A Volunteer Avocado is when you mom was raised in Cleveland by people with only a passing relationship with fruit but a tremendous interest in both urban agriculture and not paying for things, so she can’t stand to get rid of a perfectly good avocado seed, so she gets it to germinate in a mason jar on the kitchen counter, then plants it in the front yard to see if it’ll actually grow but your house is on what used to be a chicken farm so it’s got stupid good soil and the little avocado grows hell-for-breakfast in the CA sun and chicken-shit dirt and in three years it’s as tall as the house and your mom leaves the front door open at night so the wolfdog can get outside in short order because your neighbors love avocados too and come into your yard at 3AM with a ladder to steal them and you wake up in the middle of the night to your parents yelling at Mrs. Mcgurkey about what the FUCK do you think you’re doing, and you use that word the next day on your Demon of a fourth-grade teacher and she actually hits you because she’s a piece of shit but one of your classmates throws his chair at her first and you become best friends and spend the rest of the year giving her hell culminating in the Mantisocalypse.
I might have gone off-topic.
I swear to God you’re the OC of some vengeful writer who keeps putting you shit for ‘character growth’
Like it’s the only explanation I can’t think of, other than you were cursed as a child to have an ‘exciting’ life.
TW: death, cancer, abuse, excessive religiosity, blood, mental illness, sexual assault and bugs.
1999 was a bad fucking year for me, though ultimately, it’s a hopeful sotry. Mind the content warnings.
There is only one animal I’ve ever really earned the wrath of- The Praying Mantis- probably because in fourth grade I used about 50,000 of their children to fight evil.
Fourth grade started promisingly enough- had just had an excellent third grade with Mr. Jay, who was probably ADHD himself and therefore got me on a truly spiritual level. I’d starred in the school play was reading at a freaking collegiate level and had a tremendous interest in marine science. I’d been assigned to Mrs. Ruth’s class, the other teacher that regularly did theater with kids, and had any certification to deal with special ed kids like me.
When I arrived on the first day, she was smaller than I remembered, nearly bent double, skin like old rice paper. But she was still kind and sharp with a vivacity that I wouldn’t see again for years to come. Her hands shook too much to write I had her for three really great weeks before she gathered the class around her, and in a very gentle tone, told us we were going to be having a new teacher on Monday because she was sick, and couldn’t give us the classroom we deserved.
Two weeks later she was dead from the malignant breast cancer that had gotten into her spine and lungs.
I was still reeling from the sudden demise of my grandfather the year before, and mourning the disappearance of Hale-Bopp, who had come to me like a guardian angel in that dark time. I went into what I’d later recognize as regular dissociative states, which was probably good because the rest of the class went insane as well.
The large boys, the ones who had hit puberty early, took out their anxiety by forming a gang that went around terrorizing anyone physically smaller than them. By fall break, they’s started targeting the smaller girls, cornering them behind the school and tearing clothes off. Since I was the second-smallest human in class and didn’t have a protective clique, I was a favored target. Mason who was aged 11 due to being held back, took to flashing his dick at anyone during class, up to and including our string of wholly unprepared substitute teachers.
Erica, the girl I was head over heels for, started a campaign of violence as well, though it was just as likely to be directed at herself as anyone in her immediate proximity. Another girl, Sabrina, became convinced the world was ending on January 1st of 2000, and spent all of ‘99 telling us to repent. Another girl cut her arm in the middle of a math lecture with a sharpened protractor.
All of this was accelerated by the fact that the administration had crammed 35 “problem” children into Mrs. Reith’s class because she was the only teacher who had even a basic handle on classroom management, then refused to shell out the money for a long-term substitute, so we literally had a new teacher every week for a few months there. Parents complained that this was bullshit, and my principal, former Procter & Gamble rep, suggested that we were at fault for behaving so poorly and that all 35 of us needed to be on Ritalin.
By October, my parents were looking to get me the hell out of there, but School Choice had not come to that part of CA yet, and my parents were both working full-time and couldn’t afford to home-school me. So they looked up truancy laws, and determined that I could “pass” as long as I didn’t miss more than 2 weeks of school.
So they struck a deal with me. As long as I went to school every day until April 15th, I didn’t have to attend the last fortnight of school, and could go anywhere I wanted for summer break. I chose Humboldt State Park, and didn’t tell them about being beaten up at school so they wouldn’t take back the offer. Armed with the promise of being able to flee to the woods come April, I was determined to survive the year, and took measure to do so.
This started, as all good rebellions do, with an alliance.
Dashell was the only child in class smaller than I was, but he was approximately 39lbs of pure, unadulterated psychotic mania. He could bend himself into a pretzel, small enough to fit in a backpack, ate nothing but slim jims and Hi-C brand punch and apparently didn’t feel pain. He was not good with words- there were too many ideas trying to get out at once to finish individual words, let alone whole sentences, but I was unnaturally precocious with absolutely no fear of adults or respect for administrative consequences.
Hence, every recess he’d follow me about as I hunted for the small lizards that lived on campus, and would beat the tar out of Bobby and Mason when they came for me, despite the fact they had a collective 150 lbs on him. And during class, I’d engage any adult in verbal battle so that they wouldn’t call on him and he could hork down slim-jims in peace.
And for a time, things were good.
Eventually, the complaining had gotten bad enough that the administration shelled out for a long-term sub, though apparently not enough to get someone without major disciplinary issues.
And thus, we got stuck with Mrs. Linden.
Mrs. Linden was one of those “Old-Fashioned” teachers who started her introduction to the class by giving a rambling lecture lamenting that “Paddlin’ and Jesus” were now banned. She then asked about all our families, including where we went to church. I was attending a school that was roughly equal parts White, Black, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Asian. Literally only 40% of the class attended Christian Church, and most of them were Catholic and Orthodox. I was in the back row next to Saari and Parja, and by the time Mrs. Linden had finished lecturing them on The Dangers of False Prophets, they were in tears and I’d made up my mind about her.
“[FLAGRANTLY IRISH SURNAME REDACTED].” She glared over her eternally filthy horn-rimmed glasses at me. “Catholic as well, I assume.”
“I’m agnostic Ma’am.” I corrected her.
“Do you believe in The Lord?” she asked, glaring at me like a particularly vindictive turkey. Her face was comprised mostly of disappointment and wattles, as I recall.
“I believe in Hell.” I offered.
She looked like she was about to approve.
“I mean, you had to come from somewhere.” I explained.
At that point, the bell for recess rang, and Dashell kicked it off by letting out a truly demonic shriek and throwing his chair through the window. Twenty minutes of broken glass and bedlam later, she’d forgotten she was going to beat me for that. Saari and Parja decided to start hanging out with me at recess, which discouraged the budding rapists, for a while.
And so it went, Dashell and I playing a game of alternating Uproars, one directing rage away from the other based on ability to handle that particular bully. I’d correct Linden on her teaching material in the most condescending manner a ten-year-old could pull off, which wasn’t difficult- it’s hard to teach geology curriculum when you think the world is 6000 years old and flat.
Things died down for a bit during winter- the continuous California monsoons and Linden’s propensity for grounding the entire class for one person’s offense meant we spent most recesses indoors, where the Boys would have to leave the girls alone now that an Adult was watching, and Saari would let Dashell braid her hair while I re-explained multiplication to Parja.
In March though, things began to heat up. We were let outside again and Bobby and Mason had quite a bit of pent-up ragelust to let out, and were now being commanded by Erica, who thought making me suffer for her affections was Great Fun. I don’t quite remember what happened with the three of them and me behind the computer building, but I know I can’t stand the sound of and old apple computer starting up anymore.
Furthermore, Linden had figured out the disciplinary loophole, that while she wasn’t actually allowed to beat us, she could slam her ruler on our desks, and if your hands or faces happened to be caught in the blow, well, we should have moved faster. Not this is not actually legal, but she was banking on us not having the legal wherewithal to take her to court.
Dashell was growing tired of the constant stress of school and had taken to leaving early when he felt like it, leaving me to fend for myself in the afternoon. My sole consolation for those long afternoons was that we were having a bumper crop of praying mantises that year, and I had found no less than four nests in the backyard, and was keeping them in a large jar in my room.
If you’ve never seen praying mantis nests, they look like someone fucked up and globbed insulation foam on a stick. They sorta sit there, looking stupid, until it gets hot enough, then the day they’re going to hatch, they develop a large, ominous crack, and over the course of a couple hours, a Couple Hundred itty-bitty, very sharp flying rage insects will drip out, covered in ooze like some kind of alien, and once they are all dried out/carapaced up they fly off in a fit of barbarian rage, ready to slice up anything remotely edible or potentially predatory. Like children’s eyeballs.
So imagine my joy that on April fifteenth, the last day I had to attend class, all four nests had developed their large cracks, and tiny little baby ragebugs were slowly dripping out of them.
My initial thoughts were not of malice, but of showing Saari and Parja my cool insect friends, the latter having gotten into entomology of late. But after I arrived at school with the jar, I realized that Thursday’s usual show-and-tell had been replaced with Mrs. Linden’s Semi-weekly Rant About How We’re All Going To Hell. So I kept them in my backpack, with the intent of showing Dashell and Parja at recess.
But, after dealing with Mason trying to flash me his dick all through math, I had grown a mickle furious, and was contemplating flouncing from my Final required Day Of Class In Grand Style. But what?
Then Mrs. Linden started ranting about the Plagues Of Egypt.
She’d construed that the plagues were about Pharaoh Not Respecting God as We Students Weren’t Respecting Her, and hence he Needed To be Punished.
But from my perspective, I was rather heavily identifying with the slaves and would really like to call down the wrath of some higher being on Mrs. Linden and Mason. Then I realized that the mantises had been sitting on my bag on top of the radiator for the past three hours, and were probably all hatched and furious by now.
And for the first time, I truly understood “The Lord Works In Mysterious Ways.”
I signaled to Dashell that I was about to start shit, then quietly went back to the coat room to retrieve the jar. Sure enough, they had all hatched and dried, and were now clawing furiously at the glass, little scratches audible through the holes in the lid. I waited back there for a good minute, lightly shaking the jar to enrage the mantises, while I waited for Linden to get to the Locusts.
She really went overboard, claiming that entirely vegetarian grasshoppers could eat a cow to the bone in minutes, like aerial piranhas, and that they’d crawl under your skin and eat your eyeballs, because You Disrespected God So You Deserve It.
Unbeknownst to me, Dashell had gotten up during her rant and had pulled the loose plate off the lightswitch and had been tampering with the wiring, and just as she got to Darkness, he shorted out the lights.
I took this as my signal, and stepped out of the coatroom, and chucked the jar straight at the back of Mason’s head, shattering it, sending blood and glass everywhere, along with releasing approximately six fucktillion rage-filled insects into the room.
I cannot explain how deeply, soul-satisfying the chaos was.
Screaming children, screaming Linden, screaming insects, Mason screaming about the pain, Sabrina screaming that it was the End Of The World, and Dashell laughing demonically, wriggling the wire to make the lights flash like a literal Panic at the disco. There was glass everywhere, Insects landing on and attacking children as they tried to escape, people running into each other, someone pulling the fire alarm, creating MORE noise and setting the sprinklers off.
After a few minutes standing and watching, feeling the satisfaction of releasing hell settling in my soul, I quietly packed up my backpack and left, walked home and ate six ice cream sandwiches before mom got home from work.
“I’m done with school!” I told mom happily, sitting on the couch and watching animal planet with the dog.
“Did you show your class the mantises?’ She asked.
“Yes. I don’t think they liked them.” I said, watching Steve Irwin juggle snakes.
“Aw, that’s too bad. Are you ready to go camping?”
“Yes. Yes I am.”
And so the next morning, we left for the wilds of the redwood forest, so my mom didn’t hear anything about the incident until we came back a fortnight later. It never got pinned on me or Dashell, probably because Mrs. Linden left the classroom shortly after I did and was last seen in Arizona two days later. The district never actually managed to Fire her, because they never found her.
And that’s the most Chaotic Evil thing I’ve ever done.
That may be the best thing I’ve ever read.