On with the show! Without further ado, here’s the third installment of The Path of Moonlight.
======== The Path of Moonlight ========
The next day held a welcome surprise though I didn’t welcome it at the time – the school counselor called me to her office. Panic seeped into my system – attention for me was a bad thing. My guardians didn’t want people noticing me in any way out of the ordinary. The notion often arose in me that they sent me to high school instead of continuing my home-schooling as a new form of torture. I knew I would be punished at home if I drew undue attention to myself at school so every day held a note of fear even if it only simmered unnoticed under my calm.
As I waited the nervous tension built up in me till I thought I would throw up. My breathing exercises did little to control this new perceived threat to my safety. There was no way my mother would be satisfied with locking me in a closet or the crawl space this time. Or perhaps she would but leave me there overnight. I would have to use the bathroom at some point. I cringed at the thought of lying huddled in my own filth, but I wasn’t sure what was worse – reeking of pee alone in the dark (and my clothes showing it) or reeking of pee in front of my guardians. The imagined humiliation brought a cry to my lips but I bit it back before anyone could hear it. The growing tears were harder to conquer but I was dry-eyed when the counselor ushered me into her office.
“Charlotte, I’m worried about you,” Ms. Grot said after she had folded her hands on top of her desk.
The recently banished tears sprang to new life. I didn’t trust myself to speak so I cocked my head to the side to try to show my interest. Either it worked or she saw the tears gleaming in my eyes because she continued.
“You’re a good student, Charlotte,” she said. “You have solid A’s in your classes with a couple high B’s, you’re never late, and you never cause trouble.”
I frowned, the lump in my throat lessening with my confusion at this good account of me. “Then what’s the problem?”
Ms. Grot pursed her lips. “I have reports from your teachers that you’re not social enough. I understand that you were home-schooled before you came here and I’m worried that you’re not adjusting to the social environment here. It’s been almost three years and you still don’t talk to people unless you have to.”
“But I always do my part in group work and I always participate in PE when we’re doing team sports,” I said. There were too many tears in my eyes and they had nowhere to go so I let them fall and didn’t bother hiding them. Perhaps Ms. Grot would see the emotional distress she was causing and drop the subject. It was a misguided hope – a school counselor had experience with tears. She handed me a tissue and moved the box closer to me for future use.
“That’s true,” she said. “You don’t shirk your responsibilities and you always participate but only when you have to. According to these reports from your teachers, you don’t talk to other students nor do you do things with them unless it’s required group work. You do your part but keep yourself separate. It’s not healthy, Charlotte. You’re seventeen. You’re supposed to have friends. You’re supposed to hang out with them and talk and laugh. What do you use your free period for every week?”
“I study and do my homework,” I said.
“What do the other students do?” she asked.
“They walk the halls, talk to each other, ask teachers questions….”
“They do stuff,” Ms. Grot said.
Defensiveness reared up in me and my tears evaporated along with the lump in my throat. “I do stuff. Isn’t my studying a good thing? I’m a good student and I never get in trouble.”
“Of course it’s good,” she said. “I love it that you’re such a good student and that no one has to worry about you getting into fights or failing your classes or anything. Grades are important but so are social activities. You need to exert yourself more with that. It wouldn’t take much effort – joining a club would be enough. According to one report and your grades, you have an aptitude for science. You may consider joining the science club. They’re always happy to have new members.”
“But I can’t stay after school,” I said. “My parents want me at home studying.”
My fear of the encounter with the counselor was gone but it had been replaced with annoyance. I wasn’t in trouble but I was now expected to make my life more difficult by annoying my guardians. If they had wanted me to join a club before, I was sure they would have picked one out for me. I was positive I’d be going to the crawl space that night after I told them the good news.
======== End of Third Installment ========
I hope everyone is enjoying PM. I know nothing has really happened yet so there’s not much to pique your interest but every story needs a beginning and not every beginning can be heart-stopping. By now I hope you’re wondering who Charlotte is and what will happen to her. Look for the 4th installment sometime next week!