After waiting for about five minutes, I slowly opened my eyes to a harsh, blinding light. I calmed down once I realized it was just the school’s fluorescent lights and not the bright light at the end of the tunnel. Blinking furiously so that my eyes could adjust, I gradually stared to sit up and look around me. Concerned faces surrounded me. I could see my dad. The anxiety and worry on his face was almost enough to knock me back down. It was in that single moment that I realized how much he truly cared for me. I could see the nurse running diagnoses through her head so that when I asked, she would be ready to tell me what was wrong with me. I almost felt sorry for her. She had no clue what was wrong with me, the first time a sickness had baffled her in her twenty years as a school nurse.

Scott’s face surprised me. His face was drawn and pale. He looked terrified and the pain I had felt moments ago was reflected clearly in his eyes. I felt bad for him but I hadn’t known him for that long. I pondered quietly for a moment, trying to figure out what could have possibly made him react so strongly to my pain.

I froze, hearing a dark chuckle echo from the corners of my mind.

Poor thing. You’re going to lose another one.Though the thought had sounded mocking and hateful, I could feel the bittersweet tone to the jab.


I felt a kind of familiarity at the words of the voice. I had heard it before, either the words or the voice, and I couldn’t be sure which it was. I mulled over it until I could feel the anxiety at my condition pouring out of those around me, seeping into my pores.

I opened my eyes and kept them open, the harsh glare of the lights blinding me. As I looked around, my father rushed towards me, throwing his arms around me in a strong embrace. He held me tight against his chest, patting my hair just like he used to during thunderstorms when I would hop into my parents’ room crying because I was scared. He kept whispering reassuring words in my ear while I held him, the whole time my eyes were locked onto Scott.

He met my eyes and I instantly felt at ease and completely safe. The terror stricken face that he had previously been wearing like a Halloween mask had been discarded and now his face was determined as that of a boxer about to enter the ring.

Eventually Dad loosened his grip. The nurse explained patiently, and incorrectly, that I had had an epileptic seizure and should see a doctor who would help me manage the condition. Scott’s jaw was set in a way that made him look older, as though he had seen horrors that one could not even imagine. I knew without a doubt that a seizure had not caused my episode.

I sat up and stood up off of the hard, cold bed. “I should head back to class. That’s okay right?”

Three bodies were quickly by my side. “Are you sure?” They asked in unison.

“Yes. It’s only my second day and I don’t want to fall behind. Besides, I’m fine. Scott can walk me back to class and by now everyone will have heard and know to keep an eye on me. You don’t need to worry, I’ll be fine.”

Dad looked at me warily. “Are you sure? No one will think less of you if you go home and rest. And I can have Pap watch the shop while I’m gone.”

“Yeah, I’m sure. I’m surprised to hear myself say it, but I actually want to go to class Dad.” I didn’t add that I was desperate to find the person whose tortured thoughts had sent me writhing in agony.

“If you’re positive that you want to go back, I’ll keep an eye out for you. I just want to make sure you’re okay,” Scott said as he rested his massive hand on my comparably dainty shoulder.

“I do,” I replied.

“I see I won’t be able to change your mind. You are exactly like your mother that way,” Dad said, a faint smile on his lips.

I smiled weakly. The nurse decided to add her own opinion. “Your father gave his permission and you’re not in danger of getting the other students sick, so you may stay at school.”

I nodded and inclined my head toward the door so Scott knew I was ready to leave. We exited the bright nurse’s office looking as solemn as a small funeral procession.

Class must’ve just ended because all around us were bodies slowly walking to predetermined destinations. They tried to hide it but they stared at us all while avoiding us as though we carried the plague.

I had algebra with James. I wondered if he would worry and fawn over me. I hoped he would. I loved the idea of our close proximity.

Scott walked with me, so close that if another moment seized me like before, he would be able to respond quickly. I felt more secure than the president.

We entered the building and Scott walked me up to Ms. T’s door. James was there to take my hand as soon as I entered. Scott stared at him for a moment, his grip on me unyielding.

He looked deep into my eyes, his eyes seeming to penetrate into my soul. “Are you gonna be okay?”

I looked at James. He was standing really close to me, ready to put his arms around me as soon as Scott gave him a chance. I turned back to face Scott. “I think so. And if something happens to me, I’m sure James can take care of me.”

“She’ll be fine Scott. I won’t let anything happen to her on my watch,” James replied, gently pulling me away from Scott’s slackened grip.

I smiled up at Scott. “Thanks for looking out for me. I’ll see you in Spanish.” He walked away reluctantly, his cloudy eyes never leaving James and me.

I turned back around feeling slightly confused. James’ gentle arms were filled with a warm strength as they wrapped themselves around me. I blushed and in his eyes I saw a broken man, tortured by some unseen demon. It was almost the exact same face Scott had worn in the nurse’s office. I instantly averted my eyes. He seemed to not have noticed.


The End

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