Victoria called after I got out of the shower and dressed, she needed me to stop and pick her up from her apartment on my way to the high school. Apparently she was having car troubles and the engine wouldn’t turn over. She was waiting until pay day to go take it to Doc’s Auto Repair to see what was wrong with it.
“Hey you! How are YOU feeling after last night?” Victoria asked as she opened the back door of my Jeep Compass and threw her huge bag into the back seat.
“I am feeling fine. A little dehydrated and I had a small headache when I woke up this morning but not too bad. How about yourself?” I asked
It wasn’t fair Vic looked like she got a full 8 hours of beauty sleep. There were no bags under her eyes and she looked simply radiant in her red flowing hippy skirt with a black tank top and boho sandals. Where I on the other hand wore green capris from the Gap, a white v-neck, and chucks. I don’t care what anyone says black Converse shoes will go with any outfit.
“I’m doing fine! I got home, took some Advil, and drank some green tea before heading to be. I woke up early this morning and did some yoga as well. Which by the way you still need to go to the park on Main Street with me and do some early morning yoga! I swear, it will change your world!”
Victoria was an avid yoga enthusiast. She told me that it keeps her mellow and in line with her inner peace. I have tried yoga many times over the years, but my inner person won’t shut up long enough for me to find inner peace. I have told Vic this multiple times, but she believes she can help me find it now that I live back home and am away from the noise of the city. We shall see.
“Good god, that is so much to do in the morning. I’d rather drink some coffee and read, which is exactly what I did. So tell me, what should I expect from this celebration at the school? What kind of small talk will I be required to be apart of? Am I going to get anytime to tour the school and look at my room?”
I knew that school wasn’t going to start for another few weeks but I needed to have a time frame, some sort of expectation and schedule to follow. I wasn’t the best at flying at the seat of my pants and I really wasn’t good at small talk. I tended to word vomit around people I didn’t know.
“Basically parents will be here from all over the district, not just high school parents but through all grade levels. The Board of Education will be here and the Superintendent. You need to make sure to talk to them with your best possible manners. Stay by my side and I will introduce them to you as best as I can. There will be questions from parents asking about how you plan on teaching this year. Tell them Project Based Learning, they love hearing that. In fact you can tell the BOE that too.”
Victoria went on the for the rest of the ten minute drive telling me all about the board members, the drama with the other teachers, and which helicopter parents to look out for.
“You might have time to quickly look around the school, but you won’t be able to go into your room yet. They will let us in about a week before school starts.” She finished as I pulled into the parking lot to the school. The parking lot was getting pretty full and we were thirty minutes early.
As we got out of the car you could hear the celebration getting started. The town was going all out. There were carnival rides for the smaller kids, games for the bigger ones, a dance floor with today’s hits playing with a few couples dancing, and a big stage getting the final touches before the big reveal of the new parts of the high school.
While we were walking up I noticed Jake standing at the entrance looking through people’s bags and checking for guns. Here in Oklahoma everyone and their mother packed a gun. They were real supportive of the 2nd amendment here. Jake spotted me coming up to the entrance and stopped me.
“Hey Maggie! I’m going to need you to open your bag and let me look inside. You’re not packing any heat are you?” Jake winked as he looked in my bag.
“Nope, the only thing that could be considered a weapon in my bag is a book. But you’re not a firefighter and this isn’t a Ray Bradbury book now is it?” I retorted.
Jake rolled his eyes at me as he checked Victoria’s bag, “You know Maggie, it’s getting kind of old, this grudge you have against me. It was 10 years ago, can’t you just forgive and forget?”
“Forgive you and Bridgett for pulling a Stephen King “Carrie” on me, and making me think that I was worth your time, only to leave me stag at the dance. While I had to watch you and her make out in the corner under the bleachers? While others in her posse threw trash at me until I left the prom crying? I wish I could forget that. The only thing missing was you pouring paint all over me” I snatched my bag off of the table where others were checking their bags.
I knew I was being a brat and over dramatic, but I didn’t know what else to do. It still stung, ten years later. I knew it was too good to be true, but a little part of me had hoped that Jake had been serious.
I had helped him study for his finals that year, we would laugh and joke around. When he passed me that note in history class, I thought I had even seen his ears turn red in a blush. However this wasn’t the case, he was laughing at me. Bridgett had told him that she would go to the prom with him all he had to do was trick me. Well, he did that alright. The town talked about it for weeks afterwards.
I was stopped in the streets by older people telling me that it was okay, I would find someone. Other’s would point at laugh at me in the halls and the coffee shop where I worked. College at UCO, University of Central Oklahoma, was my saving grace. Moving out of Broken Bow into a place where no one knew me was what I needed to do to cleanse myself of that time.
“MAGS! Wait up!” Victoria was running as best as she could to catch up with me.
Out of breath and wheezing she said, “Come on! I know that you’re still upset over what happened, hell I’m still pissed for you, but you are better than that. Better than stomping off and acting like a teenager.” She grabbed my arm and pulled me into a strong hug, “Ignore him. Give him the silent treatment. But don’t let him know that he is even a thought in your mind, okay? Now come on, I’m going to show you around the school before everything starts.”
We turned around and headed to the front of the school building. The crowd was growing even more around the stage area to the right of us. I saw parents with soft drinks, kids with cotton candy, and more than a few people with turkey legs. This was getting a little ridiculous if you asked me, but this was the life of a small town. There wasn’t a lot to go out and get excited about.
Entering the front entryway, I saw a whole wall of glass doors, “Normally you can’t enter these doors during the school day. They are locked for safety, you’ll have a key as a teacher, but if anyone visits they need a visitor’s badge. They can go through the front office through the doors to the right.” Victoria pointed to a glass door that showed the front desks where the attendance clerks and the secretaries sat.
As we walked through the doors I noticed how much everything had changed from when I last went to school here in 2008. There was only one door to the main office and I had to go through that one to get to the rest of the school. There was a corded off hallway that Victoria explain was where the new library was, some bathrooms, and a couple of classrooms.
“Ms. Star, is there anyway I could talk to you right now?” A female voice from behind us asked. We turned around and saw Mrs. Steinfield, the high school principal, “There is a parent wondering when auditions for the Fall play were going to start. They say that their student needs to get the lead roll. Do you even have the play picked out yet?” Mrs. Steinfield rolled her eyes and laughed.
“Ah! That must be Taylor’s mom.” Victoria exhaled. She turned to me, ”Remember, me explaining helicopter parents? This is one of them, you can wait here and I’ll be right back.” Victoria gave me a wink and followed Mrs. Steinfield out of the front doors into the mass of people milling about.
Now that I was alone I realized that I needed to go to the restroom pretty badly. I remembered that Vic had said that there were restrooms down the gated off hallway. I didn’t want to go wondering around the school getting lost trying to find a bathroom, so I lifted the caution tape and stepped through the entrance to the hall. I didn’t think I could get into too much trouble since I worked at the school now.
While walking down the hall I noticed that the doors weren’t marked for the bathrooms. This could be potentially hairy. I mean I didn’t think anyone was in the men’s bathroom but it would be extremely embarrassing to open the wrong door and have a man standing there trying to do his business only to be interrupted by me.
As I pushed open the first door to my right I closed my eyes and said, “Hello! Anyone in here? Is this the women’s bathroom? I don’t mean to intrude, but I really have to go!” After hearing silence in return I opened my eyes to see a dark classroom. I wondered if this was the standard for what classrooms would look like throughout the school.
Ignoring the persisting pound of my very full bladder, I decided that it wouldn’t be a big deal to turn on the lights and look around the room, noting anything that I could add to my own classroom, and seeing what the desk looked like. I had this certain desk organizer in mind from Target that I wanted to get but I wanted to make sure that it would fit before I spent the money.
I turned on the over head lights blinding myself as I walked into the center of the room. The desks were stacked and push up against the walls leaving ample space in the center of the room to walk around and get a good feel for the size.
My eyes were still adjusting as I tripped over something on the floor by the desk. I assumed it was a rolled up rug because it was pretty stiff, but didn’t feeling like plastic or metal. I looked down to see a leg with a red stiletto on the foot.
My breathing started to come rapidly and my eyes started to darken. I was afraid that I was about to pass out. I needed to slow my breathing down, I didn’t know who it was 100% and I needed to see if I could help.
As I rounded the desk I could see that I was too late. The red stiletto belonged to the person I thought it did. Bridgett Nickel was laying face down in what looked like blood. A red grading pen was sticking out from the side of her neck. I knew that she was dead, but I needed to check her pulse just to be sure.
I grabbed her wrist, it was stiff and cold. There was no pulse to do found. I turned around and ran to the door, stopping to throw up in the hallway.
I ran down the hall and into the school entryway. Running right into the last person that I wanted to see, Jake.
He grabbed onto my shoulders to keep me from tripping over my own feet. “Hey there! What’s the rush? I promise they still have another 5 or 10 minutes until everything starts.” He put me right on my feet and then he noticed how white my face was. “Mags, everything okay? You’re not looking so well. Do you need me to drive you home?”
“No, Jake. I don’t need you to drive me home. But I found something. I mean I found someone. You need to call for an ambulance. I don’t think she is okay. Really, I don’t think she is.” I started stumbling over my words. My mind was fogging and I couldn’t get the words out right.
“Woah there! Slow down honey. Who isn’t okay? Who is SHE? Where is she? Talk to me. Breath. “ His voice was floating away from me as I leaned against the wall and slid down. Everything was dimming. I knew that I needed to shake out of it though. Something happened to Bridgett and I needed to explain what happened.
“Bridgett Nickel. I think she is dead.” I said as I finally sank all the way down to the floor. I could hear Jake talking into his radio for backup as he was running down the hall where I came from.