In the corridor
When Julie woke up in the morning, her hand reached out for the note near the window, and as expected, there was a new note waiting for her to read. Still in the bed, she turned her body to the side and opened the letter.
‘Pity that you didn’t see me, while I was right in front of you. What’s the rush of wanting to know who I am? There are still two years before you graduate from here. I have a task for you to do,’ reading the word task had Julie sink into her bed. ‘Get detention today.’
“That is not a task!” There was no way she was going to get into detention for no reason. Here she was trying to stay away from the detention room, and this letter thief wanted her to get into trouble? “Not happening.”
Julie rolled out of bed, picking up her kit, towel and bathrobe. She walked to the common bathing room, where there were already other girls from the dormitorium, and she made her way to where Melanie stood. The basins and the mirrors were built in the centre of the bathroom.
The girls were busy discussing last evening’s game.
“Did you see the new freshman? Brody was it from Ravens? He was cute.” said someone in the room. “It is a surprise that the Hawks lost.”
“The Ravens won mostly because Roman didn’t play the second half of the game. He was helping the injured players and let other players play,” said one of the girls as they got ready.
“I tried finding him in the infirmary but he wasn’t there. I wonder where he went after playing,” Julie heard another girl speak. “I cannot believe he won’t be here next year.”
Speaking about boys and the trouble that came with it was something that Julie had gotten used to hearing while she was in the common bathroom.
“Did you know that one of the girls in his group is his girlfriend?” whispered one of the girls, whom Julie couldn’t see while she had started to brush her teeth.
“That’s utter rubbish you have heard. Where did you even get such bullshit?” Eleanor had stepped out from one of the shower stalls, wearing her white bathrobe. She looked annoyed by the information that had been passed, “Roman Moltenore is as single as hell without good souls. Many girls have tried, but he cannot be touched.”
Especially to you psycho, thought Julie in her mind, while she continued to brush.
Though Eleanor and her friends behaved as if they hadn’t tried to beat her up, it didn’t mean Julie had forgotten the terror-filled night.
“The two girls are nothing but friends. Now go back to whatever you were doing,” Eleanor waved her hand as if the other girls were birds, shooing them away. Some of the freshmen who were gossiping earlier quickly left the room. Julie was rinsing her mouth when she felt the ghost loom from behind her. “Where are our baseball bats, Julianne? I thought I was quite clear when I said I want them back. I am talking to you, you little twig.”
Julie spat the water before turning to look at Eleanor, “Your bats?”
“Yes, the ones you decided to steal when we were in the forest and are now hiding them somewhere,” Eleanor crossed her hands while trying to intimidate Julie the same way she did with the other girls.
“They flew away,” replied Julie, and Eleanor looked confused. Julie should have known that the joke was too good to be wasted on this one.
“You think you are too smart and above us because you are friends with the popular group,” said Eleanor, stepping closer to her. “Let me tell you, you are just trying your luck. You are nothing. I have seen your grades and they are just average. You even look average with average clothes.”
“Do you like to stalk everyone or is it just me?” questioned Julie, while some of the girls snickered hearing her words.
Eleanor’s cheeks turned red, and she said, “Just you. Because I know you are not what you appear to be and I will show it to everyone. Especially the ones you are trying to kiss up to. This plain Mary Jane look that you carry with you, it can’t fool me.”
Turning around, Eleanor left as she would be late in getting to the classes, and she would deal with this little rat later. Melanie, who was behind Julie, asked, “Why does she keep asking about baseball bats from you?”
“Who knows,” muttered Julie.
“You should be careful, Julie. Don’t make too many enemies here. It will be hard to do anything in peace in this place,” whispered Melanie to her so that the other girls who were friends with Eleanor wouldn’t pass the same words to Eleanor. “You don’t know what they are capable of.”
She did thought Julie in her mind. After being chased around by Eleanor and her friends that day, she was aware of how worse things could turn. It wasn’t her but trouble that came looking for her!
During the break time between her classes, Julie decided to refill her water bottle. While on her way, she saw Roman, who was walking from the opposite direction. He looked annoyed about something. When their eyes met from afar, she looked away and also turned on her heel to walk in the direction she had come.
She had decided it was time to follow every rule on the rule page, including Roman Moltenore. As Melanie had suggested, she walked in the other direction.
If there was one thing she was scared about, it was male hitting females. She didn’t know how far the rumour about Roman was true, but it wasn’t too bad to take precaution, thought Julie to herself.
Having spent quite a few weeks here, she knew there were two stairways and where to get water if not on this floor. Walking quickly so that she wouldn’t miss her class and be spotted by a teacher strolling in the corridors, she went to the floor below.
Julie was humming something under her breath as the water filled, when someone asked her, “What are you singing?” The sudden voice startled her, and she turned. It was the person from the bleachers. Dennis.
“What are you doing here?” asked Julie, a little on guard.
Dennis turned to look at the corridor, pointing at one of the classes, “That is my class there. What are you doing here? I didn’t know your class was on this floor.”
“Oh no, I came here to refill my bottle… which I am done and should go now,” replied Julie, offering an awkward smile.
Before she could leave, he said, “You didn’t tell me which song you were humming. It sounded familiar.”
“I don’t think you have heard it,” said Julie before giving the song name away, “It is ‘Foolish once again’.”
“How interesting,” said Dennis, offering her a smile. Now that they stood in a bright place where it wasn’t dark, Dennis looked less suspicious than he had appeared last evening. “How is your friend? Is he doing better?”
“Yes,” answered Julie, looking at the corridor where some of the students stood outside their classroom, talking. Her eyes fell back on Dennis. “He took a leave today from attending the classes to feel better. He’s doing better.”
Dennis nodded his head, “That is good to hear.”
“You are in senior year?” asked Julie, and he hummed.
“I am. The last year here and so many things to finish before the academic year completes. My major is science. How about you?” he inquired.
“Same. I guess I can ask you if I have any doubts,” joked Julie.
“I would be more than happy to offer my assistance. Any time,” said Dennis. Then he said, “I should get back to my class. It was nice talking to you.” Maybe yesterday she had jumped into conclusion too fast about him, and he was only being nice at the bleachers, she thought to herself.
While she stood there watching Dennis walk away, at the same time, she heard the noise made by the water can to let the water pour into its lower base. It made her jump, and she hit her back against something or, to be specific, someone.
She looked to her side, looking up to meet Roman’s eyes. He said in a low voice, “Crashing into people must be your favourite thing to do.”
She had walked all the way to the floor below only to meet him again. She took two steps forward before turning around.
“I didn’t know you were standing behind,” replied Julie. When did he even come here? “You should have stepped back.”
Roman was chewing gum, and Julie wondered if his jaws didn’t hurt as she always caught him chewing. Maybe in his past life, he was a cow, and at that thought, a smile appeared and disappeared quickly on seeing the unamused person who stood in front of her.
He took one step forward, and that was enough to close the distance. His eyes narrowed, “Care to share the joke that passed your mind?”
“I didn’t think of any-”
“What made you smile then?” Julie noticed there was a sliver of glare in his eyes, the opposite of Dennis, who had tried to be nice to her.
Forget being a cow. Cows were nice. This one looked like a predator that was waiting to rip a person’s head! Julie took a deep breath before she answered,
“Sometimes I smile for no reason at any place,” offering him a small smile, but it didn’t seem like he bought it.
“Do you know what they call people who smile a lot for no reason?” questioned Roman.
“Happy people?” asked Julie, and she saw his lips twitch at her answer.
When her eyes momentarily moved to look at the corridor, she noticed the students had gone back into their classroom, and the realization hit her. She had stood here for far too long, and the classes had already started.
She quickly left Roman’s side and started to walk to make her way towards the stairs. But seeing Mr. Borrell standing at the top of the staircase scolding another student for not being in the classroom, Julie wanted to smack her head against the wall. The teacher was like a fisherman who liked to catch students and throw them in the detention room.
Turning around, Julie walked past Roman, who was filling the glass with water and taking his own time to drink it. She would use the same way she had come down here earlier, but when she placed one foot on the stair, she heard the headmistress’ voice’s from above, and she was speaking to another teacher.
It seemed like she would be spending her time in the detention room today.
When she looked at Roman, he continued to drink the water unbothered. It looked as if he wouldn’t bother even if someone told him now that this place was going to blow up.
On the left corridor stairs stood Ms. Dante, and the stairs in the middle of the corridor stood Mr. Borrell, and Julie didn’t want to run into either of them. Seeing Roman still in the same place, she walked to him and politely asked him,
“Are you attending the class now?” Maybe he knew a way to walk to the above floor without getting caught.
“Why?” he asked. Placing the glass next to the filter, he started to walk.
“I thought I would come with you, so that I can get back to my class,” replied Julie with a smile, following him in the empty corridor. She had seen him skipping classes more than once without getting into trouble, and right now, she needed that skill. She turned back to make sure Mr. Borrell or Ms. Dante hadn’t stepped into the floor they were in.
Roman’s eyes moved to the corner to look at her, “What makes you think I am going to attend the class? Hurry back to your class instead of following me.”
“I would if the teachers weren’t there. I don’t want to get another detention, which is why I am here to ask for your help. Please,” pleaded Julie and Roman, who walked to the end of the corridor and near one of the windows.
“By now getting into detention should be normal. Spending a few hours shouldn’t be that hard. On the bright side, it will make you more alert,” Roman’s words were nonchalant. He pushed the windowpane upwards while looking outside as if to make sure no one was there.
“What are you doing?” asked Julie, her mouth slightly agape.
“Planning to jump from here,” Roman offered her a charming smile as if it was the most obvious thing to do. “Feel free to do it when you are ready.”
When Roman placed one foot on the window sill, his one hand held the side of the window, ready to jump. Julie’s hand reached out for his back, and she caught hold of his leather jacket to stop him, and he turned around, with a hint of glare, “What is it?”
“Won’t Mr. Evans complain to the headmistress if he sees you?” asked Julie, her eyes shifting to look outside, and Roman turned to see the blonde man whom he had missed because the tree hid him behind it. The counsellor sat with a book in his hand on the bench.
Both Roman and Julie heard the sounds of the footsteps on the stairs that echoed in the corridor.
“Fuck,” Roman cursed under his breath, his eyes darting at the window and then the corridor.
With every footstep that they heard, Julie could already imagine Mr. Borrell’s sour looking face, staring at her in disapproval as if wondering why they even gave her an admission here. She doubted any other student admitted this year visited the detention room as much as she had. While she stood there anticipating being caught, Roman suddenly caught hold of her wrist and pulled her to walk with him.
“Wait, where are we going?!” Julie whispered in alarm because they were walking towards the centre staircase.
Julie could feel her heart drumming in her ears, and she didn’t know what Roman was thinking. Before they reached near the stairs, his other hand reached for a small door on their right that she hadn’t noticed before. He stepped inside, pulling her with him before he closed the door as quietly as possible.
The room would have been dark if it weren’t for the thin rectangular gap in the door that allowed the outside light into the room. The room was small, like a storage room. Julie heard her laboured breath, which she tried to calm down, her hands turning to fists. She could hear Mr. Borrell’s voice much clearer from where she stood.
Before she opened her mouth to question, Roman brought his hand forward, placing it on his lips so that she wouldn’t utter a single word.
Julie saw him turn his head to look at the little gaps while trying to listen to what the teachers were speaking about. With the small space, they stood close in front of each other.
“This isn’t a good idea,” whispered Julie as quietly as possible.
“You shouldn’t have followed me and instead chosen detention,” said Roman, his whisper turned husky, and he turned his head to look at her.
“What if we get caught?” asked Julie in worry. She wasn’t here alone but with a boy. A boy whose admirers were bloodthirsty girls, who would chew her out if they found that she was with him like this.
“We won’t if you stop talking,” he sent a small glare so that she would stay quiet. Though Roman had mentioned in the letter for her to get into detention, he didn’t have any such plans to get one for himself. For some odd reason, it felt good to see the good girl break rules. He could tell she was trying hard not to break them.
Roman used his hearing ability, listening to what Mr. Borrell was speaking to another teacher; neither of them had a good hearing ability. With the voices coming from other classes from the teachers and students, the rapid heartbeat of the girl would be camouflaged, avoiding being caught.
“You owe me for this,” stated Roman, his gaze intense.
“I saved you from getting caught. Isn’t it the other way around?” asked Julie, her heart continuing to race. With the already small space, Roman stepped closer to her to threaten her and Julie’s back moved closer to the wall.
“Do you think I am a person who gets caught easily?” questioned Roman, his voice extremely low, and she smelt his minty breath.
He was too close!
“No,” whispered Julie.
How long would the teachers continue to stand here? Didn’t they have somewhere else to go? She hoped not to be caught as it would not only be embarrassing, but she would be signing her death warrant in Veteris university.
Thankfully, Roman moved backwards, which wasn’t much considering how they were standing. They heard footsteps approaching closer to where they were, and Julie turned pale.
“I thought the instructions were clear about keeping records of the students who attend which classes and the ones they skip,” said Mr. Borrell.
“Everything has been recorded in the book from the start of this year, Mr. Borrell. Only the last period hasn’t been recorded,” answered the other teacher. “I had to ask. Should I mark Stacy Hopkin as transferred?”
“Yes, she doesn’t study here anymore. Get it done. I need to know who is in and outside the classes. The same will be reported back to the parents,” came the voice of Mr. Borrell. The teachers moved to stand almost near the front of the door Julie and Roman were standing.
While Julie continued to panic, Roman stood there relaxed. Instead of staying quiet, he decided to make a bubble out of the gum he was chewing. Oh God, he was going to sacrifice her today to Mr. Borrell! Roman blew out the gum, the bubble growing bigger with every second.
It was like a ticking bomb that was going to burst any second. Just when Julie thought it had reached its limit, Roman brought the bubble back into his mouth, chewing it with a small smirk on his face.
Roman, who was waiting to step out of the room, didn’t find anything else to pass his time and had decided to test the girl.
A soft sigh escaped Julie’s lips. Maybe getting into detention wasn’t too bad compared to spending time like this with this person.
Thankfully, when the teachers who were standing nearby left the corridor, Roman was the one to open the door and stepped out from it. Julie quickly followed him, more than happy to be out of the closed space that had increased her anxiousness.
When she closed the door and turned back, Roman had disappeared.