The rest of the week, Wednesday to Friday, went by as usual. Kimber studied and read and wrote and read and read and read some more. She stayed out of the library and out of the shadows and her housemates didn't bother her with their TV and their loud voices and their singing soprano. She got most of the way through her biggest book and had some serious notes going on. Unfortunately, Lily had a recital coming up and was working those vocals chords in the highest register Friday night and Kimber had to escape to the library for the safety of her work and her ears.
She had picked a better lit place, a wide open table next to the stairs. Her papers were spread everywhere and she was waist deep in a pile of chicken scrawl notes on the Salem Witch Trials and mythology. The little book of history that Kimber had wanted to show Prof. Kappe had been thoroughly picked over, pages and post-it notes sticking out at odd angles. She kept looking over at it, running her fingers down the spine and flicking the post-its. It had been her favorite read, though not particularly heavy on the history. She sort of wanted to read it again, or at least certain sections that she remembered being far more interesting than the dry, academic textbook she was pouring over now.
Kimber was not one to look at her watch, so she didn't know how late it was getting. The shadows were confined to their bookshelves and corners, the bright fluorescent lights overhead preventing them from inching any closer. Kimber's phone went off and jarred her from her work.
"Doing okay?" It was Diana. A big grin peeled across Kimber's face as she texted back. "Almost done, a few more pages."
"Sounds good. I'll see you soon."
Kimber started to pack up her things, books in the backpack, papers in a neat pile, in a folder, in the backpack. Hair pushed behind her ears, sleeves rolled up, Kimber tossed her bag onto her back and stood up. It was at that point that she looked around and realized that there were a lot of shadows and darkness and creepy things around right now. She took some deep breaths to calm down a little bit. She got fidgety, tapping her fingers against her thumb in succession. She took a deep breath again. There was nothing wrong with shadows. There was nothing wrong with darkness and there certainly wasn't a little black creature staring at her from the top of a bookshelf across the way.
"I am overtired," she said, trying to convince herself that was the truth, "I am overtired and, well, I'm hallucinating? That doesn't make any sense. I'm not that tired."
She was fighting with herself now, about the logic of this situation, about whether or not she was crazy or sleepy or both. It didn't make any sense that she would be so tired that she was seeing bat-like wings perk up on a spot of blackness with two bright red eyes. She went to bed early enough, and didn't have to wake up until 10. That couldn't be the reason there were footsteps sounding around her and every shadow looked like some kind of ghost.
Kimber jumped. It was only the janitor, coming to remind her that it was 1 am and she needed to please leave now. She sent a quick text to Diana. "I am a lying liar who lies. It is creepy out here Di!"
She didn't get a response until she was already outside. The shadows were everywhere, like big spiders creeping closer and closer. She knew they were going to bite her at any minute. She just knew it. "Just come home, i have ben&jerrys"
There was that squat this humanoid shadowing, resting against the Seuss Spruce. It's tiny shape caught her gaze, from her peripheral vision, and she stood and stared for a minute. It moved, danced around the tree and then dived into the roots. Kimber groaned in frustration and grabbed the straps of her backpack tighter. She was totally going crazy. This is what insane felt like. She sprinted home, paying attention only when she needed to cross the street, otherwise watching behind her for monsters or murderers or anything that might be out to get her.
"Kimberly Violet, take a deep breath, okay?" Diana said immediately as she crashed through the door.
"Diana, I'm going crazy. I'm going absolutely insane. I need to see a shrink. I need a leave of abseence. I need help. Pass me the creme brulee?"
Kimber was exasperated as she flopped onto the couch, leaning far back into the cushions and clapping the back of her hand to her forehead in a very old-fashioned sign of her frustration.
"Kimmie, you just have an overactive imagination, okay?"
She shook her head vehemently and sat up, looking at Diana with wide, wild eyes.
"No, seriously, this is a problem. The smart part of me knows I'm freaking out over nothing and my animal brain wants to run as far away from this school as I can. Diana, I'm freaking out."
That last sentence was so drawn out that Diana started laughing at it, which made Kimber even more uneasy.
"Kimber, you're going to bed. And tomorrow, we're going to Practical Magick, okay? And if that doesn't fix your paranormal problem, you can go to get shrinkwrapped in Lauderdale, okay? Okay?"
Kimber finally nodded and grabbed Diana into a bear hug.
"Thank you for listening to my crazy," she said quietly, before heading upstairs to her room, her belongings still sprawled on the floor downstairs.