Dark Room

A young girl sits in the hard, blue chair of her classroom.  She sighs and flips the page of the book she is studying.  Shifting her weight in the stony seat, she reaches up and releases her shoulder length hair from a blue monster clip.  She rubs the back of her head a little and flips the light brown curls around a bit.  Tapping her fingers on the desk, she flips another page, wraps and unwraps a shiny curl around her finger, yawns.

A strong hand clasps her shoulder.  “Hey there, bony girl.  Ready for that test?”  Gloria, a chatty sixty year old who took the photography class because she loved pictures, inquired.

“No.  I stayed up all night, but I can’t remember any of this!”

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll do fine.”  Gloria took off her green windbreaker and laid it across the back of her chair before sitting down, one hand on the chair and the other on the table to help steady her.

Maria played with her hair a little more, then leaned back, rubbing her eyes, pushing the information into her brain.  Fingers interlocked, she stretched her arms above her head, but felt her shirt rise too, exposing bare flesh to plain sight.  Quickly, she pulled the fleece top back down.  There was no way in hell she’d let anyone see the black snake tattoo that curled around her body.  The ebony cobras head rested just above her left breast and the body curved over her right shoulder, encircled her flat belly, and wrapped continuously down her left leg with the serpents tail curled around her ankle.

Gloria pulled her textbook out of the wheeled backpack.  “Do you have all of your negatives for the print test?”

“Oh!  Dang it.  I knew I left something here last week.  Maybe they’re still in the dark room.”

“I doubt it, but maybe you’ll be lucky.”

Maria pushed herself up from the desk and walked through the zigzag door of the dark room.

Maria’s already pale skin looked jaundiced in the amber safelight.  The sharp, vinegar scent of developer mingled with the acrid scent of fixer.  Water ran in the wash tub, and the air was a cool sixty eight degrees, the perfect temperature for developing photographs.

The still, cold form of the professor was slumped against a cabinet of prints.  His glazed eyes stared forward, seeing only the spirit realm.

“Well, I guess you won’t have to grade any tests,” Maria commented to the corpse.

She knelt in front of him, studying his face.  Interesting how the light glared off his bald head.  He didn’t really smell; he’d only been dead for a few hours.

Maria nodded once, stood, and backed up a bit.  She decided hysterical screaming would probably be best.