The story her father had given her that morning niggled at the back of Wil’s mind, though she didn’t know why. She thought it must be because he hardly gave into requests lately. Rob still worked swing shifts at jobs so he could be home for Cynthia’s treatments and doctor visits. With everything going on, he hardly felt up to talking or even smiling.
Wil held the happy feelings of memory in a small area of her mind as she glided through dissipating fog toward the sprawling school building. Happy, chattering groups of teenagers passed her. Silent, dark forms of seriously solemn schoolmates stalked by. Average young adults found others and nervously discussed upcoming assignments. They were all pulled inexorably to the doors and swallowed in.
Sometimes, Wil felt school was a prison. She rarely enjoyed attending. She was not one of a pair in a couple of silent types, or even an average sort to worry over tests. Wil was also definitely not chatty among a group of other trend-setting bubble heads.
As she watched groups of her peers like a momentary anthropologist, however, she admittedly felt envy. Wil hadn’t met and made any friends since moving to this school shortly after her birthday in September. She was old enough and experienced enough by now to tune out ridiculous encouragement by school counselors and teachers -but, they were correct in that even one friend would make school exponentially more tolerable.
Exponentially… Wil’s mind lingered over the word. She realized she’d been drifting the wrong direction and corrected herself to head instead toward her locker. She was going to be late for math.
Taking her mittens off so she could open her locker, Wil set her things on the ground and spun the combination on the lock. It sprung open, and she was surprised to see a folded paper sitting in the bottom among the dust.
Wil stealthily looked around, but only caught the eye of a few clueless chatterers in groups with other vacuous participants. Clearly, no one standing near had any idea about her, her locker, or its contents.
Always up for variety and adventure, Wil reached in and unfolded the page. It had a serrated edge and blue lines to tell where it had been extracted from. Half expecting there to be nothing on it, since careless people put garbage everywhere, Wil was surprised to see writing across the middle.
Unfortunately, the writing was not done in letters customary for American English, nor in their usual order. Her excitement increased a bit more; this was a code!
“It probably reads ‘Your an idiot,'” thought Wil, “With misspellings included. Or, it’s not really meant for me.”
Still, she burned with a curiosity to solve and read the cryptic message. It had been in her locker. Hopefully, this message really was for her. Hopefully, it would be some sort of clue to a mystery of great import. She would decipher these symbols and save the…
The school bell echoed deeply through the halls, stirring standing bodies to slowly walking ensembles.
Wil put her backpack and other books inside, and shut the door. Pocketing her secret, she smiled. Math class would be a lot more interesting today.
Continued from Seven.