(aka Sherry’s First)
by Miles Rost
(Author’s note: Start the music before reading)
The town was stunned.
Parents, teachers, administrators, and students were mystified.
The newspapers didn’t know what to say, at first.
Many of the witnesses could not believe what they saw.
For those who witnessed Charlene Herrera keel over in 6th period Chemistry class, they were in a daze. Some even trying to block out the memory of what seemed to happen.
Sherry Makinami was a witness to what happened. What people didn’t know, and what she was unsure of, was that she may have been the one who caused it.
She read the headline in the morning paper: STROKE TAKES LIFE OF LAKE GROVE SCHOOLGIRL
She remembered everything, and what was happening that day.
A junior at Lake Grove High School, Sherry was not exactly the pick of the litter. She was mostly average. Average height, average weight, and didn’t really stand out. She did her work at school, socialized a little bit, but didn’t stand out in anything. She was not the type of person to be outspoken, as she rarely raised her hand in class. She kept to herself many times.
This made her a bit of a target for some in her grade, including Charlene. 6th period chemistry class, the last class of the day, was always the worst for Sherry. No matter where she sat, there was some form of adversity. She had to adapt to survive, but chemistry was an unadaptable situation.
For most of the day, she was being harassed by Charlene and her entourage. The real events, where it all came to a head, started with a missed question, and an experiment.
The chemistry teacher, Mr. Palachuk, was finishing his lesson before they were to do their lab work.
“Alright, class. As a quick review, who can tell me why the alkali metals are reactive as they continue down the chart?”
Sherry was about to raise her hand, when she felt a solid piece of something hit the back of her head and proceed to plop to the ground. She felt behind her head, and looked at it. She saw what was a remnant of a spitball that was in her hair. Sherry turned around, sighed, and looked back at the teacher.
Someone gave the answer to the question, and he let everyone move to their workstations. The directions were clear, to experiment with alkali earth metals and see what happened.
Sherry moved to her workstation and looked at the metals in front of her. She started to do a little bit of work, when she was bumped from the side. Water spilled across her hands, and she looked over at the rotund form of Charlene’s bottom.
“Oops! I didn’t even see you there!” she said with a sickly and sweet smile, “You should have said something if you saw me coming.”
Sherry just looked at her, and shook her head. She picked up a piece of magnesium ribbon with her tongs, and put one of the ends in the bunsen burner. It glowed brightly, as the white flames slowly traveled down the strip. She was studying it intently, when she spotted someone about to crash into her side.
Charlene moved backwards again, this time pushing Sherry over. She fell with her to the floor. People started laughing and joking.
“Charlene, what are you doing?! That’s on fire!”
“And she finally speaks, only to yell at me,” she said, looking down at Sherry. Sherry got up and put sand on the magnesium strip, while Charlene and her entourage in class laughed.
Sherry looked at her intensely. She felt the anger in her chest beat heavily, threatening to betray the calm exterior by which she stared at her.
I wish she would just go away.
The thought spread across her sub-consciousness, peeking itself into the conscious for just a moment. She turned and looked down at the magnesium, covered in sand. She kept looking down, but pointed her eyes straight in Charlene’s direction.
I want her to leave me alone, she cried out in her mind, I want her to leave everyone alone!
Suddenly, without warning, Charlene winced. A small pain started in the center of her head. She put one of her hands to her head and tried to feel where it was, as it wasn’t a normal headache. As the seconds ticked by, the pain grew.
She doesn’t know pain, she doesn’t know anything, Sherry thought, spitting the words out in her mind.
The pain in Charlene’s head grew. For her, it was like a migraine that just went supernova. She clutched her head and gritted her teeth.
“Char, what’s going on?” one of her friends asked.
“I don’t know. My head is just….owwwwwww.” she cried out, the pain ratcheting up a notch.
Sherry continued with her gaze, not moving an inch and not doing anything. She didn’t seem like she was doing anything except sulking.
Charlene started to scream, as the pain in her head grew to a point. Her brain felt like it wanted to rip her skull open and run away. The pressure grew to be incredible. Blood leaked from her nose, and started to drip onto the floor.
For a split second, the screaming stopped. For Charlene, the last feeling she had was of a pop and a pressure release in her brain.
Her body crumpled like a weighted tent, splaying her on the ground, her head hitting the floor with a sickening *crack*.
Sherry looked over at her lifeless form, and did the only thing she could do.
She screamed, then fainted.
The next day, as she looked at the paper and read the headline, she looked at her family at the table. They were all silent as they ate breakfast.
Her mom put down her butter knife, and looked at her daughter.
“Sherry, I think we need to talk,” she said, plainly.
Sherry looked back at her mom, and tears started to fall down her face.
“Mom? Did I do this?”
Her mom got up from her chair, walked over to her, and put her arms around her daughter.
“That’s why we need to talk. I think I know what happened, and it’s something that you’ve inherited. It looks like we’re gonna have to have ‘The Talk’.”
Sherry breathed a heavy breath, and she started sobbing into her mom’s shoulder uncontrollably.