That Wednesday I managed to stay in Mr. Kerr's class. I didn't cry, but then, this was the first day that I hadn't. It was becoming easier, if only marginally.
Mr. Kerr had rushed into class that day, which was weird because he was ALWAYS there. Never late.
I didn't really think too much of it.
He started teaching us, and it was then that I realized how much I had missed with my daily crying excursions. I didn't understand the problems he was speeding through with everyone else. Struggling, I tried to muddle through, but then I finally just stopped trying. Surely he would understand. He "told" me not to come to class. I would just stay after class and ask him for some help catching up. It was the last class of the day, so I could just call my mom to come and pick me up if I stayed too late.
I sighed heavily when I finally admitted defeat, and Mr. Kerr turned momentarily from the chalkboard, a sympathetic look and small smile for me. He knew.
I just doodled through the rest of the hour, my drawings turning to the murder. I zoned out, drew a sort of manga person, and then realized it was Bree. I crumpled it up and shoved it down in my bag. I almost starting crying again, but took a deep breath instead, shoving the pain down. What's done is done. There's nothing that I can do to bring Aubrey back from the dead.
The bell rang and everyone hustled to get out the door except me. I sat until the room was empty save Mr. Kerr and me. He erased away the chalk equations and formulas while I soundlessly stepped to his desk.
"I... I'm sorry that I haven't been in class lately."
He took a deep breath. "I understand. Aubrey was your best friend. It's not something you'll soon get over. I miss her as well." His shoulders tensed at those last words.
We were silent for a moment, only the sound of the eraser as it glided over the board. The smell of chalk was think in the air. Mr. Kerr sneezed.
"Bless you." I said and finally went on, "I'm just worried because I've missed so much of this work. I have no idea where we're at and I surely don't want to repeat this class... er, not that I-I don't like it, and all--"
He chuckled. "I'd be glad to help you with it." He finished the cleaning, and wiped his hands on his thighs, smiling at me. He gathered some papers and bid me come around and sit at his desk.
"It's more comfortable," he said. "I can't see how you kids learn anything in those hard wood desks. And they're so cramped!"
It was weird, but I sat in the chair anyhow.
"Now isn't that better? Good." He set some papers in front of me, and standing behind me, started explaining the equations one by one.
I tried, I really did, but I still did not get them. He rested his hand on my shoulder almost familiarly, and started again. I still could not grasp the concept of this especially hard algebraic formula.
Mr. Kerr sighed. "Well, don't worry; your grade won't drop. You can't help what happened to Aubrey." He gripped and rubbed my shoulder with his hand. He turned me in the chair to face him and placed his other hand on my other shoulder. "I'll not hold it against you. We can work on it -- together." He smiled and put his hand my cheek fondly.
His touch was too personal for me.
It was then that he leaned forward and tried to kiss me. I pulled back and fell from my chair, screaming, "What the--? What are you trying to do?!"
Before I could get up, he had pushed the chair away, and pinned me to the ground with his legs.
I tried to scream, but he clamped a hand tight over my mouth. I tried to move but he straddled me, holding me firmly in place. With his free hand he started to unbutton my shirt.
I screamed into his hand and struggled against his grip. I finally managed to wriggle one arm free and I pushed at him, trying to force him off of me. He grabbed my hand, but not before I'd scratched him across the cheek with my fingernails. His hold on my mouth wavered, and I managed a strangled scream. He smacked my face and regained his grip on me.
I heard running footsteps and a voice from the door yelled: "Mr. Kerr! What the hell are you doing?! GET OFF HER!" It was Brandon. He rushed over (still in his Football jersey, fresh from practice), and with more strength than you'd think, hauled Mr. Kerr away from me. I managed to get up -- just in time to see Brandon punch Mr. Kerr in the jaw. Once, twice, again, and again he hit him until Mr. Kerr slumped against the wall, unconscious. Brandon hit him again for good measure, then came to me.
"Are you all right?" He asked, and pulled me to him when I could not answer for tears. He held me while I cried, then stood me shoulder length from him and looked me in the eyes with concern. "Are you hurt?" I shook my head. "Let's get you some help," he said, and walked me out of the room to the school nurse.
Levi was passing in the hall, almost running to where Brandon was, back in Mr. Kerr's class, tying the pervert teacher up with until the police got there.
"Gracie!" He yelled. "What happened? Are you all right?"
"I think so." I sniffled. "But, there's someone I have to talk to."
"I have to tell him something: I think that Mr. Kerr murderer Aubrey."
After much searching, I finally found Mr. Whithers office (he's not in the phone book you know) and I waited for him to come back, which I knew he would.
He was surprised to see me there, but I soon told him what had happened. When I mentioned Mr. Kerr, he guessed that he had tried to rape me. That unsettled me. I almost wondered if he could read my mind.
"I think he murdered Bree," I told him.
"What makes you think that?"
"I realized why Aubrey was always staying after with Mr. Kerr." But again, before I could tell him, he guessed. He nailed it.
"Wow. That's sure some talent you have there." I managed a smile, the first in a few days. He chuckled and asked why I had come to that conclusion concerning Bree.
"Well, she had been struggling with Math, and after she started tutoring with Mr. Kerr, her grades rose. Immediately. And given what he tried to do to me, I don't think that Mr. Kerr would bristle at a 'relationship' with a student..."