My High School Math Teacher Still Haunts Me To This Day

Flickr / Sharat Ganapati
Flickr / Sharat Ganapati

Have you ever met someone who inexplicably makes your skin crawl? I don’t mean due to their personality or anything they did. I mean someone who, just by being around you, makes your stomach twist. Someone who makes your danger synapses overload simply by existing in the same space as you. Someone who, though he or she may never have done anything suspicious, still manages to trigger your fight or flight instinct.

I met someone who had that effect on me once. In fact, I was forced to spend an entire year around her, because she was my high school math teacher.

Now, I’m not saying I had psychic powers growing up or anything silly like that, but I’d always been able to feel when people were around me. Imagine someone walking into your personal bubble. Even if you closed your eyes, you’d still feel the discomfort of having someone so close to you. For me, it was like my personal bubble extended much farther, and I was a bit more in-tune with what was inside of it. I don’t know if I was subconsciously picking up on people’s footsteps, sensing the magnetic fields their bodies naturally produced, or something else. I equate it to how certain animals can sense earthquakes, except with people instead of ground-shaking disaster scenarios. Because of this, it was practically impossible for people to sneak up on me, whether on purpose or by accident. There were even times when I would be in a hallway crammed with students, felt an inkling telling me a certain person was around, turned, and would see that very same person walking through the doors on the opposite end.

Ms. Laramé, my math teacher, was the only exception. The only person my little people-radar didn’t work on.

I met her about midway through high school, when I was somehow selected to be part of a pilot honors math course. It was the first-ever given to students in my year. Though I never considered myself adept in math, I scored high enough to automatically be enrolled in this class, along with 20-or-so peers. While the other 500 students in our year got to coast through the regular class, we were forced to endure advanced algebra, usually reserved for the next year’s honors course. The cherry on top of the shit cake was that the course wasn’t even accredited. We had to work three times as hard for no reward: colleges and universities didn’t care about the academic achievements of our particular year.

At first glance, you wouldn’t think anything was strange with Ms. Laramé. In fact, she was the polar opposite of what you’d expect a serial killer to look like. Shoulder-length curly blond hair, short, petite, and rather bubbly. Despite this, every time I saw her, I felt this weird sensation of dread in the pit of my stomach because I couldn’t feel her presence. Looking at her was like looking at a void. I’d stare at her in class, but it was like there was nothing there.

It’s a hard feeling to explain. Have you ever been to a wax museum and stood in front of an exceptionally realistic figure? Sometimes, they feel like they’re about to reach out and grab you. Some of them almost feel as though they have a soul, or an essence of some kind. Well, being around Ms. Laramé was the opposite of that. I was looking at a living, breathing, moving person, but there was something wrong with this woman. She had no presence whatsoever. Even now, I get goose bumps just thinking about her.

She had such a lack of presence that she even seemed to fool my other five senses. I was a bit of a keener growing up, so I always waited outside the door before class. This lady startled me all the darn time when she arrived to unlock the classroom. Not only was she a black hole devoid of an essence, but she also had the uncanny ability to make no sound when she walked, in spite of wearing high heels. I couldn’t feel her, I couldn’t hear her, and I couldn’t even smell her. She was like a sentient piece of cardboard. Whenever she leaned over my desk to watch me work, my mind would go completely blank, and I could only focus on the discomfort I felt around her.

One night, as I was watching TV, I came across a documentary discussing how human bodies perpetually project light. Not a light on a wavelength our eyes could perceive, mind you, but specialized machines were able to pick it up. The scientist being interviewed explained that certain colors meant the person was tired, happy, sick, etc. It reminded me of an article I’d read about some crazy witch doctor who claimed she could see auras. She said she could diagnose illnesses based on the color of one’s aura. Maybe she wasn’t so crazy after all. The whole thing got me thinking about auras, and I did a bit of research on the subject.

Guys, want to know something cool? It’s actually surprisingly easy to see a person’s aura. It can take a bit of practice, but virtually anyone can do it. You, sitting there reading this, can do it. Your old aunt Gertrude can do it. Even your boss, who’s too thick to tie his own shoelaces, can do it.

How is it done? Simple, go into a dimly lit room. It doesn’t have to be pitch black: we’re not summoning Bloody Mary or anything like that. You need to be able to see the contour of your body. Now, stretch your arm out in front of you. Stare at your hand. Focus and un-focus your eyes a little, as though you’re playing with one of those Magic Eye books with the hidden 3D images. After a few minutes, you should be able to make out an outline around your fingers. It’ll look like a halo of light approximately half an inch to an inch in width. Congratulations, that’s your aura. With enough practice, you should be able to see it almost instantaneously and in any light.

I apologize for the tangent, but I’m sure you know what I was getting at, right? Obviously, I learned the trick that night. I practiced all weekend until I was able to turn it on and off at will. I was able to see the aura of every living thing I came across. Humans, animals, and even plants (though theirs were harder to see). So why was it that, when I went to class Monday and looked at the teacher, she had no aura? Everyone in the class was glowing brightly. Everyone but Ms. Laramé.

I wish I could end this by telling you I discovered she was a ghost or that I followed her home and found out she was some sort of student-eating wraith. I wish I could give you some sort of explanation as to why Ms. Laramé, out of everyone I have ever met, had no presence or aura, but I’m afraid I don’t have any answers. I essentially spent the rest of the school year extremely wary of Ms. Laramé, but never confronted her about it. She was gone the next year. One of the teachers dismissively told us she was on maternity leave, but I somehow doubt that.

Last night, I looked through my yearbook. I couldn’t find her on any of the group photos, nor in the faculty section. I spoke to a few of my classmates, but no one remembers her. I even looked her up on Facebook, but got no results. It’s almost as though she never existed. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Canadian Horror Author

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