Iyla | Teen Ink


January 9, 2023
By Rognel7849 SILVER, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Rognel7849 SILVER, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments


You ever hear the saying “never look a gift horse in the mouth” that's kind of my mantra. Find 20 dollars in the couch? That's mine now, sorry Garret. Snag the last ice cream sandwich from the freezer? I don't care if you had dibs Harley, finders keepers. 

Sometimes though, my mantra does not work in my favor, take this morning for example. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed- literally. My little brother, Angus, had some sort of nightmare and shoved me to the far end of my bed, pressed up against the wall. The only reason I woke up in time for school this morning was because he literally kicked me in the back. With a start like that, you would think my day should be getting at least a little bit better right? Nope.

“Alright class, pop quiz!” Mrs. Mendiel's statement was berated with groans from the students in the classroom, myself included. It’s way too early for this. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a bad student, but geography is not my forte. There's not much I can do about it now, well, apart from one thing. I internally smile as my plan forms, shooting my hand up I wait for it to be set in motion. 

“Yes, Caroline?” Mendiel sighs pausing what she was doing.

“I think my ladies' days have just started, may I please go to the restroom?” I feign a quiver in my voice, my act becoming that much more believable. Watching as her face turns beet red, I know that I have successfully gotten out of this pop quiz. 

“Yes- yes of course, um, take your time, but please try to get back for the quiz.” She stammers before quickly turning back to the packets she was passing out. My chair scrapes against the old tile of the floors as I hastily stand up, eager to get out of this room as fast as humanly possible.

I quickly march my way to the furthest bathroom from my 2nd-period classroom, which just so happens to be all the way on the third floor. Taking the stairs two by two I briefly look out the window on the second-floor landing, watching people mull around. Burly men in tight suits striding to whatever 911 business call they were summoned for, mothers walking with their children warily watching the speeding traffic, and a trickle of students racing for the old front doors of the school. That's the only sight you get in the city. Old buildings that you can't believe are still standing, and people shoving others out of their way to get where they needed to be. 

The bathroom door makes an ear-wrenching screech as it opens, I expect nothing less from this old refurbished building. The peeling wallpaper throughout the school and cracked marble tiles are evidence enough, this school is in dire need of repairs. As I walk in, I notice that one of the stalls is occupied, a pair of pink and white sneakers peeking out from underneath. 

Turning to the mirror, I frown at my current state. My dark brown hair thrown haphazardly into an unintentionally messy bun, the matching eyes practically drowning in the bags under them. Well, no one expected me to look 100% every day… except my mom of course. 

I spin on my heel to the stall furthest from the door, taking care of my ‘business’ as slowly as humanly possible. As I glance at the time on my phone, I begrudgingly leave the stall, 20 minutes should be enough to not raise any alarms. 

I sigh before turning the least rusty faucet on. As I stick my hands beneath the spout, I expect to be bombarded by the freezing water, but there's nothing. 

That's inconvenient, but nothing out of the ordinary for this decaying building. Last summer we had a huge heat wave but a pipe decided it wanted to burst, so no water fountains for us, queue heat stroke central. I roll my eyes before shuffling to the next sink over. Sure enough, this one slowly sputters to life, although the water is suspiciously tinged with brown. Beggars can't be choosers I guess. I quickly wash my hands and exit the restroom. As I leave, I am suddenly filled with a feeling of nausea. I stop in my tracks, but fortunately, it subsides fairly quickly. I didn't eat my morning bowl of Cheerios, so clearly, my body is upset with me. 

Making my way up the stairs toward my inevitable pop quiz, I take note of the man paused mid-step on the sidewalk. City folk are weird, and I've seen worse, so I just continue on my not-so-merry way. 

It's only when I reach the first floor that I start to become suspicious. I'm staring directly at Mr. Ferest, who is currently bent over reaching for a pen he must have dropped. Frozen in place, his ginger toupee clinging for dear life to his last bit of hair. I always knew he had fake hair! Terra owes me ten bucks! Not that I should be focusing on money, as the old man, who I've never seen dressed in anything less than a button-down and khakis, is currently unmoving at a 90-degree angle. I circle him for a moment, taking in the sight.

 Is this some sort of joke?

 April fool's day? 

I dismiss the thought as soon as it came, no way would any of my teachers, much less the oldest, pull anything like this. It's not even April, it's January for Pete's sake! I tap him on the shoulder, perhaps he's lost in thought? Been there. Yet nothing, it's almost like he's just stopped. A feeling of dread washes over me, fleeing the odd scene I throw open the door to my Geography class. 

Oh no.

This is not normal. 

I stand frozen in the doorway, much like the people within this room and Mr. Ferest. My eyes shoot from person to person, desperately searching for any sign of movement, a blink, someone inhaling, anything. 


There's nothing.

No one is moving.

I walk up to Jacob Warrens' chair and yank it out from under him. 

Oh god, this isn't normal. 

My hands begin to shake as I watch the chair move without Jacob who is still in his sitting position, hovering in the air, pencil midway through writing the word Lebanon. Well, at least I know one of the answers on the quiz. Not what I should be focusing on, but I'll take the win.

I look throughout the room and stare at my other classmates. I stand there for what feels like hours when I know logically it's probably closer to two minutes. 

In a stroke of genius, I actually come up with a sort of plan- I run up to the whiteboard in the front of the room, and I reach for a dry-erase marker on the small metal rail holding. I quickly pull the cap off of the red marker and scribble on the board “HELP ME!”

Then I wait. 

I look at the clock and well, that's no help, it's not moving either. 

So, I do what anyone would do when they want time to pass, and their entire class is frozen in time… 

 I take Jenny Westbrooke’s pencil out of her hand and shove it in the top of Hailee Smith's long blonde ponytail. Then I flip Arwin Godwin's glasses upside down on his face. I put Layla Teaner’s paper upside down. Kathy Quinton’s shoes are now untied, as are Ronald Ultin’s and JoAnn Rofus’. 

Apparently, when I face an extreme situation that makes no sense at all, my first thought is to mess with people. Perhaps in hopes to get a reaction to prove I'm not insane, but I digress. 

After sliding everyone's chairs out from beneath them it sets in. 

They can't hear me, see me, or see anything I do. 

I am alone. 

I begin walking without any idea where I'm going. Then I’m outside, shoving the heavy metal school doors open. Peering out on the street I look at cars frozen on the roadway, a man stuck mid-smoke break, and a dog still sniffing a telephone pole. 

It's like I'm trapped in a picture. 

Suddenly, I hear screaming. Someone is here, and I can hear them.

It's me. 

I'm screaming. 

Tears fall down my face as I race toward my family's apartment. 

I don't know how long I ran for but I'm breathing heavily when I reach the door. Whipping it open I rush inside. My youngest sister Piper watching Blue’s Clues on the TV and mom in the kitchen, putting cinnamon in Piper's applesauce just how she likes it. Both of them frozen in time. 

I go to my room and lay in my bed. 

This must be a nightmare.

If I sleep, I'll wake up, and nothing will be wrong. 

Mom will yell at me to wake up, Angus will kick me in the back, and Harley will beg to braid my hair. 

Everything will be normal. 

I eventually drift off to sleep, thank God this waking nightmare will soon be over…

It's not over. 

I wake up and walk to the living room. Everyone is still stuck. 

This isn't some crazy dream, it's my new reality. 

I walk down the street, entering random shops, because maybe, somehow, someone is stuck in this with me. 

What I'm sure is hours tick by, and yet no one. 

I eventually find my way back to the school. I stare at the old brick building, the crumbling concrete stairs leading to the heavy doors, and the unkempt grass that I'm sure has poison ivy lurking within. 

I walk over to the first step and take a seat. 

Putting my elbows on my knees I cover my face with my hands and cry.

As I have the worst mental breakdown of my life I go through reasons as to why this could happen.

Is this some cosmic joke?

Could I be going insane? 

What could ha-

My thought trails to an end when I hear “Hello? Is- is anyone here?” 

I jerk my head up, there is a young girl standing in front of me. Her blue eyes well with tears, as she looks throughout the street for anyone who may listen. 

“Hey! Over here, can you hear me?” I call out to her. 

She turns to face me before running over and grabbing onto my legs, sobbing “I thought I was all alone, mommy was driving and then everything stopped!” 

I rub my hand on her back in an attempt to soothe her, “It's okay sweetie, I'm here with you. My name is Caroline, what's yours?” 

“Iyla, my name is Iyla.” she peeks up at me while tugging on my pants. 

I crouch down to her level and fix her two little black pigtails. 

“It's okay Iyla, you’re not alone, we have each other.” I hold my hand out to her.

She sniffles before grabbing my hand “You promise?” She asks. 

“I promise Iyla.” 

The author's comments:

This is a short story telling the tale of a young girl named Caroline as she finds herself in an interesting predicament.

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