CH 7: Scardy Cat

Haley had passed Sara a mousy girl who was afraid of her own shadow in the hallway at school and even had her in a class or two but the girl barely spoke to anyone. Not that Haley was a social butterfly either but her apparent lack of a backbone irritated Haley. With her medium shoulder length brown hair, brown eyes hidden behind brown glasses, and at only 5’2 height and 110 lbs.  Sara appeared timid. The girl always wore browns, beige, grays and never donned skirts, dresses, or heels she always wore jeans, t-shirts, and running shoes. Sara was afraid of everything because of several factors.

Firstly realize that the psychiatric community had labelled over 100 phobias people were afflicted with categorizing each and every small fear to death. Wasn’t identifying it giving the fear more power? Phobophobia the fear of phobias come on really? And once they have diagnosed a person what next, meds and counselling? Would the patient come up with more irrational fears building on the last, connecting them like building blocks? And pills could only help so much so unless you became a hermit, which some did there was a world of danger out there to fret about just watch the news. Remember the swarm of Africanized killer bees that made their way up from Brazil to the United States? What about the thousands of poisonous snakes, insects, and other reptiles that presented a real danger to humans? Not to mention natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, forest fires and the like that were eminent. Who could forget Mad Cow Disease, Bird Flu, Swine Flu and SARS? Pile on top of all these harmful species and diseases we had to worry about each other. Assault, rape, and murder were just a few of the atrocities that we inflict upon our fellow being. Amp up the insanity through the suicidal actions of one individual taking others with them to the grave by mass shootings, ever-present terrorist attacks, and age-old wars over land or religion. And who fueled the flame of fear and still does today? The politicians, doctors, scientists, and the worst offenders of all the press were the culprits.

So besides the outside forces Sara was destined to be afraid because of generations of fear mongers. Sara was doomed from the start with her family’s history of bi-polar depression, suicide, hypochondriac, panic attacks, and psychotic tendencies. She heard about her grandmother locking her mother Linda up in her room and home schooling her because she was terrified of everything and anything happening to her daughter, maybe because four of her five children had died from accidents and illnesses. The old lady ended up in a mental hospital where she committed suicide. Her father Jeff was overprotective because his family was killed in a train crash that he was one of only nine survivors. The incident made Jeff afraid to travel by most modes of transportation plane, train, and ships but he forced himself to endure  cars as long as it wasn’t long distance driving. He was brought up by his aunt and uncle. Despite or because of their experiences and family history both ended up in medical fields Jeff was an EMR – Emergency Medical Responders (Ambulance) and Linda became a Certified Nurse’s Aide (CNA). It was inevitable that they would meet living in the same neighborhood and being assigned to the same hospital.

A year after Linda and Jeff were married they decided to have one child and it was a baby girl they named Sara. It took Jeff considerable persuasion to get Linda to allow Sara to go to the public school instead of home school like she was forced to do. But like her mother Linda was a hypochondriac to Sara into the hospital for every rash, cold, bump, or bruise passing on the trait to poor Sara.

Being an only child Sara felt lonely especially since for the majority of the time her parents were working odd shifts or sleeping. She consistently asked for a pet for company and even expressed her strong trepidation of being alone (Eremophobia) so it wasn’t long before they broke down and agreed to get her a cat named Betty to keep her company. Haley was volunteering part-time at the SPCA and helped her pick out a cat.  But over time Sara became severely scared of the cat (Ailurophobia) feeling like the feline was staring at her waiting for the chance to pounce and scratch her eyes out or worse smother (Pnigophobia) her when she slept, never to awake again. Sara was torn up as an internal debate stewed between loving and wanting the cat to fearing the poor feline but Sara’s fear won out and poor Betty was returned to the SPCA and she lost the only company she had. Unknown to Sara it was not the cat she should have feared it was Haley. The pet lover was livid with murder in her eyes.

Living in the same neighborhood for so long Sara knew many kids at school but she didn’t join any of the extra-curriculum clubs and didn’t have very good social skills maybe because she had no siblings to practice with. Instead Sara buried herself in her homework as a means of escaping the high school social hierarchy and loneliness and as a result she achieved high marks making her adamant to get all A’s. Then she became so freaked out every time there was a test (Testophobia) that she’d have panic attacks or faint which lead to her fear of going to school (Didaskaleinophobia). This fanatical behavior advanced to her becoming worried of failing everything and anything (Atychiphobia).

When a substitute teacher Miss Johnson gave them a pop quiz Sara flipped and went completely blank handing it in void of any answers. The teacher looked at her and wrote a big red “F” on Sara’s paper. As the substitute teacher went to the stock room to get some supplies steam rose from every orifice of Sara’s body as she quietly followed her. The teacher used her key to get into the small room and left the key in the lock. “How dare she give you an “F”!” Ellen another straight “A” student in some of her classes who tragically just lost her parents in a freak car accident whispered making Sara jump. Ellen handed her a book of matches and with a smile turned away and walked into the girls’ washroom. With a vacant stare Sara looked at the matches and without a thought lighted them, threw them inside on top of a pile of files, and quietly locked the door dropping the keys on the floor as she walked into the washroom.  Ellen was inspecting herself in the mirrors her metallic cooper, silver, and gold wardrobe hinted at having money or she expected it. When the two girls came out of the washroom the smoke began to billow out of the room and Sara pulled the fire alarm. All hell broke loose and the school was evacuated while the fire-trucks raced up helped the evacuation, tried to find where the fire was located, and the nearest emergency hoses.

Detective Buck Dale was called to the scene just as the firemen had the fire put out and a Hearst was taking the charred body to the morgue. Buck addressed the children asking if any of them saw anything and when one boy said he saw Ellen and Sara leave the classroom Buck took the two girls out to the hallway. “Did either of you girls see or hear anything out of the ordinary?” he asked. “No we were in the girl’s washroom when coming back we saw the smoke and pulled the fire alarm” Ellen explains calmly. “O.k. girls you can go back to class” Buck directed them. Then Detective Dale asked the fire inspector what he thought caused the fire. “Well there was a pack of smokes and a lighter on the floor beside the teacher so maybe she popped in here for a quick smoke and the ashes caused the fire” the inspector replied”.  Buck saw the keys on the floor and asked the firemen about it who say they didn’t notice them because they were too busy getting the kids out of the school and fighting the fire. The only nagging question Buck had was why didn’t the teacher just run out of the small room even if she had to jump through the flames? She’d be burnt but alive. Was it because the door was closed and locked? None of the rescue crews seemed to be able to determine if the door was open or closed because it was burnt to ash.  So once again Buck was left with no lead and a bunch of questions.

Sara was shocked that Ellen had handed a book of matches to her and helped her cover it up. Why would she do that? Was she trying to have Sara indebted to her? It made Sara wonder if Ellen’s parents’ car accident was an accident at all but to kill your own parents’ was quite a cry from killing a teacher. She wasn’t sure but Ellen wasn’t that evil was she?