The little village schoolroom was built in the 1700s and according to historical records condemned shortly after when the bodies of seven missing children were found murdered and buried beneath its back right corner. The mother of two of the murdered children was the local Witch. Who in her grief cursed the little schoolroom. But in 1950 the local school-board decided it was the perfect, and most cost-effective solution to the overflow problem at the district’s middle-school. After a quick restoration the little schoolroom opened for classes.
Of all the students in the little schoolroom Matilda McCann had the smelliest feet. So much so that even the boys refused to sit beside her. (And we all know boys have smelly feet!) The only place in the small classroom the stench from Matilda’s feet didn’t cling was the back right corner. For in the back right corner was a downdraft which consistently drew the air from the room. And even though many had tried none had ever figured out the source of the powerful downdraft.
Smelly Feet, as Matilda was known, was shunned to the back right corner, given the squeaky desk, and the wobbly chair. What did it matter anyway? She was only a cleaner’s daughter and warranted no special attention. Day in and day out she’d raise her hand with correct answers, but was never called upon to share them. For Matilda, being stuck in the back right corner of the room felt like she didn’t exist at all.
“Miss!” she cried one morning, waving her hand in the air. “Miss!” But, Miss Greaves, her teacher, not one to listen to children anyway, continued ignoring her.
The bell rang for recess and the class rose to their feet, waited for the signal, usually a nod, and then scampered out of the room. It slipped Miss Greaves attention that Matilda was not among the throng.
Responding to the last bell Miss greaves reminded the students to neatly place their term papers on her desk on their way out with the row nearest the door going first. She watched as each row and each child came forward, placed their papers on the pile and left for the day. But Matilda, who should have been the last student to turn-in her papers, was not in the room. Walking to the desk at the back right Miss Greaves saw that Matilda’s paperwork, books and pencils were still on top of her desk and her backpack, coat, and lunch-bag were still hanging from the wobbly chair.
She looked in the cupboard, the toilets, the playground, the dining-hall, the office, and the street, but there was no sign of Matilda. Returning to the classroom she began gathering up the backpack and coat, pencils, papers, and books.
“Miss!” came a strangulated whisper.
Startled she spun round. “Who said that?” she asked shaking like a leaf.
“Miss!” came the voice again.
“Matilda McCann, is that you?” she demanded bending slightly to look through the broken panels of the back right corner.
She wasn’t sure, was the malodorous reek intensifying? Her body reacted violently to the overwhelming stench. Retching convulsively she vomited up the lasagna she’d eaten for lunch along with the lime jello and banana sorbet. Passing out she collapsed, right on top of her own vomit.
When the school custodian came to clean the room he found a sight that gave him nightmares for the rest of his life. Lying in a sea of green vomit, in the back right corner of the little schoolroom, were the skeletal remains of what looked like Miss Greaves and the smelly feet of Matilda McCann.
In the forty years since the deaths of Matilda and Miss Greaves the little schoolroom has remained unused. Although, a contractor has recently replaced the broken panels, painted the walls and ceiling with a fresh coat of paint, sealed the roof, and refinished the floor. It is almost ready to welcome the new elementary school students set to start next week, but the contractor is having a tough time trying to locate the source of the powerful downdraft in the back right corner of the room.