Chapter 18: Truth's Revealed
I was out of the infirmary after three days. I was kind of relieved. I was so tired of the sympathic glances that shot my way and the get well cards and flowers that I often received. Most normal people would have found it kind – I found it tiring. I just wanted to pretend that it never happened. Of course, the day they had me released, I had sat down with a nurse who had to give some very bad news. Even though I was going to be alright, the nurse said that my insides would never be the same. The potion Ms. Hardwick had given me may have gotten rid of the fire inside me, it couldn’t however, heal the scars that they had left behind on my lungs and heart. I was proud to say I kept a straight face through the whole conversation, but on the inside I wanted to cry. According to the doctor, my lungs and heart were so blacken in places that it was almost hard for anyone to recognize my organs for what they were. So if that was the case, then how was I still alive?
When I got to my room later that evening, I decided to take a shower. Three days and not being able to bathe was torture. I swung my backpack on my bed, placed my books and homework on my desk, and then rushed to the bathroom. I locked the door, and went straight to the bathtub and turned the shower on. I passed by the mirror and stopped in my tracks. I looked horrible! My hair looked like a bird lived on top of my head, while my eyes looked red and swollen from all the crying. Not to mention, the dark circles under my eyes that told me I hadn’t slept good in the last couple of days. I looked away from my reflection and continued getting undressed.
When I was done, and my hair was washed, I went in my room and went to bed, hoping that maybe I’d sleep better tonight in my own bed. Once my head hit the pillow, I was out.
The next day, I resumed my daily schedule, ignoring everyone’s pity glances as I walked to Combat and Training. I was just walking through the courtyard when I knocked into Ms. Tabby.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Crawford. I guess I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
“It’s quite alright,” she said, her voice sincere.
I wasn’t sure what to say – so I just smiled and shuffled past her.
“Spencer, wait.” Ms. Tabby said. I stopped, before turning around. To my horror, she was eyeing me with concern. “Are you doing okay?”
I thought about that question for a bit. Was I doing okay? Well, someone in this school is trying to kill me. The boy I love doesn’t want to talk to me anymore because he blames himself for what happened to me. And to top it all off, my lungs and heart are messed up.
“I’ve never felt better.” I lied. I noticed that my voice sounded dead.
She didn’t seem convinced. “That’s good. I’ll see you in class then.”
I just nodded before continuing my walk to the gym.
I didn’t really talk to any of my friends. There really wasn’t much for me to say. I was depressed and I felt exhausted when I even tried to feign interest in their conversations. Really, I just wanted to go back to bed. To my relieve, Coach Howl let me sit out for today’s class. I guess he didn’t think I was up to it, which was fine by me. I wasn’t really ready for anything physical.
My heart started beating painfully in my chest when I spotted Alex by himself, training with a punching bag. I was surprised that the punching bag was still intact. The way he kept hitting it repeatedly made me think that he was upset about something. I placed my elbows on my knees and continued to watch him. He was so beautiful, with his pale skin glistening with sweat, and his black unruly hair in his eyes as he kicked and punched the bag over and over again. When he finally stopped to take a breather, he stiffened as he spotted me looking at him. I waved tentatively at him. To my dismay, he didn’t wave back; instead he went back to hitting the punching bag, beating it harder this time. I gasped when it finally came off the chain and made a loud boom, causing everyone to turn and gape at him. He didn’t seem to notice. Alex grabbed a towel and dabbed his face with it, walking slowly back to the changing rooms.
When third period came around, I waited at our table in Magic and Spells, tapping my foot repeatedly until Alex finally showed up and took his seat by me. I smiled, hoping maybe he’d smile back, but he didn’t even try to look at me. My smile faded. I looked towards the front of the class where Ms. Hardwick stood teaching.
“Today class everyone here will be taking a pop quiz on everything we’ve studied for the past two weeks.”
Everyone groaned, except Alex and me. We remained silent as Ms. Hardwick passed out the tests. I looked at the quiz before me, suddenly feeling a little sick. If I’d known I would be taking a test today I would have studied last night.
“You may begin,” she said.
I picked up my pencil and read through each question easily. I was relieved to find out that each question was rather simple. I don’t know what I was worried about.
When I finished, I took my test to Ms. Hardwick, who smiled and mouthed Thank you as she put my test on the edge of the desk for her to grade later. I returned to my seat, pulled out my Kindle, and read for the rest of class.
Time seemed to fly by as I got lost in the world of Narnia. I jumped when the bell rang, and winced as my heart reacted painfully from the sound. I took a deep breath, trying to calm my racing heart, before packing my things slowly. I was in no hurry to get to my next class. Alex slung his bag over his shoulder and disappeared through the door, not even bothering to glance back at me. I zipped my bag roughly and followed behind Jordan and Alicia as we made our way out of Ms. Hardwick’s class.
Later that evening, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to hang out with Jordan and Alicia. We were in the rec room, which was basically the lounge in the dormitory building. It was full of red L shaped couches, facing huge plasma screen TV’s, with game consoles and pool tables, along with other games like air hokey, or table tennis. There were coke and snack machines scattered here and there, full of unhealthy snacks. I grimaced. The thought of food made me sick. It was a little weird, hanging around Alicia, but they were both really sweet as they tried welcoming me into their conversations. Of course, I didn’t mind just listening. I smiled at one point when they started teasing each other, both of them constantly touching one another as they did. My smile disappeared. Suddenly it hit me that I really missed Alex. I wiped a tear before either of them would see and forced a smile. I was beginning to feel really tired.
It was then that Jordan excused himself, saying something about how he had to go to the bathroom, leaving Alicia and me alone. I take it back. Now it’s weird.
Alicia squirmed in her seat, obviously uncomfortable too. “So,” she said. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been okay,” I answered. I tried feigning politeness. After all, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings because I was in a bad mood. “What about you?”
A dreamlike smile seemed to take over her face. “I’m wonderful. Jordan is really something.”
I smiled in return. At least that is something we both have in common. Jordan. “He really is. I’ve gotten through a lot with him. Jordan’s my best friend.”
Alicia’s smile disappeared. She bit her lip, uncomfortable again. “Are you sure?”
“I just...I can’t help but feel a little jealous of you and Jordan’s relationship sometimes.”
I was silent as I let her words sink in. Oh, crap. Scarlett was right. But what was there for her to be jealous about? “Alicia, I want you to know that there is nothing going on between me and Jordan. He’s like a brother to me. There really is nothing for you to worry about.”
“Really?” she asked.
“Because I love him so much and I don’t want my jealousy of you to get in the way. I don’t want to ruin your friendship with him either. I know how it is with your bond and you’re N’Sync.”
“Well,” I said, feeling satisfied for the first time in a while. “I’m glad we got this straightened out.”
“Me too,” Alicia said. Then she gave me a genuine smile, one that I couldn’t help but return.
“I hate to be a party pooper, but I’m not feeling very well. Will you tell Jordan that I went to bed?”
“Yeah, sure. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just exhausted.”
“Oh, okay. Well, I hope you get to feeling better.” She sounded sincere.
“Thanks. You’ll be alright by yourself, right.”
“I’ll be fine,”
“Okay,” I said. I stood up and started heading towards the stairs when Alicia said, “Goodnight Spencer.” I didn’t reply. I just waved instead. When I got back to our dorm, I went straight to my room and climbed into bed. As I lay there, I tried my hardest not to think.
The next day I was called into Headmaster Death’s office. I didn’t know what it was about, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I was in trouble. Then again, it’s always been that way. Every time I was called into the principal’s office back home, I would instantly become wary. What did I do? Was I in trouble? It was always the same questions every time I was called to the office. Nine times out of ten I was because I would accidentally use magic while in school. So you could understand why I was so nervous while I sat across from Death in his office.
“So I have some good news,” he said. At these words, I breathed a sigh of relieve. “The Board of Education just called and said that they are going to start putting up wards around the school tomorrow. Isn’t that exciting? Now no one can harm you.”
This was the last thing I was expecting. Part of me was hoping that maybe they had caught the person responsible for all this mayhem.
“Is that all?” Death just nodded. I frowned. “But Headmaster, don’t you think we need to be more concerned about the inside instead of the outside? I mean, hasn’t it crossed your mind that it might be someone at the academy that’s behind everything?
“It has. It still is. But right now it wouldn’t hurt to put up wards just case. You were right. There have been sightings of Azazel. Not to mention, they found Sally Houston’s body just outside of town.”
“They finally found her! Have they ran any tests on the body, maybe found any hairs or any kind of DNA that could tell us who’s behind all this? Because you do realize that it wasn’t Azazel that killed Sally, right?”
“Yes. And yes they have looked for all kinds of evidence, but so far there is none.”
Well, damn. Whoever is behind all this is good. Real good.
“Spencer,” Death said, tersely. His deep voice made me jump, bringing me back to the present. I shook my head, trying to focus. “I’ve been thinking maybe it is time for you to tell your mother what’s been going on.”
“No way,” Why the hell would he even suggest such a horrible thing? My mother would go berserk.
“And why not?” Death’s red eyes were staring at me in puzzlement. “Your mother deserves to know.”
“If she finds out, she’ll pull me out of the academy and make me return home. The last thing I want to do is bring my mother into all of this!”
Death opened his mouth, about to reply, when he was interrupted by a knock at the door. “Come in,” he said.
The old lady at the desk appeared, her eyes looking between us wearily. “I’m sorry to interrupt you sir, but you’ve got a very important phone call.”
“I’ll be right there,” he answered. Death pointed a warning finger at me. “I’m just going to be in there so don’t try to go anywhere. We’re not finished.” When Death’s back was turned, I stuck my tongue out at him. When the door closed behind him, I started scanning his office, mostly out of boredom. The walls were a dark panel wood, with awards hanging proudly nailed to the walls, while the floors were made of dark, red carpet. I grimaced. Who knows how many times they’ve had to vacuum in here? Surely that has to suck. There was a huge window behind his desk overlooking the courtyard, and as I stood up to peer outside, I could see some familiar faces as they chatted with their friends, while others hurried on to class. Suddenly I felt sad. How nice it must be to not have to worry about anything?
I sighed, and was about to sit back down when I noticed in the left hand corner of his office, a black trash bag. I couldn’t help but suspect that that was the bag with all of Alex’s discarded paper balls. His secretive drawings that nobody – except Death himself – knows about. I turned around and looked at the closed door. The coast was still clear. I rushed across the room, peeking over my shoulder every now and again. When I made it to the black bag, I dropped to my knees and started untying it. When it was finally opened, I pulled out one of the million paper balls and unrumpled it.
In that moment my heart stopped. I was completely stunned at what I was looking at. Because on the paper was a very a good drawing of me. I put a hand over my heart, for it was starting to hurt a little. That’s why Alex was proven innocent. Because why would Alex draw a picture of me multiple times and try to hurt me? The way he saw me – I looked beautiful.
“He has an amazing talent, doesn’t he?”
I squeaked, and turned around to see Death staring at me, his eyes inquisitive. I narrowed my eyes at him. “How long have you been standing there?”
“Oh, not long.” He walked towards me to peer over my shoulder. “The way he draws you – it’s like you’re a goddess – one that he seems to worship. Were you ever aware that while he watched you, he also sketched you?”
I blushed. “Um…no. I didn’t even think he liked me at that time.”
“It’s obvious he’s smitten by you. He’s a lot less aggressive towards others I’ll give him that.”
“Everyone always makes him out to be the bad person, but he’s really not.”
“I know,” he answered. He took the picture from me, examining it closely. “That’s why I’ve kept these drawings – to remind myself that Alex isn’t the one trying to hurt you.”
“Who do you think it is?” I asked. “You don’t really believe Abby…” I trailed off uncertainly.
“I believe Abigail is a lot of things, but a murderer…no. She’s not one to get her hands dirty.”
“But it has to be someone in the school. Someone that we’re not seeing.”
“Or maybe there right in front of you.” My eyes widened at his words. Death laughed. “Don’t worry. It’s not me. I maybe Death, but I don’t kill without there being a reason. And I work for no one. Whoever is trying to kill you is working very closely with him!”
“I just wish I could figure out who that is.”
“And you will,” Death said. “When the time comes.”
Friday evening the girls and I went dress shopping. The boutique shop that we entered was full of so many gorgeous dresses; some sparkling under the chandeliers, while others appeared blend, but still pretty all the same. I was never really into poofy dresses as I sifted through them. I found them tacky. And they seemed kind of hard to walk in. I was scanning through a rack full of dresses, all of them different colors and lengths as I searched for the perfect dress. I blew out a loud sigh and was just about to give up when I saw it. It was perfect. The dress that was made for me. It was a long, slim, black dress, which was strapless, with a bust that was completely made out of silver sequins. Looking at it, I knew that my breasts could fit in it. Hell, I probably wouldn’t even have to wear a bra! I smiled as I picked it off the rack. I examined the price. To my amazement, it seemed reasonable. So I bought it, along with some black flats. I didn’t trust myself in heels. I’m too much of klutz. I sat down on the velveteen bench and waited around as my friends continued to shop.
In the end, Gabrielle bought a short black, strapless dress that had a lime green sash, with open toed shoes. I knew that if she was to wear it right now, it would probably come to about her thighs. I was still surprised that she bought the dress – seeing as she was just as shy about her body as I was – but I knew that it would look amazing on her either way.
Now Scarlett’s dress didn’t surprise me. It was a red slim, strapless dress that came to about her upper thighs, with a sweet heart neckline. She also bought black pumps to go with it. I had to admit, when she came out wearing the dress, she looked absolutely sexy. No doubt, she’s going to have a flock of guys following her all night at the ball.
Mia’s dress was gorgeous. It was a sky blue goddess-like-dress, which was strapless. The bust – like mine – was completely made out of silver sequins. When she wore it, it seemed to fit her body perfectly, bringing out her curves and slim figure. Her shoes were sandals, made of silver rhinestones. Me and the others laughed when Scarlett got on her knees, bowing continually, until Mia escaped to the changing rooms.
Alicia’s dress was a lavender, floor length ball gown, with a sweet heart neckline, which was strapless, and tulle appliques. She also wore silver, open toed shoes that seemed to sparkle when the lights hit them. Needless to say she looked beautiful and I knew Jordan was going to piss his pants when he saw her.
Jennifer’s dress was just as pretty. Her dress was a shiny, long orange chiffon dress. It had a sweet heart neckline, with sparkling beads scattered all around the bust, with a slit going down her left leg. She wore white stiletto heels – heels that look like they could break a man’s back.
It was a little past six when we left the boutique shop. I had my dress draped over my shoulder as we made our way back to the academy. Our voices filled the desolate streets as we talked animatedly about the ball. Jordan said I wasn’t like most girls, but in this moment, as we laughed and carried on, I definitely felt like one.
Saturday evening I decided to visit Mr. Grey’s office. Most teachers tend to hang around their offices over weekends, seeing as they didn’t have much to do around the school year. Usually it was because they had overdue paper work that needed finishing or – in my case – help a student when their having trouble with a certain assignment. I knocked on the door, stood patiently, waiting for him to answer. When he didn’t, I checked the doorknob to see if it was unlocked; I let the door swing open, revealing a dark and empty office. Huh. I wonder where he is. I turned on the light and closed the door behind me. I took a seat at one of the two chairs that stood in front of his desk, and waited.
After thirty minutes went by – and I reread the same questions on my homework over and over again – I became nosy and started looking around on Mr. Grey’s desk. There really wasn’t much besides pictures of Jordan and Morgan. Not to mention, the never ending paperwork that sat on the edge of his desk. Curious, I picked it up to read it, just to see what it was about when a picture fell on my lap. I was bemused as I picked it up and examined it.
I gaped at the image before me. What the hell was this?
In the picture, there were two people seated on a white porch. In it was my mother holding a baby wrapped in a pink blanket with a man sitting beside her, his arms wrapped tenderly around both of them. I examined the man. He was very handsome, with long, silver hair blowing in the wind. He had brown eyes that seemed to remind me of mine. I felt my heart pulsating in my chest as I continued to look at the man in the picture. Oh my God. This was my father! The baby in the pink blanket had to be me.
I started hyperventilating. After all this time, I have finally found a picture of my father. But why did Mr. Grey have it?
Just then the door opened, revealing a very tired looking Mr. Grey. He stopped in his tracks when he saw me seated in one of the chairs, holding the picture of my family in my hand.
“Spencer,” Mr. Grey said. He sounded surprised to see me. “What are you doing here?”
I didn’t answer. Instead I held the picture out to him, my eyes filled with angry tears. “What is this?”
He sighed. “You weren’t supposed to see that.”
“And why not?” I demanded.
“Because it’s not easy to explain. The truth is not simple.”
“What truth? I don’t even know what you are talking about! How did you come across this picture?”
“You’re father sent it to me.” Mr. Grey said, stiffly.
“Why? Because you guys were that close of friends!” I scoffed.
“No,” he said. And then what he said next was completely shocking that it left me speechless. “It’s because I’m your uncle.”