The weekend and following Monday were rainy, dark, and cold and the forecast had predicted the rest of the week to be similar.

Susie walked into the hallway, carrying a soaking umbrella. Vivian came skipping up to her, looking happy and pink (and well-groomed) once again.

"Good morning, Susie!" Vivian chimed happily.

"Hi, Vivian," said Susie. "You seem pretty happy."

"Oh yeah, I was kind'a low last week," Vivian replied, "but I feel great now! Know where Christineeny-weeny is?"

"Uh, no," said Susie, surprised by Vivian's bizarre mood-swings, "I only just got here."

Christine came trudging in, once again in her black attire, but her facial expression was different. It wasn't the usual look of simple annoyed boredom, or her recent look of cloudy-eyed happiness, but instead just a blank, empty, sort of look. Her eyes were tired and had bags under them, and seemed fixed into a dead stare, interrupted only by instinctive blinking.

"Christineeny-weeny!" said Vivian, "You're not gonna let the rain get you down, are you?"

"The rain doesn't matter," Christine said, voice devoid of emotion.

"Christine," asked Susie, "is something wrong?"

"I don't want to talk about it," said Christine.

Then Gilbert came up.

"Viv?" he asked, "You're… not all… vicious—are you?"

"Of course not, Gilby!" Vivian said, "Why would I be vicious to you?"

"Kind'a because… never mind," he decided. "Hey, did you hear the news?"

"What news?" asked Susie.

"Marko Polo or whatever his name is quit," said Gilbert.

"What!?" Susie and Vivian exclaimed in unison.

"Why did Mr. Markopoulos quit?" asked Vivian.

"Nobody knows for sure," said Gilbert. "But apparently he found a better paying job in Mindemoya."

Then they heard a faint whimpering sound. They looked around and saw Christine leaning against a locker.

"What's wrong with her?" asked Gilbert.

"She was very attached to Mr. Markopoulos," said Vivian. "They were always talking, and he was always helping her and she gave him an apple."

"I think…" said Susie, "it may have just been a little more than that."

"Oh, you mean she had eyes for him?" asked Gilbert.

"Could you be a little more reverent?" scathed Susie.

"Uh, Gilby," said Vivian, "you think we have some private time with Christine, please?"

"Sure," said Gilbert calmly. "I gotta go make sure Rusty made it here alive, anyway." And he walked off.

"Christineeny-weeny?" asked Vivian, "is this about Mr. Markopoulos?"

"You can always talk to us," said Susie.

After a brief pause, Christine turned around, and hugged Vivian, saying nothing; just holding onto her best friend.

Vivian and Susie understood that Christine didn't want to—or simply couldn't—talk about it. So they stood there, rain pounding against the roof and the windows, Christine in Vivian's arms, silently crying into her shoulder, saying nothing. Sometimes the best or only comfort is simply presence.

The End