The Girl in the Cafeteria: A Halloween story to spook your socks off…or just give you a slightly troubled feeling inside


Debra Garcia, Online Editor-in-Chief/Business Manager

   I walked into the lunchroom after a tiring fifth period and set down my black backpack on the white floors. It was like any other day at Newsome: lonely and miserable. 


   Just like every day, I sat at a table alone and pulled out my phone and AirPods. I would soon learn that today was not like most days. 


   That particular Wednesday afternoon, a girl with pale skin, long brown hair and round brown eyes decided to sit next to me and actually talk to me.


   “Hi, I’m Britney, nice to meet you,” she said. 


   I looked at this girl up and down, she seemed to be wearing a pastel pink tracksuit with black converse and a purple headband. Very odd choice, but okay. 


   “Oh, uh hi. I’m Daniel,” I said back. 


   “What do you have there?” Britney asked, gesturing to my iPhone, which is sitting on the table. 


   Does she not know what an iPhone is? Maybe her parents are super strict or maybe she is Amish.   


     “It’s my phone…” I said back. Her chocolate brown eyes widened as she laughed and said    


     “Really? That is so cool!” She said a little too excitedly.


   It became a routine for us. I looked forward to Britney sitting with me every day. She was odd but very easy to talk to. Sort of like Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter


   One day after she sat down at our table, she started staring at my tee-shirt. Like it was oozing blood or something.


   ”What’s wrong, did I spill food on it?” I asked her. All she said was, “What’s Minecraft?” 


   “Oh it’s a video game where you build things out of blocks,” I said. 


   “A video game? Like Mario 64?” she asked with a puzzled face. 


   Mario 64? Like from the ’90s? She’s not Amish then, so why does she not recognize anything? 


   “Um not really,” I say. “Those are completely different types of games.”  


   The next day was very similar. She watched me play Star Wars Battlefield, on my phone and casually asked my favorite movie from the saga. Finally, something normal I thought to myself. Anyways, I responded with Episode VII, The Force Awakens. She instantly became puzzled once again. 


  “There are seven episodes?!” she yelled in surprise. 


   “No…there are nine,” I said. 


   “WHAT? She exclaims, almost about to burst. 


   “Yeah,” I chuckled, “Plus two anthology films and like five tv series.” How has she never heard of this? 


   “Oh,” she sighed.    


   ”You could always come over to my house and watch them with me,” I offered.


“I can’t,” she said, without elaborating on why. 


   Flash forward 24 hours, and Britney saw me taking pictures of my homework with my phone. 


   “You didn’t tell me that you can use your phone to take such good pictures. My flip phone takes horrible pictures,” she explained. 


   Wait, this girl has a flip phone? What year does she think this is? Once I pulled my thoughts together, I responded with “Yea, you want to take a selfie with me?” 


   Hesitant at first, she agreed. But just as we took the picture, the bell rang and she scurried off. I put my phone away and headed to class.


   Hours later when the final bell of the day rang, I walked straight to my bus and finally sat down. I did not have time earlier to look at the picture Britney and I took, so I thought, why not take a look?


   Oh. My. God. How could this be? The selfie we clearly took together has no trace or evidence of her ever being in it, just a big blank space with kids eating their lunch in the background. I almost dropped my phone out of pure shock. Maybe she ran away at the last second and I did not notice? Yeah, that makes sense, I thought. 


   The next day at lunch, I wanted to ask her why she ran away. But she was nowhere to be seen. Very odd indeed. 


   I noticed a girl walking by, I think her name was Tori, Britney had previously mentioned she was in a class with her, AP Human I believe. So, I did what any other very confused kid would do and asked Victoria if Britney was in class today. 


   “Excuse me, was Britney in AP Human today? I need to give her the homework answers in Biology,” I said to Tori. 


   She looked at me with pure confusion and said “who?” 


   “Britney… long brown hair, loves to wear tracksuits and headbands, is very fascinated about literally everything? She told me you two have a 3rd period together,” I said. 


   “Um I don’t know what to tell you, but I have never seen or heard of this girl in my life,” she said and walked away. 


   What? I decided to ask another freshman to see if they knew who or where she was. People go through high school invisible all the time. Tori could have just been oblivious. 


   My conclusions: no one in this school has ever once seen or spoken to this girl. I even asked a couple of AP’s that stand in the middle of the lunch lines. The strangest part: one kid recognized me as the dude who “talks to himself every day.”


    Now, I’m not crazy. I know I have been talking to this girl for weeks now. So where is she? Why has she gone unnoticed by literally everyone at this school? And why do people think I’m talking to myself? 


   I decided to turn to the internet for help. No record of her anywhere or people who could be her parents. I was about to give up when I noticed something odd. A MySpace account, with Britney’s picture, went inactive in 2003. This picture of Britney looked exactly how she did now, except she was less pale, and had color in her cheeks. 


   That is when everything hit me. 


   I got up and ran. Was she? Am I crazy? Why is this happening? I wanted to throw up. How could this even make sense?


   I stopped at the back of the cafeteria when I saw her just standing there. Right in front of me. 


   As pale as a winter’s day, in her tracksuit. Her eyes were drenched in salty tears. All I could mutter was “why?’


   She wrapped her arms around me and whispered, “I died 18 years ago, I just wanted a friend.”