Chapter 2: (Layla's POV) Dalton? Crying?
“Dude, Dalton hasn’t posted on his Insta for the past week.” Wyatt walked closer to me and handed his phone over.
“First, I’m not your dude. Save that for your buddies on the basketball team. And second, why would I need to know that Dalton didn’t post on his Instagram. He has a life you know, besides posting on social media 24/7. It’s not like he’s gonna post everything he does on there for the whole school to see. Like, what if his dog died? He ain’t gonna post about that. He might just be crying at home.” I exclaimed, handing his sleek, black iPhone back to him without looking at the contents of the screen.
“Seriously Layla, come on,” Wyatt said, looking at me with that face of his. I swear it makes you question everything you just said.
“What? People get just as much upset when their pet dies as when a close friend or family member passes away.” I smiled at him.
“Shoot, it’s 6:57. We have spring season tryouts today. Meet you at lunch?” Wyatt asked as he ran a hand through his dark brown hair.
“Sure. See you!” I said before turning on my heel only to slam into a concrete wall. I almost fell flat on my face but caught myself. As I peered up, I realized that I’d collided with Dalton McIntyre, the popular jock of the school. Every school has one of them, maybe even more. Or in Wyatt’s words, “the guy who hasn’t posted on Instagram for a week.”
It’s crazy how much attention you get from being the star basketball player and the boyfriend of the most popular girl in the school. I started to say sorry for crashing into him, but then I noticed his blue-grey eyes were wet, and a tear was sliding out of the corner of his eye. As if he were in a rush, he brushed past me and strode into the principal’s office without looking back.
As I walk into English a minute late, not a single person looks up to see who just walked through the door. I’m invisible at this school since I only moved here last year from another country and I keep to myself most of the time. I walked to my desk before plopping down into the chair. We have those annoying desks that have chairs attached to them and it takes forever to get in and out of your seat since it’s so compact. They’re all so close to each other that once everyone’s sitting down, no one can get out unless they’re sitting in the front row of the class. I throw my clear backpack over the side of the desk and look around the class. Yes, we have clear backpacks. It’s been school policy since one kid brought a gun to school ten years ago.
Francesca Preston’s friends are gossiping about the latest celebrity news while the so-called “nerds” are studying and sharing notes for some big upcoming test in World History. Our teacher, Mr. Madden is getting up from his chair and walking up to the front of the class, probably about to tell everyone to stop talking and start working on whatever assignment it is that we need to work on.
“Class is beginning everyone. Please keep your conversations on hold so I can give you the details for today’s assignment.” Mr. Madden boomed, his commanding voice silencing the entire class.
I looked up at Mr. Madden, getting ready to hear about how we’re going to write an argumentative essay, or a book report consisting of five thousand words. You see, some English teachers are boring and give the same kinds of assignments all the time but they don’t care what you do as long as some sort of work gets done or turned in. Other English teachers are breathing down your back and walking around the room, glancing at every student’s paper to make sure they aren’t slacking off. However, Mr. Madden is pleased as long as we’re writing some words down on a sheet of paper. Plus, he’s passionate about his job. For the writers in our class, he’ll always happily give feedback and help them improve. Overall, pretty decent teacher so everyone respects him unlike most of the teachers in this school.
“So today, I would like for you to write a horror story. It can be something based on an experience that you had, or from your imagination. The only catch is,-” Mr. Madden paused to look over at Sienna and Evelyn, two of Francesca’s friends who were speaking in hushed voices while staring down at their phones.
“Sienna, Evelyn, I’m giving instructions for today’s assignment. Please put your phones away and pay attention.” They didn’t even realize Mr. Madden had called them out.
Once they finally looked up, I could see that their eyes were wide open and they seemed to be in a world that was far away from English class. However, both girls’ hands were tightly gripping their phones as if they were scared of dropping them.
“Yes, Mr. Madden?” Sienna asked in a weak voice, oblivious that she’d gotten called out for being on her phone during class. Evelyn stood beside her, ready to hear what Mr. Madden had to say. Behind both of them, McKenna Lee, another close friend of Francesca paid no attention to them whatsoever, admiring her long, pink acrylic nails before turning her head to give me a quick glare.
“You both have detention after school. This is the third time you’ve been on your phones while I was giving out directions. I hate to give you detention on the first day back from Spring Break, but consequences are consequences.” Mr. Madden announced.
“Mr. Madden, this is a serious matter-” Evelyn started to say before Mr. Madden interrupted.
“I don’t need your excuses, Evelyn. Three strikes, remember.” Mr. Madden responded.
“Fine, just take a look at this then.” Evelyn huffed as she thrust the hand she had her phone in to reveal the screen to her teacher. She shifted her weight back and forth on her feet while intently watching Mr. Madden, waiting for any sign of emotion on his face. Sienna stared at the ground, looking up every few seconds, still wearing a distressed expression.
Moments later, Mr. Madden’s eyes grew wide and he peered closer at Evelyn’s phone like he was making sure that he wasn’t seeing things.
“What? Did someone die?” McKenna asked, hoping for an answer now that it was obvious something was going on that she didn’t know about.
Mr. Madden ignored her and gave the phone back to Evelyn. “Sorry, Evelyn and Sienna. I’ll let you off this time, but if this happens again, you will be coming to my class for detention.”
“Yes, sir.” Evelyn and Sienna responded as they put their phones inside their pockets and slumped back down into their seats while Mr. Madden finished what he was saying.
A few minutes later, the class was silent except for the sound of lead scratching across paper. I thought about the strange behavior of Sienna and Evelyn, as well as the surprised expression on our teacher’s face when he looked at whatever was on the phone. It takes a lot for Francesca’s group to keep their mouths shut during class. Normally, they’d be giggling and laughing with each other about whatever they did on the weekend or some boy they went on a date with. The rest of the class didn’t seem to notice that Sienna and Evelyn weren’t writing anything, but were looking at each other with concerned eyes.
“Can I see?” McKenna tapped on Sienna’s shoulder with her pencil.
“Ow. Fine. I’ll just tell you. You can’t tell anyone though, not yet at least.” Sienna whispered, glancing at the students in class before her eyes landed on me.
I quickly turned my head back to my paper and kept writing ineligible letters while I kept listening.
“McKenna, Francesca’s been missing since last weekend.” Sienna looked troubled while McKenna only leaned further back in her chair like it wasn’t news.
“So? She’s probably at some guy’s house after that party we went to. Maybe her family is still having issues and she’s stuck at home until she figures her life out. Seriously, her life is a complete mess. I don’t know how she still manages to be Dalton’s girlfriend after the incident.” McKenna laughed.
“Dalton’s a nice dude. That’s why he’s still with her. If he’d broken up with her, they’d both look bad. And what party was I not invited to?” Sienna responded as Evelyn started listening in on their conversation.
“I wasn’t invited to that party either, Sienna. The only reason I went was that Francesca was invited by a senior here and she didn’t want to go alone. You know how it is, I live the closest to her, and she wasn’t sure if you guys were on vacation or not, so she dragged me along.” McKenna explained regretfully. “I promise it wasn’t favoritism guys. If you’d been physically close to her house, I’m sure you would’ve gone with her.”
Now, some of the other kids in our class started listening discreetly to the heated conversation, or so they thought.
“Okay McKenna, but when was the par-” Sienna started but stopped immediately when she realized the entire class was staring at her, waiting for some more details. “After class,” Sienna said quietly to the two of them while passing a crumpled note to McKenna.
Three classes later, I’m strolling down the hall with Wyatt on our way to the small cafeteria in our school to get some food. It seems a little weird that the beginning of the day was unusual with Dalton’s crying and the girls’ conversations during English, but now everything seems completely fine.
“Earth to Layla?” Wyatt asks, waving his hand in front of my face. I slapped it away, my hand lingering on his for more than a second.
“I’m here Wyatt, and I think you’d want to hear what I’m going to say next.” I raised my eyebrows at him.
“Oh, did you hear anything about Dalton?” He questioned eagerly as if he had a crush on Dalton.
“No, but I did hear something else from Francesca’s friends. It might be nothing, or it could have something to do with Dalton going into the principal’s office crying this morning.” I declared, ready for Wyatt’s disbelief.
“Did I hear you right? Dalton? Crying? Are you sure this wasn’t some other dude you saw?” Wyatt asks me, as I guessed he would.
“What do you want me to say, Wyatt? I bumped into a six-foot-one-inch muscular body with a pretty face complete with dirty blond hair and a set of blue-grey eyes?” I said while pushing open the heavy metal cafeteria doors.
“Woah Layla, not that much information. Trust me, I don’t need to know what’s going on in the heads of every girl at Bayshore. There are many other good-looking guys here, including me,” He said with a wink. “Yet every girl wants him like it’s an all-girls school except for one male. Yeah, he’s good-looking, but come on, there’s so many to choose from.” Wyatt sighed. “He’s the reason none of us get girls around here.”
“You better stop talking before I start believing that you like Dalton-” I was cut off by the ringing of the microphone in Mrs. Kingsley’s hands.
“Good afternoon Bayshore, I hope you had a relaxing spring break. Today, I have some very important news to share with you. Some of you may have already heard but Francesca Preston has been missing-” Mrs. Kingsley stopped in the middle of her sentence to look at who just walked through the doors.
Slowly, everyone in the cafeteria turned in their seats to look too. Standing there, in ripped jeans and an old sweatshirt, was Dalton McIntyre, followed by the principal, Mr. Watson, and a cop in a full suit all looking dejected.
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