Chapter 7

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After school, I saw Mr. Dean having a conversation with Violet in the hallway as I collected my books. With Olivia gone and Candace in the hospital, I was reduced back down to my sophomore routine of walking home alone. Violet had a solemn look on her face, and was nodding slowly, listening to every word Mr. Dean told her. I couldn't help but wonder if he was talking to her about Student Government. In all of the chaos of the weekend, I hadn't bothered making my campaign posters or lugging them with me to school. The election had been postponed because of Olivia's unexpected death, but only by two weeks. Voting had been rescheduled for the following Monday and Tuesday, so I had little choice but to get my posters in order once I got home that afternoon.

The following morning, I walked to school early, hoping with every step of the two-mile walk that no one from school, particularly Trey (who I hadn't seen at all on Tuesday), would drive past and see me carrying my giant rolled poster boards. At school, I hung my posters with little loops of masking tape by myself, finding myself hanging my posters always a few inches from those belonging to Michael Walton, which I guessed was sort of a subconscious strategy. By the time I got back up to the hallway where my locker was located, kids were already starting to stream in through the hallways, and I noticed something incredible at the far end of the hall.

Violet was hanging up a poster above the drinking fountain, and Tracy Hartford seemed to be holding a few more pieces of poster board, assisting her.

Unable to control my curiosity, I walked toward them as if in a trance. Sure enough, the poster that Violet was hanging up announced that she was running for Class President. The poster featured a picture of her smiling face, with VIOLET SIMMONS FOR JUNIOR CLASS PRESIDENT neatly written in block letters drawn in red felt marker ink, colored in carefully. It was somehow far more stylish, even though simplistic, than my own posters, on which I had tried to obscure my lack of artistic inspiration with tons of glitter.

"Um, what's going on?" I asked as Violet smoothed the poster against the wall with her palm to flatten it there.

"Oh, hi, McKenna. Mr. Dean asked me yesterday if I would consider running for Class President since the election is so close at hand," Violet said innocently.

"She'd be a natural," Tracy said, smiling at Violet, as if anyone had asked her for her opinion.

"Really," I said, sure that I wasn't doing a good job of hiding the doubt in my voice.

"Well, I was Class Secretary at my old school," Violet said, tucking her hair back behind one ear. This was the first time I'd heard about Violet's involvement with Student Government at her old school in Illinois. "And I mean, if Tracy's a shoe-in for Class Secretary here, it would be dumb for me to run against her. So if she's Secretary and you're Treasurer, we could have so much fun if I win."

"Is anyone else running?" I asked her rather impolitely. I was just so surprised that Olivia hadn't even been dead a whole week, and already Violet was running for her office. It was a cold, cold move, but I could see that Violet was already trying to innocently spin her ruthless ambition into a charitable service for the rest of her classmates.

Violet and Tracy exchanged uncomfortable looks and Tracy rolled her eyes. "Well, of course Michael Walton wants to run for Class President, but he was nominated for Vice President, and it's too late to change the nomination."

I bit the inside of my cheek. Mr. Dean was the only teacher on staff who cared much about the Student Government, so he could have easily repealed any of the rules if it suited his fancy. "How did you convince him to let you run? You already missed the nomination period."

I'd had to collect five signatures to be allowed to run, which I'd collected from Candace, Isaac, Pete, Mischa, and Matt at lunch time on the Friday before the meeting. There had to be a reason why so many loopholes were being created for Violet.

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