“Good morning, Rozena!” said Melinda Gosling. She and the other Rising Star people were standing outside Mr Peterson’s office, waiting to go in.
It was the day of the hearing, when Mr Peterson and the people from the Rising Star competition would decide whether or not Rozena should be suspended from school, and disqualified from the competition.
“Will your mother be joining us today?” asked Melinda.
Rozena shook her head. “She has to work this morning.” She was finding it hard to concentrate on what Melinda was saying. Every moment she expected one of the SCRAM Kids to appear, but so far, none had.
She’d been so nervous that morning that she’d not been able to eat any breakfast, and she still felt sick to her stomach.
“Come inside,” said Mr Peterson, holding the door to his office open. As she walked inside, Rozena couldn’t help glancing at Mr Peterson’s computer, remembering the late-night visit they’d made to his office.
Soon all the adults had taken a seat, with Mr Peterson at his desk, and Rozena in a chair nearby. After some polite remarks to welcome everyone, Mr Peterson opened a folder, took out some papers, and cleared his throat.
“So, we are here this morning to decide what we should do about Miss Claasens and the events of the other day. As you all know, the issue in question is that a small amount of a contraband substance, a drug, was found in Miss Claasens’ possession, on the school grounds–”
At this, Melinda Gosling put out her hand. “Are we sure that it was drugs?” she asked. “It wasn’t just – I don’t know – powdered chalk, or something?”
“Thank you for asking,” said Mr Peterson. “We got the results back from the lab today. Yes, the substance is, in fact, an illegal drug. Cocaine. This means that we have to take this incident very seriously.”
He closed the folder and turned to Rozena.
“So, Miss Claasens. This is your chance to state your version of events. What have you got to say for yourself?”
Rozena stared at him, and then looked around the room, her heart beating so hard the blood roared in her ears. The moment had come, and she didn’t have anything to show her innocence. Everyone looked at her sternly. She was sure they already believed she was guilty. She swallowed, and took a shaky breath. But just as she opened her mouth to speak, there was a knock at the door, and Mr Peterson’s personal assistant put her head inside.
“So sorry to interrupt, but this young man says he has something important to say.”
Devon came inside, staring at the floor. “Uh,” he mumbled, glancing at Rozena, then at Mr Peterson. “I … uh. I just wanted to say that it was me.” He licked his lips, and glanced at Rozena again. “It was me. I put that baggie in Rozena’s case. She doesn’t know anything about it.”
For a moment, there was silence in the room. Then everyone was talking at once.
Before she knew what was going on, Rozena was sent out of the office to wait outside. She sat on the hard bench, eyes closed, feeling her heart pounding in her chest, hardly daring to hope.
At last, the door to Mr Peterson’s office opened and Melinda Gosling emerged. She came and bent down towards Rozena, taking both her hands.
“They’re still going to be a long time in there,” she said, nodding towards the office door. “But I knew you’d be worried, waiting out here. I just wanted to let you know that it’s clear from what that young man said, that you are innocent. Rising Star will be proud to have you join us in Johannesburg, in the final round of the competition. May the best student win!”
Later that afternoon, as Rozena was leaving school, she saw Colin, Zazi, and Trevor waiting for her, all with huge smiles.
“It worked!” said Zazi when she went to join them. “It actually worked!”
“That app of yours did the trick,” said Colin. “Devon must have done something pretty dodgy yesterday. Love to know what it was.”
“So …” Rozena still found it hard to believe. “We don’t know what he did yesterday?”
Zazi shook her head. “But we do know that whatever it was, your app recorded it and the SCRAM bosses were in contact with him last night. Whatever he’d done, it was bad enough that he preferred admitting to planting the drugs on you, rather than be exposed. And now you’re going to Joburg for the rest of the competition! So awesome.”
“Did he say why he did it?” said Trevor.
Rozena shook her head. “He says he made a mistake. Thought he was putting it in his own bag. It’s true, you know. My bag does look a lot like his does.”
Zazi snorted. “I don’t believe it. Rich kid like that, he just got bored and wanted to stir things up a bit. Get you into trouble.”
“I don’t know,” said Rozena. “I didn’t get that feeling from him, when I saw him in Mr Peterson’s office. He just seemed a bit …” She shrugged. “He just seemed confused.”
They all started walking together.
“You know,” said Rozena. “I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for him.”
“For who?” said Colin. “For Devon?”
“Yes,” said Rozena. “He looked so scared when he came into Mr Peterson’s office this morning.”
“Don’t waste your sympathy on that idiot,” said Zazi. “What you should be thinking of, is how you’re going to win the final round of the Rising Star competition! And also, of all the fabulous places we can go to, up there in Joburg.”
“We?” Rozena looked at her companions. “Are you guys going too?”
“Of course we are!” said Zazi. “We couldn’t let you go to Johannesburg all by yourself, could we?”
Rozena laughed in relief, her heart lifting. “No!” she said. “Of course not.”
She linked arms with her new friends as they walked down the street together.
Tell us what you think: Is Devon a bored, spoiled, rich kid who would plant drugs just to stir things up, or was it a genuine mistake?
Find out more about Devon in the next exciting SCRAM Kids story, coming soon.