Another note sat on Berlin’s pillow. Unsurprised, she climbed up to her messy bed, and opened the unmarked envelope. Inside was the usual, the formal writing style, the warning to not investigate Ms. Wright’s demise, the unsigned letter closing. Something, though she couldn’t place it, seemed different about the note, something that could help Berlin find the killer.
But Berlin couldn’t figure out what was off, whether it was a different paper quality, an odd letter G, or something so obvious, that it was staring Berlin in the face, and had been for the ten minutes she had been rapidly searching the page, trying to find what she knew was there, but couldn’t quite put her finger on. She let out a cry of frustration, and unceremoniously flopped onto her soft unmade navy blankets.
The thud of Berlin hitting the bed corresponded perfectly with the lunch bell, and with another sigh (this time of resignation) Berlin slowly climbed down her cold metal ladder, urging her foot to slip and her ankle to sprain, anything to stay out of the crowded dining hall, and away from Gloriana, and her followers. But her feet and hands remained steady, and Berlin made it to the dining hall (much to her dismay) in one piece.
Half the school had already been served by the “waitresses” and were sitting at tables, nibbling cold vege-chicken (the principal had decided that the whole school should go vegetarian), soggy fava beans, and milk. Berlin joined the throng that was waiting to be served their unappetizing lunch. The line moved slowly, and and Berlin quickly found herself pulling out a Sherlock Holmes book “ The Hounds of Baskerville” she had slipped into her pocket, in preparation of the bad line.
After Berlin had moved slowly up the line, and her food had been spooned onto her plate, she looked for Anthem. She was easy to spot with her vivid red hair, sitting in the back corner, as far away from Gloriana as possible. Berlin wove around the tables. After she had made it through the dining hall, dodging sporadic chair pushing, pretending to not hear Fanny’s calls of “hey Berlin, come over here! Berlin!” and ignoring Gloriana’s catcalls, Berlin’s lunch had not fared very well. Half her beans had fallen off of the plate, onto the platter, her milk carton was dented and on it’s side, and the vege-chicken had somehow self-destructed. “Did you really have to sit at the very back of the hall?” Berlin asked.
“Gloriana and Tabby were sitting in the front.” Anthem spat their names like they were poison.
“This is a big hall, you don’t need to keep a hundred mile distance of them at all times.”
“Right, just ninety-nine mile distance.”
“So much better.” Berlin’s sarcasm made Anthem crack up, and soon Berlin was laughing, while people around stared at them, oblivious to their amusement. The third period bell rang, punctuating their laughter like a pin and a balloon. They both looked at each other, dread settling in their stomachs and said together “Ms. Inch.”
Ms. Inch stared cruelly at the girls as they entered the throng trying to make it to her class before the second bell rang. Almost everyone made it to their desks, but Norman was still lumbering to his seat when it rang. Ms. Inch walked over to his desk, where he had just sat down, and placed a sticky-note on his desk. “The time, date and place of your detention. I believe you will be joined with...hmmm, let’s see, who was here second last?” The class shared an intake of breath as Ms. Inch looked around. Berlin and Anthem shrunk into their desk, knowing they were the second to last to enter the room. “Oh yes, it was Ms. Berlin Croziér, and Ms. Anthem Bayle. Yes, you will join Mr. Norman Smith, here is your information, I will expect you to be punctual.” Ms. Inch handed Berlin and Anthem sticky-notes that read “3:26 p.m. Sept. 26. Rm. 26. Bring nothing.” Berlin groaned inwards and whispered “The twenty sixth?? That’s tomorrow! I bet-” But Berlin was cut short after Ms. Inch gave her a mean eye. “Is there anything you would like to share with us, Ms. Croziér?”
“No, Ms. Inch. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what? You had nothing to say to us, so you obviously didn’t say anything. Unless you did, and then, once again, I urge you to share.”
“I was just telling Anthem that the detention was tommorow.” Berlin’s voice faded as she said this.
“But Anthem’s sixteen, you don’t think a sixteen year-old knows what day it is?”
“Who are you sorry to?”
“I’m sorry Ms.Inch.”
“Much better Ms. Croziér, much better.” Ms. Inch walked back to the chalkboard, and began to write a math problem that Berlin could barely comprehend. Too many Xs and Cs and Ns. No! She’s writing pi! I’m to hungry to think about pie! Berlin’s stomach grumbled audibly. She wasn’t surprised by her hunger, even though it had just been lunch, because Anthem had stolen Berlin’s destructed vege-chicken (or what was left of it), the dent in the milk carton sprung a leak, and the beans really weren’t enough for a lunch. Berlin tried her best to zone out from the lesson, though she knew if Ms. Inch caught an inkling that she wasn’t paying attention, she was doomed. Luckily, she made it through the class, and she was glad to finally walk out of the terrifying room twenty six.