Someone else was here. He pulled out his headphones and listened. Without the bombastic guitar, the school hallways only sounded with his footsteps. He stopped walking, the ear buds dangling from his fingers and listened. It was faint, but past his own breathing and the buzz of electric lights he could detect the whisper of shuffled paper.
It wasn’t so strange. The debate was over, the club was going to celebrate. Somewhere, someone could be doing work at the school. Still, he remained motionless and concentrated on the distant slithering sound of paper and motion.
Curiosity drove him, he had hours before he’d have to explain where he’d been. But alone in the hallways, his very presence seemed too loud. Every step a trespass that echoed between the lockers. He almost replaced his headphones, still muttering harsh notes into the open air, to drown out the silence.
It was the light, not the sound, that gave the invader away. Beneath the doorway of the administration office the furtive light of a cellphone screen darted in the dark. He watched the will-o’-the-wisp for a minute, debating the wisdom of interrupting whatever was making their way in the innards of his prep school. He pressed a single finger to the door handle and pushed.
The dull grey of the hallway lights flooded the interior, illuminating desk, computer, and file cabinet. A girl stared at him, caught with a cellphone in one hand and fingers hovering over a row of opened files.
More surprising than anything else, even her presence in the restricted offices, was the fact that he recognized her. There was something distinctive in the combative set of her narrow shoulders, even if the uniform she’d donned stood out jarringly discordant. The pleated skirt and navy cardigan would have fooled others, and they might have mistaken her for just another of the heiresses or diplomat daughters that attended Athen’s Hill Preparatory. He’d seen her too often in scuffed combat boots and threadbare sweatshirts for that.
The shadowed space stretched between them. Her eyes narrowed as another muffled song began vibrating through the wires and speakers in his fingers. Seconds passed, he sighed, she tensed.
“Try looking under ‘A’.” He said. Then he shut the door between them and pressed the rubber headphones deep into his ears. Half-screamed lyrics and melodic guitar filled his ears, drowning out the sounds of his quick footsteps as they echoed in the school hallways.
Because she can’t escape my emo-pop obsession forever, I challenged Raw Rambles to write with Fall Out Boy’s (Coffee’s for Closers) in mind, read it here. I gleefully did the same.