Who: The cast
Where: 7-0's classroom
What: Some basic testing.
That was the word that had gripped 7-0. No one knew exactly how it started, and not everyone was so charmed, but it had become a magic word for the 7th graders on the basement floor of the Belfry, who had not even windows to escape through and spotty reception at best.
The kids took to notes instead. Simple, hand-written, paper notes. Passed between themselves constantly. People were getting bullied for their handwriting now. Churlish had appeared somewhere, some time, in one of those notes, and then again, and again, and had wormed its way into their vocabulary. A catch all: The teacher's driving me churling crazy. Raury's such a churl.
No one wanted to be a churl.
It might've been the school proper what done it. The Belfry was a spindly, mean thing, looming over a stretch of pretty beach like a malcontent lighthouse. It hunched in the wind, which licked misty off the cold grey winter waters of the lake, roof slung over it at a surly angle, old and brittle and arthritic even in its youth. Several stories tall, and perched lonely atop a hill that was murder on a bike, churlish was an apt word for the Belfry.
In all likelihood, the word came from their teacher Ms. Poplar. She was a fair teacher most of the time, but notoriously temperamental. Today, she was of the private opinion that she was much too pretty and promising to be toiling away in the basement of The Belfy. Her bad moods were often given away by her hair, and today it was a particularly high and sloppy ponytail. Churlish was an apt word for her, too.
Ms. Poplar's mood had spread through the classroom; kids were skittish and quiet. The first whisperer of the day had been made example of, and several notes were plastered behind her as grim trophies; she scowled and stared down the class while she hung them up. More mortifying, the contents had all been read aloud after. She'd only handed out petty busy work, the kind that made it easy to keep checking her phone and biting her lip.
When the bell rang for lunch period, Ms. Poplar sat in her seat for a few long minutes more, head in her hands and the class holding their breath. It wasn't until a girl, Notoriously Nervous Ruby, finally stood up and after several false starts dashed past the teacher's desk and out the door that Ms. Poplar lifted her head, glared around sulkily, and drug herself out of the room. Churlishly.
A gentle buzz of voices filled the room as the pall broke. Bags crinkled open and kids disappeared out the door, fading away into the cacaphony of the halls.