I sat in the same desk for years. I memorized all the scratches on its surface and all the cracks in its wood. The people were the same too. I was constantly surrounded by students of all different ages, and they always stayed the same.
But not all of them.
You see, some of them were going missing, and no one else noticed. I never forgot a face, but it seems like everyone else did.
You may think I’m crazy but I’ve got proof. A few days ago my best friend, Cassie, went missing. She always sits in the seat to my right, but one day, the desk was gone. And so was Cassie.
I didn’t know what the cause of all these missing people was until today, and it all started with a boy. A boy who had a talent for going unnoticed.
It was an ordinary day in class. That day was free reading day. In a school filled with orphans of varying ages, there is nothing you could teach and have every kid paying attention at the same time. I don’t remember exactly how I got to the orphanage, but some other girls told me that I showed up on the doorstep when I was young, crying and hungry.
Anyway, I was deep in the world of fiction until I heard something that sounded like a piece of paper falling to the floor, and sure enough, it was. To my left, there was a paper folded neatly, and with a name on the front in small letters. I looked up to see who would drop such a weird note on the floor, finding it was a boy I had only seen a few times in the classroom before. He had a small backpack leaning against his chair, and through the gap between two zippers, I could see that his bag was filled with white. More papers. The boy was looking down at a worn book; however, I couldn’t see the title since the book was flat on his desk. He didn’t notice that the paper fell out of his bag; so naturally, I took it. I slipped it into my book bag, and continued reading for the rest of class.
As soon as I was in the comfort of my own room, I took the paper out of my bag. On the front in scripted letters was the name Mason. Underneath, in smaller letters, wrote, “Do not open until midnight”. My thumb teased the corner of the paper, but before my curiosity could get the best of me, I placed the paper on my bed. Although the handwriting was messy, something about that note seemed important, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the boy I had taken it from was looking for it. The only problem was that I knew Mason, and I wasn’t sure if he would want to know what was in it.
The next day when I went to class, Mason was sitting in his regular seat, and the boy was standing my desk. As soon as I approached it, the boy stared daggers at me.
“I think you have something that belongs to me.” His voice came out in a whisper, obviously meant for me.
“I have no clue what you are talking about.” I rummaged through my bag, pushing the paper deeper into it.
The boy glanced over at Mason and then back to me. “I think you know exactly what I’m talking about.”
I avoided his eyes and sat in my seat.
“You didn’t read it. Why?”
I froze. “How do you know that I didn’t read it?” I forgot all about feigning my knowledge.
“Things would be a lot different if you did.” The boy reached into his bag and pulled out another slip of paper. “How about a trade?” He held out a paper to me, and I took it cautiously. I turned it over and held my breath. In familiar script was the name Reagan. My name.
“What is this?” I looked at the boy, really looked at him, for the first time. His eyes were bright blue, and his skin was tanned by a sun that I haven’t seen. His hair was dark and hung in his eyes.
“Give me Mason’s letter first,” he demanded.
I reached into my bag and pulled it out slowly. I reached over and dropped it on his desk, waiting for him to speak.
“Open it at midnight.” He then stood up and left.
Midnight couldn’t have come faster. I had stared at the clock for hours, but time never seemed to go quick enough. At soon as the clock struck twelve, I reached for my note. I opened it slowly, expecting something life changing, and I got it.
When I opened my eyes, a white ceiling blinded me. I didn’t remember my room being this bright in the morning.
“Reagan.” The voice travelled into one ear and rattled my brain until I could move my head to look at the person the voice belonged to.
“You.” My throat was awfully scratchy, even though it had been fine before. The boy stood to my left, looking down at me and smiling.
“I’ll get the doctor.” The boy left me by myself to wonder why he was getting a doctor, and why my limbs were heavy.
Then I remembered. I remembered the note that I had opened, and how everything went dark. I moved my fingers and felt something crumpled up in my hand. Before I could look at what it was, a man in a white lab coat walked into the room, with the boy trailing closely behind.
“Hello, Reagan. It’s great to see you awake and responding.” The doctor grabbed a clipboard and began writing something down that I couldn’t make out.
“What’s going on?” I looked from the boy to the doctor and back again, but the doctor just smiled sadly.
“Reagan, you’ve been in a coma for over 5 years. Cameron’s job,” the doctor gestured to the boy, “is to give out personalized replicas of the note you received to help people wake up.”
All I could do was stare at the doctor. After hearing the word ‘coma’, I completely shut down.
“Here, we’ll help you get up, and I’ll explain everything.” Both Cameron and the doctor held out a hand to help me get up, and when I took their hands, I dropped the note onto the hospital bed. Everything would make sense soon.
As I left the room, I looked back as the small note on the bed, which had fallen open, revealing two words.