“And are you sure you didn’t see anyone?” Ms. Clark asked Charla with a look of concern. “You didn’t see anyone in the window who threw that plant?”
Charla shook her head. “No, I was too worried about Sarah then thinking who it was. I know that’s not what anyone wants to hear but I just saw the pot from the window and I just moved instinctively. That’s all…” her gaze went to the floor, she really didn’t have anything else she could say since it was very much reacting on instinct.
Ms. Clark then looked to Sarah. “Then Miss Finnegan, you were carrying another student’s desk back to your classroom. We’ve heard that one of your classmates Matthew Braun has been the subject of bullying. But no one knows whose doing it. Is there a chance that you might know who it is?”
“No Ms. Clark, I’m sorry. It’s just whenever I would go to our homeroom class, almost every other day Matthew’s desk and chair would be gone. I would just go and retrieve it. I never knew who was doing it, even if I asked.”
Ms. Clark frowned slightly but didn’t say anything, Charla could see that the woman wasn’t angry, no, she was thinking. The way her eyes shifted with each internal thought that crossed her mind as to what she could do in this situation, but from the constant shift in her eye movements Charla knew that Ms. Clark had no answer.
“I see…” Ms. Clark said as she turned and walked to her desk and looked at the student files that were there before looking back at the two girls. “Thank you, the both of you can leave now. I may call you back for additional questions later.”
Sarah left but when Charla was about to leave Ms. Clark spoke up. “You did an amazing thing Charla, you should be proud.”
But Charla didn’t smile, she merely looked concerned. “Thank you Ms. Clark…” was all she said before leaving the office and letting out a deep breath. Only to then be yanked over as Alex wrapped an arm around Charla’s neck.
“Girl you’re a freaking hero!” Alex said with a big grin. “Be more happy you!”
“I’m not really used to saving people Alex so I’m still trying to come to terms with it.” Charla told her almost unphased by Alex’s action of grabbing her, by now Charla had become accustomed to it. “You would be too if you were in my place.”
“Nope I’d be different.” She said almost proudly.
“Then what would you do?” Sarah asked.
“I’d gloat the hell out of it for at least a week.” Alex laughed before looking at Charla and saying. “You know, you probably should go and get changed, and maybe even shower too after what just happened. I’m sure you need one.”
Charla looked down at herself, her gym clothes were covered in mud and the like from sliding in the dirt. “That’d probably be a good idea.”
“Awesome, while you go do that I’ll take Sarah here to the nurse.”
Sarah looked slightly confused. “Huh? But I’m not hurt.”
Alex pointed to certain areas on Sarah’s body. “The cuts you have would suggest otherwise kid.” Sarah looked at her arms and leg and noticed a number of cuts and scratches. “It’s okay if you didn’t notice them; adrenaline can do that to anyone. It’s happened to me a few times too. Come on. Oh and when we’re done we’ll meet you at the front of the second school building okay?”
“That’s fine but what about class?”
Alex shrugged. “Hey we should be exempted from having to go after what you both went through today.”
It sounds like you just want to skip class. Both Charla and Sarah thought before Sarah then turned to Charla and smiled at her. “Thanks again Charla for what you did.”
“You should get going.” Charla told them and as the two girls walked Charla merely watched them walk on before she went to the second building, as she walked though she paused when noticing something on the ground and realised it was a lighter. Someone must have dropped it; picking it up she saw it was even still full of lighter fuel. For now she put it in her hoodie pocket, when she finished in the shower she’d take it to the lost and found on the way back to Alex. As she did so though a number of students from another class passed her, heading off to their own gym class one of the students she recognized and who recognized her in turn.
“Heeey!” Sam Winters called out waving her arms enthusiastically in the air before running over to her. “I heard what happened from the other students! That was awesome at what you did!”
“What I did?”
“You saved that first year from being hit in the head!”
I really need to remember that news travels like wildfire in high school. She thought to herself. “Oh that, well I’m just happy I could get to her.”
“Yeah but I totally wish I was there you know?” Charla looked at her confused and Sam elaborated. “I mean you must have been running like several meters per second! You’d be awesome at the seven meter dash I just know it!”
“Thank you…?” Charla said unsure if that was supposed to be some form of compliment.
Sam just kept grinning but then noticed something. “Hey, is your neck okay?”
She frowned. “My neck?”
“It looks like there’s a bit of a cut near your jaw, hey if you want to come with me I could treat it for you, it doesn’t look awful you’d probably just need a Band-Aid though we’d have to move your hair out of the way to do it…”
“It’s fine!” Charla said quickly, her body turning stiff as she held up her hands. “You don’t have to worry about it, really. I don’t even feel it so it’s okay, besides I’m pretty good at taking care of things like this myself.”
Sam put her hands on her hips. “Are you sure?”
Charla simply nodded.
“Okay if you say so but hey think about joining the sports team okay? We’d love to have a girl like you join.”
“I’ll think on it. Nice seeing you again.” She said as she entered the building to where the changing and shower rooms were.
“Yeah same to you, see you later.” But as Sam walked she stopped and looked back in the direction that Charla came from. “Huh… thought someone was there.” Before shaking her head and running a hand through her hair. “I must have imagined it.”
Charla had taken her school uniform and gym bag and headed over to the showers which were separated by gender; it wasn’t anything new for her to see. in her old school she had seen something similar to that, only on a much smaller scale but no one ever seemed to want to use them all that much. Here though when she entered the showers there were at least five showers lined against three walls and a small set of red lockers surrounded by two long benches. The whole room was tiled and lit brightly showing everything. Putting her bag down on one of the benches Charla began to remove her clothes and untie her hair. Her gym clothes were left on the bench next to her bag as she then took out a towel from her bag.
During the tour of the school Ms. Clark explained that a student should bring a towel with them for gym in case they need to use the showers if they became to dirty or from using the pool, it wasn’t exactly mandatory but it was something that would make things a lot easier for the students.
Taking her towel Charla headed to a nearby shower and turned it on; she stuck her arm in to test the water before entering completely. And let out a released breath as she began to wash herself quickly than merely allowed herself to relax.
As the warm water beat down on her skin like hot summer rain Charla stared up at the ceiling. Did I really do the right thing? She thought as she closed her eyes. When I helped Sarah… people are calling me a hero that I did a good job for reacting the way I did. But that’s just it, I reacted, nothing more, I didn’t think I just moved. Besides, it’s not like if I did anything grand like stop a bomb… and if they… if they knew… she looked to her hands and for the brief instance she saw her hands coated in blood before she quickly shut her eyes and looked away. I’m no hero… I don’t even know what I am…
In the midst of her shower Charla paused when she heard the sound of the door, with a slight frown Charla called out. “Hello? Is someone there?” but heard no response, her frown deepening she turned off the water and waited to hear something. But she didn’t, taking a towel and wrapping it around herself; she pulled back the shower curtain and cautiously looked around before stepping out of the stall.
Her eyes wary as she looked around the showers but saw no one there. She hadn’t misheard the sound; she knew someone had opened the door to the girl’s shower. But looking around she didn’t see anything amiss until looking at her bag. Something was wrong with her things, worry instantly struck her as she went and rifled through her bag but she only found one item missing.
“My underwear’s gone…” and yet her bra was still there.
In that moment her whole body froze, the warmth in the air suddenly felt very cold as dread began to seep into her mind. Her heart began to beat wildly in her chest as she began to frantically search her bag in case she had buried it but every time she stopped, thought, and did another search the outcome was the same. Her underwear was still gone.
“No…” she muttered underneath her breath as her eyes darted back and forth, her hands began to shake as she wrapped her arms around herself. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…”
“Charla?” a hand rested on her bare shoulder causing her to jump back and look with shock only to realize that it was Sam who was looking deeply concerned. “Are you okay?”
“Sam… uh…” she closed her eyes to force herself to calm down.
“Did something happen? Are you hurt anywhere?” Sam asked when Charla didn’t speak up at all, when she had entered it looked to her as if Charla was suffering a panic attack.
“I… no I’m fine, I’m not hurt but… uh…”
“My… my underwear is gone, no-no matter how many times I search my bag I can’t find it. But I know I put it in my bag before I went into the shower so…”
Sam looked both dumbfounded and shocked. “Someone stole your underwear? Is your bra gone too?”
Charla merely shook her head.
Sam frowned at this, her eyes shifting for a moment before looking to Charla. “Stay here for a bit, I’ll be right back okay?”
“What about your class?”
“Class can wait, just stay here okay?”
Sam then left the showers as fast as she could go, leaving Charla alone, she couldn’t even bring herself to even sit on the bench as she remained sitting on the floor hugging herself, hazel-green eyes downcast to the tiled floor refusing to move an inch.
Images of an event came to her mind, a man in her room, a man who should not have been there at all. The whole thing made Charla feel extremely sick.
Why did this have to happen… Charla thought with dread as she rested her forehead on her knees as her stomach turned in disgust. What the hell…
The door opened again and Charla’s head snapped up as Sam came back in and when she reached Charla Sam handed her something. “Here,” Charla took it and noticed it was clean underwear that was a plain sky blue. When she looked back at Sam the girl said. “I always tend to keep a clean second pair of underwear on hand in case my time of the month happens; when you work out like I do it tends to be pretty sporadic from stress.”
“But these are yours…” Charla said and Sam merely shrugged.
“You need them more than me right now, so it’s okay.”
Charla looked at it again before looking back at her. “Are you sure?”
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it.” She said with a smile. “Now you go and get dressed, I’ll wait for you.”
Getting up Charla looked to Sam’s back as she left the shower area to let Charla dress in private, with a blank expression she looked at the underwear that she clutched in her hand and grit her teeth. “I’m pathetic…”
Alex was leaning against the entrance of the second building, as she looked up at the blue sky that only had a few clouds. It was kind odd how things could look okay after all that crazy stuff that happened only an hour ago. But the good thing was that no one was hurt, though the bad lingering feeling came where someone might do it again.
And if it did it could be worse than before.
“Alex!” she turned with a smile only to give a look of concern when she saw Sam and Charla, or more to the point how pale Charla looked. “So you were here, that’s good.”
Alex kept looking at Charla before responding to Sam. “Why are you here?”
“About that…” Sam went and explained to Alex what had happened in the showers. “The thing is, I thought I saw someone watching from a distance but I thought it was nothing, that I was imagining it. That feeling I had wouldn’t leave though so I went to check on her and…” she glanced to Charla. “You know the rest…”
“…the fuck?” Alex muttered as she pushed her hair out of her face. “I mean who the hell would even, just why? It makes no sense; this isn’t some Japanese school drama pervert shit.”
“Yeah but remember some of the town’s folk have been saying that there’s been a thief of someone taking girl’s underwear recently so it could—”
“It doesn’t matter.” Both girls looked to Charla who then let out a slow steady breath. “Look it doesn’t really matter now; it was my own fault for not putting it in a locker. Since no one was there I thought it was safe. It happened; let’s just move on from it.”
Alex still looked worried but merely sighed in response. “If you say so…”
Charla nodded. “I do, now where’s Sarah I thought she would be here with you?”
“That would have been the case but she said if we were going to leave early then she at least wanted to take care of the flowers at the front of the school before we head out but do you… still want to go?”
Charla didn’t look at her as she headed back to the main building of the school with her headphones on her shoulders she pressed the play button on her player that played music that reached her ears. She just wanted to pretend that it didn’t even happen.
As the girl’s walked to the front main building of the school one of the classroom doors opened and Mordecai and Stacy stepped out, the blonde girl talking to him about some kind of party planned in the coming month of October, but his gaze when he saw Charla and Alex walk past, what’s more he noticed that Charla seemed rather out of it, her eyes looked almost devoid of emotion and she looked pale almost as if she was about to faint.
“Mordecai are you even listening to me?” Stacy demanded but Mordecai didn’t bother to even answer her, as he looked at Charla before turning and leaving Stacy and going in another direction. “Hey, Mordecai, wait up!” Stacy called out as she trailed after him.
Forget, forget, forget, forget! Charla kept repeating over and over again as she walked to the front entrance of the school and when they were outside again she inhaled a long deep breath. I just want to forget that whole damn thing. So just let me forget… “Do you see Sarah anywhere?”
“She might be around,” Alex said. “You stay here with Sam Charla I’ll go find her.” and then headed off to the right side of the school to find the first year student.
“Hey Charla,” Sam spoke. “Are you really going to be okay? You don’t look too good.”
“I’ll be fine,” she told her. “It’ll pass someone’s idea for a prank. That’s all…”
Sam didn’t look too convinced. “Yeah but…”
“What the hell?” the two stopped when they heard Alex shout and they both ran over in the direction of where it came from and rounded the corner to see both Alex and Sarah and something wet on the ground. “Who the hell threw that out the window!?” she demanded. “You think that shit’s funny!?”
“What happened?” Sam asked while Charla walked over to what had landed on the ground and crouched down.
“Some jerk threw something out of a window, almost hit us, I mean seriously. First that plant and now…” she stopped when she saw Charla picked what was thrown up and realized what they were. “Isn’t that, your underwear Charla?” back in the change room, long before the event she had seen Charla’s underwear, not that it was strange or anything inside the girl’s changing room of all things. But the fact that it was soaking wet with some kind of cooking oil was beyond bazar. “Why is it drenched in cooking oil?”
“It’s not mine…”
Alex frowned. “Charla what are you talking about? Those are clearly…” she stopped when she suddenly saw Charla pull out a lighter, one that Alex hadn’t seen before, where did she get it? But within that crucial moment, Charla took the lighter and lit the underwear on fire.
“Charla!?” Sarah said about to rush over only to have Sam stop her, grabbing the girl’s arm and refusing to let go as Charla let the now burning underwear fall to the ground in a blazing heap as it quickly turned black.
“They aren’t mine…” Charla said again, her voice almost completely detached of all emotion as she look at the now burning remains of the fabric at her feet. “They don’t belong to me.” She said again. “Not anymore…”