Lola in October

Lola isn’t like the other girls in her grade six class; loud girls that scream on the playground and believe that everything is ponies and pink. Sometimes they tease her about it. They’re going to learn today to never do that in October.

October is Lola’s month.

They’re going to learn more today than they bargained for. I’m talking about Sally Thompson and Amanda Axis. The two girls following Lola across the blacktop during recess hollering loud enough for Lola to hear but quiet enough so that the two teachers in their early twenties meant to be looking after the thirty seven children playing outside, Miss Jacobs and Miss Carlson, remain occupied with their inane prattle.

Sometimes Lola gets upset about being left in the hands of creatures like Miss Jacobs and Miss Carlson for six hours a day.

‘I’m sure he’ll call you later,’ says Miss Jacobs using a fake fingernail on her left hand to dig grime out from beneath a fake fingernail on her right hand.

‘Fuck men,’ says Miss Carlson wearing a grey wool coat that smells like cigarettes. ‘Are you busy tonight? Feel like drinks later? Oh shit! Did I say that really loud?’

‘Freak, freak, freak!’ chant Sally and Amanda following in Lola’s footsteps. Lola inhales the scent of the autumn atmosphere and feels her lungs chill. She proceeds to walk aimlessly with her eyes closed. She’s mastered this skill. Her mother used to try to encourage her to find a new hobby.

‘You know,’ Mom once said as she weeded her garden and observed Lola weaving through their wooded property with a squint so tight the only thing visible to her was blobs of navy. ‘You can open your eyes, honey.’

‘What’s the point?’ asked Lola stepping over a rock.

‘Lola you’re a freak!’

October makes Lola tingle more than other months. It’s the month the others find her, every year without fail. Last year three found her, the year before – six.

They seem to come from nowhere. When she was at the hardware store with her father on Saturday, one stepped out from behind an end-cap of stain and put a cold hand on her shoulder. Lola knows to not be afraid when this happens.

The man was in his eighties with a grip harder than you’d expect from an aged human. He whispered in her ear. He put something in her pocket. And no one around took notice.

No one ever notices.

When Sally and Amanda get close enough for Lola to feel their tuna fish breath on the back of her neck, she turns to face them.

Sally opens her mouth but quicker than her vocal chords can keep up with, Lola’s hand reaches into the pocket of her ivy colored corduroys.

Amanda notices Sally seeming stunned and her expression of laughter melts to a contorted look of concern. She tries to speak and realizes she can’t. She realizes Sally can’t either.

And they can’t move their feet.

Lola is rattling something three inches from their horrified faces. It clicks and clinks while she softly whispers. Ordinarily she has more control over her reactions.

Not in October.

When Amanda realizes that Lola is jangling teeth at her, her eyes roll back in her head which makes a loud cracking noise on the frozen ground after her knees give.

Sally looks down to Amanda and up to Lola who raises a necklace of stringed teeth over her head and drops it down to rest comfortably inside her black sweater.

Sally’s crying, Amanda isn’t moving, Miss Carlson and Miss Jacobs are running over secretly satisfied to have something to fuss over.

Lola slips silently away.

PART TWO