Just Breathe, Part 10
By S. Lynne
Disclaimers: See part 1.
Authors Note: Be sure to catch the first parts of this story so you know where we’re at. And thanks to all the folks who keep writing and encouraging me to work on this story, you all rock! Thanks especially to MA and Bella for keeping me going, and just for you two… Dushku! Feedback is always appreciated.
“Things sort of slowed down after that first week of school. I mean, secrets, threats, lies… kind of a rough way to start my senior year.”
I snicker. The young lady was able to catch herself this time. Her teacher tries to hide a smile, but I see it.
“And now, to top it all off, Amy wasn’t talking to me, she wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence.”
God, how that had hurt.
“That must have sucked,” someone hollers from the back.
“Yeah, that pretty much describes it exactly One minute you think you’ve got a chance with the girl of your dreams, the next she pretends you don’t even exist. Pretty much the worst feeling in the world. And to top it all off, we still hadn’t figured out who had sent the note.”
Another student raises his hand. I nod at him.
“So, did you figure it out? Who was threatening you I mean?”
I sigh. There’s still so much to tell.
“You’re jumping a little ahead of the game here. Of course, Rachel was anxious to get started on what she dubbed ‘Ky’s Case’”.
I see some eyes rolling and the young lady in the front shakes her head. I smile.
“Exactly how I felt about it. Rachel was a little too enthusiastic about the whole thing in my opinion, but that was Rachel… enthusiastic in everything. Anyway…”
“Kyle, I think I’ve got it!”
I rolled my eyes as Rachel joined me at one of the desks in the back of the library. She dropped her backpack loudly on the table, causing the few others in our area to look over at us curiously. Rachel looked back at them, and in true Rachel form, she crossed her eyes and stuck her tongue out at them. I smirked as Rachel received some dirty looks in return.
“Seriously, I think I’ve got it,” Rachel said, this time a little quieter, but just as excitedly. She reached into her back pack and pulled out her notebook. This time I was the one giving her a dirty look. Since that first week of school, Rachel had come to me many times all excited and ready to share her latest theory, always worked out in the margins of her notebook. It was one month later and we were nowhere near figuring it out and Rachel had pretty much accused everyone I had even a remote connection to over the summer. My teammates, the summer janitor, even the little girls who had been at the camp. I had outright laughed when she suggested that last one and asked her if she was truly crazy. Rachel had slammed her locker shut and stormed off after that and I had had to catch up to her in the student parking lot, only to have her turn on me and accuse me of not wanting to figure out who was threatening me. I reassured her that I did want to figure out who was behind this mess, but the girls at the camp? I mean, really, what was she thinking?
“I don’t know, maybe one of them was still there, waiting for their ride and they heard you tell Amy and…and they told, like, they’re older brother or sister or something who’s a student here and now they’re…. they’re…” she couldn’t finish her thought, the frustration evident in her voice.
“Seriously Rachel? That’s a little farfetched, don’t you think?”
After a tense moment Rachel threw her arms up and agreed with me. But for the next couple of days, I could hear her grumbling to herself every now and again about nosey little kids with big mouths. It had been a week since then, so I decided I would humor her current theory.
“Ok,” I sighed, “lay it on me.”
Rachel looked at me, a sly smile forming slowly on her face.
you sure it’s me you want to be saying those words to Greeny?” she said, wiggling
her eyebrows at me.
I blushed furiously and looked away, my eyes landing on the door to the library and of course, who should walk in the door right at that moment?
“Oh look, there’s Amy. Amy!” Rachel hollered across the library.
“Shhh!” the librarian
Rachel just barely managed to restrain herself from making a face at the librarian while waving at Amy to join us. I think if everyone in the library hadn’t turned and looked at her after Rachel hollered, Amy would have ignored Rachel and continued on with whatever she had been doing. I watched as Amy tensed, then excused herself from the few people she had walked in with and made her way over to where we were sitting. As she got closer, I could feel myself blushing even further. That first week of school had been terrible, with Amy ignoring me in the hallways, purposely turning her back to me if I were heading in her direction… and since then things hadn’t got much better. She no longer outright turned her back on me when I approached, she simply pretended as if I were a ghost she could see right through. I’m still not sure which was worse, but both reactions hurt. Every time it happened, I could feel myself closing up, I would bow my head so I didn’t have to see her ignore me and the rest of the day would be shot. Rachel had tried to improve my mood, and most of the time it worked, but deep down I could still feel the pain of being so blatantly ignored by someone I cared about. As Amy got closer I began to panic.
“Rachel, what are you doing!?” I whispered harshly before Amy got to close enough to hear. Rachel was smiling at Amy as she approached.
“I’m sick of your moping, Greeny,” Rachel said through her teeth, “I’m going to fix this.”
“But,” I started, thinking this was neither the time nor the place… a crowded library at lunch? What the hell is she thinking?! But it was too late; Amy was now at our table, looking expectantly at Rachel. She gave me only the slightest of glances, quickly looking back to Rachel. My heart dropped into my stomach.
“What’s up?” she asked impatiently.
“Look, Amy, can you sit down for a minute?”
“I really don’t –“
Was that really my voice? It must have been, because both Rachel and Amy were now looking at me, Rachel with a shocked but pleased look on her face and Amy with an unreadable expression on hers.
Amy sat down, putting her books on the table, and folding her arms in front of her.
“Thank you,” Rachel said, placing her folded hands on the table top and leaning in, “I’ve got a favor to ask you.”
Amy looked skeptical, but nodded her head for Rachel to continue. Rachel leaned in and motioned for Amy and me to do the same. Once we both had, Rachel smiled sweetly.
“I need you to stop ignoring my friend here,” Rachel whispered, then quickly added, “please, if you wouldn’t mind.”
Amy looked a little shocked and slightly embarrassed. Way to go Rachel; just make it worse why don’t ya?
“I…I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Amy replied, looking everywhere except at either Rachel or myself.
“Seriously,” Rachel pushed, not letting up and continuing to smile, “Kyle here, she’s just moping around like a lost little puppy and it’s getting really… I mean, REALLY annoying.”
Oh…My…God. I put my head down in my hands. Seriously, someone please just shoot me now.
“And come on, from what Ky here’s been telling me for a while,” Rachel paused for dramatic effect, “you two were really starting to become pretty good friends. Not best friends, mind you, that’s my department.”
“Hmm,” was Amy’s only reply. I looked up and saw the pained expression on Amy’s face and I knew in that moment that she had been hurting too.
“Come on Amy –” Rachel begins to continue, but I feel the need to say something so I interrupt.
“Amy,” my voice came out a little strained and I stopped. Amy looked at me for the first time and I knew I needed to say exactly what I was feeling, so I start again, “Amy, I know…I, umm, I messed up. You trusted me, and I…I shouldn’t have done what I did or doubted you because I…I trust you, and I know I said I’m sorry already, but I want you to know that I… well I…”
The bell rings, signaling the end of lunch. People start packing up and leaving the area, but the three of us make no move to get up. I glance at Rachel quickly, who suddenly drops down below the table mumbling something about a loose shoe lace. A lot of help she is. I take a deep breath and look down at my hands, which are laid flat on the table in front of me and decide to say exactly how I feel.
“I miss you,” I barely whisper.
As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I know how true they really are. I missed the occasional smile in the hallway, I missed her saying hello in the one class we shared, hell, I even missed her startling me every other second and proving what a klutz I really am. Even if nothing were to ever come of what I truly felt for her, I knew I missed the friend I was just starting to realize I had. I closed my eyes, willing the tears I felt just behind my eyes to stay there. After what seemed like an eternity, I felt the lightest of touches on my left hand. I opened my eyes and see that Amy has placed her hand on mine. I look up at her, and she has a small,, watery smile on her face.
“I…” she starts just as quietly, a small hitch in her voice, “I miss you too, Ky.”
I smile back at her, knowing we still have a long way to go to get back to where we were, but at last we were on the road now.
“Stupid shoe lace,” Rachel mutters, coming back up from under the table. Amy withdraws her hand, but she’s still smiling. I look at Rachel and she flashes me a smug smile, knowing she done good.
“So, Amy, everything good?”
Amy looks at me, then back to Rachel.
“Getting there,” she replies, still smiling.
“Great!” Rachel yells, surprising us both.
“Oh shh, shh, shh! Why is everyone always trying to tell me to be quiet?!” Rachel asks, crossing her arms and sticking out her lower lip. I couldn’t help it, I laughed. Rachel threw me a crooked smile.
“Yeah, yeah. Yuck it up, Greeny,” she said, gathering her books together and standing up, “I need you two to meet me at my truck after school, think you can do that?”
“Umm, yeah?” Amy said, gathering her own books and looking over at me questioningly. I shrugged my shoulders.
“Good, cause I’m pretty sure I got it,” Rachel said proudly. I groan, knowing exactly what she’s talking about.
“Got what?” Amy asks as the three of us head for the door to the library. As we passed the librarian, who was giving Rachel a serious stank eye, Rachel leaned over close to Amy.
“I figured out who sent the creepy note,” Rachel proclaimed in a loud whisper.
Amy looks up at me and all I can do is just shake my head as the bell rings, letting us know we’re all late to our next class.
I walked down the hall towards my locker, all the while feeling as though someone were watching me. I slowed a couple of feet from my locker and looked quickly over my shoulder. No one was there. I shook my head. Great, now I’m paranoid. That will make this whole crazy note business all the better. I continued on to my locker, opened it up and shoved my books inside quickly, knowing that Rachel and possibly even Amy were already waiting for me out in the parking lot.
All through the rest of the day I had thought about who Rachel could possibly have left to accuse of writing the note. Everyone whom she had accused so far had been a possibility, a few more possible than others, but that was about it as far as I could tell, there was no one left, right? I shut my locker door and hoisted my back pack up on my back. As I was leaving the hallway, I nearly ran into someone who had been standing just outside the door.
“Whoa, uh, sorry,” I managed, looking down at a somewhat frightened face of a boy I’d never seen before.
“S’Okay,” he mumbled, then hurried past into the hall I’d just come from. I watched him for a minute, then just shrugged my shoulders. Must be a freshman, I thought. I continued on my way but didn’t get far when I heard someone calling my name.
“Hey Kyle, hold up a sec.”
I turned and Amy was walking towards me. My heart sped up a little bit when she smiled up at me and I smiled a tentative smile in return. We stood there for a moment, probably looking goofy to anyone who passed by.
“Um, I’m not sure where Rachel usually parks, so I waited to walk with you,” Amy said, looking away shyly.
“Oh, yeah, okay,” I said, starting to walk again. It was a small gesture of our truce, but I grasped on to it.
“So,” I said, shoving my hands in my pockets as we made our way down the front steps into the parking lot. I had no idea what to say.
“Yeah, so,” Amy replied, just as awkwardly.
“Uh,” c’mon Kyle! Think of something! “Uh, so tryouts start next week.”
“Yup,” Amy replied.
“So… are you helping out with anything?” I asked, then wanted to kick myself. Of course she was!
“Yeah, um, are you?” Amy asked.
“Yeah, coach asked me to, um, run some of the opening drills with the new people who show up.”
“Oh, he asked me to help with registration and stuff,” Amy said, sounding a little jealous. Good job, Greeny.
“We could switch, if you want, I don’t mind doing the registration, it’s not that hard, I did some last year and it wasn’t too bad, I mean, if you want to, or whatever,” I hastily babbled. Amy looked at me and smiled.
“No, that’s ok,” she chuckled a little bit, “I think that’s the most you’ve said in one sentence since…I don’t know when.”
I blushed, but smiled. She was teasing me, teasing was good. We made our way down the steps into the senior parking lot and began our way towards Rachel’s truck.
“So,” she continued, frowning a little, “Rachel thinks she knows who sent the note, huh?”
I rolled my eyes.
“Yeah, seems like every other day she’s got a new idea about who the culprit might be,” I mumbled as we neared Rachel’s truck. Rachel was already standing there, hands on her hips and a small smile playing across her face.
“Okaaaaay,” Amy dragged out, looking a little bit confused.
“Dang, what took you guys so long?” Rachel asked.
“Had to stop at my locker,” I replied.
“I waited for Kyle so she could show me where you parked,” Amy replied, hugging her books to her chest.
“Oh you waited, huh?” Rachel asked, looking at me and waggling her eyebrows. If I could have, I would have strangled Rachel right there in the parking lot. Instead, I looked down at my shoes and blushed furiously.
“So, uh, you think you know who sent that note?” Amy quickly changed the subject.
“Yup!” Rachel said proudly.
“So…?” I asked, trying to get Rachel to spit it out already.
“Well, since Greeny here has shut down pretty much every idea I’ve come up with so far, that really only leaves one person…” Rachel paused, looking from myself to Amy, then back at me again.
“Rachel, spit it out already!” I couldn’t take it.
“Jeeze, don’t get your panties in a bunch there, Greeny,” Rachel said, frowning, “I believe the culprit is… Coach Klein!”
I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the asphalt. Amy snorted.
“Why on Earth would you think Coach would do that to Ky?” Amy’s use of my nickname broke me out of my stupor and the tiniest of smiles played across my lips before I let Rachel’s words truly sink in.
“Yeah, what makes you think that?” I added, somewhat lamely. Rachel crossed her arms and lifted her chin to defend herself.
“Because he could have still been in the Gym at the time you told Amy what happened,” she started, “plus, he has access to the lockers during passing periods if he wanted to, so he could have totally put that note in there!”
I knew there was no way that Coach Klein would have put that note in my locker, not to mention that the handwriting on the note was most definitely not his, but I didn’t want to shoot down another one of Rachel’s ideas.
“Ok,” Amy said, “you have a point there.”
I turned quickly to Amy, who flashed a small wink in my direction without Rachel noticing.
“I totally do, don’t I?!” Rachel said excitedly.
“Yes,” Amy said delicately, “but we would need to find proof. How do you suggest we go about doing that?”
“Hmm,” Rachel thought for a moment, her face scrunched up in concentration.
“Umm,” I started, both Rachel and Amy looked up at me, “we could, um, try to get a sample of his handwriting and match it to the note?”
Rachel’s eyes got huge.
“That’s an awesome idea, Greeny!” she shouted excitedly.
“Yeah, that could definitely work,” Amy agreed.
“Ok, we need to come up with a plan,” Rachel said, starting to pace back and forth next to her truck.
“A plan?” I asked, a little worried by Rachel’s pacing.
“Yeah, we need to figure out how we’re going to get a sample of his writing, duh,” Rachel replied. I looked to Amy, who just shrugged her shoulders at me as if to say, “this is all you now, it was your idea.”
“I know!” Rachel shouted, making me jump a little, “get him to write you a note at tryouts next week! Say you need proof that you were at tryouts for your Mom or whatever.”
“That… could work,” I said, trying to not let it show how ridiculous I thought this whole thing was, “I could tell him I’m grounded and need proof that I showed up at tryouts instead of ditching or whatever.”
“Yes!” Rachel held up her hand for a high five, which I quickly gave, then started pacing again, “that’s totally going to work! You just gotta make sure you do it.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure she does,” Amy said seriously. Rachel stopped pacing and looked at Amy.
“You know, you’re not so bad,” Rachel said, just as seriously.
“Um, thank you?” Amy replied, not exactly sure how to respond. She looked up at me and I just shrugged my shoulders.
“Ok then,” Rachel said, opening the driver’s side door to her truck and hopping in, “it’s settled, you guys get the sample and I’ll get the books.”
Rachel turned the ignition, bringing the truck to life and rolling the window down.
“What books?” I asked over the loud engine.
“Duh,” she said, backing out of her parking spot and throwing the truck into gear, “handwriting analysis books. See ya!”
“Wait!” I yelled, but Rachel was gone.
Amy looked up at me, a question in her eyes.
“Uh, she was going to give me a ride home today.”
“Ah, gotcha,” Amy said, watching as Rachel took the corner out of the parking lot at break neck speed, “something tells me you might be better off without the ride.”
“Yeah,” I replied. Silence descended over us as the last few cars straggled out of the parking lot.
“So handwriting analysis, huh?” Amy said, turning to look at me.
“I guess so,” I sighed, “thanks for playing along. I was getting tired of Rachel being pissed at me for shooting down her ideas. I’m almost one hundred percent sure that it wasn’t Coach who sent the note.”
“Yeah, I figured,” Amy replied, looking off into the distance, “She’s really set on figuring this whole mess out, isn’t she?”
“Seems that way.”
“Sounds like she’s a pretty good friend.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “if just a little bit crazy.”
We both smiled, then Amy looked away again, seeming to lose herself in her thoughts. I didn’t want to leave, but since I now had to walk home, I figured I should get going.
“Anyway, thanks again, I, uh, should probably get started home,” I turned to leave, but stopped when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Come on, I’ll give you a ride home,” Amy said, turning quickly in the direction of her car. I stood for a moment, not sure if I wanted to follow or bolt.
“You coming, Ky?” she asked, looking over her shoulder. My feet, having a mind of their own, started following after her.
To be continued…
Feedback is fantastic: firstname.lastname@example.org
Continued in Part 11
Return to the Academy