8.4 Recurring Theme

by Matt P.

“So it’s…always Halloween themed?” Antigone asked a little bit speculatively. The whole front entranceway to Dwight D. Eisenhower High School had been decorated liberally with wheat stalks, hay bales, and spider webs. It looked like a Hammer Horror film thew up on the set of Nebraska, Antigone thought wryly.

“Well…they kind of mix it up with more corn and fewer spiders, or more spiders and less corn.” Lacey explained as the group of them stepped through the literal archway made of wheat toward the dance itself. “We’re in a spider year, it looks like.”

Indeed, the whoe of the gym had been decked out like a spooky corn maze, minus the maze. Cobwebs and papier-mache witches and mummies hung from the wall, decorated in either black or the school colors. It gave the room a somehow intimate and yet also gloomy closeness, as did the black netting wrapping the tables and DJ’s stand off to one side, where students in the broadcasting program spun the tunes.

“That’s…awesome.” Siobhan said, her voice cheery and bright at the surroundings. Lacey, Monica, and Antigone all looked at her with disbelief in their eyes. “One, you two,” she motioned to the natives, “knew this was coming, and still chose to dress like the theme was Parisian Runway. Annie didn’t know, but she’ll know next year. But for me?” She gave a little bit of a laugh, that she desperately tried to keep from turning into a villainous ‘mwuahaha’. “I finally blend in.” She gave a little hop and turn that sent her dress flaring about her.

“I…” Antigone began, before she ended it with a shake of her head, and a look up to the heavens for support. “All God’s children deserve a place, even the morbid and creepifying ones.” She intoned piously, adopting a saintly pose for a moment before they all deserved into giggles—even Siobhan.

“I am going to have to kill you later, you know.” She offered after the giggling had subsided, and everyone smoothed their dresses back in to place. “Although after I burn off some of that dinner by shaking my moneymaker.”

“You didn’t bring your knives or your loaded dice, Bonnie, so I’m not sure how you’re going to make any money.” Antigone offered wryly, and was about to say more when an annoyingly familiar voice called out from behind them.

“Well look at these skanks.” Gary, he of the punched nose and occasional irritation since, came up in a suit that Siobhan thought looked like it had been put on by someoone with the whiskey shakes. When he got close enough they could smell him she thought she must be right.

“Gary, you smell like Budweiser and the disappointment of your parents, ancestors, and society.” Siobhan offered pre-emptorily. “Go stand downwind of a liquor store and everyone here might not notice that you’re wearing Eau D’istillery.” She gave the last bit a little bit of a French flair, and a smirk.

“Little bitches say what?” Gary sneered, as if he had just offered one of the greatest witticisms of history.

“Dickweasels say huh?” Antigone shot back as innocently as it was immediate, with a grin to her sister.

“Huh?” Gary answered in obliging confusion, blinking between the two of them. Siobhan nodded slowly, sagely, considering the wisdom that had just been delivered.

“Well, now that we’ve cleared that up.” Siobhan said brightly, reaching out to take her sister’s hand. “Gary, you were gearing up for a lifetime of wasted promise followed by an early death, and we were going to go dancing.”

“You think you’re so fucking smart.” Gary growled, his voice slurring from his intoxication as he took a long step forward and got right in to their space. He reached out to put a hand on Antigone’s shoulder, and she froze with wide eyes. “Well I’ve got some things I’d like to educate you on, you stupid-” He started to threaten, his posse starting to materialize out of nowhere it seemed like. He was cut off when Siobhan calmly reached out to grab his tie by the knot, and then yanked on the back part to tighten it violently against the thin collar of his ugly shirt and his throat.

“Listen to me, dickless.” Siobhan said in a low voice of very forced coolness. “Go away, now.” She emphasized the immediacy. “I’m giving you one chance to go because if I have to open up Mistress Siobhan’s Whoop-Ass Finishing School for Wayward Boys, Antigone is going to be upset. But if you don’t I am going to yell for help, and kick you in the balls so hard you pee blood out your ears. And if that doesn’t work, then we’ll…play it by ear. Now look in to my eyes and tell me I’m joking.”

She only wavered a bit when she had to think of what she would do next, but carried on through. If Gary’s buddies jumped her, she wasn’t quite sure she would make it out alright—although she suspected that Monica would throw a mean right hook. Her hand on his throat quivered a little bit, before she stilled it. She forced her features into their best poker face, and looked Gary straight in the eye.

Gary swallowed, slowly, as he looked back at her. She could see skepticism in his eyes for a moment, but just enough belief as well. He, apparently, didn’t see the little tremors in her leg, or the bead of sweat on her brow. She pushed him back with contempt, before saying simply “Go.” She said it softly, and he went.

Siobhan swallowed, bile rising in her throat as her body quaked from the just passed threat of horror and violence. She smoothed out her dress again, before she reached out to take her sister’s hand and squeeze it. “Alright, it’s alright Annie. Come on, let’s go dance.” She offered with a warm smile to her sibling. Annie seemed to shake herself, as if trying to banish the last few shocking moments.

“Thanks.” She murmured softly.

“You know he might try to jump you later?” Lacey asked as she came up to them, and put her own hand on Antigone’s shoulder. Siobhan shuddered and swallowed again, before she looked to the other girl.

“Good. Then I’ll kick his ass up between his ears, just like I promised.” Siobhan said with a smirk that was only a little bit fake.

“How worried were you?” Monica asked, and Siobhan blinked, swallowing. Lacey looked fairly shocked as well.

“What do you mean?” The blonde girl asked, stunned.

“How could you tell?” Siobhan asked with a raised eyebrow as she finally felt, her pulse slow down a little bit.

“I could see it, Siobhan.” Monica answerd with a sigh. “A shake, a sweat. Let’s just say I know what it looks like to be nervous when standing up to a bully.” She gave a wry smile at Lacey, something mysterious and just between the two of them, before she turned back.

“I…I don’t know.” Siobhan sighed. “I didn’t feel like vomiting until afterword when we were at the not-Psychic’s shop. I guess it’s because I didn’t have time to think. All this training, and sometimes all I can think about is what could go wrong if I mess up.” She shuddered, thinking about the other things she thought about as well. What it had felt like to hit the man outside the fake psychic’s business—and about dark wings and dreams of blood.

Monica came up the rest of the way then, and put her arms on Siobhan’s shoulders, which wasn’t hard for the much taller girl. “I dont know if I’ve told you this, Bonnie,” she said, drawing surprised looks as she used one of Siobhan’s nickname for the first time, “But I kinda want to be you when I grow up.”