“Wow!” I exclaimed under my breath as I gazed around the magnificent hall of St Normans. The winter ball has always been an event to look forward to, it is an ancient school tradition that has effected with respect, and the utmost importance. The place looked dazzling brilliant, the food was exquisite, everyone looked breathtakingly gorgeous. The décor married the elegant regal English style with romantic, beautiful, modern Italian trends. I let my fingers trace the detailed wallpaper.
Fairy lights hung from the ceiling and corners of the room, illuminating the bronze cutlery neatly placed on cream tablecloths, with white roses for the centerpieces. Never in my entire high school life had she seen the hall look so elegant yet fragile. Sophistication whispered throughout the hall. “Oh no! not this year too! Sounds like Mr. Ronald is our DJ tonight!” whined Jade Stansfield from behind and with good reason. Mr. Ronald may have an excellent taste in fashion (for a man his age that is), but his taste in music is just plain old awful. “I feel like falling asleep” added Lilly imitating the drowsy zombie-looking students that filled the hall.
“Oh no Emmy, not that smile no, no, no.” Lilly warned turning to face Emily Kingston whose green eyes sparkled as she smirked and asked “What smile?” Instantly, without question, the four of us huddled together to hear Emily’s plan.
The second Emmy finished, Jade headed to Skyler Frost for his cell phone that had anything but classical music. Emmy and Lilly would keep Mrs. Douglas busy so she wouldn’t influence Mr. Ronald into staying at the deck and being our DJ for the rest of the night. As for my task well, I had to face Mr. Ronald myself and get him to leave somehow. “Uh Mr. Ronald sir” I began as curious dark blue eyes turned staring into my sending a chill of fear down my spine. His pale, wrinkly face looked showing signs of fatigue as he responded: “Yes dear?“.
“Uhm I love the music you’re playing” I managed to blurt out, unable to lie to the teacher who stood before me tired and absent-minded. His skin was dry and chapped, the dark circles around his eyes were a reminder of all the sleepless nights he probably spent marking our papers.
“Was that all?” he replied frustrated and somewhat insulted.
“No sir, you look tired, maybe if you could leave the deck with me you can go and get some rest if that’s ok with you of course?”
“I’m afraid not dear, it will be best if I managed the deck, thank you for your concern,” Mr. Ronald said waving me away with his hand.
“Sir, please I promise to take good care of it” I pleaded.
“Well if you insist, I do need the rest” he confessed sighing. I nearly jumped for joy at the thought that she had gotten rid of him so easily. Little did I know that I had just earned myself a lifelong speech.
" And make sure that you play songs from this file, don’t open too many windows or the computer may freeze OK?” I nodded in agreement and he was off.
As soon as his head disappeared down the stairs Lilly, Jade, Emmy, and Skyler came rushing towards me almost knocking me over as they skidded to a stop.
“What took you so long?” inquired Emmy as Skyler worked his magic. The room’s atmosphere changed from dead asleep to a young and vibrant vibe. The music was accompanied by a series of shouts, and lots of cheers. The students awoke from their trance-like state. “Now this is music that even Mrs. Douglas can dance too” Jade stated, pointing in Mrs. Douglas’s direction who was rocking the dance floor.
Filled with amazement all I could do was stare. In all my years at St John’s High never had I seen my art teacher, dance not even shake her head at a party. Yet here she was setting the dance floor on fire with her moves. Everybody turned in her direction and began cheering for her. I couldn’t help but notice a young man across the room who didn’t bother joining the crowd that encircled Mrs. Douglas. He was tall, had broad shoulders, and Fair in complexion but, I couldn’t seem to get a look at his face. When I glanced to see who dared step in the circle when Mrs. Douglas left it. When I looked back to the corner where he stood but he was gone.
The lights began to flicker and die, a loud bang erupted. The hall shook with the rumble of students running in all directions. There was screaming and crying across the school hall. I just froze unsure of what to do. A strong arm grabbed mine; a firm hand covered my mouth with a wet cloth, dragging me into the depths of the darkness.
I tried with all my might to kick, wiggle, turn around and head-butt whoever was pulling me. Further and further, he dragged me until I managed to bite myself free from the strong, tall figure but, it was too late. My eyes felt heavy before I knew it the darkness pulled me in.
“Sam, Sam wake up” my cousin Amber whispered. I struggled to open my eyes to get a better look at my surroundings. “I’m home?” I said louder than I expected to. “Yes, and you’re fine. Dad, she’s up.” my cousin Amber called. “Amber, what’s going on?”
“Shh, don’t try to talk, we found you on the front porch this morning” she raised her hand gently brushing my swollen cheek. “Sam, who did this to you?” Amber’s expression displayed pity and anger.
" I, I don’t know”- I felt a sharp pain in my left cheek, I looked down at my rope burnt wrists trying to bring myself to remember but, the last thing I recall was darkness. “Oh good you’re awake now”, my dad spoke ever so softly as he entered the room and knelt by my bedside to hold my hand. I smiled, trying to hide the pain I was feeling. “What is he doing here?” Amber gestured to the young police officer standing in the doorway ” She’s not ready to see them yet.”
“Amber the sooner they are involved the better”, dad reasoned. I grabbed Amber’s hand and squeezed it. “It’s ok, I’ll be fine, I promise you can leave us here”. She reluctantly walked out glancing back at me one last time as if to say are you sure? I nodded. The man was tall, with dark, thick hair, he looked at least three years my senior yet, he was a cop? What a waste of his life. If I were him, I’d still be in college living my life to the fullest, not spending my days rescuing cats from trees half the time.
“Yes, what is it?” I had to ask, realizing that he was staring for far too long.
“Uh, I meant to, I mean I, I” he paused to clear his throat then continued. “Where were you when the incident took place?”
“In the hall, where else?” I questioned back. In my mind, I was debating on whether to tell him the truth or wait till a real ‘cop’ came to interrogate me.
Something inside me was telling me to hush, not say a word to him at all. Trust me when I say I know for a fact how dangerous it is to go against your gut feeling. Last fall Nancy Allen had taken me out to an amusement park last year on my birthday. The first ride she wanted us to go on was the Ferris wheel. My gut told me not to go but, due to Nancy’s nagging, I caved in. Nancy and I ended up being stuck at the very top for two and a half hours in the scorching heat.
I skilfully dogged each question relating to what happened to me and only gave him a description of events as I thought the other students might have told him.
“Miss Ashworth, I would appreciate it if you could stop arguing with me so we could finally make progress and get some answers” .he practically begged me.
“What sort of answers would you like?” I dared ask one more time.
He hung his head, slipped his hand into his pocket, handed me a card, and said: “call me when you’re ready to talk”. Taking a glance at the card, it read Christopher Jones Stafford police academy 0001-------761.