“Did you hear about the jumper?”
The wind whistled across the pavement, whipping my hair back from my face and blowing fine grit into my eyes. They watered and I blinked hard, looking away until the wind had stopped, and then returned my gaze to the school’s side door across the courtyard. I’d been sitting here for twenty minutes, the urgent gossip of the nearby clique drifting over to me and filtering fragmented through to my consciousness.
“ . . . terrifying. No bones at all.”
I shifted slightly, scooting backwards on the warm metal bench to ease my tense muscles. Maybe he wouldn’t be coming today . . . maybe I wouldn’t have to . . .
“ . . . can you find a body . . . dead from falling . . . but no bones?”
I didn’t know much about the kid they were talking about, but I’d heard nothing but rumours all day long about his apparent suicide. He’d jumped from the third floor and smashed on the ground, but there were no bones found at all. I frowned, thinking of him. I didn’t know what his story was but there was no way I was letting my brother go the same way.
“ . . . all gone over the weekend . . . no idea what they’ll do.”
I checked my watch. The bus was coming soon and I was starting to think he wasn’t coming. Every other time I’d seen him, he’d come out right after the bell. Every time. He was taking too long. He wasn’t coming. I’d about resolved to get up and leave when I heard a particular snatch of gossip that stopped me dead in my tracks.
“He was such a loner though. I don’t think he had any friends.”
There was something wrong. I stood, turned back and forth, torn between calling off my vigil and getting the bus, or going into the school to find him. I knew where his locker was, and I knew where the music class was, so surely I’d be able to find him. I had to. Worst case scenario, I’d look fussy, overprotective. But I wasn’t willing to take the chance that he was in serious trouble.
Hoisting my bag on my shoulder, I made up my mind and strode determinedly across the pavement. The wind seemed to pick up, curving around me, behind me, spurring me on and tossing my hair back and forth. I was in the eye of the storm, and I was about to wreak havoc on any jocks in my path.
I first went to my brother’s locker but the hall was abandoned. I went next to the music classroom, but the handful of band members still there hadn’t seen my brother all day. I chewed my lip with frustration, wondering where the heck he’d gone. I was sure I hadn’t missed him . . . unless we’d passed each other while I’d been looking for him. I pulled out my cell phone and texted him. Where are you?It was a bit of a long shot—he rarely answered his phone when he was with friends, so he probably wouldn’t answer it now.
Too restless to stay idle in the hall, I went towards the atrium. This was where the kid had supposedly plummeted to his death, but if that was true, then the school had done an excellent job cleaning it up. I paused in the centre, staring up to picture what it would’ve been like, and heard a voice call out.
“Looking for someone?”
The voice was so smug, so full of jeering arrogance, that I immediately bristled. I turned, and lo and behold, there was the obnoxious face of the jerk who’d not only treated me like crap for the three weeks we’d dated, but had also taken up a recent interest in bullying my younger brother. He was the epitome of the stereotypical jock, a real smear on their name too, and he had a bad attitude that would shame the worst of the detention room residents. Just looking at him made me want to rip his face off. I tried to restrain myself.
“Where is he?” I asked, making sure my words were cutting and clear. I wasn’t in the mood to fool around.
“Dunno,” he said carelessly, and I knew he was telling the truth. If he’d known, he’d have rubbed it in my face. “You didn’t lose him, did you?” he taunted, coming across the atrium way too fast and way too forward for my liking.
I immediately shifted into defence mode, trying to find a loophole in my code of honour that would let me justifiably demolish this blockhead, but I wasn’t coming up with much. Oh well. Easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, trying to sound cool. With every step towards me he took, I felt a growing sense of panic in my chest. I was suffocating. There was something so wrong going on and it was getting me worked up, and that was putting me in danger of going overboard. I couldn’t really afford to get in trouble again, but my brother’s life meant a hell of a lot more to me than my place in the Order.
The doorknob jock had reached me and put out a hand to touch my arm, and I just snapped. Grabbing the front of his shirt, I kicked his feet out from under him and slammed him to the ground. One knee on his chest, I snarled, “Where is my brother?”, every last scrap of my self-control slipping away from me.
He pleaded that he didn’t know, but I kept asking him, clenching his shirt tighter and tighter. I knew he didn’t know but I was panicking, losing my wits. I didn’t know what to do, where to go. If my brother was alone—
Of course. He would go to be alone. But where? Where would he be alone?
Letting go of my ex-boyfriend, I sprang to my feet and started running. There was one place, fixated in my mind—the boiler room. He had to be hiding there, thinking he was safe. But today wasn’t a safe day—he was in such trouble, and I needed to be there, to save him.
When I reached the doorway leading down to the school basement, I stopped. My phone was beeping. I had a text. Heart slamming with frantic beats, I pulled out my cell phone and opened the message.
He found me. I’m sorry.
My lungs must be old
Musty, full of mould and dust
But books smell so good!
My second short story and second poem (haiku this time!) for the Camp NaNoWriMo/National Poetry Month events. Only five more days, but that’s all right. I can do it. I totally can. Heh heh. Heh.
Haha, have a good night everyone ;)