Wilhelmina Winters, of Classroom 4, Central Junior High School, was first to say she was hardly unique; who would think that? She was least likely to be part of something unusual or secret, since her peers ignored her and others with sense.
Wil was a student at the school, which attempted to educate young teens. She was a small, slight youth with regular proportions, but rather large hazel eyes. Her father was not a tall man, but his eyes matched his only daughter’s and his build gave others a steady, dependable impression. They shared their family with Wil’s step-brother, Jakob, and mother, Cynthia -whom many thought the kindest woman around.
Wil and her family had the basic necessities, but they also had Goodbye, a time that stalked and shadowed their every move and interaction with others. They had other secrets too; what family doesn’t? Wil’s father’s second-greatest fear was that someone from the past might appear and take away the life he’d scrabbled together over the last fourteen years.
When Wil arrived at school that chill, nondescript day, she’d only had three scraps of paper to tell her that today might be different. Wil tried now to look inconspicuous as she kicked at the ugly carpet carefully under her desk. Dr. L. gestured and lectured as usual, while his class feigned attention.
No one seemed to see the fragment Wil was moving with her foot.
Halfway through the hour, Dr. L. put down his covalent bond model, picked up a stack of worksheets, and attempted to walk around the first row of desks without bumping into them but did, as he was distracted by his attempts to simultaneously pass out their assignment.
“Whoops!” Annoying Carl Hurn said to his neighbors, as they guffawed appreciatively.
When Wil turned an icy look at the immature group, she saw the first odd thing since the lunch area yesterday -another teenager in her class watching her closely. Wil was busy channeling irritation toward Carl and didn’t register the attention -then, her cheeks flushed and she tried to slyly look again. There were rows of disinterested, distracted youths looking bored or passing papers to each other but no one facing her way. Maybe she imagined it? Wil was obviously too tired to function normally. She rubbed at her eyes and yawned. A random student in another area caught her infectious action and stifled his own yawn. She scanned faces again as her own turn to hand papers down the row came. Everyone appeared normal -no, Carl was abnormal; he hadn’t even noticed his rudeness nor her reproach. Wil tried to rid herself of the itchy feeling of being watched. She picked up her chemistry assignment, most of her focus on trying to extract the answers from a brain that had failed to absorb the morning’s lecture.
At the end of class and between periods, science was forgotten and replaced by thoughts of a new secret note. As she wandered with the masses down the hall, Wil was absorbed in reading its contents. The message was a puzzle again. Wil was getting tired of these games -a straightforward attempt at meeting would be better. She guessed the sender found this method preferable. She scanned the paper and recognized its pattern to be a crossword of sorts. There were clues at the bottom. Wil was relieved to read that she knew some of the answers; why, everyone knew the popular song that clue took a line of lyrics from! It had played on the radio yesterday at carpool! Maybe the type of unique this person meant did not refer to seeking really intelligent persons -yes, he or she didn’t want geniuses. Feeling hopefully adequate, Wil looked forward to filling in the spaces as she headed to her next class.
Continued from Twenty-Seven.