The next day was even worse than the day before. Word of my little love letter had traveled the proverbial grape-vine with frightening speed and I was greeted by smirks, taunts and giggles the second I stepped out of my car. Humiliated and annoyed, I made my way to Yuuki’s locker as quickly as I could, hoping her company would shield me from the attacks of my peers. Much to my dismay, Yuuki’s band practice went longer than usual so I was forced to make my way to German on my own. I was earlier than usual getting there and Frau Schultz must have noticed me passing her office because she stepped out a moment after I had passed and called me in to have a little chat.
“I have to say, Lyla, I’m very disappointed in you.”
I sighed, I was afraid something like this was going to happen. Frau Schultz was fun and all, but she was never one to tolerate pranks or practical jokes and I’m sure she saw my letter as one or the other.
“I’m really sorry Frau Schultz,” I sighed again, knowing there was nothing I could do but listen to her spiel. “If it helps, I didn’t mean to hand that letter in.”
“If that’s the case, then why did you?”
I sat there trying to think of some way to make the events of the previous day sound believable and not like the pathetically invented excuse that it would inevitably appear to be.
“It’s a long story,” I groaned, opting to forgo the details and hope Frau Schultz would just accept my apology. “Can I just say it was a series of very bad things that ended with me being almost late and as a result I handed in my homework without looking at it first. I really did do the assignment, I just grabbed that letter by mistake.”
Frau Schultz just sat there with “that look” on her face, the one she got whenever she was deciding whether or not one of her students had gotten a little too far out of hand. She was usually one to allow a good bit of freedom in her classes, but even she had her limits.
“Lyla, you’re a good student and you’ve never done anything like this before.”
“And I’ll never do anything like this again,” I cried, unable to wait for her to say anything more, “I promise!”
Frau Schultz gave me a knowing smile as I promised to be good and I knew that I had been forgiven. I sighed with relief when she asked for the assignment I had failed to turn in yesterday, which I quickly handed to her as she told me I could go. I was almost through the door when Frau Schultz called back, a warm smile on her face.
“Oh, and Lyla?”
“I’d suggest that the next time you attempt to write a letter like that, you give the postal service a try. Forty-two cents is a small price to pay, all things considered.”
“Tell me about it,” I groaned with a smile before stepping into the hall.
Knowing that Frau Schultz wasn’t angry with me made my day a little better, but my brief moment of happiness was quickly replaced with more humiliation. In my eagerness to get out of Frau Schultz’s office, I very nearly ran head-on into the one person I most hoped to avoid…Ian.
“Sorry,” I mumbled as I tried to step out-of-the-way.
Unfortunately Ian moved the same way I did and we found ourselves in the exact same position, only a step to the left. Again I tried to get out-of-the-way at the same time he did and we ended up in one of those embarrassing “excuse me tangos,” as my mother calls them. Embarrassed even more by my inability to get out of Ian’s way, I decided to just stand sill and let him walk around me, which he did, in a huff. It was obvious that he was still mad about yesterday and if Jack had told him that it had all been a mistake, it apparently hadn’t done any good.
I sulked into class, dreading the reaction my presence would evoke from the others. Just as I had feared, Ashley was full of snide remarks and I spent the hour desperately trying to think of a way to make pushing her out a window look like an accident. Not that I could ever really push someone out of a window, it just made me feel better to daydream. When the bell rang, Ian was once again the first out of the room, flying through the door as if he were being chased by some wild animal. Sighing, I soon followed, knowing I had another three hours of Ian’s icy resentment to suffer through. At least in those classes I didn’t have Ashley whispering maliciously behind me.
My conversation with Frau Schultz before school turned out to be the highlight of my day; the rest of it was a never-ending barrage of whispers, jokes and teasing. I seriously hoped that Maggie was right and that soon the school’s gossip would focus on some other poor schmuck, because I was tired of being the butt of everyone’s jokes. Believe it or not, I was even more relieved to hear the bell ring at the end of the day than I had been yesterday. I was more than ready to escape the sneers of everyone around me and I made a beeline to my car, not even bothering to stop at Yuuki’s locker first.
I was on my way to my car, convinced the day couldn’t get any worse when my mom called. The fact that she called me at school was enough to make me worry; it was just something she never did. I answered the phone, suddenly oblivious to everything around me. If my mom was calling now, something had to be wrong.
“Hey mom, what’s up?” I asked as I made my way across the parking lot.
“Hey baby,” she answered, the tone in her voice confirmed my suspicion that something was seriously wrong.
“Mom, what is it? What happened? Are you alright?”
“Oh, I’m fine. I just got a call from Mrs. Hamilton’s son.”
“Her son? Doesn’t he live in Florida? Why would he be calling you? Is everything alright?”
“I’m afraid not. Honey, Mrs. Hamilton had a heart attack last night.”
“A heart attack?” I cried in horror, scarcely able to believe what my mom was saying.
Mrs. Hamilton was not only another of my late grandparent’s friends, she was also one of the nicest ladies in Boulder and my piano teacher. I had been going to her house for lessons every Tuesday at five for what seemed like forever. To hear that she’d had a heart attack was both shocking and upsetting.
“Is she alright?” I asked, unable to keep the worry out of my voice. “She’s not…”
I couldn’t bring myself to ask anymore. The thought of losing my teacher and my friend was too much. I stood frozen in the parking lot, unable to breathe as I tried to fight back the tears I felt welling up in my eyes.
“No, no, honey, she’s okay, she’s just in the hospital.”
“Oh good,” I sighed with relief. “So, should I stop by and see her? Take her flowers or something?”
“I went earlier this afternoon. She’s pretty out of it at the moment so I don’t think it’d be a good idea to visit today. Her son said they still had some tests to do. Maybe you could go later this week or this weekend?”
“Alright. I guess I’ll see you at home later then?”
“I’m actually already there. I thought maybe we could order Chinese for dinner and try out a couple new recipes I’ve been toying with. How does blueberry fudge sound?”
“Sounds promising. I guess I’ll see you in a few.”
“Okay baby, drive safe.”
I hung the phone up and trudged my way to my car. It figured that just when I though the day couldn’t get any worse, one phone call could prove me wrong. At least I had something other than my own misery to think about on my way home. I really hoped Mrs. Hamilton was going to be alright.
That night my mom did her best to cheer me up. We ordered Chinese, like she had suggested, and spent an hour or so trying out some of her newest ideas. The blueberry fudge really wasn’t that bad but the lemon truffles left a lot to be desired.
“Oh well, I’ll get it right one of these days,” she chuckled as we tossed the inedible chocolates into the garbage. “So, are you sure you’re alright honey, you seem really down. Mrs. Hamilton is going to be okay, I promise.”
“I know, it’s just that hearing about her is sort of the icing on the cake.”
“No, not a bad day. Bad day’s I can handle. Today was an I want to move to Australia, kind of day.”
“Oh honey, what happened?”
“Let’s just say, I’ve managed to become the center of attention…and it’s not in a good way.”
“What on earth did you do?”
“Um…well…I wrote a letter.”
“To a boy.”
“Ah,” my mom sighed, with a look of knowing in her eyes. “And you gave that letter to him?”
“So, you want to give that letter to him?”
“Okay Lyla, you’re going to have to help me out here. I’m not seeing how a letter could ruin your day.”
“Well, imagine writing a love letter to the guy you’ve had a crush on for the past five years.”
“Now imagine that letter being read to your entire class.”
“No,” my mom groaned in sympathy.
“Oh yeah. Yesterday. And now the entire school knows how I feel about Ian Wallace.”
“Oh honey, I’m so sorry. How on earth did you manage to get that letter read to the entire class?”
“I turned it in as homework.”
“Oh Lyla,” my mom sighed as she tried to stifle a chuckle.
“Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. Everyone at school has, you might as well join them.”
“Honey, I’m sorry. I just don’t see how you could mistake a letter like that for homework or how you managed to get it read to your class.”
“It’s a long story, let me just say it involves running really late and Ashley Tucker.”
“Isn’t she the one who put gum in your hair in middle school?”
“The one and the same.”
“I thought you dealt with her a long time ago.”
“Yeah, well she’s like a bad penny. Anyway, I really don’t want to talk about this anymore. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to try to drown my sorrow in a pint of rocky road and the worst pies in London.”
“Mind if I join you?”
“Fine, but you’d better bring your own pint. I plan on downing mind before Pirelli gets his shave.”
After the movie, I went to do my homework and my mom went back to the kitchen to work on her latest creation. The next morning I woke to the gentle drum of rain on my window. In a way, I was glad it was raining; the gloomy skies matched my gloomy mood. I was seriously dreading another day spent trying to ignore the rumors that seemed to grow around me. I tried to steel myself for the day and thought I had myself under control until I stepped outside and realized I had left the top down on my car.
“Great!” I cried as I hurried to put the top up on my beloved bug. After I had the top securely fastened, I opened the door to inspect the damage. I let out an audible sigh when I realized the car wasn’t completely soaked. I figured one good day of sunshine would dry it out but until then, I had only two choices…bum a ride from my mom or walk around school with a wet backside. With the humiliation of the past two days firmly replaying in my head, I opted for my first choice and ran back inside to ask my mom if she could give me a ride.
“I suppose so,” she shrugged, “but wouldn’t you rather drive?”
“Not today,” I growled. “I left the top down last night.”
“Oh Lyla, this just isn’t your week, is it?”