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by Andrea Wrobel

Pause for a second. My name is Samantha Able and I am currently choking on the little pink bit of eraser that used to be attached to my HB number 2 pencil. I liked the way the little pink prince would squeak against the edges of my teeth. Like it was shining my canines up real nice. In the precise moment the little jerk came loose I was fantasizing about scrubbing the two so white that people would think I was a vamp upon first glance just because they’d stand out more than the others. I could hear the squeaking in my head and wondered if it was as loud to anybody else. No one seemed interested. I was almost invisible. But I guess I got a little too into it. Squeak, squeak, squeak. It’s good to have goals. Squeak, squeak, I did, trying to see if anyone would turn around. Is the lecture that boring? Maybe they’re all asleep. Squeak, squeak. Like a symphony of a dollar store quartet. That’s probably where Aunt Nancy got these HBs from. Are they even real? I checked. They’re real. Aunt Nancy only ever shops at Value Plus (damn those discounts) and No Dollar Taller (and damn this little pink prince now wedged in my throat so stubbornly I might actually die).

I might actually die.

Let me paint the rest of the picture for you.

I am choking on a little pink eraser in the large lecture hall in the east wing of Saint Anthony Bessette College and I am here not because I am to be a part of this class but because Abigail told me that our plan to sabotage Claire Jenson would be in full effect and I wanted to see it pan out. And not only am I proud that I snuck into the class and am here sitting three rows behind Claire Jensen in plain sight of her long dark fish tailed braid but that I would actually be here, in the flesh, to see it all go down. Unfortunately, my biggest excitement wasn’t the stupid plan anymore. It was whether or not my face was turning purple and, more accurately, which shade of purple it was at now, and how quiet I could continue to be while I slowly but surely died a very unholy death.

I’m screwed.

My name is Samantha Able, I scribbled on my paper. No one would know who I was because I wasn’t supposed to be there, so I thought I must help them identify my body. Everyone will get up to leave and I’d be slumped in my seat, eyes wide (because I read they don’t shut on their own), plum complexion, and wholly dead. The teacher will call out, ‘Scuse me! Class is ended! and I’ll either fall limp into the aisle and begin rolling down the steps like a slinky because I am dead or I won’t move at all which might actually be worse.

My name is Samantha Able, I wrote again. Damn. Idiot can’t think clearly. Already wrote that. Flip the pencil, erase, TEAR. Idiot! Choking idiot! I’m going to die an idiot! My entire page tore as I tried to erase the second declaration of my identity because the eraser was in my throat and not on the end of my pencil as it should be and the silver metal attachment does nothing but destroy. We all know that! But unbeknownst to me, at the sound of the tear, a few students turned to look at the spectacle I’d become. They didn’t ask if I needed help or if I’d like to live though – I’d like to point that out. My face was probably a perfect shade of plum and no one thought the wiser. Kids these days. They’re so god damn stupid.

Now my page is torn, I’m finding it hard to breath, I’m the perfect shade of plum, and I notice that the kid I saw Abigail talking to outside Loose Juice earlier has just sat behind Claire Jenson. The plan has commenced and I might not live to see it’s beautiful and satisfying corollary. I will be dead. I am almost positive I will be dead by then.

I can assure you, despite my ramblings on, only a few mere moments have passed. The explanations in my brain accelerate at paces I cannot even keep up with so as it seems I should have died by now, I, in fact, still have plenty more time to pass over thoughts inside my mind. How lucky we all are. The mind is curious that way, isn’t it. I am dying and I cannot even get past the declaration of my own identity. See? How we are ever able to get things down with letters and words is beyond me. Perhaps I should help the 6 o’clock journalist writing the story of my death with something interesting to say about me. She might have trouble with words keeping up with thoughts, too.

Lactose intolerant, I write.

Gluten free.

Ice cream okay.

Eyes change colour. Weather dependent.

Right breast bigger. Right foot the same as breast. Bigger than left, I mean. Foot not a breast. Dropped on left side as baby? (Look into this.)

Aunt Nancy.

Rolf.

Straight A’s.

Straight edge. Sometimes. No. I crossed this out. That’s a lie. Why am I lying? Do I want to be remembered as a liar? Let’s go with…

Responsible.

Abigail. Daughter.

Better. This is a good start. I will come off nice and conscious but not prudish because of the ice cream comment. It says: I am aware but I still take chances. The stuff about my body will make me seem magical then a bit off-kilter. If I plant the idea that I was dropped as a child it will create sympathy and, when they excavate my house and find all my diaries, it will help the common folk understand my brilliance. Me being dropped doesn’t even have to be true. You just plant the idea and they all go with it. People are such mules. I am doing everything right. This is going to be the most controlled and unusual death since the one at the Thompson where that man jump from the window while sipping a double espresso because he thought it would make him more ‘grounded.’ Perhaps I should feed them the premise for my death as well. People need to be so coddled these days. And I could make it funny. Funny is always nice.

I wrote:

Samantha Able died, choking on the pink eraser of an improperly bonded HB number 2 pencil (this directs the blame), however proudly, in her attempt to expunge the world around her from the demonizing personalities that haunted her daily.

Is that too much? I know the news is written at a sixth grade level but it never hurts to educate the masses. The short and sweet of this premise is that I’m trying to erase Claire Jenson because I like her as much as I like that little pink death sponge in my throat but what valiant hero ever names names? I don’t need to name the demonizing personalities – personality – I refer to. I must go out on top. I must –

Damn. God righteous damn. The teacher has spotted me. And the classroom has emptied. I scan the exits for signs of Claire. Or that kid Abigial spoke to.

The teacher is talking to me and she is saying exactly what I thought she’d say. ‘Scuse me, ‘scuse me.

She’s going on. Perhaps I should listen.

“Ma’am? Are you lost?”

While my head was down scribbling my obituary and other things about Claire Jenson’s horribly ugly fish tail braid I didn’t even see her leave. And everyone else leave. And so now I am here with the teacher asking me why I’m still here, if I’m lost, if I belong here (I inferred that) and I’m wondering, yes, why am I still here? Have I not yet died? Have I not yet become a dark violet shade of night sky? Have I not plummeted into death? Am I not drinking champagne with the greats? Could I really be sitting here still in this chair in the hall in this class I don’t even belong to?

In a now much more obvious moment of my un-belonging to this class I speak up.

Clearing throat.

“I came with Claire.”

Why did I say that? I will now be an accessory to whatever happens in whatever Abigail’s plan is. I have just directly and openly declared a connection between myself to the most troubling part of my life.

“Claire?” the teacher pauses. “Oh, Claire Jenson, the middle-aged woman, yes.”

It was in this moment that I realize I have swallowed the eraser. The teacher declares Claire not a person or student or being but a middle-aged woman and I must be her friend. I’m also a middle-aged woman, so I must be her friend. Because all middle-aged women are friends. And all middle-aged women go to college together. This goes straight to my stomach, this anger, and it gurgles, which means I have intestinal blockage and abdominal pain to look forward to. Out of anger and eraser. Maybe even death if I’m allergic to rubber. And irritation. How are you ever sure what you’re really allergic to? How are you ever sure of anything? Rolf is in the car. I should take him for a pee. I’m sure of that. But this moment may mark the beginning of the end for me. And Claire Jenson has gone off somewhere probably crying over the damage Abigail’s plan has done and I may not live to see the benefits that will have on my life. Because I ate an eraser.

My name is Samantha Able and I’m screwed. I might actually die. A middle-aged woman in a college classroom and I don’t even go to college. But I accept it.

“If we go down, we go down together, Claire Jenson.”

But the teacher has gone. And so has Claire. And the only thing I hold close to me now is my hand to my stomach because I am no longer choking, but dying. I am dying from eraser poisoning. But this buys me time.

I reach into my pocket and pull out a map of the college. Red dotted lines tell me where Claire should be headed. I might live long enough to see her end. I might. But Rolf is in the car. I should go take him for a pee first.

Andrea is a cat and green tea lover who is fueled almost exclusively by the act of writing creatively. When not writing quirky shorts, bad poetry, TV show pitches, or event articles for Toronto Social Review, Andrea is most likely either eating pizza, trying to perfect shavasana, or watching movies. Andrea aims at encouraging mindfulness and positive action through reflection and interaction with her work, whether it is visual, written, or otherwise. A little known fact about Andrea is that she is also working on a hip hop EP.