An Escape Pod flash fiction contest submission.
She was about 12, maybe a little younger. It’s not so easy to tell with kids, especially girls. This one looked normal enough, pink puffy coat, blond hair up in a scrunchy thing, vinyl backpack with a cartoon character — an anthropomorphic block of ice — plastered across the side. She moved down the aisle of the lurching bus with the ease of a career sailor and plopped herself down next to me.
Pulling out a pack of well-thumbed index cards, she stripped off the rubber band and held them tight in both hands, staring hard, lips moving with grim concentration. Vocab quiz. I could almost hear the electric impulses zapping through her gray matter as she tried to soak in the knowledge before she reached school. Her lips moved softly as she repeated the words to herself.
I peeked over her shoulder.
Rated PG. Contains Lovecraftian references, and three dollar words.
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