“Oh, Olivia, good. I was looking for you.”
Olivia was getting her things ready for her third period class, when Ms. Rosenberg entered her empty classroom.
“Jeez, when the principal at my old high school said that but using my name, it was never good.” Emilia announced.
“Ms. Rosenberg, what can I do for you?”
“I just wanted to make sure you have everything set for your visit to the Newseum on Thursday. By ready I mean the four parents that will go with you. Did you confirm with Ms. Hurst’s dad? You mentioned he’d offered to go after one of your mom’s had to say no.”
Ah damn it! I totally forgot to call him back.
Her face though, remained calm as she lied to buy herself more time.
“Sure, we’re all set Ms. Rosenberg. You have nothing to worry about.”
“Wow, Pinocchio careful with the nose.”
“Excellent. I’ll see you tomorrow to see to the details about the bus and such.”
“Sounds great.” Olivia replied, eager for the principal to leave.
Luckily, Ms. Rosenberg was already on her way out of the classroom. She was already in the hallway when Olivia let out a gush of breath.
Emilia knew it was stupid to wait for the principal to be out of earshot, but dead or not, this felt like something that would get them both in detention if they were caught.
“You are in big trouble. What happens if Camie’s dad can’t make it?”
“Then the whole thing is suspended. There have to be at least four parents with us whenever we take their kids out on a field trip.”
She had called Camie’s dad, the Monday after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, she hadn’t been able to reach him so she’d left him a message with his secretary. The only problem was that with Tracy’s wedding the following Saturday and her disaster with Michael, she’d forgotten to call back and confirm first, that he’d gotten the message and second, that he was indeed available for this Thursday’s out -of-school activity.
“That didn’t happen when I was in school.”
“What? Oh, the chaperone thing? I know, but apparently some parents complained kids just used the field trips to waste time or skip school. The people at the school district decided this was the best solution. I mean, next thing you know they’ll be wanting to come and sit in class, too. It’s just stupid.”
“Well,” Emilia chose one of the front chairs to sit down, “stupid or not, you’ll have to call Mr. Hurst and beg him not to cancel on you. Not after you lied to the principal right to her face.”
“I know!” Olivia began to rub her temples with her fingers while she wrinkled her face in concentration, expecting the solution to pop up out of thin air.
“Just let me think and please, go sit on your spot. My class is about to start.”
With her mind divided between her lesson on the beginning of the Korean War in the fifties, and worrying that Camie’s dad might’ve forgotten about this Thursday, it took her a while to realize one of her students had asked her about what the letters that she must’ve scribbled in the white board at some point, DPKR, meant. For the first time ever, her mind went completely blank. Not even during her own interview and trial class for the school did she freeze when Ms. Rosenberg asked her to name all of the presidents of the United States,
The truth was, not only was Camie’s dad looming inside her thoughts, but so was his brother, and she dreaded having to face either one of them. The latter because of their Saturday night session on the couch and the former, well because he was his brother and it would be just plain embarrassing. She couldn’t be sure if Jerry and Michael had that sort of brotherly rapport where they shared everything about their lives, including the women in their lives. And even if Michael had decided to keep Saturday’s fiasco to himself, it still would be hard not to look into Jerry’s eyes and stop her skin from blushing at the reminder of a similar pair of eyes which had the power to make her heart beat frantically.
Thankfully, Emilia had been standing close to her open notes, so she’d read aloud the name Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to her.
If after that weird incident, any of her students noticed their favorite teacher’s behavior was unusual, they all waited until after class to comment on it. As soon as the bell rang signaling the end of her class, Olivia all but dashed outside to the hallways and let out a sigh of relief when she spotted the person she was looking for.
“Camie! Wait up! I have to talk to you.”
Camie Hurst wanted to ignore Ms. B’s call and just keep on walking. After the disaster from last weekend, which she knew had been exactly that since her uncle had gone back to sulky and grunting uncle Michael. Even though he’d gotten back from Ms. L’s wedding pretty late. Camie knew it would be a matter of time before Ms. B discovered it had been she who’d arranged for her uncle to be her date to the party. She really liked Ms. B and the idea of her teacher being upset with her was embarrassing, especially because of her failed matchmaking attempt.
Still, when Ms. B caught up to her, she put on her happy face and beamed back at her teacher.
“Oh, hey, Ms. B. What’s up?”
“Camie, I need to talk to you. Well, actually I need to speak to your father.”
Camie wanted to beg Ms. B for forgiveness. Although, when she’d tried it with her dad, it had been of no use. After her uncle had come back from the wedding, Camie’s dad had caught her sneaking back to her room as she’d tried to make her uncle spill out the details about the party.
When finally she confessed, Jerry Hurst’s face had turned so red that Camie had been absolutely sure it would explode like an overinflated balloon. Obviously, the words go back to your room and grounded for like forever, or at least until she left for college were heard throughout the entire house.
Not even her dad’s brother jumped to her defense, as he always did whenever Camie was in deep trouble. At first, she’d only thought he was being such a coward for letting her go down for something both had ended up planing, but when she’d gotten a good look at her uncle the next day, Camie had begun to suspect the whole night had been a disaster. Not that he’d said anything at all either to her or her dad, yet.
The only thing she was certain of was that she’d never been in so much trouble before. But was her innocent attempt at matchmaking such a big deal that a parent-teacher conference was necessary?
“My dad? Why?” She flinched when her voice came out shaky.
Ms. B seemed not to notice, as she only carried on.
“Well, I called him last week about the visit to the Newseum and I forgot to call him back.”
It was like being totally stressed out about a math exam result only to find out you got a B. Camie felt the relief like a soft and cool breeze on a really hot August day.
“Oh, the visit!” The teenage girl exclaimed with far too much enthusiasm. When the history teacher’s brows furrowed in puzzlement, Camie reassured her.
“Oh, yes. He mentioned it last week and he was going to move some stuff around to make time. Don’t worry Ms. B, he’ll be there.”
This was music to Olivia’s ears. At least, one less disaster related to the Hurst men.
“Excellent. So, I’ll see him Thursday, then.”
When the bell for last period rang, Camie blurted out a quick goodbye and dashed off to class.
Later that evening, Olivia was busy checking her class’ Facebook page, posting some information about the museum and the assignment they had to write about their visit and some of its exhibitions. She also checked her book club’s page and after the students had posted their choices last week, they’d finally voted and she was able to narrow it down to their next two books: Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.
Since she still had to start reading Fragile Eternity, she brewed a pot of tea – she’d been having way too much coffee since Sunday- and after setting the T.V for Emilia, she went up to her room and read until sleep won over. Unfortunately, her mind was plagued with too many disturbing thoughts, rested would not be what she would feel the next day.
First, she still hadn’t called Noah. Although, he hadn’t called her back. Which meant either work was hectic as he’d complained last week or he was probably thinking Olivia was still hurt about him missing the wedding and that was why she hadn’t called him back. Which made her feel even more ashamed of herself, since the only one here who’d done something worth getting upset about was she. Maybe Olivia would feel less guilty by tomorrow, and she could start by texting him.
Still, the one thought that was foremost burning a hole in her mind was plain and simply, Michael. His face, his arms around her, how she’d enjoyed far too much her time with him at the wedding, how confused he made her feel whenever he was around, and despite her efforts not to, the way her body automatically melted like chocolate with just a look. None of it made sense, and if you added into the mix a dead woman’s ghost who swore that man in particular had feelings for you, it was enough to make a woman who dealt with volatile and temperamental teenagers for a living, want to curl into a ball and shut out the rest of the world.