Mrs. McGovern’s School For Girls 

 

Short Story 

 

By H.M. Pridemore 

 

 

 

Mrs. McGovern poured the Cyanide tainted tea in the sink. Those little heathens would like her dead by noon, but that wasn’t going to happen. She hadn’t the time to die. They didn’t call it Mrs. McGovern’s school for girls because someone else was going to run the place. 

“Did you enjoy your tea?” 

Mrs. McGovern turned around. A redhead heathen was standing in the kitchen doorway wearing nothing but a tee shirt. 

“It was a little bitter,” Mrs. McGovern said. “In the future I’ll make my own tea. Now go and tell all the girls to be in line at seven sharp, wearing nothing but what you came in with.”  

The girl stood there with her mouth in a confused gape. 

“Hurry we don’t have all day.” Mrs. McGovern pointed her finger towards the kitchen door. Finally, the girl shuffled off.  

The heathens had been trying to kill her for months now. First by smearing the shiny oak stair steps with a little Vaseline. Clever, she had to admit, but in the end, it did nothing but cause them to lose one of their own. Buffoons can’t remember placing their own traps. Then there was the scorpion in her slipper. Didn’t the little devils know that ordinary North American scorpions weren’t poisonous? This morning they had gone big with Cyanide. They never make her tea, but did so suddenly today? With a tiny lick of the finger, she knew. 

Where on God’s good earth did they find Cyanide? The Antifreeze in the garage would’ve been easier and much harder to detect. Mrs. McGovern finished washing the teacup. Idiots. Lucky for her, they couldn’t kill a roach if it sat under their shoe. 

She dried off the teacup and placed it in the cupboard. Then she pulled a pencil out of her high red bun and looked at her list. The new recruits would arrive by noon, so she must prioritize. She could have the girls immediately prepare the garden and just get the blasphemous deed out of the way, but then she’d have to do the beds and laundry herself. She let the pencil fall on the list. She’d figure it out after a proper cup of tea. She put some fresh water in the teakettle and let it boil.  

At seven sharp, the evildoers lined up in front of her. “So,” Mrs. McGovern walked the line, “are we able-bodied and fit to work.” 

“Yes Mrs. McGovern,” they chanted. 

Mrs. McGovern smiled. How they hated her. How she hated them. Still, did they have to resort to murder? In her day, she played pranks on her head mistress, sure, but murder? At sixteen, the thought never crossed her mind. A trashy blond imp dared to raise her hand. 

“Yes?” 

“Why are we not in uniform?” 

Mrs. McGovern walked over and stood face to face with the girl. “Because everything you own is filthy and can no longer be cleaned, nor worn, so it must be burnt.” She pinched the girl’s cheek, and the girl pulled away. Mrs. McGovern continued walking the line. “Today, after you make your beds you will take all of your uniforms and put them in the fireplace. I will have new uniforms ready for you this afternoon.” 

“Are they going to actually fit?” A little mousy haired scamp whined. 

“As well as they need to. Now hands down.” She waved off four more hands. “All of your pesky little questions will be answered by the end of the day. When you’re done meet me by the back garden.” 

An hour later, the girls stood in the garden. The aggressive summer sun blinded the little tramps, and they held their hands over their eyes and squinted.  

“Come now,” she motioned them to follow her to the other side of the yard to a wheelbarrow and six shovels. “I want you to dig from these lines.” She showed them where she had sprayed yellow paint on the soft brown earth. “Dig deep enough so that you all fit.” 

“What? Why?” They all talked at once. Chatty things. 

She blew her whistle. “It will be a surprise. But I’ll tell you this, you won’t complain when it’s finished.” 

The girls looked at one another with curious glances, and as Mrs. McGovern walked back to the house, she listened to their murmurs. Bet you it’s a hot tub, that’s why we have to fit …no it’s nothing like that… just a stupid team building exercise…no I bet you she’s right it’s just about the size of a hot tub…Maybe she killed someone…Maybe we can use it when we… you know…shut up she might hear… 

At ten-thirty, Mrs. McGovern went out to inspect the hole. It was crooked and barely a square. 

“We’re tired,” they whined. 

She supposed that as terrible as the hole looked it would serve its purpose, and maybe they had learned something about teamwork. “Okay. That’s fine, you may take a break.”  

“Finally.” One imp said dropping her shovel. 

“You all stay here,” Mrs. McGovern said. “Go ahead sit down. I’ll be back.” 

When Mrs. McGovern returned with six plastic tumblers of sweet tea, the girls were sitting with their feet dangling in the hole. Perfect. Mrs. McGovern smiled. “I thought you hard working girls deserved refreshment.” 

“Thank You Mrs. McGovern,” they chanted. It was a terrible shame Mrs. McGovern thought, as each girl obediently took a tumbler off the tray, that they hated her so. She had provided food, shelter, and civility for them, and yet they still tried to murder her. True at times, she had to be the disciplinarian. And, yes she was of the generation that believed: “Spare the rod, spoil the children,” but she was never as harsh as her own mother had been. Now they must accept the consequence of their sin, and— 

“This tea is really sweet.” The little devils remarked, and they guzzled it down as though they’d never indulged in Antifreeze. Several of the little devils barely finished their glass as they began to hold their stomachs. Oh God… Hurts… I’m so… two of the girls just toppled right into the hole. Mrs. McGovern clapped her hands in glee. It saved so much work. They rolled on the ground, moaning, and whining. Mrs. McGovern didn’t have the time to sit around listening to such babble. 

She left them and went back into the house where she placed three new uniforms on the edge of each neatly made bed for each new arrival. She went to her list and crossed off, prepare the garden, and get uniforms ready. Now all that was left was to release the prisoners to the proper authority. 

“In the works,” Mrs. McGovern said to herself, as she trotted back to the garden. 

The girls were lifeless and appeared dead, and if they weren’t, they would be eventually. It was ten thirty and there was no time to fool around with minor details. Three of the girls were still outside the hole. Mrs. McGovern squatted down, pushed the first girl in the hole, then the second, and by the time she got to the third, she had to catch her breath. This wasn’t as easy as it used to be. Someday, she told herself, she must consider retirement. With all six bodies in the grave, she picked up the shovel and covered them with God’s good earth. 

By the time she showered and reapplied her rose colored rouge, it was five minutes to twelve. She was placing the last bobby pin in her fresh bun, when she heard the bus pull up. She took her list and tore it up. She loved getting so much accomplished. She pulled back the lace curtains and watched as six, new coldhearted devils, in jailhouse jumpers, stepped off the rickety gray bus. Perhaps, she thought, walking towards the door, these heathens could be rehabilitated. Maybe, she thought, opening the door, waving in the new evildoers, this batch would appreciate her a little bit more. She certainly hoped so, because she wasn’t getting any younger, and the garden wasn’t getting any bigger.