We weren’t close, so I didn’t expect much, but somehow this was much worse. It was a simple pen with red, blue, black, and green ink that one could have gotten from any stationery store. I almost preferred to receive nothing.
Black pen to fill out math worksheet.
Red pen to correct answers.
Blue and green pen to doodle flowers on the top corner of my notes.
Click! Click! Click!
“Lisa! Stop that clicking!”
I placed the pen down.
“Sorry, Ms. S.”
A harsh look.
“That’s Ms. Sutton to you!”
I looked up in surprise. Ms. Sutton never minded when we called her Ms. S before. She must be in a bad mood, which I complained about to my friend, Jessie after class.
She patted my hand. “Don’t worry too much about it. Though Ms. Sutton is right. Your clicking can be kind of annoying.”
I looked down at the pen in my hand whose button I had been pressing down at constantly in agitation throughout the conversation. “Maybe that’s what my grandfather is trying to accomplish in giving me this: make me an annoying person.”
She laughed. “Oh, Melissa. I’m sure even without the pen you can accomplish that,” she teased.
I frowned. “Why’d you call me that? Melissa?”
She gave me a weird look. “That’s your name, isn’t it?”
Yes, but she always called me Lisa before. Not Melissa.
I clicked the pen again in frustration.
“Hi mom - wait, did you cut your hair?”
Mom’s hair that used to fall to her mid back was styled in a pixie cut. She ran her hand through it.
“I got a trim yesterday, remember?”
No, I did not remember, and this was much more than a trim.
“Never mind. Where’s Max?”
“Uh… my brother? Who else?”
“Oh, you mean Mark?”
I gave her a long look. “You know what? Forget it.”
I went upstairs and took out my homework and the pen.
I called Jessie while attempting to spin the pen around my fingers.
“Yeah, it’s weird that she just forgot my brother’s name.”
She hummed sympathetically.
The pen bounced off my thumb and clattered onto the table. I clicked the blue button twice, irritated at the fail.
Eventually, the conversation ended and I closed the call. Before I turned off my phone though, I looked at the contact information in conversation. It said Jenny Walters rather than Jessie Walters. Huh. Must have spelled it wrong.
The next morning Max didn't show up for breakfast and Mom didn't not only not know his name, but didn't even seem to know who he was.
That was weird enough on itself, but weirder things kept happening.
My name wasn't called for attendance during second period. Apparently, I had chemistry in that period, though I could have sworn I had calc.
Ms. Sutton wasn't there for English, but rather a man called Mr. Morton. Classmates reassured me he had been here all year long.
The cafeteria seats were green instead of black.
The flag pole was moved to the other side of the school.
Click! Click! Click!
Clicking the pen had become a nervous tick, a move made in moments of anxiety. People gave me annoyed looks, but I couldn't help it. I didn't recognize this world anymore. Who was that gym teacher, I didn't know her. Since when was AP Government located on the third floor? Why were they serving tacos at school on a Wednesday?
Nothing made sense since Ms. Sutton (and where was she anyway?) chastised me for -
I looked down at the pen as the pieces of the puzzle clicked together.