Mr. Lawrence walked into the room just as the bell rang. Everyone went to their seats, including Holly and Evan, who sat on either side of me and looked at me. I shrugged, grateful that they couldn’t ask any questions with Lawrence standing in front of the room. The teacher handed him the note.
Lawrence glanced at the note and shook his head. He cleared his throat loudly enough to cut through the quiet chatter. “Mrs. Jimenez called me down here because of a note a student found,” he said when everyone stopped talking. “I’ve just read the note.”
He held up the paper. I wanted to look around to see if anyone appeared guilty, but I didn’t. Enough people would realize I’d turned in the note without me drawing more attention to myself.
“This is not appropriate under any circumstances,” Lawrence said. “It’s bullying and harassment. Anyone who’s been the victim of a crime deserves to find justice regardless of what type of crime it was. I am all too aware of what two of our students have been putting up with since before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I didn’t become aware of how severe it was until last week.”
He paused. I had to be imagining the way his eyes glistened as if they were wet. He was a man and an administrator. He wouldn’t cry about some student who’d tried to kill herself because of bullying. At least, he wouldn’t cry in front of us.
“One student has already served a suspension for bullying and is being investigated for that and vandalizing lockers,” Lawrence said. “According to reports I received about an incident in the lobby this morning, that student will face further action.”
This time, I did look around. Gina should have been in the room. I hadn’t been paying enough attention to realize she hadn’t come in, but I didn’t see her anywhere.
Who had reported her? Plenty of people had been standing around when she confronted me. I hadn’t thought any of them, even my friends, would say anything to staff members. That wasn’t how high school worked.
“Whoever wrote this note would help themselves out if they came forward.” Lawrence held up the note again. “I don’t expect you to speak up in front of your classmates. I don’t even know if the person who wrote this is in the room right now. But if he or she is, I’ll be in my office until three.”
He turned to the teacher. “Thank you, Mrs. Jimenez. I apologize for the interruption of your class.”
“Thank you, Mr. Lawrence,” Mrs. Jimenez said.
Lawrence left the room, and we got started on the lecture of the day. Not that I listened too closely. I had more important things on my mind.
When the last bell rang, I was the first one out the classroom door. I hadn’t forgotten about Holly, but I didn’t want to stand around where everyone could look at me or get pissed at me for handing over the note. And I didn’t want to speculate about which of my classmates had written it. It could have been almost any of them, and if I tried to figure it out, I would only drive myself nuts.
Holly caught up with me at my locker. “The note was about you?” she asked.
“Yeah. Someone’s going off at me about what’s going to happen to Jim while he’s locked up, and that it’s my fault.” I shrugged. “People can say what they want. Yeah, I’m the one who reported Jim, but he’s the one who chose to say he was guilty. I still can’t even guess why he did that, and I don’t care. And yeah, I don’t want really crappy things to happen to him, because I wouldn’t want that for anyone, but I’m not going to be sorry that he was sentenced to more than just probation or whatever.”
“You shouldn’t be sorry about any of it.”
I hadn’t seen Guillermo walking up the hall. Heart pounding, I turned to glare at him. “Don’t do that!”
“Sorry.” He frowned. “I thought you saw me.”
“I didn’t. It’s okay.” I took a deep breath and opened my locker. “Just don’t sneak up on me again.”
“I won’t. I promise. Anyway, you shouldn’t be sorry.” Guillermo paused. “When I talked you into going to Ms. Turnbull, I didn’t know how people would treat you. I’m not sorry I got you to report Jim, because I think that was the right thing to do, but I am sorry so many people have been hassling you about it.”
“Thanks.” Even though I’d blamed Guillermo plenty of times for making me come forward, I didn’t really hold him responsible for what other people said. I wasn’t quite sure how to say that to him. It should have been easy, but some things just weren’t. “Um, you didn’t make them do it, so you don’t have to apologize.”
“I feel like I do, but okay.” He smiled. When he looked like that, I could definitely see why Evan was into him. If the boy had been straight, I would totally have made a move.
I got my stuff out of my locker and went with Holly to hers. Once she was all set, we said good-bye to Guillermo and Evan and headed out of the building. If anyone said anything to me, I didn’t hear them. I didn’t want to.