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I scanned the room and shifted in the blue plastic chair I was sitting in, still wondering how it was that I had been called here. I did nothing wrong. I guess this is what I get for being a nice person. I leaned forward, putting my head in hands and thought back over the weekend. It was homecoming. Innocent enough, I had thought, just a few sports games on Randall’s Island followed by a dance, fun. I shook my head at my past naïveté. The innocent afternoon activities led into an after party, posing a major dilemma for the freshman. We knew enough to understand that the party wouldn’t be cake, balloons and hats, something we weren’t sure we were ready for. So as a grade we decided to have our own party, posing a new dilemma: where? Parent after parent had turned down the idea of having the party at their house. Being determined that I would not be stuck at home watching "Nick at Nite” reruns, I offered my house. Who knew it would spiral out of control the way it did.
“I can’t believe it.” I muttered under my breath.
“What was?” Jane asked from just outside the room. I shifted in my chair again and looked down at my feet. She took off her coat and placed it in her locker, followed by her purse and bag. She closed it and walked in.
“I trust my students enough. More importantly, what is it that you cannot believe?”
“Nothing. Well…” I began, “I’m kind of wondering why I had to be called here.”
“I just think we should discuss some things.” Jane said as she sat down in her chair across from me. I noticed the lack of a desk. I smirk to myself. “What?” she asked
“No desk.” I said.
“Yes, I figure it’s more comfortable if there’s no barrier between us.”
“I know. My parents are psychologists.” I reply.
“Oh.” She said with a sunny disposition, “Anyway, would you like to start, or shall I?”
“I would just like to say that it wasn’t my fault. We did everything we could.”
“I’m sure you did, I was just wondering what precautions you took.”
“Everything. We called parents, we said no alcohol or drugs, we checked bags, my parents walked through the house constantly, we said only Dalton students, and I can’t think of anything short of a Breathalyzer test that we could’ve done.”
“By ‘we’ you mean you parents?”
“Well it sounds like you were very responsible about it.” Thank you.
“Yes, I was. It was just a party.” Jane sat up straighter.
“Yes, but, you see…”
“Look,” I interrupted, “I told her not to. I checked her bag before. I went up to her personally and asked her not to drink.”
“Well that was good, but there were more people than just her.”
“I know. My friends made sure that all five of them got into cabs with sober people and went home safely.“
“Good, but we want to make sure that there will be no repercussions, that nothing worse happened.” I think back to the party. 70 teenagers bombarded my house, leaving a mess of plastic goods and spilled soda in their wake. They swarmed into my backyard and basement, and created a group around one of my drunken friends. They fed him a leaf.
“Nothing else really happened. My friends looked in the bushes for the alcohol the kids had hidden and trashed it. A few people fed Alex a leaf, but otherwise, we made sure that they ate a lot of bread.”
“What about your parents?”
“They were there. They knew something was happening, so they asked me if I needed help. I said no and about ten minutes later all the drunk people went home.” The bell rang signaling the end of my free period. I sat up and grabbed my backpack.
“I would like to see you again this after school.” Jane asked as I walked towards the door. I looked at my watch. The end of school was in an hour. I nodded and began to turn the door handle.
“One question,” I asked turning my head back around, “who told?”
“Who told? Someone did, otherwise you wouldn’t know about the party.”
“No one told.” She replied, perplexed.
“Sure.” I said as I walked out of her office. I walked to science class and doodled with my pen, letting my mind wander. I’d never let anyone know, but I thought it was good that everyone who was drunk was being called into Jane’s office. They deserved it. They screwed up, so they deserve the consequences. The only bad thing was that someone told. There was no way no one did. So everyone thought it was I. I went to each of them telling that I wasn’t the one who turned them in. Four out of five believed me. However, the one that didn’t believe me was none other than my best friend. The argument that had ensued because of her disbelief had led to a huge fight between us. I knew I was right, so I needn’t apologize.
Class ended and I walked straight to Jane’s office. I waited outside her door and watched as my former best friend walked out of her office. I looked at the wall, as if I didn’t see her and she shuffled quickly out of the office. I turned my glaze down and saw her engraved silver bracelet on the floor. I picked it up and flipped it over “Alexis James” it read. I shoved it into my pocket as I entered the office and threw down my bag.
“Someone told. Tell me who. Because everyone thinks I did, and you and I both know I didn’t.” Jane looked up at me.
“No one told.” I looked her straight in the eye, skeptical. “Honest. Everyone was talking in the halls and the teachers heard. We’re not deaf.” I continued looking at her as I sat down. “Though I am sorry that you’re getting blamed for it.”
“I am, drugs, alcohol, smoking, all these things tear people apart. They look for someone to blame-“
“Don’t you smoke?”
“No, I carry a lighter because it was my mothers. She died a long time ago. From smoking, so I keep it as a reminder not to.”
“Yes, anyway, back to what I was saying. People need someone to blame-“
“But I did nothing.”
“I know that’s true, but sometimes you have to deal with consequences.”
“What? Like being betrayed by your best friend?”
“You will soon find that some people don’t deserve to be friends. Some people just aren’t good enough.”
“I was good enough.”
“I didn’t say you weren’t, listen, you tried to make her change and she didn’t”
“I didn’t try to make her change.”
“I didn’t mean it that way.” Jane continued to talk, but I couldn’t hear a word she said. The blood was pumping in my veins. I could only think of Alexis and how she betrayed me. Lied to me. Took advantage of me. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right.
“Maria, are you okay?” Jane asked tilting her head.
“I need a glass of water.”
“That’s fine. Just close the door on your way out please.”
I stormed out of the room, slammed the door closed and darted to the water fountain. I tried to sip, but my body was shaking. I could feel the bulge of Alexis’ bracelet in my pocket. It wasn’t fair. She deserved more than just psychology sessions, and quiet, calm resolutions. She deserved to pay. The punishment didn’t fit the crime. I could fix that. I walked into the deserted nurses office and grabbed the rubbing alcohol. I ran to the locker just outside the office marked “Jane.” I scavenged through her bag until I found it. I drowned the contents of the locker in the alcohol until the bottle was empty. I lit Jane’s lighter. I threw it in. The locker burst into flame. I grabbed Alexis’ bracelet and tossed it into the fire. I watched the flames blaze for a second. They flickered and burned, but the bracelet was unharmed. I smirked, then screamed,
“Help! Fire! Oh, Alexis, how could you!”