Gold Leaf

September 30, 2016
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The hallway was a jungle out of a storybook, filled with shaded leafy trees, light barely filtering through the canopy, and the constant chatter of animals.  Students congregated at lockers, pursing their lips in disdain as secrets and lies were swapped like trading cards; nothing was free, because everything has a price.  Carefully glossed lips moved in perfect unison, creating an almost melodious rhythm.  An occasional dramatic exclamation punctuated the voice-filled silence like a violent crescendo.  Jessica Parks flipped her dark hair, paid for by her mother, the region’s most successful businesswoman, and narrowed her cat eyes in disdain.  Jessica, the conductor of this cacophonous orchestra, trailed off mid-sentence in genuine shock. 
Lindsay Boston strutted with purpose, as she did every morning, but today was different.  The click of her low-heeled gray boots echoed, filling each classroom.  Reaching her rusted green locker, she methodically twisted the lock’s dial.  Everything Lindsay did was a conscious effort, methodical and planned to use time in the most efficient way possible.  She was all about eliminating risks to reap the most rewards, making her predictable and successful.  What she had done Saturday was not predictable.  She slid several binders, carefully labeled in boxy writing, into her sensible black backpack.  Her bracelets jangled, the sound intermingling with the low whispers, just loud enough for her to hear.  She paused, visibly shaking in the locker’s cheap plastic mirror, before taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling.  This was not Lindsay Boston, because Lindsay Boston would never take a second to do something that wasn’t in her daily schedule.  Maybe it wasn’t Lindsay Boston that weekend either.  Regardless, she whirled around and became stoic and in control, a hurricane of movement as she clicked down the hall.
Seventeen rusty lockers to the left, Bradley Marston had silently snuck across the tile unnoticed after Lindsay’s dramatic entrance.  His black sweatpants and white athletic t-shirt would have given him the appearance of an athlete days ago, but on this Wednesday he just appeared to be a criminal in a classic black and white jumpsuit.  Perhaps he was.  He swung his locker door open easily, having lost the lock weeks ago, to reveal a pink sticky note.  He quickly glanced at the note, then skimmed it one more time, hoping that the letters would rearrange themselves.  At 7:42 AM, Bradley learned that permanent marker doesn’t change shape magically, no matter how hard he prayed.  He did pray that day, but maybe after breaking a few rules his prayers weren’t heard.  His friends were long gone, leaving him to face the sharklike glares and thinly concealed giggles. This wasn’t the first time Bradley had messed up, but now he couldn’t throw a few perfect spirals and win back the school’s good favor.  He wasn’t good for much other than football.  The clank of slammed locker doors and the clomp of work boots was heard once again. 
Jessica Parks lazily monitored the scene, too distant to make her typically snarky remarks.  From the right, another girl, mimicking Jessica’s effortless jeans and sweater ensemble from yesterday, whispered a something negligible and irrelevant that wasn’t rewarded with a response.  Jessica Parks knew how to make two hours with a curling iron look like she just glided out of bed with flawless hair, albeit with a few slightly singed fingers.  This charade was all about attitude and the correct amount of apathy, which Jessica was lacking today.  She knew a storm was coming; one can’t know everything and remain untainted.  Jessica Parks was preoccupied with the upcoming storm, but even a properly used Colgate-white smile couldn’t fix everything.  Although she was still unaware of when, she would topple off her pillar in seven days.  She knew her demise would come, but it didn’t bother her.  That was just life.  More accurately, that was Wednesdays at Maria L. Persephone Regional High School.

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