The space around her undulated with excited preparations, but Wil sat on an island of stupor.
She felt completely indecisive in the face of probable conclusion. The X on the final fragment of a treasure map led right around the next clump of trees, and she was strangely unsure of unearthing what lay buried.
As people accidentally brushed past her desk or herself, a galvanizing thought finally sunk through: if she didn’t move, she’d be stuck alone with Mr. G.
So quickly that she actually finished before a few others; Wil gathered up her things, moved down the narrow aisle of desks, and edged open the heavy metal door into the chill afternoon outdoors.
Nature’s cool hand stroked Wil’s cheek, reminding some primal part of her what being alive truly felt like. Anxiety blew away. She felt strong, clear-minded, and brave.
She also remembered that she’d have to hurry, to meet her destiny and still have time to catch her ride.
Wil scarcely saw the stands of chattering or texting or zoning out teenagers. They were posts she had to walk around -as uninteresting and lifeless as the swimming salad utensil décor that occasionally interrupted the walls of the hallway she hurried down.
Wil made record time arriving at and emptying her locker. She headed toward the library, squinting ahead to see who might be waiting.
She saw no one standing.
Wil reached the doors, which were closed and locked. Their librarian strongly believed her day ended when the teenagers’ did. In practice, she left as soon as she could without the principal noticing.
Wil looked around for another paper scrap or a hidden agent. Nothing and no one presented themselves.
Looking agitatedly at the exiting masses, Wil’s eyes were drawn to one body heading across the crowds to her position. She felt her heart rate increase and anxiety return.
He was a boy. Wil thought she’d seen him in two of her classes. Had Mrs. T. been right?
He reached her. He smiled.
“Hi, I’m Derek,” he supplied in a voice-still-changing tone. “This is for you.” He held out a note with an edge that showed it had been torn from a notebook.
“Don’t worry,” he assured Wil. Her agitation of more clues conveyed itself as a panic on her face. “I’ll see you later.” He gave her another simple smile, then turned and walked away. He was swept with the crowds down the hall and out the doors.
This time, Wil was marooned for a shorter time. She pocketed the paper and ran to carpool.