The student worked industrious hands, spurred by exhilaration from a congealing understanding what pushed passed usual failsafe systems designed to insure conformity. She hid the illicit activity below desk level, the meticulous effort slowed by a need to reduce noise. The paper folded thrice to enhance stealth, while its compact size provided security in transit.
Mustering courage through the slow pull of a deep breath, she whispered a destination to a student cross-aisle and handed over the yellow, two-inch square.
The clandestine student message system activated and did its part in forwarding. In mere seconds, the paper found its mark. Surprised Megan, lost in a blackboard example of sine, cosine, and tangents, startled from the light shoulder tap. Taking possession, she unravelled the message and read.
The authoritative call repeated a second time. Immobilised Megan sat transfixed, lost in the nether space of inability to process. The middle-aged instructor approached, perturbed by the impertinence of one her star pupils, this one she judged a passive player.
“Hand it over.” The student’s blank stare screamed indifference but masked semi-catatonic shock. “Megan!”
“Huh? Wha-” Hands fast-tucked the note into the under-desk cubby, fooling no one.
“Would you remove the paper you stowed away, please?”
“Megan. Paper or detention, you decide.”
Handling with trepidation what she considered a lethal document, Megan removed the paper and tried to hand it to Linda Calhoun, an instructor of fifteen years at the public high school, her only employment since graduation from Wellesley in 1954, year of birth for most in the class.
“No, you hold on to the paper for now. Please read it to us, Megan.”
A sudden urge to upchuck swept through Megan, the crisis generating sweat already percolating on her forehead. “I cannot.”
“Cannot or will not?”
Linda swept the paper away and read aloud.
“Megs, I can’t find the courage to tell you except in writing. It seems silly to say I can’t tell my best friend how I feel face to face, but I never told anyone I loved-”
Linda Calhoun, now wearing a crimson coloured face, ceased reading. She omitted the words, ‘-them before, at least not this kind of love. It took me a long time to understand and admit the truth to myself.
There it is, Megs. I love you.
The two best students in her career danced in league with the devil himself, perhaps one still innocent and salvageable if separated from influence from the other. Haley, best of the best, needed active psychological intervention.
In class, the teacher-less students extrapolated the gist of the message, setting their rumour mill abuzz with juicy gossip for after school conversation. Linda marched her dual problems to the assistant principal, keeping them separate while she explained the unfolding scandal.
Megan. Haley, my gosh, Haley. Linda Calhoun knew not the future, but her classroom read of a message intended private set in motion a series of incidents, and it would culminate with an unspeakable act riverside.
(Authors note: this 500 word snippet starts another of my novels in waiting. It has my favourite ending, although of course I won’t share it here. 🙂 )