It turns out to be the girls restroom.
I rush into a stall, throw my backpack into the corner, and collapse against the door. Dry sobs shake my body, and my teeth clatter together. But I do not cry.
I haven't cried since the day my father left.
I feel sadness, though. And shame, now that my classmates know of my checkered past. And I think that I should feel anger: at Mr. Monroe, at myself for almost losing it, at my aunt. But it is too hard, because whenever I picture her, I see a small, frail women with tired eyes and a bald head from chemotherapy.
The sobs are only for the sadness and shame.
I hear the faint squeal of the bathroom door opening, and try to stop the sounds coming from my throat. The footsteps enter the room, and I think they're going to pass, but they stop in front of my stall.
"Ada?" a kind voice speaks. Someone, a girl, is standing outside. "Can you open the door?" I don't even hesitate, I'm so confused.
So I reach up, pull the lock, and see her looking down on me.
She smiles, genuinely sympathetic, and sits behind me, leaning against the outside of the stall. She doesn't try to talk to me. She doesn't hug me, or ask me what is wrong. And it feels surprisingly good to just have someone else there. I thought I wanted to be alone. And even though she doesn't speak, I'm anything but. The sobs start escaping again, and soon my stomach aches and my eyes itch from the threatening tears.
"Shh, shh," Jackie keeps repeating, trying to calm me down. But I still can't contain myself. My head falls into my hands and my breath is hot against my skin. She keeps rubbing circles on my back, and it takes a few minutes, but I eventually stop sobbing.
"There, that wasn't so hard, was it?" she asks pleasantly. I sit up straight and wipe my nose.
"What do you mean? What wasn't so hard?" I ask, confused.
"Letting someone in."
I swallow back a scathing retort, and meet her eyes. I understand what she is getting at, but I won't give her the satisfaction of cracking me. I look past her.
"Ada, I see past that 'tough girl' act. I know you aren't as mean as you seem."
I scoff. "Yeah? And how do you know that?" She smiles again, which is really starting to get on my nerves. It's an innocent smile, and a genuine one. I can't stand it, partly because she's so nice, even when I'm being a jerk to her, and partly because I know I haven't smiled like that in a long time.
"Let's just say I have a talent for seeing the truth about people. Okay?" I don't say anything, just watch her. There is suddenly a rap on the door.
"Everything alright in there?" a nervous male voice asks. It's Henry.
Over her shoulder, Jackie calls out, "We're fine, Henry! We will be out in a couple minutes, just relax!" She giggles. "He is so overprotective, Ada. You should have seen him after class. He reamed out Mr. Monroe for what he said. I'm surprised he didn't get detention!"
I am speechless. I cannot believe that this guy, who has known me for a total of like six hours would do something like that for me.
Jackie obviously sees my surprise, because she adds, "But he didn't! All the teachers love Henry, so he never gets in trouble." I wonder if her lips ever get tired from her constant smiling.
"Yeah." She looks at the bathroom door. "So, are you about ready to go home?" I nod.