The order of things

by Dan

Lars sat with his raincoat upon his lap and books neatly piled in a leather satchel.

Unnoticed by the noisy throng.

At each stop more Wickstead kids got on and piled upstairs hooting and steaming and yelping as they bounded out of the morning rain.

Lars stayed downstairs.

He remembered Debra and how she had seemed kind at first, dark hair and pretty and neat. She’d smiled at him.

In his satchel were his sandwiches, Egg and cress. His set of protractors. The three exercise books with his name neatly written across the front.

He had given Debra his apple and for four days she’d sat beside him.

Then, one day she’d sat upstairs with Kevin Hammond and the football lads and had stood with them when they took his satchel off him and threw its contents into a puddle. She had walked away with them afterwards, laughing.

It was an incident which had greatly influenced Lars. The change in Debra was one he became adept at noticing in the quiet, neat, new girls of subsequent classes.

So he had retired into a world where he could exert control over the order of things. At least in his mind.

He was always suitably attired for any weather. He stayed in at playtime. He never wandered far from teachers. He formed the kind of exterior that people looked through without noticing.

As the bus turned into Colhurst Drive Lars checked his watch 8.42 Two minutes behind schedule.

Sitting two seats in front of him was a new girl, Sian Bassett. She had dark hair and was quiet like Debra. She got off at the stop before school to walk across the tree lined recreation ground rather than spend five minutes more on the bus.

Lars stayed on and got off at the school as he always did.

He entered through the main gates and noticed Sian enter through the back door at exactly the same time. The sea of other children washed around him carrying him by invisible force to his own desk.

He carefully placed his things upon his desk and cleaned his glasses. A few seconds later Mrs Banks entered, rushing, slapdash, late as per usual.

Lars got up put the kettle on and closed the door behind them. Mr L. Jonsen, School Bursar, said the small metal name plate upon the door.

He began looking through the termly budgets, eager to spot any cyclical trends that were out of the normal order. It was not widely known that the bursar had, attended the school himself many years before.

He would leave early that day, when the kids left, as he occasionally did. Mrs Banks said these early departures were the only unpredictable thing about him.

The next day the community was shocked to hear that another girl had lost her life whilst taking the shortcut home across Wickstead Marshes. That made 13 in 38 years. The killer always seemed to wait for memory to subside. For people to hope against hope that the fiend would now be too old to strike again.

And everytime it happened, the mothers of Debra Watkins and Sue Rice and Elaine Jacobi and Alice Morton and Ruby Higgins and Eloise Phelps and Leah Frankel and the others were forced to endure their own sickening grief once more.