197. The Death of Duncan

Groans of complaints, mutters of disapproval and grievances of oppositions replaced the merry atmosphere. In this room, everyone felt free to express themselves. None of them held back their thoughts and emotions. One after another presented arguments about the sudden work.

A few students pointed out that the project had ended. They already handed in their work last Friday. They also reported about them to the rest of the class.

Their point was this case had closed over the weekend. There was no need to reopen it.

“Now, now…” Ms.Smith spoke above the ruckus. She counted her points with her fingers, “You’ve done your research. You’ve presented your reports. You have better insight about these plays than you did before. 15 minutes of practice is enough for you to prepare a scene.”

Protests lowered in volume but they continued on. Their teacher did have a valid point. At least, they already knew the source materials.

“I want to see how you portray these characters and stories with this knowledge. Best of luck!”

Chair legs scraped against the floor as the class broke into pairs. Ms. Smith smiled at the cooperation she witnessed. She sat by her desk and observed her students. Her eyes lingered towards the back.

The idea for this project had come up to her at the last minute. Yesterday’s events had the entire school in uproar. When the staff had been informed that Alex would continue to attend, Ms. Smith realized how difficult it would be for Alex to fix her reputation.

She hoped that the pair could make use of this opportunity.

They did leave a lasting impression last time.

15 minutes passed by in a blur. Ms. Smith gave her students free rein on creativity. The report had been about the themes of the plays. It didn’t matter if they modernized the dialogues or the setup, what did matter was the themes remained present.

Time limit also wasn’t a problem as long as they lasted, at least, 5 minutes.

For a better display, she had everyone move their chairs to the back. They crammed together and gave the performers a wider space. The sight of it made a few students nervous.

Did they need to do a large scale performance?

Ms. Smith took centerstage. She placed an arm behind her back and spoke with the other in waves of gestures, “For this fine morning, we’ll witness various scenes from different Shakespearean Playwrights. I’d like to start with Macbeth. A story written about ambition and hunger for power. Sounds wonderful, don’t you think so?”

The students remained silent. It sounded heavy and serious. They thought that a lighter plot would be better but kept their lips zipped.

The pairs that picked Macbeth already had their hearts hammering in their chest. Their breaths hitched as they waited for their teacher to choose who would perform first.

“Would Jun and Seo please take over the stage?”

The two Korean exchange students jumped in their seats. Their comedic improvisation from before brought out some good laughs. Ms. Smith wondered how they’d pull this one off.

Jun stood up and gulped. He walked over to the front, Seo hot on his heels. He mumbled to Ms. Smith. When she nodded her head, he proceeded to the door and stepped out.

Seo replaced Ms. Smith at the center. Everyone shifted their attention towards her. Her black monolid eyes blinked. Then, she rubbed their lids. Her posture slowly slouched.

It started from her lower back and crawled up to her shoulders. She took a step, her knees wobbling. She took another and persisted to walk.

When she stumbled, the class gasped.

Back bent forward, her black straight hair flowed on either side of her face. It hid her expression from the audience. She lifted a finger, letting them know that she was alright.

Crickets echoed in the empty air

“BAHAHAHAHA…!” Seo cackled, throwing her back. The face of a mad woman captured the audience. Her feet shuffled to regain balance as her legs wriggled under her. She swayed side to side.

“The alcohol that got the servants drunk has made me bold!” Her voice boomed. She stretched her arms and back, fluttering her eyes. A wide mischievous smile spread across her lips, “The same liquor that quenched their thirst has fired me up!”

Seo changed directions. She pointed a finger at the wall. She quickened her pace and headed for her classmates, “Listen! Quiet!”

She pressed the finger against her lips. Then, she gazed up at the ceiling, “That was the owl that shrieked, with a scary ‘good night’ like the bells they ring before they execute people.”

Everyone stayed still. The audience waited for her next words. Seo opened her mouth, inhaling gulps of air. As if she was waking up, she spun around and glanced at the door.

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“Macbeth must be killing the king right now” she informed the class. Her tone flowed out breathily. Her hand reached towards the door. Its hinges creaked. Like magic, it followed Seo’s movements and opened.

“The doors to Duncan’s chamber are open!” She wailed, “And the drunk servants make a mockery of their jobs by snoring instead of protecting the king.”

Then, she wrapped her arms around her stomach. Her torso toppled forward as she laughed her lungs out, “I put so many drugs in their drinks that you can’t tell if they’re alive or dead!”

The front row flinched. They inched back on their seats. Cold fear ensnared their hearts. They believed Seo could kill if she wanted to.

A new voice came from the doorway.

“Who’s there?”

Seo dived to the floor, startling everyone. She tucked herself into a ball and buried her face in her arms. The tremors in her muscles froze. She resembles a cocoon.

“What is it?”

She stayed in that position for a few more seconds. Her head tilted to one side, peeking at the doorway. When no one came out, she sat up. A aggravated sigh escaped her lips.

Panic shook her manner of speech, “Oh no, I’m afraid the servants woke up, and the murder didn’t happen!”

Seo rose to her feet, clawing the top of her head. She ruffled her hair and ran in circles, “For us to attempt murder and not succeed would ruin us!”

A fist appeared at the entrance and knocked on the door.

“Listen to that!” Seo yelled. She halted in her place and stared at the door. Horror washed over her face. She gnawed the nails of her fingers, “I put the servants’ daggers where Macbeth would find them. He couldn’t have missed them”

She did a dramatic turn and bowed her head. The palms of her hands pressed against her forehead, “If Duncan hadn’t reminded me of my father when I saw him sleeping, I would have killed him myself!”

Thunderous beats stomped on the floor. Each had an interval of one second. They crept closer. They grew louder, building up the suspense.

All eyes went to the doorway.

Nervous anticipation filled the atmosphere.

Jun finally made his appearance. He entered the room. The stomps revealed to be his shoes. His white button shirt had a large red stain. The same opaque liquid smeared on his cheeks. It ran down his arms.

His hand clenched around a pointed pen.

He stopped a few meters away. He gazed at his partner, his black eyes void of emotion.

“It is done.”

“My husbando!” Seo rushed towards him, hugging his shoulders.

“I have done the deed,” Jun said softly. He stepped away from the embrace, “Did you hear a noise?”

“I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry. Didn’t you say something?”


“Just now.”

Jun walked towards the audience. His pen dropped to the floor. He stared at his sticky red palms, “This is a sorry sight.”

Seo snorted behind him, “That’s a stupid thing to say.”

He ignored her, focusing on his hands. His eyes went blank, “One of the servants laughed in his sleep, and one cried, ‘Murder!’ and they woke each other up. I stood and listened to them, but then they said their prayers and went back to sleep.”

Then, he raised his head and stared off into space, “One servant cried, ‘God bless us!’ and the other replied, ‘Amen,’ as if they had seen my bloody hands. Listening to their frightened voices, I couldn’t reply ‘Amen’ when they said ‘God bless us!’”

Seo grasped his shoulder and squeezed, “Don’t think about it so much.”

Jun shifted his feet until he could see her face. The expression he wore was similar to a lifeless man, “But why couldn’t I say ‘Amen’? I desperately needed God’s blessing, but the word ‘Amen’ stuck in my throat.”

His voice cracked at the end of his speech. Seo cupped both of his cheeks and gazed into his eyes. She shook her head slowly, “We can’t think that way about what we did. If we do, it’ll drive us crazy.”

Seo backed away, maintaining eye contact. Jun watched her every move. She placed her hands on her hips. Their chests visibly rose and fell. The growing tension had the entire class frozen.

Then, Seo rocked her hips from side to side.

“Got me looking so crazy right now, your love’s got me looking so crazy right now.”

Jun mimicked her position and joined in her singing. Where her hips went so did his. Their shoulders also began to move. They nudged upwards, following the jerky motion of the hips.

“Got me looking so crazy right now, your touch

Got me looking so crazy right now.”

They took a few steps backwards and widened the gap between them. With each foot, they rocked their hips to one side.

“Got me hoping you’ll page me right now, your kiss

Got me hoping you’ll save me right now…”

Then, they dropped their hands and catwalked towards each other, making sure they did it an exaggerated way.

“Looking so crazy, your love’s

Got me looking, got me looking so crazy in love…!”

Squatting, they bowed and slapped their thighs.

The audience cheered at the top of their lungs. Applause vibrated in the air. A few guys rose to their feet. They whistled at the sassy display. It was hard to tell who was the better dancer.

Jun kept up with every curved position, his butt jutting out. He and Seo turned away from the class. They straightened their stances.

Fingers laced together, they raised their hands to the ceiling. They bumped the sides of their hips against each other.

Max stood on his seat and hooted the next lyrics, “Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, no…! Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, no…!”

Jun lifted the hem of his dress shirt and tied it into a bow. Seo crouched and spread her knees for a second before standing back up. The pair strutted towards the podium.

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Their torsos twisted while their hips swayed. Their legs moved in sync, adding to the entertainment. Cheers approved of the performance. Hands drummed on the desks for a louder showcase of support. Almost everyone joined in the singing.

“Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, no…!

Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, no…!”

Once on the platform, Jun and Seo spun on their heels. They slowly bent their knees to the side, lowering their heights. The position elongated their legs.

Then, their arms posed as if in a magazine photoshoot.

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