The next day, I woke up stiff as a board. I groaned as I struggled out of bed and changed, throwing my cloak over my shoulders. Elvira was waiting with some breakfast and smiled at me.
"How are you doing today?" she asked.
"I am so sore," I moaned. "Goodness. If I had known it would be that difficult I wouldn't have done it!"
She laughed. "Aw, sure you would have. Where are you off to so quickly?"
"Mr. Pink needs me there early," I said. "I think he said today is the last day of my training."
Her eyes lit up. "That's exciting!"
I smiled and waved goodbye. I wrapped my cloak and walked out just as Silas was. He beamed.
"How are you feeling this morning?" he asked, walking with me.
"Like I got run over by several horses," I said and he laughed.
"Yes, after all the falls you took, I was sure you would be."
"Of course, I think it was my last fall that did it. I had a lot of added weight that time."
He gasped, feigning hurt feelings. "Are you calling me fat, Miss Buckley?"
I giggled. "I told you to call me Megan," I said shyly as we approached the schoolhouse.
He stopped walking and smiled a little.
"Only if you call me Silas," he said.
I laughed a little. "Okay. Sounds like a deal."
I held my hand out for him to shake and he walked closer.
"How about sealing with a kiss?" he breathed.
It was then I realized he was probably almost as nervous about this as I was. I nodded and he kissed me lightly on the lips.
"Have a good day," I said and he did that salute.
I smiled as I walked up the pathway and into the schoolhouse. Teachers waved to me and I waved back, my mind still on Silas.
Until I got to the office.
I shouted and ran in. Mr. Pink was having a seizure.
"Jennifer!" I yelled for the teacher that taught some of the older kids. "Get the doctor!"
One look at Mr. Pink and she ran as fast as she could. I had absolutely no idea so I sat beside him, putting his jerking head into my lap. Tears streamed down my face as I tried to calm him down. He was too old to be having seizures and I had no idea how long he had been having this one.
Finally, Dr. Matheson came running in. Mr. Pink had just stopped seizing.
"What happened?" Dr. Matheson demanded, kneeling beside me and lifting Mr. Pink's eyelids.
"H-He was having a seizure," I breathed, wiping at my tears. "I walked in for-for my lessons with him and he was on the floor."
He frowned. "Do you know how long it was?"
I shook my head. "He had been seizing while I was here for two minutes. Is he going to be okay?"
He looked up at me. "Megan," he whispered, "he's dead."
"What!?" I cried. "N-No he's not."
I looked at him. His eyes were closed and he wasn't moving.
"No," I repeated. "No, you see, he's just sleeping."
"I'm sorry, Megan," Dr. Matheson sighed. "He's gone. The seizure.... That might have been his body's way of dying."
I was hyperventilating as Jennifer began to sob.
"No," I repeated and gripped Mr. Pink's jacket. "No. He's not dead."
"I'm sorry," he repeated. He looked over his shoulder. "Go get Elvira Buckley, please. I saw her down at the forge with Thomas Buckley."
"Yes sir," his assistant said and ran down the hall.
"Bring him back," I said to Dr. Matheson. "Y-You helped Tommy and Elly! Bring him back!"
"D-Do CPF or whatever those letters are!" I cried. "Do it! I-I read you c-can restart the heart and-"
Dr. Matheson held my hands. "No, Megan. I can't. He's gone."
My arms fell and I sobbed over his head, putting my forehead on his.
"Megan!" Elvira cried. "Oh, Megan."
She knelt down beside me and put her arms around me. I sobbed into her neck. I felt Dr. Matheson pick Mr. Pink's body up and I clung to Elvira. She rocked me and hummed my lullaby.
"Miss Buckley," Jennifer said when I stopped sobbing. "Go ahead and-and take the day. The-The first day of school isn't for another week."
"I'm so sorry!" I cried and hugged Jennifer.
She and the other teachers had known him longer than I did and she cried into my hair. I stopped by each teacher to let them know I'd be in tomorrow to start my first day as the official principal.
Elvira walked me down to the forge. Thomas was standing there, looking worried. When he saw my tears, his face went pale.
"What happened?" he asked and I ran into his arms, sobbing into his neck. "Meggie, what happened?"
"Mr. Pink passed away," Elvira whispered, stroking my hair. "Megan found him having a seizure in his office. By the time the doctor got there, it was too late."
"Megan," he groaned and held me tightly. "I'm so sorry, Megan."
"Megan!" someone shouted. "Megan!"
I looked over my shoulder. Silas looked frantic and I wiped my tears away. When he saw me, he stopped running and bent over, his hands on his knees.
"Oh thank God," he groaned and I went over.
He hugged me and I froze, not sure what to do.
"They said someone was dead at the schoolhouse," he breathed. "They didn't say who it was. You weren't there or at your house."
"You-You were afraid for me?" I asked and he frowned at me, getting his handkerchief out of his pocket and passing it to me.
"Of course I was, Megan," he said. "I care about you."
I wiped my tears away. "It-It was Mr. Pink," I whispered and he hugged me again.
I looked over his shoulder at Elvira, asking with my eyes what to do. Thomas turned away while Elvira made motions with her arms, obviously telling me to hug him back. I didn't know why I had to, but I did so slowly. His grip on me tightened.
"I'm sorry, Megan," he whispered. "I know he was important to you. What's going to happen now?"
I closed my eyes. A man that wasn't my brother hadn't held me like this before. It was nice.
"Tomorrow I start as the new principal," I mumbled. "I'm going to stop by Dr. Matheson's and have him let me know when it's time to plan the funeral." I sighed. "He has no living relatives."
Silas stepped out of the hug.
"I'm sorry," he repeated. "Is there anything I can do?"
I blushed and avoided his eyes. "Hug me again?"
"Of course," he said and pulled me close again.
I stood outside of the schoolhouse the next morning, staring at it. Silas was holding my hand.
"I don't think I can do it," I breathed.
"You can," he said. "Come on. I'll walk you to the office."
He pulled on my hand gently and I followed him. The teachers all stood outside of their doors, backs straight and heads high. Mr. Pink said this happens when the next principal comes in.
"Th-Thank you for greeting me," I said in a choked voice like I was supposed to. "Um... I'm very much looking forward to taking up the task of running the school. Your support and trust will mean much to me and I am excited to work with all of you."
They bowed and Silas led me the rest of the way. The glass on the door had already changed. It now said Megan Buckley instead of Johnathan Pink.
"It doesn't feel right, Silas," I whispered as I opened the door and walked in.
"I know," he muttered, shutting the door behind us. "It's going to be okay, though."
I looked at him. "How do you know?"
He smiled and tucked some hair behind my ear.
"Because they've got you leading them."
I stared at him for a second before wrapping my arms around his neck and kissing him. He paused for a brief moment then kissed me back. I shut my eyes tightly, letting him run his hand into my hair. He licked my lower lip and I shook a little. When Thomas and Elvira kissed like that, it always looked so uncomfortable.
As I opened my mouth, though, I realized why they did it so often. I gasped gently and gripped him tightly. His other arm went around my waist.
We kissed for a while longer until he stopped, placing a few kisses on my lips before breaking away completely.
"Try to have a good day, Megan," he whispered.
"I will," I breathed and hugged him again. "Thank you."