After Liz and Margaret got Jimmy cleaned up, they introduced him to the other orphans. Liz had expected the children to start a racket and demand for Jimmy to play with them, but instead they were quiet, not meeting the boys eyes. All of them except David.
He marched right up to the boy and bluntly asked, "Why are you so creepy?"
"David!" Liz snapped, glaring at him. All the kids heads popped up at her harsh tone, their eyes growing wide. Jimmy's small hand grabbed Liz's and squeezed.
"Liz!" Margaret gasped, her eyes wide in surprise. Liz has never talked to any of the children so harshly, and even if she was scolding them it was only in a teasing manner. David ignored Liz, and kept glaring at Jimmy. The pale little boy slowly started to back up, moving over to hide behind Liz.
"You're being so rude, David! You should know better! I'm tempted to put you in time out." Liz continued.
"But I was only asking a question! Everyone else wanted to know too!" David retorted, his pudgy face turning red.
"Now, now you two," Margaret hushed, putting each hand on David and Liz's shoulder.
"David just wasn't thinking, Liz. He is only 6, he doesn't know any better," Margaret said soothingly to Liz. David smirks.
Margaret catches it and says to him, "And you, sir, need to know your place. You do not talk back to adults and speak rudely to them."
The smirk turns into a frown. He stomps off to his assigned bunk, sits on it, and glares off at nothing. Liz takes a deep breath, trying to calm herself. She looks down at Jimmy, and he looks up at her with his big, blank eyes. She smiles reassuringly at him, even though a chill had settled over her since he took her hand. Trying to get over it, she gently squeezes his hand, and a small smile forms on the child's lips.
Liz looks at Margaret, "I'm sorry Maggie. I don't know what came over me."
Margaret smiles at Liz, "Well, I can't stay mad at you when you use my nickname. I wish you would use it more often."
Liz blushes, "It's inappropriate for an employee to speak that way to their boss."
Margaret makes a huffing sound and flaps her hand at Liz, "Excuses, excuses." then turning to the kids says, "Does anyone want to be Jimmy's bunk buddy?"
The children cast glances at each other, some elbowing the one next to them, whispering. Finally, a little girl with chocolate brown pigtails and a pink dress steps forward, smiling at Jimmy.
"I'll be his bunk buddy." Rebecca says sweetly. She steps closer to Jimmy, holding out her hand. The boy tenses and completely disappears behind Liz. Rebecca frowns, looking up at Liz.
"Jimmy", Liz says gently, "Rebecca just said she'll be your bunk buddy. It's not polite to hide from her. You should go with her so you can see where you will sleep tonight."
Jimmy moves out from behind Liz, and with one last squeeze to her hand, releases it and takes Rebecca's, following her to their bunk. Liz discreetly wipes her hand on her pants, then excuses herself. She walks down the hall to her own room. It was a simple room, square with wood paneled walls and floor. There was a single sized bed with a blue comforter and a white pillow on it. Next to it was a oak nightstand, and there was also a desk which a computer sat on, humming quietly. Liz walks over to the nightstand and picks up the cellphone laying on it. When she pressed the button on the top, the screen lighted up, showing a picture of Liz and the faculty, clustered together and laughing, causing a small smile appear on her lips. She went to her contact list and tapped on the name Anna. Texting rapidly, she informs her co-worker and best friend of the events of the day. As Liz got to the part about the boy grabbing her hand, her face crinkled with worry, and she asked her dear friend if she was being unfair and unrightfully mean. Pressing send, Liz plopped onto her bed, and silently stared at the screen, absentmindedly playing with her long brown hair. A minute later her phone chimed, and Liz quickly read the text.
"I'm gone for one weekend and miss everything! This kid sounds freaky. I don't blame u for being a little creeped. I'm not even there and I have a chill running down my spine. When I come in 2morrow I want to check this kid out. I got something to do, so I'll talk to u tomorrow. Remember to lock ur bedroom door! ;P"
Liz sighs. She types a quick good-bye and throws her phone back on the nightstand before covering her face with her hands. A soft knock suddenly sounds from the door, jerking her head up. Getting up, she goes to it and opens it. On the other side stands Jimmy, staring blankly up at Liz.
Liz smiles and asks, "Do you need something, Jimmy?"
"Why don't you call me pet names like you do the other kids?" he asks, his sweet voice sounding strangely void of emotion.
Taken by surprise Liz stutters, "W-what do you mean? When have you heard me do that?"
"You call them "dear" and "honey". I heard you when I was watching from the woods."
"Oh... Well I guess I haven't thought to do it. You haven't been here for that long after all. How long were you watching from the woods?", even though Liz has a pleasant smile on her face, she's freaking out on the inside.
"Long enough to hear you call the other kids pet names." he answered, his stare never wavering.
Liz stared back. She didn't know what to say. All she could think about was a tiny shadow in the woods standing and watching. Peeking from behind pine trees and darting around...giving her head a little shake, she asks "Why aren't you with Rebecca? I thought you guys were going to be buddies."
Suddenly his eyes turned dark, "I don't like her. She's fake." he snaps, his hands turning into fists.
"That's not nice." Liz scolds, frowning. Fake?
"I'm not nice to fake people. And neither is Zeke."
The boy goes quiet. He continues to stare, and Liz continues to stare back. She watches as his eyes go back to their clear blue, and as his face and hands slowly begin to relax. She has never seen someone's eyes literally darken with emotion. It was almost like they were turning black.
He smiles, and says "I think I'm going to go back to my bunk. Good-night Liz." and with that, he turns and walks away, leaving a very confused Liz behind.
She is definitely locking her door tonight.