Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dvorak Classic: Chapter Three

Dvorak Classic
Chapter 3 (or, "Not The Only One")

Previous Episode: Carissa, our heroine, made it to class on time, but nobody else seems to remember the accident at Saint Arbucks the next day. 

     The next morning, Carissa found herself late for school again.
    She didn’t want to blame herself, but this time she couldn’t cover with a fancy story. Not that yesterday had been a fancy story, mind you. She was certain that there had been an accident, that a man had really collapsed and possibly died at the Saint Arbucks on 72nd and Broadway.
    Principal Digel wasn’t fazed, though.
    “I simply do not understand how you kids come up with these crazy excuses,” the older woman told a shocked Carissa the next morning after her lateness (Mrs. Bellemore had sent her there upon her late arrival, much to Isabel’s pleasure, though Carissa knew she could get her friend back later). “You dilly dally around at home playing your video games and what not and then you decide that somebody collapsed at the coffee shop. You are aware that we check all tardy alibi, Miss Lopez.”
    Carissa nodded. “I am aware.”
    “So you are also aware that I would find out about your ruse. Which spread quickly in the school hallways, I will also tell you.”
    One more nod from Carissa. “The problem is that I did actually see it happen. You know that I would not make up stories about why I’m late. For example, this morning, I was late. But it was my own fault, and I do accept responsibility. And if you do not believe me, you can check my file.”
    Principal Digel got up from her chair and reached behind her, where all of the student files were kept (in her office so they would not be stolen). She flipped through them until she found Lopez’s name. “Let’s see,” she said as she flipped through Carissa’s file...and the look on her face changed.
    “Well,” she said. “You have backed up every one of your tardies, except these most recent two. It does seem to be an anomaly.” She put the file away. “Very well, Miss Lopez, but don’t let it happen again.” With that, Carissa was dismissed back to class.
    It was true that Carissa couldn’t back up her tardiness this morning -- it was completely due to the fact that she had had a horrible dream. A dream involving the creepy old lady from out front of Saint Arbucks, eating the apple she had been holding and staring at Carissa as if she had done something wrong.
    It had been so terrifying that Carissa had rolled back over and went back to sleep in an effort to wipe the dream from her mind. Not only had that not worked, she had missed her train.
    She walked herself back to class, hoping after the morning’s events that the day could only get better. But it didn’t. She couldn’t forget the dream, no matter how hard she tried, and she almost fell asleep in her math class. When she got to the lunchroom for her meal, they were out of pizza, so she had to buy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead. Plus, Isabel was in a bad mood, and anytime Isabel was in a bad mood, so was Carissa by default.
    “You can’t be still talking about that dead guy thing,” Isabel said as she ate a bite of her pizza. “Just give it a break already.”
    Carissa sighed. “That’s the problem, Isabel. I just can’t. I know I saw what I saw, and it’s not like I can just unsee it.”
    “Well, maybe it was just a dream.”
    “Isabel, I know what was a dream, and it wasn’t the guy collapsing in Saint Arbucks yesterday morning.” Carissa shuddered. “Seriously, if I ever see that woman again, I am calling the cops.”
    “What woman?” Isabel realized, and Carissa knew then that her best friend had no idea what she was talking about. She sighed. She had to change the subject before Isabel gave her the runaround again.
    “Oh, by the way,” she said, to change the subject, “I found out who the guy you were looking at yesterday is. Turns out that he’s some smart kid who can do a lot of math. Mr. Withrow seems to like him for some reason. Called him out by name, even -- oh, his name is Mac. I don’t know if it’s short for something or not. But there you go.”
    Isabel looked less than thrilled. “A geek? He knows how to do math? Eww. I think I’ll pass.”
    You’re ridiculous, Carissa almost said, but she didn’t want to hurt her best friend’s feelings. They had been best friends for years, and Carissa knew better than to disagree with Isabel on the subject of a guy. So she let it go and spent the rest of her lunch break eating her sandwich and listening to Isabel rant on and on about reality television.
    After lunch was English, a subject that Carissa couldn’t care less about. Her favorite class, American History, was last in the day’s schedule, and all she had to do was suffer through fifty minutes of who knew what. Then, she would be in history...nothing particularly special about it, but it did also signal the end of the day. At that point, she could go out with Isabel and the rest of her friends, maybe stop by the Burger Fender on the corner and grab a chicken sandwich for dinner.
    As she sat in her seat, she realized that she had forgotten her English book. She checked the clock; she still had three minutes to make it there and back. In high school time, that was practically an eternity, especially if they were three minutes not in class. She got up from her chair and exited the room, walking at a brisk pace as she did so, curls bouncing.
    Her locker was thankfully nearby, and she reached it and unlocked it. When she reached inside the locker to get her book, though, a small white piece of paper fell out and onto the ground. Carissa pursed her lips and bent down to pick it up.
    “You saw it too, didn’t you? The man in the Saint Arbucks who collapsed all of a sudden?”
    She gasped and almost dropped the note -- this note had obviously been left for her. Steadying herself on the locker door, she took another look at the note. It had been typed, which only added to its mystery. Whoever this was who sent the note didn’t want to be revealed just yet.
    “You don’t know who I am yet. And that’s okay. Because I don’t know you yet either. All I know is that we both saw the same thing yesterday morning, and nobody else will back up our claim. If you’re not scared, you can meet me on the roof after school. I’ll be waiting there if you want to discuss this further. I don’t have answers, but at least now you know you’re not crazy.” There was one final note at the bottom. “Also, I know you saw what I saw because you announced it to your entire homeroom class, Word spreads fast.”
    Carissa did her best job to stay calm and failed. Who was this person? How had they known where her locker was? She took a deep breath, then stuffed the note in the front of her English book and sprinted down the hallway, just making it to class on time.
    Wednesdays were usually spent hanging out with friends after school, but on this January 9th, Carissa clearly had different plans. She grabbed her white duffel from her locker and her red coat as well, and was about to leave when she heard a familiar voice.
    “Haaaaaay chica, so are we going out or what?”
    Carissa had to think of a plan and fast. She didn’t want to lie to her best friend -- even a bit -- but if she heard one more thing about the Saint Arbucks incident that wasn’t (according to her), she would lose her mind. “I can’t today,” she said. “Busy.” Which was all true, at this point.
    “Busy with what?” Oh, Carissa knew that Isabel was going to ask that question.
    “My mom wants me home early,” she said. And that was actually true. Her dad was off of work tonight, and her mother had wanted to have a nice dinner with the three of them together. It would just have to happen after Carissa found out who sent the note to her locker.
    Isabel sighed. “Fine. But you owe me.” With that, she turned around and set off in the opposite direction, probably to go meet up with some other friends.
    Carissa relished in her new found freedom -- for five whole minutes. Then, she headed towards the roof. Usually students weren’t allowed on the roof, and her track record this week on office visits was not going well. But if this person had answers, then she was going to go and at least investigate.
    She remembered where the stairs were; she walked back up to the fourth floor, which only had freshman classes on it, and down all the way to the end of the hallway. There was a huge sign there saying that only police were allowed on the roof, and any student caught up there would be suspended. Normally Carissa adhered to rules, but this time, she just had to be proven right.
    She stepped past the sign and checked to see if anybody was around. Nope. Everybody had already left for the day. With that, she skipped up the back set of stairs to the door. This door was an emergency exit, but the door was cracked open, and there were no sirens, which meant it was safe to touch. Carissa pushed it.
    The roof was huge, expansive, without much of a view and with too many pigeons. Somebody was up there already, standing among the pigeons. When Carissa got a closer look, she gasped. She would know that hair anywhere, even if the person wasn’t looking at her.
    It was Mac.

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