It happened this way for each person she shifted her gaze to. One classmate held what the pervious one lacked, but instead was missing something different. Describing the absences was useless; the lost items were not fungible thoughts, to be encapsulated by mere words. She only felt that each student was incomplete somehow. Each student was an abyss, and she was peering into each abyss without regard. It drove her crazy, suddenly sensing that her class was full of half-minded zombies.
Closing her eyes, she shook her head slowly and gently, so as not to arouse Mrs. Baum’s attention again. When she opened them, Tegan’s eyes were locked on her own. This time, however, instead of appearing incomplete, Tegan appeared whole in Jeanne’s sight. There was still something missing, but only when she sought it out specifically. Then, and only then, did Tegan give an impression of being unfinished. When she then denied the absence, Jeanne could see Tegan as complete once more. It was remarkable, to say the least.
She found that, with one exception, the rest of her class responded in this way to her gaze. Gene’s missing piece was harder to find, and easier to ignore. He was not the exception.
Deacon Flay always appeared to have an absence, and no matter how much effort she put into ignoring it, it nagged at her. She tore her eyes away from him once his head lazily turned towards her end of the classroom. When you look into an abyss, she thought– the phrasing sending chills up and down her spine at breakneck pace– the abyss also looks into you.