two days later
I had always believed that whatever you gave to the universe, you would get it back. I had always thought that the ultimate justice that could be served on this earth wasn’t by a judge, a prison officer, an angry parent or a priest, but by the universe itself. I had always believed that if someone did you wrong, you didn’t have to take revenge or punish them with your actions; the universe would take care of it and therefore serve justice. I had also always believe that if the universe had the power to punish you, it could also reward you, but as I sat on my bed in my dorm room, pondering what all that Harry had told me meant, the same three words kept disgustingly crawling in my mind: life per life.
It was simple maths, but it didn’t mean it was less revolting. Harry hurt a lot of people both physically and emotionally, and a kid named John who I have never met died, apparently by his actions. I couldn’t accept that the universe was serving justice on him this way; this was no justice at all.
I knew that Harry was a good person. I knew that Harry’s actions were made out of fear and vulnerability, and I also knew that whatever he had done, he had paid for it by the suffering he endured, by staying at Hudson, by indulging in self-pity, by feeling like he didn’t deserve kindness. He was changing, he had learnt his lesson, he had suffered enough to balance the ache he had caused to others. But the universe was unbiased, unlike me. I knew that to the eyes of the universe Harry was just another person with many sins, but he wasn’t just another person to me.
I couldn’t accept that this was his punishment. This was too cruel, too unmerciful. Maybe that was why only something so abstract and nonfigurative as the universe had the power to serve real justice and not a mere human being. If what was being done to Harry was justice, it was inhumane. No human could have ever made him pay like he was, not even his worst enemy.
I knew trying to figure out why the universe was trying to break Harry was no use; I knew I would never understand why. What I could do, and would, was figure out what to do next, what was the next move.
“Hey, what are you thinking about?” Anna’s sweet and soft voice echoed from across the room.
I lifted my head upwards to look in her direction. She was sat in front of a mirror across from me, combing her hair for the third time that morning. I had noticed that she took extra care with her looks lately, and maybe it was because she sensed everyone looking at her. I could feel it too. She was more self-conscious, and I had been there before. Everywhere she went, she was magnetic and the eyes of students were magnets. I almost had pity of her, but then I looked at myself: it wouldn’t kill her.
“Oh, just about Harry’s birthday being in a week or so,” I answered, stretching my legs in front of me with my back rested against the metal headboard of my bed.
She sighed and didn’t comment verbally, although I knew perfectly well what she would say if she spoke: I still have no idea why he hurt you and you already forgave him.
If everything went as Harry and I had planned, she would never know.
“I am going to lessons now,” Anna stated after she made sure her knee socks were precisely and meticulously just below her knee, at the perfect height “Are you coming?”
“I don’t think so,” I replied.
Anna sighed once again “Okay then, but I hope you know that Mr Hansen will find out.”
Of course he would, especially now that he was spying my every move. For the past couple of days, it seemed as if he was stalking me, always keeping an eye on me when I walked in the corridors, outside, in the canteen. It seemed as if he already knew that I was aware of this true identity and was afraid that I would spread it.
I had a feeling that if he had a reason, even an almost insignificant one, to punish me, he would not hesitate. It would be the third time I would be missing lessons since the first day I arrived at Hudson, and I knew what would happen.
“I don’t mind at all if he finds out. Might as well go and write my name on The Book myself.”
One thing was for sure: Harry had warned me that Mr Hansen would do anything to keep me in line, especially now that I was almost one hundred percent sure that he knew Harry had told me his secret.
He could leave any day, I was certain of that, and that made me extremely nervous. Since Harry came to Hudson two years before, his mother, my cousin, sent me constant letters asking strictly not to let Harry leave. I honestly didn’t understand why. One couldn’t possibly be that selfless. I understood that she didn’t want Harry to watch her suffer, but this was possibly the last time she would see him. She didn’t want to be with her son, despite knowing that she would never see him again, or even say goodbye.
I had already prepared for this moment. I knew she wouldn’t make it in spite of hoping she miraculously would. My role in the middle of all this wasn’t to grieve, but to protect the only thing that was left of hers, which was Harry. Besides, why would I grieve? It was not like I had such an intimate relationship with my cousin and the only thing she had ever given me was a spoiled child to look after while I paid a small fortune for her treatment that I knew from the start would not work. The only thing that really connected us was her husband, who was my best friend since I could remember. In fact, they met because of me at my eighteen birthday party. The memories were old but still fresh in my mind. How happy I had been in those days.
I had a feeling that Harry would tell Summer the truth. What preoccupied me the most wasn’t that she knew who Harry really was or that I was his uncle, but that the other students found out. What could happen if the parents of those kids found out was catastrophic: many of the students came from wealthy families, and some of their fathers were investors, held high positions in the economy, were true influential men. I was well respected amongst them, and if such scandal as I having a nephew that had caused so much trouble in the school that I was in charge of was to be exposed, I was done for. I wouldn’t exactly go to prison, but I was certain I would have wished so. I would never be respected again, and my name would stink all over London.
Is it true that you used monetary funds of the school to your own benefit and/or to the benefit of pupils of your interest?
Is it true that you protected one of the students after he terrorised our children and was accused of bullying one to the extent of suicide?
Is it true that you bribed? That you lied? That you cheated? That you abused your power as a respectable Headmaster?
I shook those thoughts away. No one would believe a single word Summer said. I just had to keep an eye on her and keep her in line, show her who was in charge.
I knew that in her eyes and Harry’s I was the bad guy, but I was just trying to protect him. If only he grew up and realised that what I was doing was merely what his mother asked me… But that wasn’t Harry, he always had someone to blame for his problems and that person was me.
The truth was that this situation saddened me more than it worried me. After all, Harry was just a kid despite all the troubles he brought me. And Summer, I knew there was something beyond friendship going on between those two, and since they started to become close, I noticed the attitude of my students shift towards her. It was as if their approximation resulted into her isolation from the rest of the students. Poor girl, she had no idea what she was doing, what she was getting herself into. Harry would only bring her the undesirable, he already was. It was sad to admit that my own nephew was the cause of so much trouble for so many people. I was disappointed to say that he was a burden, but that was what sometimes I wanted to call him.
I sighed once more and left my office. I had to personally keep an eye on both of them. The last time Harry and I spoke he made it perfectly clear that he was leaving as soon as he could, and with his stubbornness, once he decided what he would do, we would follow that plan until the end.
For the last couple of days, yet again Summer’s mood shifted considerably. Even though I was spying on her and not directly talking to her, I knew whatever had happened that made her have her breakdown at the entrance of Hall B was past now: she had moved on in a blink of an eye.
Yet again this was another clue. No one was that fast in recovering from such state. She must have had a stronger reason that required that she moved on from that, that required her full attention. It seemed as if crying was not an option for her, she had no other choice than to overcome it. What was it that obligated of her such strength? It must’ve been something that was much more important than the reason for her breakdown, that I was certain, but what? I knew somehow that all of those questions were linked to Harry. No genius was needed to figure that out. It seemed as if everything Summer did was linked back to Harry, and I was desperate to know why they had connected.
What was it that they had in common?
If I found that out, I would solve the mystery, I was certain. If I could find what had joined them in the first place, I knew I could find out the rest easily. I had a feeling that the answer was staring me in the face. Somehow I knew that the answer was obvious, and it was driving me insane.
I had always been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works, and if there was something his famous character Sherlock Holmes had taught me was to always seek for more evidence.
And that was what I was intending to do.
I had to look inside Summer’s bag. I had to. I knew the answer would be there. I didn’t know what, but I knew that looking inside her most secretive and personal belonging would lead me to discover the truth. The only thing I had to do was to wait for her to drop her bag, to forget it inside a classroom, to leave it unconsciously somewhere I could reach. I knew that with one look I would have more clues and then I could tell everyone the truth.
I was convinced that I would find out the truth sooner than later, and I couldn’t wait.