Janet walked down the middle of the hall and students parted before her, like a reversed boat wake. Tongues slipped out of mouths and faces scrunched up in disgust. Paper airplanes, spitballs, and pen caps assaulted her. She held her black binder protectively in front of her. A young kid on a dare ran up and pulled at her long brown hair then kicked her in the back of the knee. Tears streamed down her face but she kept her eyes straight ahead.
"She gets in your head!" screamed a girl from behind Janet. "Don't get too close!"
The students parted further, pressing themselves into the rows of lockers that lined the halls. Janet stopped walking and had an overwhelming desire to completely dissolve into the air. The students quieted in response, unsure what she would do next.
"I am not...one of those," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
"Yeah right!" yelled one boy. Others broke into cackling laughter. More paper balls sailed through the air.
"You don't know..." she said, "you don't know what it's like!"
"You don't know what it's like," mimicked a girl near her, "you don't know what it's like, you don't know what it's--"
"Shut up!" screamed Janet. "Get out of my head!"
She dropped her binder and clamped her hands to her mouth as soon as words left her mouth. The students all went completely silent, sullen.
"What?" said one, after a moment.
Janet shook in place, more tears coming, dread, fear, loathing. She slowly dropped her hands.
"You're the ones in my head," she said. "All the time. All of you. I know all the things you think. I can't block it."
Somehow to say it was a relief, but she knew instantly they despised her tenfold more.
"She says she knows what we think..."
"I don't believe her--"
"It's true, I swear. I can't help it," said Janet, feeling dozens of eyes bore into her skin.
"Then we should think at her until she dies, the piece of garbage that she is--"
"Think," agreed the students.
They stared at her, some smiling, some frowning, their foreheads unnecessarily wrinkled with mental effort. Janet felt a sort of pain in the middle of her head, a pressure pushing from inside out. All their thoughts collided at once, hate, darkness, death, pain, even envy. They pinched at her from the inside, pulled at the underside of her skull, punched her between her on thoughts, bruising and puncturing. Janet's knees wobbled and gave way; she fainted and fell on top of her binder. Her nose bleed profusely, and the students cheered. Janet faded to cool blackness, and relief.