Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dvorak Classic: Chapter Nine

Dvorak Classic
Chapter 9 (or, "The OT3 Emerges")

Yesterday’s Episode: Carissa made it to school, but Mac never did. 

    Friday, January 11th started out as any normal day did. Carissa woke up on time, got dressed, and caught the correct train to school. Everything seemed normal, except Mac still wasn’t at school when she got there. That, and she hadn’t stopped by Saint Arbucks for her chai in a few days, and she was starting to miss it.
    She arrived in science class and had her first surprise of the day -- pop quiz. Carissa hated pop quizzes. Mrs. Anders was notorious for them, and she should have been a little bit more prepared. She slinked back in her seat and sighed. She was usually pretty good in life science, but with everything that had been going on with her adventures, she had been more than a little preoccupied.
    Mrs. Anders passed out the quiz, and Carissa took a deep breath. The quiz was on a lab they had done last week, also reviewing some advanced functions with the scientific method, and she knew that she could answer at least half of the questions. The problem was that she couldn’t answer the other half.
    She grabbed for her duffel, going to get a pencil out, and she noticed the other surprise of the morning. Sitting in the tray under her desk was a small piece of paper, folded up, with her name on it. Was it from Isabel? Carissa reached for the piece of paper, but stopped when she heard Mrs. Anders call out another student’s name.
    “Gary,” she said, “you know there is no assistance on pop quizzes.”
    “I know,” Gary said. “My pencil broke.”
    “Then let me get you a new one,” Mrs. Anders said as Carissa quickly grabbed the pencil case out of the front of her bag. The note would have to wait. And wait it did, as that note was all Carissa could think about for the rest of the quiz.
    She ended up making up answers for the rest of the questions -- one she was certain she could get some points on, but the other she knew she had no clue. She sighed as class ended and was finally able to pull out the note, stuffing it in her duffel before leaving. She had waited that long, she could wait until she got to Mr. Withrow’s class and see what it said.
    But she was distracted in Mr. Withrow’s class as well -- because Mac was back. He was sitting in the back of the room in his normal seat, looking in a textbook, when Carissa stepped in. The problem was that he didn’t even look up when she entered, and she felt a sudden shock. What if Mac was now part of this “reality doing weird things” phenomenon? What if he didn’t even remember their adventures, who she was? She had to get his attention somehow -- reminding herself that, in this world now, Peter had never been in her house and they had been allowed to be on the roof. She reminded herself to tell Mac when she got a chance that he didn’t have to take the now fake detention if he didn’t want to.
    That is, if he still remembered who she was.
    “What’s that?” Isabel asked when they finally sat down to lunch. She peered over at the note that Carissa now had in her hands.
    Carissa ate a bite of her chicken sandwich before shooing Isabel out of her face. “Be nice. I thought this was from you. Apparently not.” She swallowed. “Haven’t had a chance to read it at all this morning with that pop quiz.”
    “I know.” Isabel sighed. “I definitely failed mine.”
    “You would do better on those pop quizzes if you actually paid attention in class instead of reading People En Español all day.”
    “I know, I know.” Isabel rolled her eyes and ate some of her own chicken sandwich. “So what does this note say?”
    Carissa unfolded the note and dropped her chicken sandwich. The note was a plain sheet of paper, divided into two halves down the middle. On the left side was a picture, vividly detailed and hand drawn, of a girl and a boy on a bike -- and Carissa recognized it as Mac and herself. On the other side of the paper was written, in neat handwriting, “Stay away from Saint Arbucks or else.”
    Carissa felt her blood run cold, especially when she saw the small apple drawn at the lower right hand corner of the page. How had the lady gotten this to her? Probably the same way she had changed the train on her yesterday: magic, or something like it.
    “That has got to be the most detailed and yet the most creepy drawing I have ever seen in my entire life.” And before she knew what was happening, someone from behind Carissa took the sheet of paper from her and looked at it. Carissa whipped around and was surprised and glad to find Mac there.
    “Dios mio,” she muttered. “If it had been anybody else...”
    “Where did you find this?” Mac asked as he sat it down on the table and sat across from Carissa and Isabel, where there was plenty of space for him.
    Carissa blushed. “Under my seat, in science class.”
    “Under your seat?” Mac put the piece of paper down and pulled out a sandwich from seemingly nowhere. “Why was it there, of all places?”
    “Don’t know. But it’s clearly for me, and you, as you can see by the message.” Carissa was surprised that she was so excited to have Mac here. Now, at least, she could try to sort out this entire mess with someone who knew and believed the entire story --
    “Do you believe this crazy stuff my spirit sister is making up, or are you just saying you do to get in good with her?” That came straight from Isabel’s mouth as she grinned.
    Carissa rolled her eyes. “Isabel, don’t do this.”
    “¿Hace qué?”
    “And don’t speak in Spanish when you know Mac probably can’t understand you. Heck, I can’t understand you when you go on sometimes.” Carissa turned to Mac. “Do I have that right? I didn’t want to assume.”
    “It’s okay. I took French, so you assumed right. I know more Russian than Spanish, from living near Brighton Beach, but I’m not conversational in either. Do you both live in the same neighborhood?”
    Isabel nodded. “I’m Dominican. This Boricua and I have been spirit sisters long before we were even born. By all accounts we should hate each other, but we don't. Our grandmothers met in the market in the Heights years and years ago, shortly after my grandparents got off the boat.”
    Mac looked at Carissa. “Your grandparents came here from Puerto Rico?”
    Carissa nodded. “It was some time before a lot of people started coming from that area, from what they used to tell me. They died a few years ago, and I still live in their apartment from all the way back then.”
    Mac seemed in shock; he pulled himself together the best he could and unwrapped his sandwich, which was clearly from the deli on the corner. “So you’ve been telling your friend all about our adventures?” he asked, completely changing the subject. “Your...what did you call her...”
    “Spirit sister. Isabel, this is Mac Taggart, better known as that kid you noticed in class one day. Mac, this is Isabel Louisa Maria Gonzalez.”
    Isabel grinned. “I remember. The geek.”
    Carissa ate a bite of her chicken sandwich before she said anything that she would later regret. Mac nodded. “I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a geek. But that doesn’t mean I’m stereotypical.”
    “Prove it,” Isabel said as she stole a fry from Carissa’s tray.
    Mac smiled and stole a fry as well. “I’m sitting here, aren’t I?”
    Carissa gave Mac and Isabel a cross look. “Seriously, guys. Those are mine.”
    “Whatever.” Isabel stole one more fry. “So, you two are serious about this changing reality thing or what not?”
    “Precisely,” Mac said. “We were the only ones who were witness to something. Several things, at this point.”
    “And you remember when we talked to Peter,” Carissa noted to Isabel. “Which, by the way, Peter remembers nothing about the roof or my house. Your detention notice is also invalid, by the way. So don’t go. There’s no record of it in the book.”
    “Oh. That’s weird.”
    “Yeah. When I asked them about it, they couldn’t find it, but since I still had a slip they made me go. It wasn’t so bad, though, because Isabel was there too.”
    Isabel smiled. “So wait, this means that things you thought were real actually aren’t.”
    Mac gave Carissa a strange look. “It’s actually the opposite, where we know it’s real but everyone else --”
    “So that means it’s possible that there are things in my own life that aren’t real, either. Like me sneezing in the teacher’s face the other day. Or when I tried to tumble dry my high heels at the laundromat. Or when I accidentally measured wrong in chemistry class --”
    “All of those things were real,” Carissa said. “This all started when I went to Saint Arbucks on Monday morning and that guy -- the one who died -- gave me my duffel back. Before then, reality is fine. After, though...I’ll admit it’s kind of gotten to be a mess.”
    “A very interesting mess,” Mac noted.
    Carissa sighed. “I wish I had a chai.”
    “Oh! Want to go to Saint Arbucks to get one after school?” Isabel asked.
    Carissa peered at Isabel. “After what that note said? And how the creepy lady is always there? I’ll pass.”
    “Maybe,” Mac said, a smile now on his face. “But I do know of at least one other place you can get chai, even if it’s out of the way.”
    Carissa smiled as she remembered. “That’s true. Hey, Isabel, you mind taking the 2 train down to Borough Hall after school today?”

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