a Twitter novel
by Ryan Veeder
copyright Ryan Veeder MMXVII
The wind blew across the elementary school playground. It blew the orange leaves up against the wire fence. The leaves rustled.
Betsy Morrison wrote in her diary.
“I am a twelve-year-old girl,” she wrote, “the wisest creature upon Earth. I understand the languages of birds, the ebb and flow of the seasons, the past and the future and the space beyond time. Today is my birthday, and I am twelve years old.
“We went to Garbaggio’s Pizzeria for my birthday over the weekend because it was Uncle Boscoe’s birthday last week and we celebrated them at the same time but my REAL birthday is today,” Betsy continued to write, leaves swirling around her ankles, “and I am perfect among humans.”
Betsy bit the eraser on the tip of her pencil. It was a yellow pencil-topper in the shape of a lion’s paw. She thought about the number twelve. She gazed at the elementary school building. What would she write next?
“Betsyyyyyyyyy!” a horrible voice called across the playground.
A bipedal shape lumbered across the asphalt, stomping and wheezing. Two beady eyes, set close together in a neckless head, were trained on Betsy Morrison.
“You’re not allowed to write in your diary during After School Time,” it grunted, in something resembling a woman’s voice.
Betsy looked up at Geneva the After School Monitor and clutched her diary close to her chest.
“You’re not even a real teacher,” she whimpered.
“I act by the authority of the school, so I can boss you around!” Geneva chortled, her eyes twitching in insane glee.
Geneva reached down toward Betsy Morrison with a sweaty gargantuan hand, and plucked the diary out of the twelve-year-old girl’s arms. Then she lumbered back to the picnic table from which she monitored After School Time.
“I hate that woman,” Betsy Morrison whispered.
A third-grader boy shuffled his feet through a pile of leaves. The sound that this produced was perfect—and yet Betsy could find no joy in its perfection.
“Third-graders are so stupid,” Betsy muttered, blinded to her compassion for fellow students by her contempt for Geneva.
A falcon landed on top of the school building. Its omniscient eye had seen all of this transpire. It screamed into the wind, and Betsy could understand what its keening meant.
“Get me my diary back!” she cried.
The falcon nodded.
Geneva, the stupid After School Monitor, who made everything she sat on smell of fish, had opened Betsy’s diary. Her fingers pawed at its pages like ten greasy hogs’ snouts.
Angelic wings blotted out the sun, and the falcon took to the air.
“Better not be anything in here about meeeeeee!!!!” Geneva wheezed. She raised the diary to squint at Betsy’s balletic handwriting.
The falcon was upon her in an instant. Geneva screamed like a pile of ambulances as she clutched one horrible hand in the other. A volume of waxy blood trickled down her arm.
The falcon dropped Betsy’s diary at her feet. Betsy pressed her own hands—the hands of a Disney princess—together, in a gesture of thanks. The falcon raised its wings again and soared into the sun.
But it wasn’t long before the ogre sitting at the picnic table began to apprehend, however dimly, what had happened. Geneva stood up again, and began stumbling toward Betsy Morrison.
Something purred in the distance.
Betsy stared at Geneva’s refrigerator-like form with eyes full of perfect hatred—the hatred of a twelve-year-old girl. She did not fear what would happen.
“Betsyyyyyy,” Geneva groaned, struggling to stem the gurgling flow of blood from her hand.
“Punishmentttttt,” she hissed.
But the purring was coming closer.
Betsy shook her head calmly, without blinking. She picked up her diary and dusted it off.
“Diaryyyyyy———nottttt——allowedddddd————“ Geneva’s throat wheezed, specks of saliva contaminating the autumn air.
A few more laborious steps, each punctuated by a blot of half-coagulated blood upon the asphalt, and the After School Monitor had come so close that her mephitic body odor threatened to asphyxiate Betsy Morrison.
“PUNISHMENT” she bellowed.
The purring stopped. Click! Slam.
And then high heels tapped gracefully across the asphalt; and long, perfectly black hair shone like a golden galaxy in the evening sun; and Keri Morrison’s lips, like two red flames, parted to call out: “Betsy! Are you ready to go home?”
Betsy turned around and nodded. But Geneva the After School Monitor, whose age was three times three times three, and who nevertheless was too stupid to accept the perfect wisdom of a twelve-year-old girl, dared to attempt to speak:
“Punishment,” she croaked, and as she spoke she threw up a little.
Keri, who worked a full-time job, and had to stay at the office late enough that Betsy had to go to After School Time for an hour after every school day, furrowed her brow. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Betsy hugged her mother’s perfect legs. “Geneva confiscated my diary,” she said, truthfully. “She isn’t even a real teacher.”
Keri rolled her eyes. She gave her twelve-year-old daughter’s head a little pat. And then she raised her fingers, and caught something invisible out of the wind.
“She won’t do that again,” she said, as if Geneva weren’t standing right there, bleeding and drooling all over the asphalt.
The thing in Keri’s hand twisted weakly.
She pinched her fingers together. The thing had but little strength with which to resist. She squeezed until it stopped moving, and then she rubbed her fingers together until the thing—whatever it was—crumbled into invisible dust, like a crinkly brown leaf.
Geneva the After School Monitor lay dead on the asphalt.
“You wanna go home, honey?” asked Keri.
Betsy Morrison nodded, and the two of them walked back to the car, buckled up, and zoomed away.