14- A Tiny String Of Guilt
Oh no. I slept in late today, and was still tired, so I got to school late and dragging. I rushed to my locker as the first bell rang and was trying to hurry so much that my fumbling actually made me slower. I was fast walking to first period a few seconds after the late bell when I realized that I hadn’t checked my phone to see who my last date would be with today.
I was still on my phone as I rounded a corner and crashed into something—hard. We both stumbled backwards and somehow my phone managed to get loose and free fall towards the ground.
“Good grief!” The person said loudly. They sounded mad.
“Look,” I said as I kept my head down and reached for my poor phone. It better not have cracked. “I know it is my fault for not looking, so my bad, but you had some fault in this too—Rye?”
“I haven’t seen you in a while. Been waiting for the lucky day you get to be my date.” He winked.
“I’m afraid that’s not gonna happen, boy.” I said, then wanted to slap myself because they always, always ask more questions.
“What do you mean? You’re quitting?” Well props to the guy for guessing.
“Yeah, today’s my last day. I only promised Amanda a week. You and two other lucky fellows didn’t have to have the uh, ‘privilege’ of taking me out.” I did air quotes for the word privilege.
“Sad to say it, but I was looking forward to my date with you after that kitchen run-in.”
“Why, so you can hide behind the food again?”
“You’d like to think that, wouldn’t ya?” He laughed. “Well I have to be off to class, I’ll see you around sometime I hope.”
And with that, we parted ways, my conscience only pulling a tiny string of guilt through my gut.
One thing I learned about Dexter: he’s a total fanboy. Over anything, everything! This guy was nuts.
“So, did you see the new Amazing Spider-man movie? It was the second one, and it was great! Well, except for the part when the girlfriend died, but other than that, great!”
“Have you heard they’re making The Mortal Instruments into a TV show? I seriously can’t wait!”
“Did you see the teacher and sub from the next door classroom talking? They’re both single, so I totally ship it.”
Dexter magically appeared by my side after lunch, as I was walking to Biology. I told him where my locker was and to meet me there after school. Well, he showed up. And all I’ve heard from him since was excited chatter. It was a bit too much for me.
For the date, Dex decided to take me to a comic book store, Barnes and Nobel, and then to get some gelato (which was apparently just like ice cream).
Here’s a little run-down on how the date ended up.
First stop: comic book store. Dexter’s face opened into a large grin as he walked through the doors. He pulled me around, showing various different series that were his favorite. He even showed me which ones to stay away from. Then, Dex’s attention went to some of the collectibles—that is, the little dolls he claimed were merely action figures. The little smirks and thumbs up from the cashier didn’t go unnoticed by me.
Stop number two: Barnes and Noble. Even compared to the smile from the previous shop, this smile was large. I guess a two-story bookstore would get any book nerd excited. Dex pulled me around to check out the different sections and even gave a recommendation for each one in case I was interested. I politely (which is hard for me) turned down every offer. I guess the escalator smack dab in the middle of the store was pretty cool though.
Last stop: the gelato place. Arguably my favorite part. The kid working behind the counter looked about our age and after giving me a once over (he probably thought I didn’t notice, the idiot) smiled at me and attempted to completely ignore Dex. Which was extremely rude in my book. So, having confirmed flavors on the way here, I stepped forward, gave my best few flirty blinks and asked in a phony sweet voice, “Are you taking my order, dear?”
“Sure thing, sweetie.” I wanted nothing more than to jump up over the counter and slap him for the good of humanity. But, in an act of civility I simply grabbed Dex by the hand to pull him closer to me.
“Good, my date and I would both like a medium mint swirl.” Almost immediately after I said that, his smirk dropped to be replaced with a scowl. I wouldn’t have been very surprised if he secretly spit on Dexter’s cup before he handed it over the counter.
“Say the line,” a coworker chastised, presumably the boss. I could nearly see the guy swallow his groan and turn back to us with a large, fake smile.
“Have a good eat and a great gelato day.” Dex and I waited until we got outside, then burst into laughter.
“Thera, I just want to apologize for dragging you along to the two stores, I’m sorry if you didn’t enjoy it. But I had a great time and want to thank you.”
“Oh please, no need to say thanks. I have to agree that was a nice date to end on.” I told Dexter.
“What do you mean? There are still three dates in Round One.”
I laughed a little. “Oh no, Dex, not for me. I quit. I promised Amanda that I would do this for a week and here’s it’s been, a week.” Dexter looked down with a frown.
“Well it was nice having this one date with you then, maybe I’ll see you around school.”
The tiny string of guilt from before wove an extra line through me.
When I got home and greeted my parents, my mom handed me a letter saying it came in the mail. I opened it up and felt my blood run cold. The letter was made of pieced together letters, like a ransom note.
Finish The Games, or else you’ll regret it.
Normally, had I just received that I would have laughed it off. I didn’t spook easily. But it was what accompanied the letter that make me squirm.
Inside the envelope was a picture of me, walking unsuspectingly into my house. I blinked.
I think I’ve just been threatened.