Dear Diary,

It is two o’clock in the morning, but I cannot go to sleep. Even though I would never admit it, I’ve been afraid of the dark for the past month. Fearful of what I would hear. The ticking of the clock was driving me insane. Tick-tock is all I heard, but there was no clock in my room.

Today made one month of being back in the classroom. Gabrielle had just gotten used to her routine. Classes would be held in person, and extracurricular activities would be held virtually. For Gabrielle, extracurricular activities consisted of logging onto Zoom for a geometry review. She couldn’t understand, but the first test was approaching.

“Gabby! You’re coming out tonight, right?” With Jessica being the party girl, she was going to make it her mission to drag Gabrielle out.

“I don’t know. I have to study for a test on Monday.”

“It’s a good thing the party doesn’t start until ten o’clock! You have all evening to study with creepy Mr. Markel.”

Mr. Markle was creepy. He knew everything about his students without them ever saying anything, but if attending the virtual study review meant earning extra points on her test, Gabrielle would do it.



Monday morning came, and Gabrielle was doomed. Although she had attended the study review, she was still lost. She sat at her desk having a staring contest with the questions.

“C’mon, Gabrielle. Recall what we went over during the review.” Mr. Markle walked up and down the aisle glancing at student’s papers.

“Mr. Markle, I truly am lost.” Perhaps if Gabrielle appeared down, this would get him to give her a few hints.

“Well, we can’t stay out all weekend thinking we’re going to ace a test. Tick-tock Gabrielle.”


Gabrielle got home and threw her book bag on the floor.

“Jess, how did he know I was out all weekend?” Mr. Markle said it so confidently as if he knew she had been out partying.

“It was probably a guess, almost like a coincidence. It was weird how he said the words tick-tock, though. Creepy guy.”

“I’ll call you later.” Gabrielle had a weird feeling in her stomach. It was almost as if Mr. Markle was watching her. The words tick-tock replayed in her head until she grabbed her laptop. Gabrielle wanted to ensure she wasn’t being watched. The green light indicating that her camera was on was not on, but she closed out every browser to be sure only to come across an open Zoom window. Gabrielle had forgotten to log out of the study session, and there she saw someone else still on the call. There was a clock on the wall, and Mr. Markle had passed by.

“Oh, Gabrielle. I must’ve forgotten to log out on Friday. Silly me. Tick-tock, you better get to completing the homework.”

Gabrielle immediately shut her laptop. Was this the clock that’s been keeping her up all night?