I lie back against the cool tiles, my back throbbing from the fall. Cheryl’s iPhone screen is shattered, but that doesn’t stop her from jabbing at it with the desperation of a woman who has just one chance to save her man from impending death.

Ben Langley won’t die but his reputation and career surely will.

“It won’t come on! How could you, Jazz!” Cheryl screams, still jabbing at her phone.

How could I? How could she tackle me like a maniac?!

I drag myself up, feeling my phone vibrate in my pocket.

“A student is in hospital, Cheryl! In case you can’t see it, the shit has hit the fan!”

I have one missed call and a string of messages from Nate.

Great news! Our boy Leeroy is doing fine.
Allergic reaction to somethn in truffle 😣
Jazz…gettn worried here
Where are you?????
Jazz????

My thumbs stumble over each other in their haste to tap out a reply. When I look up, Cheryl is gone.

“Nate,” I say into my cellphone. “There’s something you need to know.”

I wait for Nate outside the toilets, my insides feeling all mushy from the nerves. I like planning things, knowing what to expect. Confronting Langley and hurling around legal threats is the extent of my and Nate’s plan (okay, it’s mostly mine). And for that, we have to find Langley first.

“Hey,” Nate whispers, looking around, “this place is spooky at night.”

“What are the chances Langley’s still somewhere around here?” I ask.

“Slimmer than the gap between my front teeth.”

“What?” I whisper. “You don’t have …. oh.”

There’s a flash of white as Nate grins at me. “Langley could have split as soon as the ambulance arrived.”

“Ja, but we don’t know anything for sure,” I say, hoping Langley is still on school property. “He could be cleaning out his classroom, getting rid of any evidence. Or maybe he’s hiding somewhere, waiting to see what Cheryl does.”

“Mmm. I don’t know.”

Nate may not be convinced but I’m not unconvinced. We could just go ahead and assume Langley’s up and left, but what if he’s still here, watching, planning how he can get himself out of the shit show he created.

“Jazz, I completely understand why you want to verbally beat the crap out of Langley. Believe me, so do I. But, I think we should go to Ms Ngema with this.”

“But, Cheryl. What if she gets suspended? Or … expelled?”

Nate takes my face in his hand and gently turns it to his. “Hey. It’s going to be okay. I honestly don’t think she will be. The school has to be lenient considering they failed to protect Cheryl from Langley.”

The feel of Nate’s palm on my face is comforting. He hasn’t dropped it yet, and those magnetic eyes of his are boring down on me. I stare back into them, holding his gaze as the cool night’s breeze whooshes into us. His face draws closer, his lips hovering just a breath apart from mine.

My heart thumps. My eyes close. It’s finally going to happen!

“The library,” Nate suddenly whispers, pulling back. “Somebody’s just switched on the light inside!”

***

Tell us: Do you agree that the school will not punish Cheryl?