Thursday, November 25, 2010

Valentine's Day, II

The murmuring and snickering began as they came through the school’s main wing double-doors, and only got louder the closer they got to Jack’s locker. Beth’s fingers slid through Jack’s, and she squeezed ever so slightly.
“Don’t let it bother you,” she whispered. “I think it looks just fine.”
But Jack wasn’t looking at the fiberglass garland, at the locks of hair that were caught in the gaps between the petals and leaves. There was a knot of students clustered around his locker, just as there had been one around Beth’s earlier in the week.

Most of the students at least tried to clear the smirks as they shuffled aside.
Jack could only stare in silence. Beth sucked in a sharp breath between her teeth, her fingers clamping so hard over Jack’s hand that he finally found breath enough to gasp.
She let go, took two strides, then turned, the paint-smeared locker blocked behind her coat.
“Who?” she asked, glancing at one of the snickering students, then another. “Who did it? Who saw it?”
Most of the students shrugged and wandered away. A few glared back at the girl before turning and heading to their own lockers.
Jack heard more than one voice mutter the word “crazy” in passing. He sucked in a breath to say something back, but a clattering hiss drew his attention back to his locker. Beth was wiping furiously at the door with her sleeve, the heavy plastic buttons rattling over the vents.
“Hey,” he said, reaching for the girl’s shoulder. She flinched away from his hand.
“No, Jack, I have to—“
“What is all the racket? Go on now, get along to homeroom.”
Jack groaned. Those students not scattered by Beth’s glare fled as the vice principal approached.

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