"You have beautiful eyes."
She had not uttered a single word all semester, but we all looked to that same desk at the front of the classroom. We knew exactly who it was. Madeline turned her gaze back to Samantha, who's face had contorted to absolute fear, as though this simple compliment were something much more malevolent through her ears. "Y-you stay the hell away from me, you understand?", Samantha fumbled to maintain her composure as she picked up her books and left the room. Madeline continued her work.
This was the last time Samantha Greene sat in our first period English class. She switched out the next day, and for two weeks preceding the indecent, everything was fine.
Madeline Finch took her usual seat that Monday morning at 8:03, sitting with her hands folded-always right over left- staring blankly at the chalkboard until the bell rang at 8:05. It was on this day, that Mr. Decker, read us his unscheduled announcement:
"Our fellow school mate, Samantha Greene went missing last Friday. Her mother reported her missing when she did not arrive home after school Friday afternoon. Her backpack was discovered under the bridge near Amphora Park that evening. Police do suspect foul play. If any of you have further information on Ms. Greene's whereabouts, I urge you to contact..."
I'm not sure why I tuned out Mr. Decker's announcement at that point.
I can't help but contribute it to the blue eyes that had shifted from their place on the chalkboard to turn and meet my gaze.