No one is in the lab for first period, so I take my time looking around. It's quiet and cool in here, a good place to breathe.

The windows offer a glimmer of reflection from the creek, but our bridge is tucked safely around the bend. On the only wall space not covered in cabinets, a poster for the Bloom Fest on Saturday promises it's going to be epic! The festival is when our oldest tribe will celebrate fifty winters amid live bands and storytelling. My promise was supposed to be sealed to Del by then. I had already imagined the talk surrounding us, the congratulations, and the worry lifted. The blaring sun off the water stings my eyes.

Cord's name is on one of the cabinets. His cubby contains just a composition notebook, a pen and periodic table magnet, but I'm not sure where to place the vials. I scan the black counter top below and see the stands. How will I know which rows to put these in or how to label them? Maybe I need to peek in that notebook for some pointers.

His handwriting is so awful I can barely read it. The notes seem urgent like he didn't have time to write them down legibly before they escaped his grasp. I can decipher enough words to gather that he's been collecting water all over town. There are dates and times and locations and a terribly drawn map that connects them all, and by my home at the mountain stream is a star. High mineral content, most healing―

"Excuse me. Shouldn't you be in class?" a stern voice demands. It's a teacher holding a hot beverage.

"Oh, I'm just here to deliver Cord's vials, of water."

"He finished that project, but under the circumstances he'll probably appreciate the follow up. I'll make sure he gets them." He puts down his drink to take the vials from me. I think he's going to place them in one of the stands on the counter but instead puts them in his shirt pocket. Now he has a pen and two vials bursting from his chest and looks like a humongous geek. "Second period's starting. You had better get to class, Ms. Brook."

I've never taken a class from him so I'm surprised he knows my name. I rush out as the bell rings.

The rest of the morning is entertaining. I must really smell amazing because anyone assigned to sit within a ten foot radius of me backs their desk up as far away as possible. I make sure Del gets a good whiff as we pass in the hall, but he conveniently calls to a buddy behind me as our airspace mingles. I'm about to get insecure when Lily slides into traffic beside me. "Honey you smell fine!"

"Just a little gift from Del. Wasn't that thoughtful?"

"Really? So he didn't have anything to do with the rumor?"

"Oh, I think he had everything to do with it. Why else would he be ignoring me?"

"So in that case, not a very choice or well-timed gift."

"Exactly, moving on..."

"What a douche. Want me to threaten him?" She has a look in her eye I've only seen once before that involved someone taking our sunspace during lunch. She sent them a map of the quad showing where the "assigned seats" are with an x for them in the shade. "I can deliver him an actual douche, wouldn't that be funny?"

"Not really. And what a stupid expression, naming a guy who's being an ass after a feminine hygiene product. Why don't we just call him a tampon?"

"Your gorilla upbringing is showing. Anyway Fuch, don't worry. I'll take care of it. I owe you one after yesterday." She floats off and I have a feeling it's gonna get ugly. I'm touched she cares so much, but fully aware that now the topic du jour has shifted to Cord's hideous loss, no one's paying much attention to yesterday's fail―me. Then again, that dorky science teacher did know my name.


A/N: Dedicated to: tamoja. A wonderfully supportive reader and fellow writer, she has some terrific stories on Wattpad. Check out The Voyeur, her hauntingly seductive tale!

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