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Contemporary High School Suspense

Becca half squatted behind a large potted plant, phone pressed against her ear. As soon as the ringing stopped, Becca blurted, “Guess who's here?”

“Becca?” The voice on the phone asked.

“Yes, Marissa. But guess who's here?”

“Who?”

“Nathan!”

“Who?” Marissa asked again, clearly lost.

“Nathan!” Becca squealed loudly, then quickly dropped her tone, whispering, “You know Nathan!”

Marissa paused for a moment too long and Becca filled in the silence.

“You know Nathan! Tall, dark hair—I’m in love with him! Nathan!”

“Oh…yeah…Nathan.” Marissa’s voice trailed off, but Becca plowed on.

“He’s here! He skipped school too. Do you think it’s because he knew I would be here?”

“Did you tell him you would be there?”

“He could have seen it on my Snap story. Or someone could have shown him, maybe one of his friends. What if he likes me and his friends know it?” Becca squealed again, but this time it was cut short as she made accidental eye contact with mall security. Quickly she stood up and nodded her head in apology. The older man slowly walked by, clearly disappointed, but Becca bounded back quickly.

“You know what, Marissa? I manifested this this morning.”

She could hear her sister scoff.

“No no, no mocking! Okay, this is proof that it works! I have manifested all week that he finally show his true feelings and this is it.”

After a moment of loud silence from her sister, Becca boldly stated, “I think this is a sign.”

“Maybe it’s like a sign that he didn’t want to go to school today.”

“No, not that. Like maybe it’s a sign that he wants to spend time with me. I manifested this, Marissa.”

“Well, is he trying to spend time with you right now?”

“No, I don’t think he’s seen me yet.”

“Well, then get off the phone and get in his direct line of vision. That’s the best way to be seen. Then report back.”

“You’re right. You’re always right. Okay bye bye, Riss.”

“Bye Becks.”

Becca shoved her phone in her back pocket, sharp eyes trained on Nathan. He was mindlessly flipping through a clothing rack in a dimly lit skater shop.

He skates, Becca thought, smirking. I bet he’s so cute on a skateboard.

Slyly stalking up to the entryway, Becca watched him absently hold up one dark hoodie to his chest, then another. In the reflection of the store mirror, Becca could see herself peeking around the corner.

Horrified, Becca thought, I look like a goblin. Dear Lord.

Straightening up, she called, “Nathan! Hi!”

He flinched, startled.

“Nice hoodies,” she started, mind suddenly blank. “I like them.”

“Which one do you like best? This one,” he held up a dark gray one, “this one,” a navy, “or this one?” The last hoodie was a solid black.

Becca was appalled.

“They’re all the same style?”

“Yeah, I just don’t know which color. Gray I think.”

Without another word, he hung the other two up, then moved onto the shoes. Becca followed without an invitation.

“Wow, so a shopping spree today?”

Nathan didn’t seem to hear her, so she spoke up.

“So why are you out shopping…today? Just feel like skipping school?”

He shook his head. “No. I’m going back later.”

He held up a pair of plain black lace-ups. Annoyed, Becca just nodded. “Sure. Those look…great. You’re going back today?”

“Yeah.” Tripping a bit, Nate held up the shoe to the bottom of his foot. Seemingly satisfied, he held it out to Becca. “Hold this.”

Now her turn to be startled, Becca awkwardly held the hoodie, the shoes, and a large backpack he had obviously picked before she arrived.

“Have you happened to be on Snapchat today?”

Instead of answering, Nathan was swiveling his head, scanning the store, frowning until he saw what he was looking for. With long strides, he left Becca holding all his things.

Put out, Becca jogged to keep up with him. “Nate! Did you see my Snap story today?”

“No.”

“No? Oh. Okay.”

“Yeah, I’m not on Snapchat anymore.”

“Really?” Becca laughed, a little in disbelief and a little in the fact that she almost dropped his shoes. “You were on Snapchat like last night.”

“Yeah, but not anymore. I deleted it”

Becca laughed again, as he put a pair of sunglasses on his face.

“Nate? Nate, look at me.”

The tag hung down his face, swinging in front of his nose and Becca couldn’t believe the entire situation. “Nate, I’m not going to judge you but I need to know—are you high right now?”

Nate laughed shortly. “No. Now, are you going to help me or not?”

“I mean, yeah, sure but—”

Nate spotted the hats and was off again. Shaking her head, Becca followed him about the store, carrying more and more things Nathan dropped in her arms. Finally, she asked, “Is that it?”

Nathan’s demeanor had changed. When she first saw him in the store, he was completely consumed by picking and choosing and finding everything he needed and now, he stood still, looking at the pile in her arms.

“You’ve got a hoodie, new shoes, a backpack, a hat, and for some reason, winter gloves, even though it is May and almost 80 degrees outside.” Looking up at the tall brunette in front of her, she asked, “Need anything else?”

Nate faltered, hesitating. Becca watched his eyes glaze over, then he stated, “No, that’s all. Let’s go.”

Becca helped him place everything on the front counter and carried two of his bags out of the store.

“So,” she stated, looking up and down the loud hallway, “Where to next?”

“School.”

Becca laughed out loud. “It’s two o’clock, Nate.”

“Don’t call me that.” He commanded harshly, eyes blazing. “It’s Nathan.”

Startled, Becca quickly apologized. “I’m sorry Nate—Nathan. I’m sorry. I just—school’s almost done for the day. There’s no reason to go back.”

“That’s where I’m going. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”

Nathan stepped closer to Becca to pulled the bags out of her hands, but instinctively, Becca held them close to her. “No. I’ll go with you.”

“Okay, then hurry up.”

 Becca followed Nathan’s long strides through the busy mall and out into a less populated parking lot.

“Do you want me to follow you in my car?” Becca started to ask when Nate unlocked his battered car.

“Get in.”

Unsure what else to do, Becca slid into the passenger seat, gripping the bags she held. Nate pushed the other bags at her and roughly backed out of his parking space. Becca tried not to look nosy, but out of the corner of her eye, she could see the speedometer flicking up and up, edging closer and closer to 80, 90. Squeezing the bags tightly to her chest, Becca watched the outdated suburban streets streak by.

“Did you leave something?”

“What?” He asked sharply, shooting a look to Becca that made her wither.

“Did you leave something at school? Is that why we’re going back?”

“Why do you have so many questions? Do you not understand anything?”

“Hey, I’ve carried your clothes and shoes and followed you all around that weird store today. Don’t talk to me like I’m stupid!”

Whipping the car into the school parking lot, Becca braced herself against the passenger door.

 “Isn’t that what you are?” Nathan asked. “You found me in a random store on a random day in a random mall and you follow me around and now you’re in my car. You think that proves you are smart?”

Becca balked. “I—I thought you liked me! I thought you had skipped school because you saw that I had skipped school. I’ve posted my whole day on my Snap story! How was I supposed to know you didn’t just see my story and follow me there? Why else would you be at our mall in the middle of a Tuesday?”

Nathan determinedly drove past the student lot, then sped past the teacher's lot.

“Nathan, you missed the parking lot! Come on! Pay attention!”

He laughed, shortly at first, then longer as though he truly did think that was funny.

“Me?” He asked between laughs. “Me pay attention? Babe, I’m not the one missing the completely obvious.”

Nathan skidded to a stop at the back of the building, tearing through the bags on Becca’s lap. Her mind spun as she watched him kick off his shoes, cramming his feet into the new black tennis shoes.

“Wait—”

Over his head, he pulled the hoodie. The hat, the sunglasses, the gloves—Becca was suddenly speechless. Nathan threw open the door and began emptying a larger duffel bag into the new backpack. Two, four, six, eight handguns—all tossed into the backpack.

The backpack Becca had carried around.

Horrified, Becca tumbled out of the car. “No no no, Nathan no.” Becca dropped her phone, scrambling to pick it back up, gravel tearing at her hands, her knees. A notification from her sister lit her phone, but Becca couldn’t move—absolutely frozen— as Nate walked toward their school building.

Riss:

So…did he finally show his true feelings??

July 23, 2021 15:13

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