Chapter 9; Gods (Part 1)
The first week of December brought in some brisk temperatures; but it also brought with it wrestling season. As school let out, some students had begun to gather in front of the gymnasium in preparation for the first wrestling sparing match of the season.
Eimi Potter leaned against the side of the gymnasium, hiding her anxiousness for her upcoming match. She was the first girl to ever make the schools wrestling team. Around her were her friends Brett and Evan, who she had been hanging out with more and more as the weeks went on.
“Do you know anything about your opponent yet?” Brett asked Eimi.
“No,” Eimi said flatly, her fishnet covered arms crossed over her chest, “I won’t know until we weigh in.”
“You have my permission to use the Hawke sleeper hold on the guy,” Brett confidently smiled, “never fails.”
Eimi raised an eyebrow, “Uh, thanks…?”
Evan glanced at his watch, “you should probably go get ready,” he informed, “wouldn’t want you to be late.”
Eimi clenched her teeth and gave a sigh through her nostrils, “yeah,” she mumbled before turning to head to the locker room.
“Kick some ass!” Brett yelled after her.
“Do your best.” Evan stated calmly.
Brett grabbed his head, “why wont you return my love!?” he growled as he stomped about.
“Whoa, Claude Frollo,” Evan spoke up, “your eyes glow too much.”
“You really don’t mind coming with me?” Rachel asked as she walked with Allison out of the main school building towards the gymnasium, “Andie is busy with basketball.”
Allison gave Rachel a sly grin, “like I need a reason to want to hang out with you.”
Rachel’s stride slowed as she spied Evan and Brett hanging out by the side of the gymnasium. She raised an eyebrow as she tried to figure out what her brother and friend were doing.
“Whatcha looking at?” Allison asked as she wrapped her arms around Rachel’s midsection and rested her chin on Rachel’s shoulder, “Hey is that your cousin? Hi Rachel’s cousin!” Allison began waving her arm from under Rachel’s armpit towards Brett and Evan.
Rachel leaned her head to the side and gave Allison a befuddled look.
“Mew?” Allison gave Rachel an innocent look before pulling her arms out from under Rachel’s arms and stepping next to her, rubbing the back of her head sheepishly.
“What’re you doing over here?” Brett asked sharply as he walked up to Rachel.
Rachel blinked, a little surprised that Brett would even have to ask, a glance at Evan showed that he at least knew the reasoning, “wrestling—I’m here to see how the team does in their first match of the season,” she explained, “why’re you here?”
Brett rolled his eyes, “I’m here to watch wrestling too, duh!”
“Even after they kicked you out of tryouts?” Rachel sighed.
“We don’t talk about that!” Brett quickly snapped back, pointing a finger angrily at Rachel.
“What Wesley meant to say was that we have a friend who is wrestling today,” Evan clarified as he casually strolled up to the conversation, “Eimi Potter, she’s part of the lightweight category—and I believe the first girl to make the wrestling team.”
Rachel raised an eyebrow at Evan. The look on his face told Rachel that he was very deliberate with his choice to bring up that fact.
When Rachel’s friends from the volleyball team had also suggested she join the basketball team with them, she declined. Having always been on the shorter side, she never liked basketball. Even though height for girl’s basketball was less important, she refused their insistence.
Rachel was a bit down for a few days after the volleyball season had ended. Without another sport to fill its spot, Evan pointed out that she could try out for the wrestling team even though try outs were already over since she was busy with volleyball playoffs. She was not the best wrestler in the world, but was always good enough to make varsity without much problem.
“I bet Rachel could have easily made the wrestling team if she wanted,” Allison spoke up loudly, “she’s great at everything she does.”
“I’m just not much of a wrestler,” Rachel sighed, knowing deep down that even after becoming a girl she would probably be able to out wrestle whoever was in the spot she’d have had as Ryan.
The quartet headed in to the gymnasium and took seats up in the bleachers. Rachel looked over at the wrestlers as they talked and prepared for their matches. She had been friends with some of the boys on the team before but was never able to connect with them after she became a girl. She winced as she realized that the things that bugged her most about them now, were probably all things she was guilty of before.
William Montgomery narrowed his eyes as he watched Rachel Hawke walking to the gymnasium. He tilted his head as he stared at the gym. He slowly walked down towards the gym, stopping just outside. Peering in, he continued to watch Rachel.
Rachel’s eyes zeroed in on one particular wrestler. Shorter than all the rest and hair in a black pony tail, that definitely had to be Eimi Potter. Rachel tried to compare her height to the other boys, coming to the conclusion that she was probably the same height she was now, even though Eimi was just a freshman. Eimi was a little leaner than her, which she knew was the result of her being younger.
“The first match will be lightweights,” the announcer chimed, “from Goldthwait High we have Eimi Potter going against Rich Wilkins from Ekaltsew High School.”
Eimi approached the wrestling mat where she came face to face with the boy she’d be facing. He stood a hair taller and had a pointy nose. He scowled at her before turning his back, “why the hell do I always have to wrestle girls!?” he yelled.
“After I’m done with you you’ll be crying like a girl,” Eimi growled at him irritably.
Wilkins turned back towards Eimi and rolled his eyes, “oh, yeah, right,” he laughed, “only way a girl could beat me is if they cheated like that Wolfe girl did.”
The two wrestlers got in to their starting positions, Eimi leaned her head close to Wilkins’ ear, “don’t need to cheat to beat a girl like you,” she whispered.
The ref blew his whistle signifying the start of the match. Rachel leaned forward in her seat as she was curious to see how Eimi would do. While she had never wrestled in the lightweight category before, she would probably be in that category now. She was disappointed to see that she was better than either competitor. With a sigh she slouched back in her seat.
Brett jumped to his feet, “get him Eimi!” he yelled as the two grappled back and forth, “headlock! Headlooooock!”
Evan raised an eyebrow at Brett. He let his eyes list over to Rachel to see that she was not at all on the edge of her seat. Evan knew he’d be able to judge how well Eimi was doing based on the reactions Rachel gave.
“This might be it—“The announcer spoke up, “it’s a pin!”
Evan’s head turned back to the wrestling mat where he saw Eimi struggling to get out of the boy’s grasp. As Rich got to his feet, an angry Eimi jumped to her feet taking a few swings in his general direction.
“That fall gives Ekaltsew an early 6 point lead.”
Evan got to his feet and headed for the side of the bleachers. Brett blinked in confusion as he turned his attention back towards the next match.
Eimi growled in frustration as she stomped her feet in the direction of the locker room, not caring about the remaining matches.
“Moist towelette?” Evan asked, holding up a small prepackaged clothe as he sat on the side of the bleachers next to the exit of the gymnasium.
Eimi turned her scowl in Evan’s general direction, “shove it.”
“There’s other toiletry for that,” Evan quipped as he opened the towelette and began wiping his hands with it.
“Do you have a smartass remark for everything?” Eimi rolled her eyes as she leaned against the side of the bleachers.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” Evan shrugged, “were you leaving already?”
Eimi leaned her head back and looked at the ceiling of the gym, “this shit is stupid,” she grumbled, “that guy was way out of my league.”
“That’s wrestling.” Evan responded quickly, “you never know who might end up in your weight class.”
“He was more experienced than me,” Eimi disputed.
Evan smiled, “exactly, he’s probably been wrestling for years,” he explained, “and yet you hung in there with him for a little bit.”
“And then I lost,” Eimi spat out, dropping her gaze to the floor.
“We all lose,” Evan’s voice turned more solemn, “but when you’ve been wrestling for years and are paired off against these guys, you’re going to whoop them so bad anything they ever said about wrestling girls will be burned into their mind.”
Eimi raised her head to look at Evan.
“But if you leave now, your coach might kick you off the team,” Evan continued to explain, “If you get kicked off now, you won’t lose any more matches.”
Eimi furrowed her brow, “but isn’t that a good thing?”
“You know Brett’s older brother is a wrestler,” Evan pointed out, “do you think he won all his matches his first year? Heck no, he lost a bunch, but he kept at it and learned, he has such a good analytical mind that he was able to figure out the best ways to counter things. He won more and more and would have been on the team this year if he didn’t move away.”
“I’m very analytical, too,” Eimi spoke up.
Evan nodded with his eyes closed. Evan stood back up in the bleachers and walked back down to where Brett was still watching the matches.
Eimi stood in place, looking down the row at Evan and Brett, sitting along with Rachel. She sighed and slowly walked back to the bench to rejoin her teammates.
Evan smirked to himself as he watched Eimi returning to the bench. “She’s got potential, you know,” Rachel said from behind Evan, leaning forward to speak to him.
Evan raised an eyebrow and turned his head to see the side of Rachel’s face. She was looking forward towards the wrestling matches. “She could use some training, don’t you think?”
“That’s what a coach is for,” Rachel responded quickly.
“Do you think that he will give her as good of training as the guys?” Evan asked dryly, “or that she will listen?”
“Well lets hope so otherwise she won’t get any better,” Rachel shrugged.
Evan crossed his arms, “Eimi’s a pretty stubborn girl,” he explained, “don’t you think she’d do well if she could get an experienced female coach?”
Rachel’s eyes narrowed as she kept her head forward, “school doesn’t have a female wrestling coach.”
Evan too narrowed his eyes, “you know what I mean.”
Without any further response Rachel returned to her seat next to Allison. Evan glared towards Rachel who continued to ignore him. He gave a sigh and he arched his eyebrows in disappointment, looking down to Eimi who sat with her head hung.
The weight class Ryan had previously been in stepped on to the mat. Rachel knew the boy who was wrestling in her spot now; Johnny Schroder had been one weight class higher last year and had been trying to slim down some knowing that Ryan’s spot would be vacant when wrestling season came.
Rachel sighed. She had wrestled Schroder many times in practice matches and was almost always able to best him. As the match began, it was clear to her that Schroder was easily the better of the two, and still not as good as she was.
William stayed at the entrance to the gymnasium, watching through one of the small glass windows, despite the other door being wide open. He noticed that Rachel was paying much more attention to this match than any of the others. Looking to the mat, he did not see anything out of the ordinary; a boy from some of his classes, a boy from another school, and then a photographer for the yearbook.
William’s gaze fixated on the match, his jaw beginning to hang slack. His gaze lowered as a smile began to cross his face. He was grinning happily as he returned to the window to look at Rachel. William’s attention snapped back into focus as he saw Rachel walking towards the entrance of the gymnasium.
“That’s all you wanted to watch?” Allison asked quizzically, “the match is only half over.”
“I’ve seen enough,” Rachel sighed as the two girls walked into the front entrance of the gymnasium. “Wait,” she stopped and turned. Rachel walked over to the drinking fountain for a moment before joining Allison as the two headed out to her car.
Rachel slouched in her chair, her head propped up by her arm. Other than Allison, the only person who Rachel had to hang out with in homeroom was Li Kim. She and Katie had not spoken in months and she no longer felt the compulsion to ask her how to be a girl. Rachel just listened to her two friends talk, completely uninterested in the actual topic in which they were going on about.
It seemed like another slow start to a Friday until the homeroom door opened and in walked a very stern faced Principal Wallis, followed by one of the campus security. The entire classroom quickly quieted itself in surprise of the principal’s entrance.
“We have a very important matter to discuss,” Principal Wallis spoke seriously, “at some point yesterday; someone broke into a classroom and stole school property.”
A small murmur came over some of the students before the principal quickly shushed them, which everyone complied given the seriousness of the situation. “All student lockers are off limits for first period as we will be performing a full locker inspection.”
The murmur from the students again rose as they began trying to figure out what was going on. “Your first period teachers have been notified of this so no student will get in trouble for missing supplies.” Principal Wallis concluded over the noise and exited the classroom and proceeded to the next.
“Boy am I glad we’ve got gym next” Li laughed as she turned back towards Rachel and Allison, “I wonder what was taken.”
“I don’t know,” Allison chimed in, “but it must have been important for them to search all the lockers.”
“Or expensive,” Rachel mused.
As the bell rang signifying the end of homeroom, Rachel entered the hallway which was a buzz with students watching as both the principal, vice principal, and school security were lined down the hallways opening up students lockers.
Rachel shrugged, knowing that all she had in her locker were some books. Li walked alongside Rachel and they were soon joined by Andie who was coming from her homeroom.
“This is crazy,” Andie shook her head, “Did they ever do anything like this in your school, Rach?”
Rachel turned her head to look at Andie, “no” she shook her head.
Rachel split off from Andie and Li so that she could make sure to be one of the last girls to the locker room. Even though she had been a girl for months now, she still did not feel comfortable changing around them. It was a mix between the awkwardness of being a girl and putting on girl clothes around all the other girls, and having girls changing clothes around her while she still had the brain of a teenage boy.
“Hurry up slow poke,” Andie laughed as she patted Rachel’s stomach. Rachel was just getting into the locker room as Andie was finishing getting dressed in her P.E. clothes.
“I’ll be right out,” Rachel mumbled, it had almost become a daily thing between the two of them as Andie knew Rachel was always one of the last people to get dressed, and Rachel knew that Andie always teased her for it.
Rachel sighed as she opened her locker, pulling out her gym shirt and shorts, along with her sports bra. She heard the creaking noise of the front door to the locker room. Rachel figured there must be another girl running late that was just now getting to the locker room. Some of these girls would chit chat in the hallways till the last possible moment some days.
Rachel pulled off her red t-shirt and tossed it into locker. She reached behind her and unhooked her bra, slipping it off her arms and proceeding to toss it into her locker as well. Rachel’s eyes shot open as her back was suddenly splashed with cold water. “Hey Hawke!” A voice called out from behind her.
Rachel spun around on her heels angrily to face whoever splashed water on her. She was greeted with a bunch of sudden bright flashes. Like a deer caught in the headlights, Rachel was stunned by the sudden lights.
“Ah-ha!” William cried triumphantly, “I got—you…?” His voice trailed off as he lowered the camera, his eyes fixated on Rachel’s bare breasts.
Rachel’s shock faded away as she realized she was standing topless. She reached down and grabbed her gym shirt and covered her chest with it, “what the fuck!?” she yelled angrily.
William continued to stare at Rachel in disbelief, “you’re… a girl…” his voice sounded utterly defeated.
“I hope you realize the magnitude of your actions, Mr. Montgomery,” Principal Wallis spoke angrily from behind his desk, “theft of school property… sneaking into the girls locker room… taking pictures of students while they’re changing…”
“But--!” William anxiously tried to speak.
“I’m not done talking yet!” Principal Wallis raised his voice as he brought one of his large hands down on his desk, “My yelling at you is going to be the least of your problems as a result of your behavior!”
“But Rachel Hawke--!” William again tried to interject.
Principal Wallis continued to not allow William to speak, “Rachel Hawke is a poor young lady who has been violated by a very disturbed boy who thought it might be fun to try to see girls when they’re most vulnerable!”
Rachel raised her head looking towards Principal Wallis’ door. She had been asked to sit in the school councilor’s office. The councilor had been sitting quietly behind his desk as Rachel had not been interested in conversing with him about the situation.
The councilor’s phone rang once and he quickly picked it up? “Yes?” he said briefly, “alright.”
Rachel glanced at the councilor as he got up from behind his desk. “Your aunt is here,” he informed her, “you can go ahead and wait in here.”
The councilor walked out of the office and around to the front desk of the administration office. Rachel could see him through the glass wall exchanging a few words with her mother. After their conversation, Rebecca walked swiftly to the councilor’s office, where she closed the door behind her.
Rebecca and Rachel looked at each other in silence for a moment. Finally Rebecca went quickly to Rachel and wrapped her in a hug, “god, are you okay?” she asked, sounding almost as if she were about to cry.
Rachel blinked, “huh?” she stiffened up, “yeah.”
Rebecca loosened her hug a little, “I’m pretty sure we can press charges for invasion of privacy,” she growled.
“What?” Rachel shook her head, “no.”
“But that boy,” Rebecca sounded dumbfounded, “he tried to see you naked.”
“He was trying to prove my identity,” Rachel responded flatly.
Rebecca released Rachel from the hug and stood up, standing quietly for a moment before taking a seat in a chair next to Rachel, “does he know?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Rachel shrugged, “the whole school thinks he’s a nut and now they’ll think he is a pervert as well.”
“So you’re fine?” Rebecca blinked as if she couldn’t believe Rachel didn’t seem to be concerned with the recent events.
“With everything he did,” Rachel lowered her gaze, “I don’t think I’ll ever have to deal with William Montgomery again…”
William sat quietly with his head hung as the principal got off the phone. “Your parents are on their way,” Principal Wallis crossed his arms over his chest, “however, the authorities will probably be here before them.”
William looked up quickly, no words able to escape his mouth.
“Be aware, Mr. Montgomery,” Principal Wallis spoke in a softer tone than earlier, “seeing as you’re 18 now, expect to be tried as an adult.”
William sat quietly, staring at Principal Wallis. His gaze lowered to the ground as he turned his head slightly, sitting otherwise completely still. Gripping the chair in which he sat, William leaned forward. He leapt to his feet and jumped around the side of his chair, throwing the chair between the principal’s desk and the wall.
William quickly ran from the principal’s office, as he turned to run out of the administration office, he glimpsed Rachel, sitting in the councilor’s office with Ryan Hawke’s mother. He quickly turned and ran from the office before any of the other faculty in the office was able to figure out what was going on.
Rachel looked up as a sudden commotion began to stir outside of the councilor’s office; the principal had come slamming out of his office barking orders in his very commanding voice. She scanned the rest of the office, looking to see what was going on. Rachel narrowed her eyes, William was gone.
William hobbled down the street. Having run from the school, he knew he’d have to make it all the way to his home on foot. Living on the very edge of Wakefield, it was not a quick trip to make. By the time William came within sight of his home, he saw there was a cop car parked outside looking for him.
With a shaky sigh, William turned and began walking. As night fell, he was beginning to wonder how much longer he would be able to hide from authorities. Every time he heard a car nearing him he would quickly get off the sidewalk. As the temperatures began to drop he was getting colder and colder, having thrown away his white sweatshirt so that he would be less recognizable from a distance.
William stopped. He turned his head and looked up at wrought iron gates. Past the gates, through the over grown grass and behind the large trees was the rotting Gregory House. William stared at the building; tilting his head he remembered teasing Brian about there being a treasure in the abandoned building. He narrowed his eyes at the building, that day was also the last time he saw Ryan Hawke. The day after was the first day he saw Rachel Hawke.
William drug his tired feet up to the gate and leaned his head against it. The gate creaked open. Headlights turned the corner and began to drive towards the Gregory Estate. A cop’s spotlight turned on and shined along the wall and fence as it drove by slowly. Seeing no people and the gate undisturbed, the cop car turned around and drove off.
At her mother’s insistence, and with the school’s approval, Rachel took the rest of the day off from School. While she felt like she was perfectly capable of going back to class, she was not going to pass up being excused from school for a day.
Rachel couldn’t help but feel like her mother was acting weird around here all weekend, continuously hanging around her and asking if she wanted to go places to hang out. She was more than content having a peaceful quiet weekend to relax.
Rebecca had quickly ushered Rachel to the TV when the news reported that William had been picked up by the authorities Saturday morning. Rachel was surprised the news had bothered with such a thing until they began mentioning what William was facing; Theft of school property, unlawful intrusion, and since Rachel is only 17, William was also going to be charged with taking pictures of underage girls.
Rachel was actually happy when school resumed on Monday so that she could get away from her mother and get back to the closest thing she could consider normal. Andie gave Rachel an unsure smile as her friend got into her car. Andie was the only phone call Rachel answered during the weekend but was continuously assured that she was fine and was told that Rachel did not want to talk about the subject any more.
As the two girls walked from the school parking lot to the main building, Rachel was practically knocked off her feet by Allison tackling her.
“Rachel!” Allison cried out, “Are you okay? I called and called but you never picked up!”
Rachel raised her eyebrow at Allison who had her arms wrapped tightly around her. She looked over at Andie who shrugged accompanied with a small smile.
“I’m fine,” Rachel mumbled, “just didn’t feel like talking to anyone.”
Allison released her friend and gave her a reassuring smile, “well you need to talk to your friends so we know everything is okay,” she scolded Rachel, “I was worried about you.”
Rachel shook her head and rolled her eyes, “ain’t nothing to be worried about,” she continued to mumble, “nothing happened to me, Williams gone, it’s over.”
Andie and Allison walked along side Rachel as they entered the school. Rachel very quickly began to feel uneasy as people would stare at her as she walked by. She could not help but feel that everyone in the school was suddenly talking about her.
“That’s the girl William Montgomery snuck in to the lockers to peep at.”
“Didn’t he get expelled?”
“Yup! And arrested!”
“Hey, there’s the girl that had that pervert take pictures of her in the locker room.”
“I don’t blame the guy; she’s got a nice butt.”
“And boobs too!”
Rachel bit her lip as she kept hearing whispers around her as she walked. When the volleyball team had been doing well, there were no whispers; everyone spoke to her directly. Now, no one came up to her, no one was making eye contact, and she knew the thing everyone was talking about was her body.
Rachel and Allison split off from Andie as they each headed for homeroom. As Rachel caught sight of the room, she saw Katie and Brian standing outside. She sighed and lowered her gaze, hoping that she would be able to enter the classroom without them wanting to talk to her.
As soon as Katie caught sight of Rachel she immediately rushed to her and wrapped her in a hug, “I’m so sorry Rachel!” she cried as Brian followed behind her.
Rachel stood surprised for a moment before pushing Katie off of her, “what on earth are you doing?”
“I heard what happened,” Katie quickly responded, “I’m so sorry.”
“So?” Rachel spat back
Katie looked shocked, “So? So?! If someone saw my body exposed, I’d be a mess!” she sounded as if she was on the verge of tears herself, “You can’t tell me you’re completely okay after what happened.”
“If people would just drop it, the whole mess would be over already,” Rachel groaned, “and none of this means we’re suddenly friends again.”
Katie took a deep breath through her nose as she tried to compose herself, “You can’t bottle everything up inside all the time,” Katie explained, trying to remain calm, “you need people to talk to, people who you can vent to, what you’re doing is not healthy.”
“You really overestimate how much I really care about this whole thing,” Rachel shook her head.
“Promise us that if there is anything that is really bothering you, you’ll come tell us,” Katie grabbed Rachel’s wrist.
“I’m not some over emotional girl that gets upset over everything,” Rachel sneered.
“Promise!” Katie raised her shaky voice.
Rachel turned away and walked into her homeroom. Allison looked between Katie and Rachel for a moment in concern before following behind her friend.
Katie tried to grab at Rachel as she left but Brian stopped her, “You’re doing the best you can,” he said in an attempt to comfort her.
“I just need her to listen,” Katie finally broke and began to cry. Brian put his arm around Katie as she pressed her face into his chest, dampening it with her tears.
“What happened with you guys?” Allison asked nervously as she sat down in a desk next to Rachel.
“They betrayed my friendship,” Rachel said flatly, “so I moved on.”
Allison frowned and sat quietly, watching Rachel’s stone face stare down at her desk. Katie entered the classroom just as the bell rang, Allison could tell that she had been crying. She looked back at Rachel saw her friend intentionally avoiding even looking in Katie’s general direction as she walked to the other side of the classroom.
Having clenched her teeth for the entire homeroom, Rachel was happy to be able to get out of the classroom and head for the gymnasium where she would be able to take out some aggression with some sports. When Rachel got to the door of the locker room, she was surprised to see a handwritten note on it instructing students that they would not be changing for P.E. and to just go straight to the bleachers.
Rachel exchanged a glance with Andie and the two turned to head into the gym. Travis hurried up to Rachel before they entered and gave her a warm smile. Rachel actually welcomed his smile as it was one of the things that were no different than before what happened the Friday before.
“Hey Rachel, Andie,” he nodded to the two of them, heading with them to the bleachers, “I’m glad to see you here today Rachel.”
“Huh?” Rachel grunted, “Why?” Her eyes glanced over momentarily to see the P.E. teacher speaking with Principal Wallis.
“Cuz—you know—what happened,” Travis suddenly became very awkward with the conversation, “If you ever have a guy harassing you like that again let me know and I’ll get him to stop.”
Rachel narrowed her eyes at Travis, “I am perfectly capable of handling things on my own.”
“I know I know!” Travis raised his hands defensively, “I just meant if you did need help with anything, not because you’re a girl, just if there is something where you need assistance.”
Rachel crossed her arms under her chest and raised her eyebrows.
“You’re digging yourself in deep,” Andie smirked and elbowed Travis’ in the side lightly.
“I’m no good at this stuff,” Travis sighed and scratched the back of his neck, “I just don’t like seeing people trying to do bad stuff to my friends.”
Rachel lowered her eyebrows and pursed her lips together. She rolled her eyes and let out a sigh, “thanks Travis.”
Travis’ head shot back towards Rachel as a relieved smile crossed his face.
The P.E. teacher got up and silenced the class, “Principal Wallis will be talking about Fridays incident briefly, then we will spend the rest of the day walking the track.”
Rachel slumped in her seat, again knowing that attention will be on her for what happened. She wanted nothing more than to have some other issue arise so that people would no longer be talking about her.
“Before that, I want to introduce a new student,” the teacher brought up a girl who had been sitting in the front row, “this is Willow Kowalski.”
“Nice to meet you all,” the girl spoke softly, obviously a little nervous.
Rachel glanced up at the girl momentarily. Her head shot back up as she looked at the girl again. She had long black hair which draped over a white sweater. She wore a black pleated skirt and black shoes with white knee socks. The girls square face immediately made Rachel think of William.
“Oh god…” Rachel murmured as the girl sat back down at the front of the bleachers. She stared at the back of the girl’s head, trying to convince herself that there is no way that the girl couldn’t have anything to do with William. The news had said William had been taken into custody by the cops.
Rachel did not hear a word of Principal Wallis’ speech, although she was well aware of what it was about. She also was completely tuned out of anyone who may have been looking at her while the incident involving her was discussed.
As the class was released to go spend half an hour walking around the track, Rachel continued to stare in the direction of Willow.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Andie chimed in, waving her hand in front of Rachel’s face.
“Huh?” Rachel snapped out of her trance and looked to Andie.
“You’ve been staring at that new girl ever since the start of class,” Andie explained, “was starting to wonder what was up.”
“Oh,” Rachel slumped her shoulders, not sure what she could say to her friend, “I just, like her hair… I’ll be right back.”
Andie stopped walking and scratched the top of her hair, “wait, what?” She looked to Travis who looked equally confused.
“Did Rachel just say she liked another girl’s hair?” Travis blinked.
Rachel jogged up next to Willow and began walking next to her, “William.”
Willow turned her head in confusion, “who?” She stood a couple inches taller than Rachel and had a very slight frame.
Rachel tilted her head a little, “your name is Willow, right?” she asked, dialing back her approach, “I’m Rachel Hawke.”
“Yes,” Willow responded, smiling kindly, “it’s nice to meet you.”
“So where are you from?” Rachel continued to probe.
Willow continued to smile, “Oh I’m from here,” she explained, “but I was home schooled, my parents and I agreed with how busy they’ve been that I should start public school so I don’t fall behind.”
Rachel raised an eyebrow, “what do your parents do?”
“They work in pharmaceuticals,” Willow answered without missing a beat.
Rachel sighed as she looked Willow over, the more she looked at her, the more she was becoming concerned that her initial intuition was correct, “wanna walk with my friends?” Rachel asked, motioning back towards Andie and Travis who walked behind them.
“Sure!” Willow smiled, stopping with Rachel as the others joined them, “I’m Willow” she said happily to Andie and Travis.
“Andie Rhea!” Andie grinned and grabbed Willow’s hand to shake it, “any friend of Rachel’s is a friend of mine.”
“Travis,” Travis gave a smile and nodded to the black haired girl, “Right.”
Rachel continued to subtly probe Willow for answers, but was beginning to worry that it may all be in her. Every answer Willow gave was so quick and genuine that they had to true.
“I want to introduce you to my other friends,” Rachel said to Willow as the bell rang signifying the end of P.E.
“Oh, sure,” Willow nodded as she followed Rachel up towards the school building.
“Willow, this is Katie Herring and Brian Parker,” Rachel said as she lead Willow up to her former friends, “Brian, Katie, this is Willow, Kowalski, she is a brand new student.”
Brian looked surprised to see Rachel speaking to him; he blinked a couple of times before waving politely at Willow, “hey Willow.”
Katie raised an eyebrow in confusion as well, but also greeted Willow kindly.
“What class do you have next?” Rachel turned to Willow.
Willow hesitated; “uh…” she suddenly dropped her backpack and hurriedly dug through it, pulling out the school schedule she was given, “Chemistry 11.”
Rachel stared at Willow a bit in confusion, “you’re—a junior?”
“Yeah,” Willow smiled sheepishly, “Oh are you guys all seniors? I hope that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.”
Rachel stood silent for a moment before shaking it off, “no, no, that’s fine,” she insisted, “the science rooms are in the other wing, you might want to hurry to make sure you’re not late.”
“You’re right!” Willow nodded, “It was great meeting you all, see you later!” she waved to the others and hurried down the hall looking from room number to room number.
Katie placed her hands on her hips and stared at Rachel, who just stared down the hall where Willow went, “so?” she spoke up, “what the hell was that all about?”
Rachel turned back towards Katie and Brian, scratching the side of her head, “doesn’t Willow look familiar to you?”
Katie furrowed her brow, “so you’re suddenly talking with us again?” she crossed her arms over her chest.
“That’s not what’s important!” Rachel brushed off Katie’s annoyance, “nothing about that girl struck you as odd?”
“The only odd one here is you,” Katie growled, clearly agitated.
“She kind of reminds me of William’s older sister,” Brian spoke up, “but I hadn’t seen her since we were in Junior High.”
Rachel turned quickly towards Brian, “right!?”
Katie tilted her head and turned towards Rachel, “what are you inferring?”
“William got expelled on Friday,” Rachel explained, “today, a girl who looks a lot like him suddenly shows up, heck, her name even starts with the first four letters.”
Brian’s face lit up, “so that’s William?!”
“Wait, no, stop,” Katie waved her arm between Brian and Rachel, “You can’t possibly believe William has been turned into a girl.”
“Before all this, no, not possible,” Rachel explained, “but now, well, who knows.”
“The news said the cops took William into custody,” Katie explained, “plus, that girl just said she was a junior.”
Rachel slumped her shoulders some as she looked down the hallway some, “With what’s happened I’m sure saying you’re a different grade is the smallest of things.”
“If you could find something about her that links her to William,” Brian mused, “maybe then you could prove it’s him.”
“Yes!” Rachel exclaimed, “I’ve just got to find some proof to connect Willow and William and then I’ll be able to be sure.”
“Are you even listening to yourself?!” Katie growled, “You’re sounding just like William.”
“I’m not crazy like William is,” Rachel defended.
“Yet William accused you of being Ryan,” Katie grabbed Brian’s arm, “and if you’re suddenly only interested in being with us because you want us to back you up on your wild claims, you’re wrong.”
Rachel watched as Katie drug Brian away, angrily talking to him. Brian glanced over his shoulder at Rachel but then lowered his head and went with Katie. A shiver ran up Rachel’s spine as she suddenly realized that she had no one to talk to about her theory. Rachel felt ill as she suddenly realized that everything Katie had tried to say to her about being without anyone to talk to about her situation was exactly right.
To be continued...