Part 1 - Chapter 12 - Mysterious Strangers

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The next day, I moved into my new apartment, one of eight units. My mind was numb over how quickly my life had changed, and I grieved for Mama. She deserved so much better out of this life, and I hoped that she was at peace wherever she was now.

When the school day ended, I strolled across the academy's back lawn, perspiring in the scorching, Las Vegas heat, entered my unit, and turned the air conditioner all the way down to 65. I didn't have to pay the electric bill, so why not?

My thoughts turned to Jacko. My brother was normally a happy kid, maybe too trusting of his friends who took advantage of him. Since Mama died, he barely uttered a word and acted disinterested in everything. He didn't even cry over Mama. Something was terribly wrong. I didn't know how to fix him and hoped being at a new school would snap him out of it.

I rode along with Director Boone and Judge Severn when they had delivered him to the Red Rock Academy. Nice place. We weren't able to get Jacko excited about it. When I said goodbye, he didn't even watch us go, just shuffled away wherever the staff led him, like a dead man walking.

Turns out Judge Severn was Trent's grandmother, the lady who dropped him off at school every day. Of course, I had never seen her face, so how could I know that? Still, I was satisfied that she was keeping her promise to me and Jacko. I couldn't help wondering though why she was going through all of this trouble just because I had made friends with Trent.

So many unanswered questions plagued me.

There had to be another reason for Boone and Judge Severn to treat me this way. Why was I the only active student granted the privilege of having an apartment? Who were these older graduates living here? Where were they? I hadn't seen another soul enter or leave the other apartments. In fact, I felt all alone. In the rooms at the academy, at least I had other students to talk to and associate with. This was a curse and a blessing. Being alone allowed me to cry over my mama without appearing weak in front of the other kids.

Were Boone and Severn trying to isolate me? If so, why?

During the rest of the week, I stuck to a routine, attending classes, returning to my apartment, and calling Jacko every night. He would talk to me, but continued to be listless, only answering my questions, never initiating anything on his own. I intended to bring this up with Director Boone, see if he could find out from the staff at that other school how my brother was progressing.

By the end of the week I needed some company. I asked Trent if he wanted to sleepover. He told me that he would have to ask his grandmother.

Friday night came and I had no place to go, nobody to see, and nothing to do. This was bad for me, because it got me dwelling on Mama and Jacko which made me depressed. I wished I had someone to talk to.

My wish came true on Saturday evening when I heard a knock at my door.

I glanced through the peep. An older girl stood there, pretty face except it was distorted by the peephole. A girl? Hell yes, I opened the door.

 A girl? Hell yes, I opened the door

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