SEVEN

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     Somewhat to my dismay, the day did not get any calmer after being called out by WFC. I hadn't expected things to mellow out, but at this point it had been one hit after another — first the pictures, now Vera's car — and I felt the need for some stabilization. Something normal.

     Rumors were swirling that Vera was going to push charges, both criminal and civil. She had the means and motivation for both, and I couldn't blame her. At least her car had returned shiny as ever today; the paint that had been used was washable and non-toxic, not even a streak left behind after cleaning.

     I entered the building and the first thing I saw were papers. It wasn't uncommon for flyers to be posted throughout hallways promoting school plays or group meetings. But this was different.

     Walking toward one, the bolded font stared back at me — The time for change is now. I couldn't confirm what it meant, but I had an idea as to who was most likely behind it.

     The first warning bell rang, reminding us all to start herding to class. But students were distracted. A number of them had ripped the 8.5x11 paper off the wall. It looked like something someone had just printed off of a home computer, but there was obvious weight behind the purpose. There was no question it was a spur-the-moment decision considering what had unfolded in only the last forty-eight hours. It was, however, made with careful calculation.

     It looked two could play the game.

     I texted a picture to the editor's group chat despite the guarantee most of them had already seen. I was mostly just curious what their responses to the situation were.

     When I spotted a familiar head of dark hair, I moved through the crowd with nearly impressive speed. Despite my appearance next to her, she didn't throw a glance in my direction.

     "Sloane," I said, the realization that I had spoken to her more in the last few days than I ever had previously sinking in.

     "Yes?" she asked, though it didn't seem like much of a question.

     "I can't help but think that maybe you, or someone you know, is behind these posters," I said. "Why did you do it?"

     To my surprise, she smiled a little, revealing white teeth underneath her usual dark purple lipstick. On closer look, it seemed like it might have been burgundy, but I had never been good with makeup colors.

     "What makes you say that?"

     "You just had a friend who was specifically targeted."

     "Lots of people have been specifically targeted as of late, if you really think about it."

     "Getting their cars graffitied?"

     "We're all being called sluts, anyway. What difference does it make when someone writes it on the hood of a car?"

     "It wasn't just the hood of the car," I said. It had been the windshield, the doors, the hood. She had to drive home with those words publicly visible. "And you can't deny it was meant to be a public and personal attack."

     "Something about using public and personal in that way seems almost contradictory," she said, still not looking at me. "Aren't you an editor? Shouldn't you understand the connotation of words?"

     "I do understand the connotations of words, which is why I'm taking this so seriously," I said. "Anyone can say anything. But writing it is different. It gives it power."

     "Straight from the mouth of someone who writes all the time."

     I tried to refrain some groaning. For someone who had always struck me as fairly outgoing, she wasn't nearly as open as I thought she would be. Why she was being so secretive about this was a mystery.

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