Contest #244 shortlist ⭐️

The Coraline Factor

Submitted into Contest #244 in response to: Center your story around a photo that goes viral.... view prompt

29 comments

Coming of Age Funny High School

As Vikky walked down the paths leading to the school’s quadrangle, other students moved aside or stopped what they were doing to look at her. Her black hair bobbed, her skirt swished, but her footsteps seemed to glide. Laura and Faye trotted behind her.


As they approached where the blood-nosed boys wrestled each other with the ferocity of alligator lizards, Vikky let out a loud wolf whistle, making everyone else turn around. She raised her hands together and widened them out in a gesture demanding that the spectators move aside. They parted like the Red Sea. The boys still fought. One observer immediately brought up his phone to photograph what may happen next. As soon as the surrounding students made way for Vikky, she ran at the boys, leaped in the air, and kicked them both down, landing firmly on her feet. They lay sprawled, and she promptly went up and kicked them both where it hurt the most. After inflicting just enough pain to stun them, she turned away.

“I have no intention of going to the prom with either of you, so please stop it.”


Thomas stopped clicking and viewed his shots. He grinned as he transferred a few choice ones to his Facebook profile and sent them to all his contacts and friends. The one with Vikky in the air about to knock over the boys showed her in fine form." He titled them, “Vikky says ‘No’ to going to the prom.” It put her actions way out of perspective.

Many of the comments applauded her ‘girl power.’

A few described the two boys as eggs or used derisive, even profane, language. 

Others wondered why the boys would want to go to a prom with a girl like that.

Her actions came across as using a bucket of water to put out a candle.


Let’s back it up.


Vikky sat at a table in the library, perusing a book on Art History—one that could only be read in the library. She could have been pretending to be a nerdy, studious girl, but not Vikky. She transformed nerdom and study to meteoric levels.


When she wore her school uniform, she did not blend in. She stood out as someone to reckon with. She commanded a presence from the razor-sharp cut of her long black bob to her crisply pleated miniskirt and knee-high socks down to her chunky, black patent, block-heeled Mary Jane platforms, complete with black bows. The shoes helped raise her diminutive stature. The rest resulted from a creepy charisma. She had many admirers and those who proactively assisted her, but she needed none of them. Her enrolment at high school wasn’t to help her grow up. She already exuded maturity.


Laura and Faye, from her class, sidled into the library and quietly arrived at the table where she sat. “Vikky, you’ve gotta help. Grant and Mark are both scrapping in the quadrangle near the canteen.”

Green eyes flashed up at the two girls. “Is this my business?”

“Please, Vikky. They’re fighting over who will take you to the prom.”

Vikky rolled her eyes. “I told both of them, ‘no, thanks.’”

“We know you are polite. But the fight is because they don’t know you said ‘no’ to both.”

“Idiots,” said Vikky, “as if I’d go with either of them.”

“We know you can get them to stop before they murder each other.”

“That wouldn’t be a loss,” she muttered as she snapped the book shut, and they left. 


Once the boys had been dealt with, Vikky marched away to class. The photos went viral after Thomas’ friends sent them to their friends . . . Before too long, the teachers found out, and the World followed. The principal alerted the parents of the three students and called them all in for a meeting.

“Let me handle it,” Vikky said to her Uncle and Aunt. They were astounded to hear that prim and proper Vikky had been involved in a three-way fight with two boys.


Two guardians, one father and another two parents, sat with Grant, Mark, and Vikky in the office of Principal Algernon Forbes. He glowered at the three.

Uncle Jack broke the ice by introducing himself and Aunty Ruth. The others reluctantly followed his lead.

The principal cleared his throat. “It has been brought to my attention, and, in fact, millions of others, about a forbidden fight on school grounds last Wednesday. You three are the culprits. You boys have a reputation for disruptive behavior, but you surprise me, Vikky. Would you like to say anything?”

“Yes, please, Mr. Forbes, sir. I was not involved in the fight.”

All eyes turned to her in surprise. The only mother present spluttered. “We all saw you in Facebook. You really hurt poor Grant. Gave him a bleeding nose. You are a nasty piece of work.”

“Both boys walked to class, no problem. I did not kick hard enough to do them damage. They fought over which of them would go to the prom with me. As I told both of them I wouldn’t, the fight had nothing to do with me.”

The boys looked at each other with eyes wide open at this revelation.

“So why did you join in?” asked Mr. Forbes.

“While studying in the library, I was asked to stop them fighting. So, I did. They’d both made each other’s noses bleed, and it didn’t look like they’d stop. I got there before a teacher did and prevented murder. I didn’t join in . . . Unfortunately, someone circulated some photos with no proper context.”

The boys looked sheepishly at their parents.

Uncle Jack shook his head in disbelief and looked at the principal. “It’s obvious that Vikky meant well.”

Two fathers and one mother protested until the principal yelled, “Silence! I feel the boys have been humiliated and punished enough; Vikky needs to remember to get a teacher, or prefect, to deal with such problems in the future. So, you three can get back to class. And if your parents have nothing more to say, they can leave too. Good day, folks.”


They had been dismissed before further ado.


Vikky’s Aunt and Uncle cautioned her to use her moves only for self-defense, not offense. They couldn’t help but laugh about the misunderstanding that had lead to the boy’s fight and Vikky’s intervention.

“I only did what I believe Coraline would have done.”

Uncle Jack rolled his eyes.

“You’ll be picked up at the end of the day, darling. See you at home later.” Her Aunt hugged her.

Vikky waved to them as she walked away.

***

As they drove home, they discussed what had transpired and Vikky’s reference to Coraline.

“Honestly, I thought she’d given up on Coraline. I’ve noticed she doesn’t dress like her anymore.”

“Oh, you mean the orange skirt with red and black tights and the striped long-sleeved red shirt. And when she went out into the garden ‘exploring,’ she wanted that damn yellow raincoat and matching boots, and only a black cap would do. I had to knit her green and orange striped gloves for winter, or she wouldn’t wear them. The rest of the time, she loved those orange sneakers and that ugly blueish cardy. Thankfully, she literally grew out of all that. But she’s kept her shorter haircut. I preferred her lovely long hair. She still wears the bright blue boots she insisted I buy her. I ordered them too big. Now she only wears things in red, orange, pink, blue, and black, and she’s more color coordinated, thank goodness.”

“It all started with that scary Coraline movie you took her to. Then she wanted the book. We got her a picture book, and when she outgrew it, she insisted on having the novel. Why on earth did she want to be Coraline? What’s wrong with a Disney princess or Barbie?”

“I asked her the same thing. She was in a huff with me one day and came out with, ‘I don’t want your love. I don’t want anything from you.’ When I asked her why she’d say such a horrible thing, she said, ‘You are not my mother. I don’t want everything. Nobody does. What fun would it be if I got everything I ever wanted? It doesn’t mean anything.’ I cried over that. She hugged me and told me it’s what Coraline says and there is truth to it. I told her we love her and want to give her everything . . . I stopped doing that. She said it made life ‘more real’.”

Uncle Jack shook his head. “After her mother died, I worried about her being so withdrawn and sad all of the time. Becoming Coraline definitely helped her be confident. But as an alter ego, she’s not a great choice.”

“I asked her why she wanted to be like Coraline, and her answer confused me. She told me she is Coraline because she comes from a different place, doesn’t belong here, but hasn’t figured out how to return.”

“Everything is better with us. She had a chance to live with her father but refused to see him. I thought she liked living a luxurious life,” said Jack.

“I don’t think she wants either life. I don’t believe the place she wants to be is one she can go back to.”

“We got her that black kitten she wanted, remember. She called it Wuss-Puss, after Coraline’s cat. She still adores it . . . We do everything for her.” He sighed.

“But we never ask her if it’s what she wants. Does she really see her life with us as a ‘trap’? Everybody needs someone trustworthy to help them.”

“It’s like she’s already grown up and wants independence. I guess we need to gradually give her wings,” said Jack, shaking his head.

I wish she’d be excited about things like the prom. I’d love to go shopping with her for a dress . . . She’s such a different sort of girl.” Ruth sighed.

“She’s a passionately creative soul. A funny wee girl. She sees things differently to the rest of us.”

***

Aunty Ruth had pleaded with her to learn some sort of dancing, to no avail. They paid a tutor to come to the ranch and teach her basic dances so she knew the proper steps for when they held or attended functions. She also trained at home in the gym room Uncle Jack set up for her. He used it himself and had become fitter and more energetic. They regularly jogged together around the farm on a track he made for them. His philosophy is, “If we can’t talk her out of it, let’s join her.”


Vikky shrugged when anyone at school asked if she was the cool girl in the photos. It seemed a silly question as they captured the action perfectly, though she always kept her fight and self-defense training after school hours a secret. A leap and two kicks did not illustrate her abilities, even a fraction.

Before too long, it seemed that secret may become common knowledge.


Thomas walked past her one day and gave her a note. It said, “Roof, please, 12.30pm.”

She wondered what it was all about. Thomas had circulated the offending photos. Maybe he wanted to apologize.


The flat-roofed area of the main three-floored block had walls surrounding it, providing a panoramic view of the whole school. This was ideal for those who wanted private chats. 


When Vikky walked onto the rooftop terrace, Thomas waited for her. She folded her arms and looked at him with her head to one side.

“I’m asking you to partner me to the prom,” he said.

“Why would I do that?”

“We make the perfect couple.”

“I doubt it.”

He held out a photo for her to look at. The first photo showed Vikky entering the SEO Martial Arts Academy building, and the second showed her leaving, with a full view of her face. “I know you want to keep this a secret.”

“Why did you stalk me and take them?”

“Your moves against those two boys didn’t look like the full extent of your abilities. You avoid anything like cheerleading, gymnastics, or karate at school, even though you’d be brilliant at them. So, what’s the secret? I checked you out. The students who print the school paper would die to write an article about you and your skills. Reveal your secret to the whole school. You can get out of it by being my partner at the school prom.”

“You’re pretty confident in your deviousness.”

“So are you. As I said, we’ll make the perfect couple. You’d be a total danger to the other boys in the school, but I promise you we’ll be safe together.”

“What makes you think you’re safe with me?”

He put his right arm out, she locked his wrist, and he deftly twisted himself free. Then he grabbed her wrist, and she twisted free. In a trice, he had her arm locked behind her back; her other arm flew up and around in a hit as she twisted free. She was about to assault him, but he caught her wrist--

“Stop! Shall we stop? I’d rather take you to the prom to do dance moves than injure you in a fight.” He laughed.

“You’ve made your point . . . Actually, my folks will be delighted if I go. I won’t tell them how you convinced me. But can I trust you?”

“Like you, I wouldn’t have a problem going with someone else, and the article could have been printed already. I’ll gladly keep your secret safe if you come with me. I’ll return the photos afterward. Everybody needs someone to help them whom they can trust.” He smiled, his eyes twinkling.

“I guess I can oblige.”

“By the way, what’s your deal? Aspirations to be a vigilante or assassin?”

Vikky had a deadpan face. “No. To protect myself from violent people.”

“That’s a laugh. Your family, have you tailed by bodyguards.”

“Where are they now? I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t take care of myself. I thought you met me here to apologize?”

“I am sorry. . . for underestimating you. ‘My twitchy-witchy girl, I think you are so nice.’”

Vicky opened her mouth in surprise.

***

Vikky walked into the house at the end of the day. “Hi, Aunt Ruth. A boy at school asked me to go to the prom, and I decided I’d go.”

Aunt Ruth clasped her hands together and rushed over to hug her. “How wonderful. You are going. I can’t wait to shop for your dress and shoes with you.”

“I did think of you when I said ‘yes’.”

“What made you change your mind?”

“He had his ways of convincing me. He told me that everybody needs someone trustworthy, and I believe I can trust him.”

Aunt Ruth smiled ruefully. “I’d hate to be in his shoes if he proves otherwise.”

Vikky laughed. If only they knew.

THE END

April 05, 2024 07:27

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29 comments

Graham Kinross
10:01 Apr 11, 2024

That’s one way to ask someone to prom! The teenage melodrama rings true. Well told Kaitlyn.

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10:05 Apr 11, 2024

Thanks for reading, Graham.

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Graham Kinross
10:23 Apr 11, 2024

You’re welcome, Kaitlyn.

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11:16 Jul 08, 2024

If anybody wants to read a follow up story to this one, it is called Tenuous Teamwork and it is in the Going for Gold week 256 prompts.

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John K Adams
23:19 Jun 25, 2024

Vikky is a formidable character, and your writing does her justice. I really enjoyed this, Kaitlyn. I look forward to reading more.

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23:25 Jun 25, 2024

Thank you, John. If you liked this character, I reprised her in Tenuous Teamwork choosing the prompt about sporting rivals working together.

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Howard Halsall
16:12 Apr 12, 2024

Congratulations Kaitlyn, Well done on a great story :)

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20:44 Apr 12, 2024

Coming from you, that's praise indeed. Thanks.

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Howard Halsall
21:14 Apr 12, 2024

Well deserved :)

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Helen A Smith
15:39 Apr 12, 2024

Congratulations Kaitlyn 🎉

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20:46 Apr 12, 2024

Thanks Helen. And thanks for the encouraging comments before the shortlist.

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01:53 Apr 10, 2024

Thomas's challenge and the subsequent rooftop confrontation are not just a test of physical prowess but a moment of revelation and connection. I really enjoyed it. Thank you!

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07:40 Apr 10, 2024

Thank you so much, Angela.

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Helen A Smith
14:51 Apr 08, 2024

The story had strong pacing and developed well. Vicky is a strong character and it looks like she’s met her match. At least for the time being. I liked the descriptions of the school and the dialogue was well handled. You conjured up the uniquely adolescent atmosphere well. If only they knew!!

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23:01 Apr 08, 2024

Thank you so much, Helen.

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Annie Hewitt
17:26 Apr 06, 2024

I enjoyed reading this. It was very well written with nice character development.

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20:45 Apr 06, 2024

Thank you very much, Annie. I will check out a story of yours later.

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Kristi Gott
05:24 Apr 06, 2024

I enjoyed this story of the multifaceted character. Her other identity and secret martial arts training make her complex and interesting. This is such a good portrayal of young adulthood interactions and struggles to form an identity. Good action and dialogue. Well done!

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06:05 Apr 06, 2024

Thank you for your positive comments, Kristi. Very encouraging.

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Alexis Araneta
15:23 Apr 05, 2024

Ooooh, so interesting Kaitlyn ! I too would admire Vicki being so cool if I had no idea about her secret. Lovely work here !

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19:35 Apr 05, 2024

Thanks, Stella. Glad you were intrigued.

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Mary Bendickson
14:46 Apr 05, 2024

Twitcy-witchy!🧙

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19:34 Apr 05, 2024

Thanks for reading, Mary.

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Mary Bendickson
16:25 Apr 12, 2024

Congrats on the shortlist!🥳 So pleased to see some familiar names here among the winners. You deserve it!

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20:38 Apr 13, 2024

Thanks so much, Mary.

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Mary Bendickson
20:53 Apr 13, 2024

I see you are reading some of my past entries. Thanks for liking them. The Justice Screams one is a portion of my book. So is Trampled Dreams 1 and 2. Best Basset is true story about my sister and her daughter's dog.

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21:06 Apr 13, 2024

The Snake one I just missed (More recent). Glad I found and read. The others I had already read and commented on but not 'liked'. I noticed other instalments of the one I read (Justice Screams) but don't have time at present to read them all at the moment. I enjoy your stories.

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Unknown User
01:15 Apr 13, 2024

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