Letters to Romeo: Bad boy good girl

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Paper ball

Gingerly, Julie stepped inside the detention room.

This was the last place she wanted to be at, and this time she had herself to blame for what happened yesterday. She should have known that the person who had her uncle’s letter would not have sent the letter through one of the girls.

Julie had fallen right into Eleanor’s trap, and she clenched her teeth on seeing Eleanor and her friends, who had already arrived in the room. As if the girl’s company wasn’t enough, today, two more people were present in the room. One was the porcupine with his two lackeys, and the other one was Roman, who sat at the far back corner of the room.

Her eyes quickly searched for an empty seat so that she could occupy it. But thanks to her trip near the counsellor’s room, there were only two left.

One was right in front of Roman, and the other one was next to Mateo’s seat. It seemed that Satan had personally decided to put her in this situation. Sitting next to the porcupine was something she would never do, considering what happened the last time they had met. Like many other times, she had avoided getting in his direct line of vision, but here she was today.

The detention teacher arrived in the room, throwing a big book on the table that quietened the students’ chatter.

Seeing Julie still standing, Ms. Martin questioned her, “Have you decided to stand here for the rest of the time? Take your seat.”

Julie started to walk, her feet feeling as if she was walking in water, and she pulled the chair in front of Roman’s desk. On her way, she didn’t make eye contact with him, and she sat down.

“Let me take a look at the faces that we have in here. Well, well. Looks like we have our usual regulars who like to break rules,” Ms. Martin sarcastically praised them. “Roman, Mateo, Justin, Tucker, Eleanor, and Wren, how lovely to see you. I thought some of you fixed your ways, but it seems like it is hard to straighten the curled tail,” this earned snickers from some of the students, and Ms. Martin sent a glare.

“I would like to see how many of you would like to snicker once you are done with today’s detention,” warned the teacher, and her eyes fell on Julie. “What are you doing here? Have you decided to be a regular like the rest? Anyways,” said the woman without letting Julie speak.

Julie wanted to say something, but she was already here, and there was no point discussing it. The sooner she would finish serving detention, the sooner she would be out of here.

Ms. Martin said, “I want you to write an essay of a thousand words about this university. Be creative and learn how to write. I will count every word before letting you out of this place. Your time starts now until you are done.”

On hearing her words, some of the students groaned in disapproval. When someone came to call her, she said, “I don’t want any fights when I am gone. You know the rules,” and she stepped out of the detention room.

Like the good girl Julie was, she pulled out her notebook and pen, and she started to write the essay. She decided to write about the buildings while trying not to complain about the university’s bizarre rules or what she heard last night.

Today’s students were primarily delinquent ones, and they didn’t bother to pull out their books until minutes passed. When she was done writing one page, she looked to her side and noticed Eleanor, who looked like she was ready to break her pen into two pieces because of mere jealousy. Now that Julie thought about it, she realized Eleanor had not dared to take the seat that she had occupied.

When Julie was done writing her second page, she looked at the room. Daring herself, she turned to look back at her considering how quiet it was. As expected, Roman hadn’t bothered to open his book. Instead, he had placed one side of his head on the desk, and his eyes were closed to face away from the students and towards the wall.

Julie wondered what Roman was doing last night in the forest. She wondered if he had heard someone scream in the forest too, but as much as she wanted to ask him, until now, they had never had an actual conversation. His demeanour was enough to let one know that he didn’t want to be bothered.

Turning to sit on the side of her chair, she raised her hand with her pen and poked his arm.

Roman slightly raised his head, his eyes holding a sliver of annoyance in them. “What?” he asked her, his voice husky.

“Sorry for waking you up, but there is something that I want to ask you,” whispered Julie, while having her chair slightly lean back as she sat on the side. “What were you doing last night in the forest?” she asked him in a low voice, staring into his dark black eyes that reflected her.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” replied Roman and laid his head back on the desk.

Julie frowned. She didn’t want others to hear her, and her chair leaned back a little more this time.

“I saw you standing on the branch of the tree. Is that why you are here?” inquired Julie.

“Aren’t you nosey,” murmured Roman, and Julie pursed her lips.

She was asking him because she wanted to know if he had heard somebody scream in the forest. “You see,” whispered Julie, “Some of your beloved fans lost their not so precious things in the forest and this morning they were demanding me about it.”

“People lose a lot of things in the forest. Sometimes even a person gets lost. Don’t bother,” his eyes were closed and his words nonchalant.

Julie wondered if he was in the mood to joke with her. She wanted to discuss what happened without being the first one to mention it. That way, she wouldn’t be necessarily breaking any rules set by the university.

“You are here because you were outside the dorm past eleven, aren’t you?” Julie asked in a polite tone. She was sure he was a person who broke more than one rule in a day.

While Julie was waiting to get an answer, her chair had leaned a little too much, and it was ready to crash against Roman’s desk. But Roman was quick enough to stop the chair from falling further back by placing his foot against her chair. The sudden jerk of the chair had made her heart topple.

Roman raised his head, looking straight into her eyes, and he asked, “Don’t you have an essay to finish?”

“I do,” Julie solemnly replied.

“Good,” and he suddenly pushed her chair back to its original state where the chair was no longer leaning towards his desk.

Him letting go of the chair gave a quick jolt to her. She should have expected this response as she had invaded his space.

Turning back to her book, Julie wondered if Roman had or had not heard the scream. The scream had been nothing less than a horror movie in the night. The only difference being she was not a viewer but one of the possible could-be victims. Thinking about it, she realized that she had seen him near the outer edge of the forest, which was far away from the restricted area of the forest.

Julie had been desperate to get an answer, which was why she had taken the initiative to talk to Roman. When she had earlier leaned backwards, she had smelt his cologne. It seemed like it was turning into a habit of hers, thought Julie to herself.

While she finished writing the third page about the library, a crumpled paper came flying and hit her hand. Who was this imbecile trying to disturb her? Her eyes looked around and found Eleanor staring at her and then looking down at the paper near her chair.

Staring at the girl for two seconds, Julie leaned forward to pick up the crumpled paper, and she opened it to see what it was.

‘Liar. You are trying to get closer to him.’

Julie rolled her eyes. Seriously this girl, she thought in her mind. Placing the paper on the side, she continued writing her essay while some students continued to waste their time. Soon came another crumpled paper that hit her head.

‘You are dead meat.’

Julie quickly crumpled the paper, and to Eleanor’s shock, she threw it back at the girl’s head.

Internally, Julie grinned on seeing Eleanor’s expression when the crumpled paper hit the girl’s face. It served her right, for behaving like a child and throwing paper at her. She turned back to her book to finish her essay.

Eleanor, who was not used to being retaliated by people, got up with the chair screeching against the floor, making some students flinch.

But before she could walk over where Julie was, Ms. Martin appeared back in the room and noticed her, “Looks like you have finished your essay, Eleanor. Bring it to me.”

Eleanor’s face scrunched, and she replied, “I am not done writing it,” she lied as she hadn’t written a single word yet.

Ms. Martin stared at the girl, one of her eyebrows raised, and she asked, “What are you doing standing up then?” Eleanor straightened her skirt and sat back in her seat. “Hurry now.”

Being the obedient student she was, Julie was the first one to finish her essay, and she went to Ms. Martin handed it over while she hung her bag on one side of her shoulders. The woman read what she had written and handed it back to her before waving her hand for Julie to leave.

Before stepping out of the room, Julie’s eyes fell on Roman, who had gone back to sleep with his head on the desk without bothering to write a word. Tearing her eyes away from him, she walked away from there.

She was happily able to walk back to her room at the thought that all the troublesome students were present in one room under the teacher’s eyes.

“I was worried thinking something might happen in detention today, but you look happy,” remarked Melanie, who was sitting outside the Dormitorium stairs, waiting for Julie.

“Strangely I do feel happy,” replied Julie.

Melanie looked at her curiously before wondering, “Did you meet the counsellor? Did he help?” Julie shook her head. She took a seat next to Melanie on one of the stairs, feeling the light breeze around them.

“No, I decided to meet him some other time. It can wait,” replied Julie, while remembering the teacher, who was the university’s counsellor. “Mr. Evans is a good looking man. He even looks young.”

“He does and he’s also very kind. He is Veteris’ former student,” explained Melanie.

“From what I have heard, two years ago he was engaged to a person but unfortunately, she passed away in an accident. It’s really sad to see that the kind souls are the ones that go through pain. Julie…”

“Hm?” Julie turned to look at Melanie.

“I know there are some things that you might be uncomfortable sharing with anyone, but Mr. Evans is one of the kindest teachers in this university. If you ever need someone to listen to your worries, without a doubt I am here, and the next person might be him,” Melanie said with concern.

Julie nodded her head. A bright smile appeared on her lips. She wondered if the number of detentions she had received until now had put more stress on Melanie than her, “Thank you, Mel.”

She was glad to have known Melanie since her first day in the university. She was a person who respected a person’s private matters without crossing the line, and it was something Julie appreciated. “Did you hear any latest news about yesterday?” she asked casually.

Melanie’s eyebrows knit together, “Nothing that reached my ears. In fact, yesterday was a peaceful day.”

“Nothing about any girl who ended up in the infirmary?” asked Julie.

“I wouldn’t know about that. People get cuts and little bruises all the time. I don’t think it is a topic people discuss,” replied Melanie.

Entering her dorm, Julie told herself that maybe it was better to make small goals than the big ones where she wanted to spend her time here in peace. Maybe she should start by avoiding getting into detention for the remaining days of this week. It wasn’t that difficult, was it?

Placing her bag on the table, she drank a glass of water while her eyes fell on the photograph that sat on the same table. Picking it up, she climbed on her bed, leaning against the wall while staring at it.

In the photograph, Julie had a wide smile on her lips, and she had her hands around Jimmy, hugging him. She and Jimmy had grown up together, and she had good memories with him. Her parents had an issue with Jimmy being around her, her father especially, but she spent time with him anyway.

It was hard to believe that he wasn’t there anymore.

“You were a good boy, Jimmy,” said Julie looking at the picture of her and her golden retriever.

When she closed her eyes for a moment, she saw the blood and her eyes opened again.

Until now, the information she had been giving about herself to others was only partly true, while the other half was a fabricated lie. It was true that her mother was dead, but her father was still alive and in prison. People here weren’t aware of it, and she preferred to keep it that way.

Hours passed, where Julie was still studying the textbook in her hand when she dropped her pen at the centre of the book. Her eyes shifted to look at the letter that was sitting right next to her.

There was no network, the teachers were strict, but Julie wanted to know who had screamed in the forest.

Bringing her notebook forward, Julie picked up the pen she had dropped and wrote,

‘To the Letter Thief. Who are you?’

Tearing the page, she neatly folded it and placed it near the window. Every two minutes, Julie looked at the window, waiting for a hand to appear and stealthily take the note, but after an hour, her eyes started to close.

As Julie entered her dreamland, she found herself back in the forest, and this time all alone. It was dark, and there was no moonlight to guide her. Lost, she continued to walk until she came to stand in front of the many tombstones.

When the sky turned bright and the sun rose, the alarm rang, and Julie woke up with a yawn. Looking at the window with one eye, she noticed the letter was in the same place where she had left last night. After an hour, when she was wearing her shoes, she had second thoughts about leaving a note to the person who had made her walk around the campus.

Picking up, she was ready to throw the note in the dustbin when she noticed different handwriting. She opened it and read,

‘Answer the question -_-’

“How demanding,” muttered Julie under her breath. She admired the thought putting in the expression after the sentence. The question? Ah, the person did have a question for her last time. Bringing her pen, she wrote below it, in the same note—

‘I received a letter that told me to come to the forest. I thought it was you.’

Even if the person tried to bully her by saving these notes, there would be that person’s handwriting. Placing the folded paper on her window, Julie picked up her bag and left her dorm to attend her classes. By the time she had returned to her dorm after classes, there was a fresh-looking letter waiting for her.

‘How eager. What is the next rule you have decided to break?’

Julie could feel the smugness dripping in the first sentence of the note. She wrote back to the person— ‘None. Who are you and when are you going to return my letter back to me?’

She wanted her letter back, and once she would get hold of it, she would burn it up in flames to wipe out any traces of her having broken rule number four!

Hearing a knock on her door, Julie quickly placed the note near the windowpane and opened the door. Melanie stood outside, holding a water bottle in her hand.

“Hurry! Else we’ll end up missing the middle rows!” said Melanie in excitement. “The game is going to start in thirty-five minutes.” The management had decided to conduct a football match between the two male teams of the university in the middle of the week and their friend Conner had been recruited to play.

“Middle?” asked Julie, picking up the scarf and wrapping it around her neck.

“Yes, because the front seats must be already occupied since our classes got over nearly an hour ago,” explained Melanie as Julie stepped out of the dorm and locked it.

The dormitorium appeared deserted as most girls were either at the bleachers or headed near the field. While Julie and Melanie walked in the corridor, she caught sight of a vehicle that stood in front of the building.

“Are they getting new things fixed in the dorms?” questioned Melanie, while not paying much attention to it as she looked ahead.

Julie noticed luggage placed in the back of the vehicle, “Is there a new student admitted into the university?” That mean there was a spare room in the building now, thought Julie to herself.

“That’s highly unlikely because we are already ahead in the subjects. I doubt the management would be taking in any students until next year,” replied Melanie.

Melanie was right. Possibly it wasn’t a new admission, thought Julie to herself. Maybe a student’s things were being cleared, which usually happened when a student didn’t or couldn’t continue studying.

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