The rest of the school day flies by in a blur of lessons and intrusive thoughts about a particular book. Wuthering Heights may be a great read, but it isn’t prescribed reading. And there hasn’t been any ‘revival of the classics’ trend on Instagram or TikTok that I know of. So, what gives?
The more I think about it, the more I want answers.
When the bell sounds at the end of the school day, I grab my things and am the first to leave class. En route to the library, my phone lights up with a message from Nate.
What’s the rush? Got a
hot date or something?
I text him back, saying I’m supposed to catch up with Cheryl. Luckily, it’s easier to lie through text than it is face-to-face.
The library is pretty deserted, unlike how it had been earlier. There are only a few students spaced out, heads buried in fat textbooks. And Mrs Felder is nowhere to be seen – not that I’m complaining.
I locate Wuthering Heights and pull it off the dusty shelf. The yellowed pages give off a musty scent as I flip through them, looking for something … anything.
And there’s … nothing. Not even that bookmark thingie I spotted earlier. I don’t know what I expected to find, but finding nothing sure feels anticlimactic.
“Jazz!” Cheryl says, grabbing my arm as I almost collide with her outside the library. “What are you doing here?”
“Sorry, Cherry! I didn’t see you there. I thought I left my pen in the library,” I lie, feeling ridiculous about my wild goose chase. “The one Dad gave me for my 16th.”
“Oh. I hope you found it.”
“I did,” I say, trying not to make too much eye contact.
“Cheryl! Cheryl!” an irritating voice calls, and I’m relieved for the distraction.
“I think it’s unbelievably rude to ignore my messages, especially after that talk with Mr Langley,” Naledi says upon reaching us.
“Oh, come on, Naledi!” Cheryl snaps. “You’re such a control freak! I’m sure you’ve managed to do everything yourself already. What could you possibly need me for?”
I look around, and sure enough, inquisitive eyes are hungrily watching the exchange between Naledi and Cheryl. If they are hoping for a wild catfight, it’s not going to happen. Naledi’s choice of weapon isn’t her claws. It’s usually her words.
“That isn’t the point,” Naledi says with a huge eye roll. “You’ve contributed nothing toward the photo booth. Not a single thing.”
“And of course, you just couldn’t wait to tell Mr Langley all about my ‘slacker ways’!” Cheryl laughs humourlessly, and I feel my insides clench. I haven’t seen Cheryl like this before. There’s an edge to her voice, and her eyes gleam with a ‘don’t test me’ recklessness.
“You left me no choice, Cheryl,” Naledi says, her eyes narrowing. “You don’t reply to messages. And on the rare occasion that you bother to meet with me, you’re always on that stupid phone.”
The phone in question begins ringing in Cheryl’s hand, momentarily startling her. She looks at the screen, her expression guarded.
“Go ahead, Cheryl. Answer it. Don’t keep your new man waiting.”
Cheryl glares at Naledi before storming off to answer her phone.
As I watch her leave, I can’t help feeling a little hurt. New man? Cheryl’s never said a word to me. And yet Naledi, of all people, knows?
“Cheryl is dating someone?” I ask Naledi.
“Oh, you didn’t know?” Naledi says with faux concern. “Looks like you two aren’t as close as you thought.”
Tell us: Do you think Naledi is telling the truth about Cheryl and a new man?