Chapter Twenty-Two, Evacuation

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Bennie heard no word from Perce, and Sean had little to report, even as a full week passed by. She walked the school hallways in silence, marveling at how much had changed since her first day here last year.

Last year I didn't know Perce, she thought. I wasn't waiting on him. I could focus on normal stuff, like finishing the endless stream of worksheets my teachers love to hand out.

But now Bennie could hardly think straight. She was tired whether she slept or not. She kept forgetting her homework assignments, repeatedly turning them in for late grades. Her mom never said anything if she knew about Bennie's problems; she said nothing at all, not even to ground Bennie. The silence was torture.

If she'd just talk to me! She doesn't even ask me where I'm going when I go see my friends in the afternoon.

Bennie buried her face in her hands and slumped forward on her desk. The geometry lesson was only compounding her headache.

Maybe she doesn't care anymore. Maybe she hopes I'll just go away...

Bennie was startled by her teacher's voice.

"Miss James?" Mr. Franks said formally, "That was the bell."

"Oh? I didn't hear it, thanks."

Bennie started shoving her stuff into her bag when she noticed Mr. Franks was still looking at her.

"You don't look like you're feeling well," was all he said. But like some teachers, there was a deeper perception layered under the words.

But Bennie didn't want to talk.

"I'm fine, just tired," She said, "Not used to getting up early again yet."

"I see." But his blue eyes never blinked as she hurried out of the room to lunch.

Later on Bennie pondered over the geometry assignment she had copied off the board before zoning out. Having no luck, she stopped by Sean's house for a little tutoring, and to see if Perce had contacted him at all.

"I've not heard anything from Perce since Friday," Sean said. "He gave up on our training schedule because Gem has too much going on, and he's dealing with whatever is going on with you, so he's having me work with his friend Marek on my flying skills. No shape shifting work for the moment, just aerial maneuvers."

Sean fought with some random creature on his computer game. Peter's voice came over the online speaker, making fun of him for losing the fight and becoming a small, glowing soul, searching for his body.

"Gem is keeping busy, you know what with?" Bennie said, sighing as she finally completed her homework assignment. "Thanks for the old geometry notes, by the way."

"Figured they'd come in handy for something, although keeping notebooks from every year of high school tends to build up. I'll probably toss them when I officially move out for my junior year of college," he remarked, looking into his war zone of a closet. He planned to finish his first two years at UTSA, then go to UT in Austin, if he could pull it off along with the Guardian business.

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