The Secret Thief

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Chapter 3


There is no place on earth I hate more than the halls of my school. There are a bunch of places I don’t like and avoid like death but the halls of my school are the only place I loathe. Put me in a classroom, fine. A cafeteria, totally doable. The parking lot, no problem but the halls, forget it.

To begin with they are, just like the long list of places I don’t enjoy, crowded. People are everywhere and they aren’t in the least bit careful about what, who or where they touch. My school halls are the daily version of our gym on prom night. Just the thought makes me shudder.

I don’t have psychological issues, if that’s where you’re going. Not in the least. A part of me, a big one if I’m honest, fantasizes about having someone close, someone to hold my hand when I’m sad, pat my back when I succeeded, hug me…just because.

But I can’t. I won’t. It’s too dangerous.

Let’s just say I’m allergic to human contact. Only instead of a rash when you touch me chaos happens.

Ergo, narrow passageways teeming with bodies are my personal nightmare. The difference between the school halls and all other congested spaces is I can’t avoid these halls. I have to be here.

Which is part of the reason Friday afternoon, instead of enduring a sleepy lecture in English lit, I was pressing myself as flat as possible against a dirty wall in a jam-packed hall.

“You. Get Mr. Larkin immediately.” Miss Floss, my English teacher pointed and a lone anointed boy fled. Lucky brat. The rest of us stared at her. Most were so interested in what was going on in the classroom she’d just exited that when she barked her next order, no one argued.

“All of you stay right here.”

I began to sweat.

“No one is to leave this area.” She said. “I have all your names. Do not even think about disappearing.” And in the next instant she was gone, back into Mr. O’Neal’s classroom, back to the bedlam.

My heart pounded.

“What do you think is wrong with him?” Someone asked. “Was anybody in there when it happened?”

“Uh huh. Dude it was like he exploded.”

“Come on.”

“Seriously. I have never seen projectile vomit with so much…projecting.”

The informant, in a “beer is food” t-shirt that looked like it hadn’t been washed since freshman year seemed to me an expert on the subject so I took his word. Besides, I did hear it. The paper thin walls of our school aren’t much good at keeping secrets. One minute all was quiet then suddenly it sounded like someone dying. Mr. O’Neal may as well have vomited over the loudspeaker.

“That’s disgusting. I’m out of here.”

“But Miss Floss said…”

“Stay? Why, so we can clean up? Nope.”

That was all it took. The population of the hallway halved in the blink of an eye. When the dust settled it was just me and the rule followers left.

It wasn’t exactly an improvement. The odds of getting bumped were down but now I risked losing anonymity. I tugged on the strings of my hoodie, cinching it in and covering more of my face. I had to get out of there. I would have run when everyone else did, if there’d been less people involved.

But like Miss Floss said, everyone in that hall that day was on a list somewhere. When she found them gone she’s make it a personal mission to hunt them down. I couldn’t just run. I needed to not be associated with this event whatsoever. I needed to disappear.

Luckily disappearing is something I excel at. It’s why I worked so hard at cultivating my friendless, isolated, forgettable persona. All so that when I want I can slip into an empty classroom, change my status on the attendance roster, then side step down the hall and into the girl’s bathroom without anyone wondering where I went.

Standing on the counter I peered through the cracked window and watched the truant exodus. The ones on foot took the longest to flee. I waited patiently though and, once I was sure they were all gone, climbed out and jumped to freedom.

Violet Spiner, wallflower, escapes again.

As far as I’m concerned, getting out of school is always a happy event but I left that day feeling especially high. I was good that being a nobody. Real good. I was starting to think there wasn’t a drama in the world I couldn’t get clear of without a scratch. I was unstoppable. In fact, instead of Violet the wallflower right then I decided to start calling myself Violet the bullet dodger.

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