People are sharing short stories assigned in school that have ‘haunted’ them since: ‘Shivering 50 years later’

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People share short stories that have haunted them since school (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
People share short stories that have haunted them since school (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A woman’s viral tweet about a desire to become an English teacher so she can assign students short stories “so unsettling” they will “haunt them for the rest of their lives” has inspired people to share the stories that have stuck with them since middle or high school.

On Sunday, journalist Emily Klatt tweeted: “I can’t wait to become a high school English teacher and assign my students a short story so unsettling that it will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”

The tweet, which has since been liked more than 142,000 times, sparked a viral conversation on the platform.

Many of the responses to Klatt’s tweet referenced Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery, which was originally published in 1948 and tells the story of a small town that follows an annual tradition in which a member of the community is chosen randomly and stoned to death.

“I assume this is a tweet about The Lottery,” one person tweeted in response to Klatt’s tweet, while another said: “The Lottery still haunts me.”

“Like The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson. I’m still shivering 50 years later,” someone else said.

According to another person, they think about The Lottery “more often than is probably healthy”. “Bonus points for my teacher also making us watch the short film,” they added.

The numerous replies citing the short story led The Lottery to trend on Twitter, with hundreds agreeing that the short story fit Klatt’s description.

“I saw The Lottery by Shirley Jackson trending, and this is why,” one person wrote while retweeting Klatt’s original tweet. “That story still haunts me.”

While many thought of Jackson’s short story after reading Klatt’s tweet, others referenced similarly disturbing short stories, such as All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury, a short story published in 1954, in which nine-year-old Margot is locked in a closet by her classmates during the only day of sunshine on the planet Venus.

“Oh my god in sixth grade we read a story about how this kid lived on another planet and it rained everyday except for one and on that day she was locked in a closet and I think about it way too much,” one person tweeted in reference to the short story.

In response, Klatt shared the name of the story before revealing that her mother “thinks about that one too”.

“Like All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury. Haunts me to this day,” another person tweeted, while someone else wrote: “The one set on Venus I think where the sun only came out like once every few years and a girl who moved from earth young remembered the sun but no one believed her and her classmates locked her in a closet when the sun came back out so she couldn’t see it… f**ked me up.”

Klatt’s tweet also prompted multiple references to A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, which tells the story of a woman who is found to have slept for years next to the decaying corpse of the man she expected to marry.

“Has a gray hair on the pillow haunted me since ninth grade? Yes, yes it has,” one person tweeted in response to the short story’s ending, while another said: “A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner. So sad. So creepy.”

According to others, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a story that describes a woman’s postpartum depression and descent into psychosis, is the short story that has stuck with them since they were assigned it in school.

“Anyway remember The Yellow Wallpaper I still think about it,” one person tweeted, while someone else said: “The Yellow Wallpaper is making direct eye contact with me right now.”

Klatt’s tweet was also met with responses from people describing the lingering horror they feel over short stories such as The Monkey’s Paw by W W Jacobs, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, and The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe.

“This just brought back some serious memories! The Yellow Wallpaper, The Most Dangerous Game, A Rose For Emily,” one person tweeted, while another said: “Cask of Amontillado and The Most Dangerous Game. Those two short stories had me walking around distraught for weeks.”

While many questioned why they’d had to suffer the impacts of reading the short stories in school, and in the years since, the tweet also prompted replies from teachers, who shared their own experiences teaching the “unsettling” short stories in question.

“Genuinely one of the parts of the job I miss most is sophomores after reading Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, looking up at me earnestly and asking: ‘Why did you do this to us?’” one person wrote.

Another said: “I made my students read The Lottery and The Yellow Wallpaper in the same unit,” while someone else questioned: “Is there another reason to become an English teacher other than disturbance?”

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