Inquest Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

Risk

Still feeling rather dazed from Mr. Walters’ class, I push through the doors to the parking lot with my eyes on the pavement. Pain behind my eyes is growing into a massive headache by the second. I never did get a chance to talk to Jen today. Telling myself that it’s just because we don’t have any classes together, and because I was here early this morning and I’m leaving ridiculously late, are the only reasons we didn’t find each other today, only does so much to cheer me up. It isn’t because she’s avoiding me.

Intent on convincing myself that Jen is still my friend, I don’t notice the door in front of me swinging open until it is inches away from my face. With no time to move out of the way I throw my hands up in an effort to protect myself and take the full force of the door on my palms. Pain radiates through my wrists and up my arms in a flash.

“Ow! Crap, that hurt.” Since I already dropped the books I was carrying, I’m free to shake my hands and try to get rid of the awful tingling sensation. The door swings back away from me to reveal the culprit.

“Did I hit you?” he asks, sounding only vaguely concerned. His dark grey eyes look over at me from under his raggedy hair.

I stare at him with a scowl. “Milo, right?”

He nods.

“Yeah, you did hit me. Thanks. Like my day hasn’t been crappy enough already.”

Shrugging nonchalantly, he says, “Sorry. I’m usually the only one still here this late.”

It is pretty late. “What are you doing here?” I ask.

“Detention.”

I have to suppress an elaborate eye roll. It isn’t easy. Of course he was in detention. He certainly wasn’t still here working on some extra credit or anything. “What for?”

“Didn’t turn in a homework assignment to Ms. Hernandez last week. She gets pretty pissed when that happens. But she gets pissed off by just about everything I do.” Milo looks very concerned about that fact. “She’ll get over it eventually.”

“How long did she give you?” Not that I particularly care for Milo’s sake—he obviously deserves it—but just so I know how peevish Ms. Hernandez is for future reference.

“This time?” Milo asks. “A week, or until I turn my homework in, whichever comes first.”

“Then why don’t you just turn your homework in?” I ask drily.

He looks at me like I am an idiot. “I’ve already spent three of my five days in detention. Turning my homework in now would be pointless. I would have wasted the last three days trying to make a point.”

“And what point is that? You’re lazy?” I ask.

Milo stoops down and scoops my forgotten books up off the floor and holds them out to me. “Not lazy, exactly, just incapable of turning in homework assignments.”

I reach out for my books and notice that the right cuff of his frayed sweatshirt has pulled up enough to bare his wrist. The sight of a tiny string of diktats isn’t all that remarkable given that we’re in a talent training class together, but they catch my eye anyway. There is something wrong with them. Before I can really get a good look at the diktats Milo notices my gaze and practically drops the books into my arms. I catch them purely on reflex and hug them against my chest.

“So, is there actually a difference between being lazy and incapable of doing your homework? ‘Cause I’d probably just lump them together,” I say, trying to alleviate the awkwardness.

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