Black Eyed Kids: Come Play With Me – Stepping through the doorway I had to hold up a hand to cover my eyes. The sun was incredibly bright and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. This had given me the sad delusion that there would be some semblance of warmth to be had but the bitter cold air shattered that happy thought. I wrapped my coat tighter around me, doing the top button up which I always hated to do. It brought on feelings of claustrophobia, probably linked to the fact that it constricted my neck ever so slightly.
My shoes hit the tarmac and I began to walk out into the playground, a line of excitable children following me out before dispersing among the play equipment. Some sat in small groups on the circular benches, loudly talking about political power within the class. A smile crept over my face. Who knew eleven-year-olds could discuss things in a way to make them sound like teenagers.
Other classes were emerging now and a few more teachers to help keep watch. Jenny caught my eye and smiled and I gave a small nod in reply.
Soon the playground was swarmed with children, running around, playing games, excitedly discussing television shows and which video games they were playing. Plenty felt the need to come and share this information with me and I went along with this, laughing and smiling. Although they could be the cause of a few accidents, the playground in a primary school often felt like one of the happiest places to be. I was content but obviously alert to any potential dangers.
It was then that I noticed her. There was a small girl, younger than the age I taught, maybe six or seven years old from her build but she was slumped in a corner next to a fence, hugging her knees to her chest. She wasn’t wearing a coat, nor was she wearing the school jumper with our logo emblazoned on the front of the chest. She was sat on concrete, huddled in shadow, her dark hair cascading over her face as she looked down.
She must have been freezing!
I assumed she’d had some sort of argument with a friend and was away from the others, either sulking or genuinely upset. Either way, I had to console her and to send her back inside to get her coat.
I walked over and squatted down next to her, getting to the same level as her to make sure she didn’t feel at all threatened.
“Hey there. Are you ok?”
She shook her head, shaking some hair loose from her shoulders so that it covered even more of her face.
It was at this point that I began feeling uncomfortable. I had no idea why. I’d had conversations just like these a dozen other times. Some children felt like talking, some needed consoling, some just needed space and we gave them that. They usually spoke when they were ready. This situation though, something about it had me on edge to the point I could actually feel the adrenaline kick of a flight or fight response.
“Aren’t you cold?”
Another shaking of the head, then a meek voice came forth from the mass of hair, “I never get cold.”
Some of us never grew out of that bravado, but children almost always responded like that. They were never too cold or tired or anything else that could be perceived as weakness, at least, not when asked.
“Well, I think we need to get you inside to get your coat. Or at least your jumper.”
“No.” The voice was no longer meek. It was commanding and the head shifted slightly so that it was raised more towards me, revealing her face to me.
I tried my best not to, but I recoiled slightly. In this light, the shadow of the fence, her eyes appeared entirely black. No iris, no sclera, just pure black ovals reflecting my own face. She sighed gently and her eyes closed again. “I want to play.”
“Well,” I began, slowing my breathing and keeping the momentary fear out of my voice, “you can play after we get your jumper.”
“Will you play with me?”
She tilted her head back now, the hair falling away as her eyes snapped open suddenly. Again, those eyes…the pure black pools reflecting my own concerned face.
“We have to play. You have to play with me.”
I had stood up and taken a few steps back. She was shaking now, but it didn’t seem to be shivering. There was no fear and nothing about her that suggested she was cold…it literally looked like she was shaking in anger. Her blank, expressionless face had contorted into one of anger, her eyes narrowing and her lips pulling back until her teeth were bared.
I had stumbled back a few more steps and then had frozen. I felt simultaneously terrified and embarrassed. I was a senior teacher in a playground full of children and other staff and was retreating in horror from one infant.
I opened my mouth to speak and then the bell went, the ringing which symbolised the end of playtime. The anger vanished from her face and her eyes closed again as children rushed around me, between us, none of them stopping to look at her as she rose from the ground.
I found my feet and walked towards where my own class were lining up, my eyes locked on her as she stood upright and once more I was shown the darkness behind her eyelids as they opened. Her lips pulled up into a smile that chilled me more than anything I had encountered in my teaching career and then, lost in the throng of running children, I lost sight of her.
Once she was out of my sight it was easy to dismiss what I had seen as just a trick of the light, my own senses tricked, causing me to become afraid which in turn caused my senses to let me down again.
I never saw that girl again, never noticed her so I could confirm or disprove what I had seen and I moved schools not long after that, transferring somewhere closer to home. I had begun to put it out of my mind, dismiss it entirely. Then I stumbled upon a newspaper article, one which spoke of a black eyed girl who had been frequently seen in Staffordshire. Looking into it I found hundreds of accounts of those who had witnessed the black eyed children. All describing the same sense of fear, dread and foreboding which accompanied them and the anger the children displayed when it was discovered they were anything but normal.
Apparently most of these involve these black eyed children asking to come into your home, saying they need help. Or coming up to your car, begging for a ride. I have no idea what happens if you allow them in and the teacher in me would find it difficult to turn them away. All I would say is…
Look them in the eye before saying yes.