I stayed silent, hugging my knees and waiting. I’d escaped the guards but Simon would find me, there was no doubt in my mind. He had resources and a thin veil of law on his side. If Simon wanted, he could have had the whole city out looking for me. Against that all I had was the fact that the agency Simon worked for wanted my existence to stay a secret and my two feet, one of which wasn’t fully functioning. I’d sprained my ankle in the fall. It had taken me all night to hobble the five miles to the school grounds to hide.
“Violet is that you?”
I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go and it wasn’t easy getting there. I’d crept in the dark, sticking to alleys and bushes as much as possible then spent the early hours of the morning cowering in the woods nearby. I was terrified. I shifted from one hiding hole to another never certain any was cover enough. All the while waiting.
“Violet what are you doing in the bushes?”
I was no match for Simon. Not on my own. I could get away, and I had, but I didn’t have faith things would stay that way. I needed a permanent fix and for that I needed help.
“I thought you were out with the flu? You look cold. Have you been here all night?”
I know what I said about Mr. Crabtree being a busy body and wishing he would leave me alone, but as things stood, he was all I had. I watched for him all morning. I couldn’t call and I had no way to leave a note, so an hour before anyone began arriving at school, I hid as close to his usual parking place as I could. With a fist full of pebbles I waited, praying no one else would be around to notice the hail storm of rocks I threw at him when he got out of his car.
“Are you alright? You’re shaking.” Crabtree said.
“I didn’t know where else to go.” I whispered.
“What?” he asked. “What’s this all about?”
“I need help.” Crabtree put on a serious face.
“Alright. Come with me,” He reached out. “Let’s go inside and we’ll get you some help.”
“No!” I scooted back, a wild animal dodging the cage. Crabtree face twisted. “No,” I said again, with resolve that time. “No one can know I’m here. You must promise me you won’t tell anyone you saw me.”
Crabtree scratched his head. I could tell he was unsure what to say next. He was probably trying to remember what he’d learned at the last teacher seminar on dealing with at risk teens.
“OK.” He said finally. “I promise. You stay there and I’ll stay here and you, um, you tell me what’s going on. Would that be alright?” I nodded.
“Remember that day I asked you about finding out if someone is lying to you or not?” He nodded. “Well, I found out.”
“Oh.” Crabtree looked surprised.
“I need help now. I’m alone. There is no one I can trust.” His face flooded with concern.
“Violet, I’m not sure this is my area of expertise. Maybe you should talk to the police…”
“No!” I barked. Mr. Crabtree stepped back and I realized I had to go slow or I wouldn’t get the kind of help I needed from him. “I mean, I don’t think that is a good idea.”
“But the police will be on your side Violet, I think…”
“No, you don’t understand.” I hesitated, trying to work out how to get his help without telling him the insane story that was my life. “There are people after me. Dangerous people who won’t stop until they have me. I need to disappear. If I go to the police my face will be everywhere.”
“Listen Violet,” He said sadly as though he regretted what was about to come out of his mouth, “What you’re suggesting is crazy. I’m going to phone your mother right now and we are going to straighten this all out…”
“Wait! Please,” I cried, on the verge of falling to pieces. “Don’t call her. She’s…She’s…” Crabtree waited, watching me carefully, “They are watching her. If she comes for me, the people after me will know where I am and then they won’t need her anymore. She isn’t safe.” Crabtree didn’t respond. I was getting somewhere. “I have to get away from here,” I said quickly, pushing on before he changed his mind. “That’s why I came to you. You know people. You said so. Because of your wife and her work you know people who can help me get away, right?”
Crabtree didn’t move. We stared at each other. Then he tilted his head into a very slow nod.
“I can’t go to my mother now but once I get away I can contact her. Please Mr. Crabtree I don’t have anywhere else to go.”
Mr. Crabtree studied my face and I tried to look pathetic but trustworthy, desperate to sway him.
A car turned onto the lot. Another teacher was showing up for work. It was only the beginning. The rest of the faculty would arrive soon. I was running out of time. The car drove straight towards us. They would see me. In another second I would be visible to the driver and everything would be over.
Quickly, Crabtree took two steps back. The car continued on. It did not stop. Crabtree had shielded me. He’s placed his body in front of the brush I was crammed into and blocked me from their view. Then he waved a big good morning to his coworker and the car rolled by without a hitch.
Crabtree protected me. He was one my side.
“I don’t have much time.” I whispered. Crabtree’s back was still to me. “If you don’t help me I have to run and I have to do it soon.” The words came out shaky, worried and scared.
“I can take you to my house for now.” He said. Then he pointed. “But you, young lady, are going to tell me exactly what you are involved in.”
“And after that I’ll decided whether or not to call my people,” he told me, “or the police.”