"Turn The Page"

a Louder story based on the Oni plot: "Read Me a Story"

The sun shone brightly outside and the students were ready for summer break. The kindergarten students all kept watch on the clock and the windows. It was the last day of school and everyone was anxious for the school day to end!

Perhaps no one was as eager as Suzy Harper. Suzy was a young student teacher who hated children! The more time she spent with them the more she hated them. She called them brats to all her friends. She didn't seem able or willing to find a redeeming value with any of the children. Mrs. Rochester, the regular teacher, tolerated her for the whole session. Suzy had hoped she'd get a bad report and be bounced from the program. For whatever reason Mrs. Rochester showed more patience toward her than anyone could imagine.

Mrs. Rochester loved children. She liked being around them and all the life they possessed. She had hoped for children of her own but her her husband had recently passed away and so those plans had crumbled. She was the exact opposite of Suzy. Mrs. Rochester had grown up in a loving environment and took up teaching to help and be around children. That's why she loved the job so much.

Suzy had ended up in this position only because her mother had been a teacher and wouldn't accept anything else from her daughter. Suzy's mother had been a strict disciplinarian and being in one of her classes wasn't the most fun class a student could expect. The only thing worse was growing up in that household! Suzy's father had been an abusive alcoholic who battered her mother regularly. While she was submissive to him she took out her frustrations on her daughter and students.

"Class... I have a treat planned for today. Miss Harper is going to read us a story," Mrs. Rochester informed them after lunch.

"I am?" Suzy asked

"Yes. I thought it would make for a nice finish to the year. It's an old fairy tale by a writer named Oni. A forgotten classic really."

Suzy grimaced. "Maybe they'd rather you read it? I'm not a good story-teller."

"Oh, I think you'll do fine," she said as she handed the book to her young assistant.

Suzy sighed and sat down on the desk. She glanced at the title: "Warming the Heart of the Wicked Queen."

"Ok... here goes...." she said in a monotone voice as she opened the book.

"A long, long time ago there was a mean old witch. This witch hated little children. The children were all afraid of her and would avoid her whenever they could...."

"She seems more like a smart witch than a wicked witch to me!" Suzy thought as she rolled her eyes.

"The witch had fun by scaring the children. She would yell at them and cause them to cry. Other people would tell her she should be nice to the children but her heart was cold and bitter.... 'Cold and bitter?' Sounds more like she doesn't like the little rugrats under her feet!" she mumbled under her breath.

"One day one of the children's mothers brought the witch a book. It wasn't just any book but rather it was a magic book! The witch didn't know about the magic and soon was tricked into reading the book. It wasn't a book like she was used to reading. At first she was bored with it but it began to catch her attention just the same. The words seemed to wrap around her and she soon couldn't put it down....

Suzy felt a chill and grasped her blouse at the top. It was unbuttoned a bit too low for a school teacher anyway. She never dressed as conservatively as she should and instead preferred low cut blouses and short skirts. She crossed her legs a little tighter and could feel the goosebumps on her formerly smooth legs. The feeling passed and she continued reading.

"The witch soon realized that all the children of her little town were around her and eagerly watching as she read the book. She paid them no mind as she continued reading. The witch felt a tingle and a surge of energy that made her feel better than she had felt in years...."

Suzy felt a tingle and her mood lightened. A smile crept across her formerly scowling face. The students had rarely seen her smile. Suzy reserved her smiles for after school unless she had a chance to flirt with a young male teacher in the other building. Her uptight mood had lifted and her body language reflected that. She continued reading.

"The witch began to change. Her perpetual scowl left her face. Her hair began to return to its youthful tint. The children around her were amazed as the witch became more youthful. They couldn't believe that the witch could've ever been pretty since they never saw her look anything but cold and sour! The children laughed as the witch's re-found youth began to cause her drab clothing to look silly on such a youthful person...."

Suzy looked up as the children in the classroom began laughing and pointing. This started to make Suzy feel a little self-conscious but then Mrs. Rochester put her finger to her mouth and quietly 'shushed' the class. Suzy felt different. A little awkward. She wondered why the children had laughed? This passed as she wanted to get back to the story. She was glad the story wasn't as boring as she first thought it would be.

Mrs. Rochester walked around to get a better look at Suzy. She could tell Suzy was a smidge shorter and skinnier but she couldn't see her face until she took a seat with the class. There she saw the fresh face of a bright-eyed 16-year-old girl, sitting on her desk. Suzy was bouncing her foot and dangling a shoe off her toe. It was obvious she was bubbling with a new found positive energy.

"Ummm OK... I, like, lost my place...." she said as she anxiously tried to find her place in the book. "Ohh... OK... here it is...."

"The witch read on as each magical page seemed to strip away more and more years which each turn...."

Suzy turned the page and suddenly her other shoe slipped off her heel and also dangled on her foot. Her blouse bunched up a bit as it was now easily a couple of sizes too big. Her short skirt didn't look quite as short... or tight anymore. Her tanned thighs retreated ever so slightly into the skirt. She distractedly tried to smooth the blouse and skirt. She never noticed that her formerly long fingernails were now shorter.

Mrs. Rochester beamed but never said a word. Suzy continued reading.

"The witch was now a young teen. She was barely older than the children that she had once professed to hate! She hadn't noticed the changes but the children did!"

Suzy turned the book towards the class to show them the illustration of the teenaged witch sitting amongst a group of kids. The witch's clothes were all baggy and looked out of place on such a young girl.

Suzy turned the page. Both shoes immediately dropped off. Her legs retreated further into the seemingly growing skirt. Her blouse pooled up on the desk. She slid off the desk to retrieve her lost shoes and nearly fell as she misjudged the distance to the ground. Without looking she slipped her feet into the now too large shoes and tugged on her skirt that threatened to slip off her narrower hips.

"Ummmm...." she started as she cleared her higher pitched voice. "The witch continued reading and the children watched her change even more." There was another picture of a childish looking witch swallowed by her huge clothing.

Mrs. Rochester and the class looked on as Suzy showed them the picture and wondered why her clothes felt so funny. She tried to sit back on the desk and had to hop up this time. Both shoes simply stayed behind. Her skirt tried to slide off in the shift but she was able to pull it back on. This all caused the class to laugh as did Mrs. Rochester. This got Suzy's attention who promptly stuck her tongue out at them. Mrs. Rochester again 'shushed' the class.

Suzy wasn't used to people laughing at her. Especially children! Then she realized that she wasn't sitting very lady-like with her legs swinging over the desk. She collected herself and, as gracefully as a 10-year-old could, she crossed her legs. This all caused another round of laughing. She realized that things weren't 'right.' The room looked bigger... her clothes fit oddly... children were laughing at her! Realizing that she was barefoot she hopped of the desk to gather her shoes and this time she did stumble as she totally misjudged the distance to the ground. He skirt fell to the floor but her blouse now covered her more than adequately. The chorus of laughter grew! How dare these children laugh at her, she thought as she gathered her self up!

A thousand thoughts raced through her mind as the laughs echoed through her ears. She wanted to finish the book and just get out of there! Confusion reigned amongst the chaos. 'Things' seemed different to her but the laughing and wanting to get back to the book made it hard to think. She pulled on her skirt trying to hold it up with one hand. Why was her blouse so long, she wondered? She went to slip her shoes back on and that's when the reality began to sink in. They were much too large. She began examining herself. Her feet, her hands, her legs... they weren't hers but rather a child's! No wonder her skirt was so loose!

"What the hell...?!" she squeaked in the voice of a young girl "...HEY!??? My voice???? What in the f*ck have you heathens done to me!?"

Of course none of this did anything to quiet the laughing now. Mrs. Rochester spoke up "Now, now Suzy.... You wouldn't want to get a spanking would you?"

"Huh? ... Get real you stupid bitch!" Suzy replied.

Mrs. Rochester walked toward the child and bent over to talk to her eye to eye. "I've never had to do this, and I hope I never have to do it again, but if anyone deserves this it is you!"

Before Suzy could do anything Mrs. Rochester gave her a swat across the rear. It wasn't a hard hit and in fact didn't hurt physically... but it didn't do much for Suzy's psyche. Mrs. Rochester again 'shushed' the laughing children and ordered Suzy to finish the story.

"But look what's happened to me...." she sobbed. "Why???"

"Well, maybe the story will help to 'right' things in the end? A lot of stories do have a lesson to be learned," the teacher told her. "We're all waiting on the end... please continue."

Suzy wasn't sure but she knew the story did interest her. Perhaps too much. She was so confused!

Reluctantly she hopped back on the desk. This time she left the skirt and shoes behind. She knew that battle was lost. Besides, her blouse covered more of her body now than her whole outfit had when she was an adult! She fought back her fears and a couple of sobs and turned the page. Her body shrank more. She began to swing her feet back and forth and her mood lifted. She took her time trying to figure out the words of the story and sounded them out whenever necessary.

"Ummmmm the witch was... s... sur...surprised when she saw what had hap... happen... ed... happened. She was a child. Her cold..... heart.... started to melt as the children's

....uuuuuuum I dunno this word?" Suzy said, pointing to a word on the page. Mrs. Rochester got up and said "laughter."

"Oh... K... 'Laughter'..." Her cold heart started to melt as the children's laughter now in.... invite... invited her to join them. She.... "ummmmm what's this word?" Suzy asked.

"That is 'realized.'" Mrs. Rochester told her.

"'K...." she realized that she didn't really want to be a witch and really just wanted a happy child... child ho... childhood. "But what about the bad things that have ummmm hap...pened the witch asked the woman who had give... given her the book." "Just turn the page," the woman told her.

Suzy turned the page and it was blank! She giggled. "That was a funny story Mrs. Rochester."

Mrs. Rochester helped the sweet child from her desk just as the bell rang ending the school day.

"Thanks, Mrs. Rochester... I wish I could have you in school next year too!" Suzy said with a slight lisp.

"We might meet again, honey... stranger things have happened," she said to her former assistant. "Look, your grandmother is here to get you."

"Grammy!" Suzy yelled as she excitedly ran to the grandmother that she hadn't seen since her mother had cut off all contact when Suzy was just a toddler.

"Thank you, Mrs. Rochester," the older woman said as she extended her hand to retrieve the book that the teacher was now hugging. "I wish I would've had that book years ago. I'm just glad you were willing to help."

"No problem... ummmm in fact... if you don't mind... I'd kind of like to keep it a little while.... I'd like to catch up on a little reading myself," Mrs. Rochester told the other woman.

The woman smiled. "I understand. We'll be back in a couple of hours."

(2 hours later)

Suzy and her grandmother returned to the classroom. Sitting behind the desk was a small child swallowed in her clothing. She was happily working on a picture with a box of crayons nearby.

"Did you finish the book, child?" the older woman asked.

"Uh huh... I read the whoooooooole thing" she said proudly. "All the way to end! ...and I didn't need no help or nothin' even with the big words! I like readin' almost as much as playin'! When I grow up I'm gonna be a teacher!" the child declared to the older woman.

"That's good. C'mon little one.... We're going to need to have a talk with your mommy...." Suzy's grandmother gathered the book from the desk and placed it in her purse. She then took the former teacher's now young hand.

"I wanna be a teacher too!" Suzy added, wanting to make friends with the other little girl. "Maybe we can be in the same class?"

"I think that can be arranged...." her grandmother said with a laugh.

The End