Savage Delight

Page 21


“What makes you think –”
“She won’t like it. Trust me.”
“Did she tell you that she hates it?”
“She didn’t have to.”
Knife-guy squints, and before I can interrogate him further, he’s gone around the wall. I mull it over for minutes, wracking my brain to put the pieces together. And then it clicks. Just as the bell rings for next period, it all clicks together.
My insides start to boil.
If I ever come face-to-face with Will Cavanaugh, it will be his death sentence.
Principal Evans is thrilled to see me. And by that, I mean he’s pacing around his office popping aspirin like candy.
“Evans!” I throw my arms out and yell. “Long time no see, buddy!”
“Isis, please, I have a headache –”
He groans. “You like tormenting me.”
“I like everything that isn’t boring.” I flop in the armchair across from his desk. “So? To what do I owe this illustrious summons?”
He gingerly removes his hands from his ears and reaches into his desk, pulling out an envelope with stately ink words on it, and a logo of a building of some kind.
“Is that what I think it is?” I ask.
“Stanford,” Evans says calmly. “Came for you today.”
“And you practiced enough self-restraint to not open it! You’re amazing, Evans. Really. You’ve grown up from the little boy who pasted my fat pictures everywhere.”
He flinches. “How about you open it?”
“How about I switch your apple juice with piss?”
“Isis –”
“Look, Evans,” I inhale. “My mom’s got a trial coming up. Dunno if you heard. She’s gonna need me. Probably for a long time. And I mean, I can do your catch-up homework thing and graduate or whatever, but the truth is, I’m not the best student. Obviously. Obviously you know that. I’m fine on paper, but I cause trouble and I’m immature and I say stupid stuff. So I didn’t really earn this. I mean, I did, but I don’t belong in college. Especially not a big huge Ivy League or whatever. They’d be better off giving the place to like, someone from China? Someone really dedicated and mature. Someone not-me.”
I push the letter back at him.
“So, you know. You can open that. Or trash it. I don’t care. But I’m not going.”
Evans is quiet. When he finally looks up at me, he somehow seems so much older. The wrinkles under his eyes are deeper, and his forehead creases with dozens of years of being tired.
“You’re doing the same thing Jack did.”
“Refusing to go because of the people you love. Refusing to – to become amazing. You have so much potential, Isis. And you’re throwing it away.”
“What do you mean, refuse? Did he?”
“You don’t remember? He wanted to stay here, in Ohio, to take care of that girl, Sophia. He had offers from every Ivy League in the country, practically.”
“But he’s going to Harvard now. People won’t shut up about it.”
“Yes. But he only changed his mind after – I don’t know what changed his mind, actually. But I can’t let you do the same thing. Please. I know I said it would be your decision, but please. Open the letter, read it, and think it over. And if you still don’t want to go, I’ll respect your decision.”
I snort. I stare at the envelope for a few moments before snatching it back.
“Fine. Fine. But don’t expect a happy ending.”
Evans smiles, wanly. “I never do.”
I get up to leave, and he calls out to me.
“Oh, and Isis? Good luck with the trial. I hope he gets the justice he deserves.”
I clench my fists, and slam the door behind me. What does Evans know about justice? He was the scumbag who pasted my pictures everywhere, and then tried to make up for it when he found out I’m decent at grades by shoving me into the gaping, greedy maw of every snooty college in the world.
I push out the doors and into the quad. Chilly February air bites at my ankles, but the sun is out, and warms my face. It’s a calming contrast. I see Kayla sitting on a low brick wall and staring off into the distance.
“You look like you’re thinking,” I say. “Should I take a picture to commemorate the moment?”
She rolls her eyes. “Very funny. Hilarious, even.”
“I try.” I sit next to her. She furrows her eyebrows and goes back to staring at nothing. Before I think up a quip to jolt her out of her gloomy mood, she turns to me and suddenly says;
“Why does Wren act weird when he sees Jack?”
“Good question. I can’t be sure, since half my brain leaked out onto my hall floor a while ago, but I’m pretty sure it’s because he did something bad. At least, that’s what Wren and my foggy memories say.”
“Jack did something bad? Like…like what?”
“I don’t know.” I stare at the grass. “I honestly don’t know and it kills me on a daily basis but I somehow manage to revive and shuffle around in a mockery of living.”
“I remember they were friends,” Kayla says. “I came here in, like, fourth grade. They were friends. Wren and Jack and Avery and that Sophia girl were all friends. Really tight. Like a circle no one could get into. I was jealous of them. I didn’t have good friends – just people who liked the snacks in my house and my makeup kit.”
It sounds lonely. I don’t say that, though.
“Why are you down about Wren? You told me he’s a nerd.”
Kayla flushes. “W-Well, yeah. He’s the nerd king. But – I don’t know! He just gets so…so freaked when he sees Jack. It’s weird.”
“All I know is something happened in middle school. Avery did something to hurt Sophia, and Jack stopped it. And Wren was there, with a camera, because Avery bullied him into filming it.”
Kayla’s eyes go wide. “Do you think there’s a tape of it? If Wren filmed it –”
“I doubt he’d keep it. He’s so guilty, he probably destroyed it. You can ask him about it. But it really stresses him out. And he’s kind of always on the edge already. Never relaxes. It might not be the best thing to talk about.”
“Yeah,” she says softly.
“Why all the sudden concernicus, Copernicus? Do you…do you like him or something?”
Kayla’s face engulfs with a red-hot blush and she stands instantly.
“W-What? No! Don’t be stupid! He’s not my type!”
I laugh and follow her as she strides through the crisp grass.
“You’re a bad liar,” I say.
“You’re a bad…a bad…eyeliner-put-on-er!” She snaps. I smother my laughter and mildly fail.
“Look, I’m curious too. I’ve been curious for a while about this. Wren said something to me in the hospital about Lake Galonagah. Avery has a –”
“- family cabin up there,” Kayla finishes. “Yeah. I’ve been to it every summer for the last four years. It’s beautiful, and huge, and the lake is like, five steps from the door and the hammock is silk and the chandelier used to be Michael Jackson’s I think –”