Chapter Four

Chapter Four

Sadie doesn’t come home the rest of the weekend. I don’t bother waiting up for her. The very thought of her waltzing in as though nothing happened is nauseating.

By the time Monday rolls around, and I’m up making myself some oatmeal with cream and blueberries, she still hasn’t arrived. I don’t hesitate before heading to school. She can find her own ride- like I did mine.

Besides, I have more important stuff on my mind. I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to be awkward in English Lit today. I can’t imagine it won’t be… But when I arrive at the classroom (a few minutes early, like I always do) Professor Skye is nowhere to be seen.

As a matter of fact, a strange woman is sitting in his place at his desk. Wait- not a strange woman at all. The strange woman. The older woman from my first day. What’s she doing here?

Of course, she’s just as beautiful as before. Her long ultra white hair is pulled back into a tight, no nonsense style ponytail. The color of her sleek skirt suit matches the color of her hair. In fact, the only thing she’s wearing that’s not white is a pair of six inch heels and reading glasses- and both of those are black as coal. She looks up, probably feeling my gaze, and gives me a gentle smile. I note that her eyes are almost the same exact shade of blue as Professor Skye’s.

“Hi,” I say lamely, shifting the weight of my backpack from one shoulder to the other. “Where’s Professor Skye?”

She doesn’t seem as tense as before. Perhaps she was just having a bad day last week? “I’m Professor Bella. Professor Skye is ill. I believe I will be filling in for him for the next couple of days.”

Hmmm… He seemed just fine last night. For some reason, I don’t think that reply would sit well with Professor Bella. “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” I mumble. I say nothing more on the subject as I head to take my seat at my usual chair.

Maybe he got food poisoning from the chicken fried steak or something… but wouldn’t I have gotten it to? I bite my lower lip and my cheeks flush a violent red. God, I hope I’m not the reason he isn’t in school today. He was acting really strange when we said goodbye last night… but then again, I suppose if he really is sick, his stomach could have started hurting him? But that still doesn’t explain the weird hesitation he held outside my apartment complex…

“Lena!”

I nearly jump out of my chair, my musings coming to a complete stand still as Josh tosses his backpack on the ground between our chairs. As always, he is the second one to arrive. It seems to be a little tradition we’re creating.

“Hi, Josh.” I smile at him. He always looks so flustered.

“Hi…” He says and I immediately know something is off. He’s too quiet. After a moment of silence passes, he shrugs his shoulder nervously. “Hey, Lena… I was wondering…if you’re not doing anything this Friday…”

“Attention class.” Professor Bella stands from her spot at Professor Skye’s desk.

Oh, thank God.

“Professor Skye is out sick today, so I’ll be taking over until he feels better. You can call me Bella.” She smiles warmly at the class. She’s nothing like the icy woman from that first day. It’s… strange. Also, I notice her eyes keep finding their way back to me- even for the slightest second. It makes me uncomfortable.

The “lesson plan” for today is really just a six page packet with silly questions- what’s your favorite book? Who’s your favorite author? What do you expect to accomplish this semester? At least it’s easy. I finish it just before the bell rings.

I don’t wade around today. I’m out of my seat and turning in my paper before the high pitched buzzing sound has finished. I don’t want Josh to catch me alone.

I eat lunch alone in the University cafeteria. It’s not as bad as everyone says. My ham and cheese sandwich has real ham- and the chips aren’t that stale either. Even so, I’d much rather go out with a friend…

I believe this is the slowest day I’ve had since starting school. The classes seem to lurch and drag on, like some dying animal. Or maybe I’m the dying animal.

When I get home that night, Sadie is still nowhere to be seen. I do, notice, however, that all her stuff in the bathroom has disappeared. This frustrates me. What? So she’s going to ditch me and move out all in one week- without confronting me herself? I don’t know what the hell I did and she obviously doesn’t plan on sharing this information.

Fuck her. I don’t care.

I grab a granola bar from the kitchen cabinet and just head to bed.

 

****

Professor Skye (and Sadie, I admit grudgingly) don’t return for the rest of the week.

When Sunday comes around I break my little promise to myself and head to my parent’s house for the day. I don’t know why I do this. All they do is make me feel worse about myself.

That night, I find myself watching Family Guy reruns on Netflix and scrolling through my Twitter account. I’m already caught up on homework and I smoked the last of my weed two days ago. So far it has been a boring (and kind of depressing) weekend. Perhaps I should have taken Josh up on his offer… At least then I wouldn’t feel so alone.

My cellphone bleeps, letting me know I’ve received an instant message. I check it without second thought… And my heart catches in my throat.

Miss Kinney,

My apologies for contacting you so informally.

Is Professor Bella giving out the packets I left her?

For some reason I can’t seem to get ahold of her.

 

Jared Skye,

English Literature Professor,

PSU

 

Professor Skye has messaged me on Facebook asking about the sub. But why ME? Certainly he could have asked a number of students. Then again, why am I making a big deal out of it? God, I must be paranoid.

 

Professor Skye,

It’s no problem. Yeah, she gave out the packets.

 

I press send and then stare at my phone in horror. Was that too casual? Damn it! I wear the inside of my bottom lip as a I await a reply.

 

Good. How are you?

 

How am I? I frown. Then I realize the last time he saw me I was high as a kite, not to mention my best friend had completely pulled a Courtney Love on me.

 

I’m okay. When will you be returning to class?

 

It takes him awhile to reply. I can see him typing… and then he stops… and then he starts up again. This happens a total of three times. It makes me anxious. Perhaps I shouldn’t have asked.

 

Tomorrow.

 

I sign in relief. At least now I won’t have to deal with Professor Bella’s usual stares. And we’ll be finished with those stupid packets.

And you’ll get to see Professor Skye… A little voice inside my head whispers.

I clamp down on that thought, forcing myself to lock it away into a fictional filing cabinet in my head, never to be opened again. That’s too dangerous. Too… wrong. What am I doing? I shouldn’t even be messaging him right now.

I close the Messenger app and turn off my phone so I’m not tempted to reply. When I check the clock I see it’s almost two in the morning and I have to get up early.

A quick shower and I’m off to bed…
But even as I lay in bed, all alone in this small, empty apartment, I can’t help the excitement that bounces in the pit of my stomach at the thought of seeing him again.

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