Thank you to: drurylane, KryssiHollie.
Yellow caution tape wrapped around the chipping walls of the swimming pool, and more police cars roamed across the blacktop to the death scene at seven-thirty in the morning.
It had been three days since Mandy died, and the efforts of the police investigating her death, along with the gossips of her fellow students have not died down.
Police inspected the swimming pool area hither and thither. The storage room, diving board, pool ladders, every square foot was examined to look for evidence to support their theory that Mandy's death was an accident.
Passing students eyeballed the crime scene as they walked to class. A couple of students murmured to each other.
"How do you think she died?"
"Her friends probably did a dare or something like that."
"What friends? She is kind of weird."
"Was kind of weird and I agree. She never got mad or anything, made her look like she wasn't even human."
"Hmm, maybe it was an accident."
"Whatever it is, it sure is tragic."
Second period begun with an eerie silence instead of the daily mild chatter amongst the students that were the first to come to class; others piled in later but the aura of the acoustic room was still the same. Last, but certainly not the least came in Mr. Hanley with fast-pace walking and a cup of coffee in his hand.
The daily announcements started up on the white box on top of the whiteboard. Static and scattered paper shuffling sounded and a long silence played before any words have been spoken.
"Today…" More paper shuffled around. "I speak on behalf of one of your fellow classmates who tragically lost her life not too long ago…Mandy Wang was a beloved student and academically great. It is a shame to lose a person like her from all our lives. Let us now take a moment of silence honoring her."
Everyone was quiet as requested. Some stayed silent for respect. Others were silent because they were actually heartbroken. Mr. Hanley kept his eyes on his computer and typed.
Natalia glanced at Daniel, and on his face was a blank look.
But anyone can detect his true emotions even without him exhibiting any actions. Sometimes a person's misery is so miserable that no action can show just how much that person is hurt. And so a blank face is all one can show.
Natalia bit her bottom lip.
"Thank you for your time. Have a great day," the principal quickly muttered and a thud ceased the announcement.
After class, everyone followed their daily ritual of packing up and bursting out the door. Before Daniel got to leave, Natalia grasped a hold of his bicep involuntarily.
"Did you need something?"
Natalia scrambled for a statement. She didn't think of anything to say before she got his attention.
"Uhh…I just wanted to talk to you."
Natalia subtly kicked her flats on the ground as the wheels turned in her head.
"I just—I wanted you to know that I'm very, very sorry about your loss. I mean, I know she was close to you. It must be hard right now for you."
Daniel's muscles relaxed. "Thanks, that's sweet coming from someone I barely know."
Natalia smiled for a nanosecond and let out two huffs of breath meant to be laughter.
"Well, uh, why didn't you go to her funeral?"
He sighed. "No, her parents are having her burial in Taiwan with all her other deceased relatives. I can't legally take time off school for a funeral for someone not related to me."
Natalia nodded her head in comprehension. "Well, you can talk to me whenever you're feeling sad."
"I'll think about it." Daniel slung his messenger bag on his shoulder and left.
Charlotte waited for Natalia in the locker room as she packed up her stuff and together they walked in silence.
While they strolled past the swimming pool, Natalia cleared her throat.
"So I was talking to Daniel toda—"
The anger in Charlotte forced her to turn abruptly and grab Natalia by the shoulders.
"You still have the heart to talk to him? Even after what you did to—!"
"Shh. Not in public."
Charlotte shook her head disapprovingly. "I don't know how much longer you want to keep this hidden. Don't you feel guilty at all?"
"Of course I feel guilty!" Natalia presented the most honest look she could make. "But I still didn't forget what I wanted in the first place—Daniel."
Natalia walked a few steps ahead as Charlotte stood there. She turned her head back slightly, enough to look at Charlotte from the edge of her hazel eye.
"Don't get me wrong—I would like it much more if things could have played out differently than this…but since Daniel's out in the open, who wouldn't go for him?"
Mr. Hanley opened the door to his home and hooked his maroon jacket onto the nearest coat hanger. Pacing hurriedly across the plain living room and turning a corner, he almost accidentally bumped into his wife, causing him to stumble back a few steps.
"…You're home early."
Rebecca's lips curved as she leaned forward to peck her husband on the cheek. "It was our boss' birthday today, and to celebrate he treated us out to lunch and let us leave early." Wrapping her arms around him, she said, "I didn't feel like cooking today, and it's been a long time since we've eaten anything fancy; would you like to go out to dinner?"
Mr. Hanley struggled out of his wife's embrace. "With who? YOU?"
Rebecca's mouth gaped open.
"I'm just kidding."
A homeless dog with mangled hair wandered near a cliff in the search for a place to sleep. At the same time, a group of teenagers fresh out of a bonfire with food decided to hike up the cliff, also.
"I'm so bored here! Zack, you said this place would be fun! All we did was have a little barbecue, and the food wasn't even good."
Zack crunched a beer can and threw it on the ground. "Jesus, woman, would you just shut up for once?"
Everyone clamored about how much "the party sucks," or about "going somewhere else." Some even started leaving.
"Hey," Alex exclaimed. "There's some kind of animal over there. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty. Come over here," he singsonged.
"That's a dog, you dumbass," said Raven, putting out her cigarette.
"Shut up… I just had too much to drink, is all." He reached into a bag and pulled out a leftover hotdog, dangling it in front of the mutt. "Do you want this?" The ribcage showing through the dog's stomach and the licking of his lips said yes.
"Ew, what are you doing? I hate dogs! Don't tell it to come over here!" said Gwen, slowly backing away.
"Ugh, fine then." Alex positioned himself. "Go over there," he then chucked the hotdog far away from them, sending the dog sprinting away to that direction.
The dog sniffed the air, following the path of where food was. The dark lighting and tall grasses near the edge of the cliff became obstacles for the dog. As the dog found the hotdog, he moved along the edge of the cliff and took a wrong step that sent him falling down, hitting jagged surfaces and breaking its bones.
That night, sleep was necessary but not achievable for Mr. Hanley. Rolling around in various positions was frustrating and the sleeping pills that were to work hours ago didn't kick in. Finally giving up, he decided to get up.
Opening his front door, Rebecca woke up and yanked the lamp on her nightstand. "Where are you going?"
"To kill someone." The door slammed shut and a pair of jade green eyes roll.
Driving aimlessly on the completely empty trail, Mr. Hanley suddenly pulled over to a nonexistent curb and began walking in a quick speed. The fog increased the farther he walked and the temperature dropped sharply. Nonetheless that didn't stop him.
He stared at the ground while pacing as the fog thickened. A white contrasting falcon feather on the newly dried asphalt caught his attention. The soft wind dragged it across the street slowly, and Mr. Hanley was lured into following it. Suddenly, it halted to a stop. Ahead of the feather he saw a dark red puddle through the misty air. He knelt down to the dying dog, not knowing what to say or do.
"Come on! What are you doing? Let's go save that dog!"
Mr. Hanley looked up in front of him, and saw a figure blurred out by the fog.
"Who are you?"
The person ignored him. "Let's go! There's no time to waste! It's going to die soon if you don't take it to the animal hospital soon!"
Agreeing, Mr. Hanley gently lifted the Norwich terrier off the ground and returned to his car. He sped off to the nearest animal hospital. Mandy smiled.
A/N: I don't know if I butchered all of the characters, but I typed this chapter with effort (instead of the usual half-assed crap I submit—kidding.) I hope you enjoyed it, reviews are appreciated and criticism is accepted.