Chapter 20: I Can't Let You Go
Ms. Bellmen swats Nancy on the back of her calf with the staff in her hand. Nancy grimaces and focuses on doing the sets Kelly told her to do. "Straighten your back more," Kelly, tells her. This went on for another twenty minutes. Nancy hitting an imaginary person with four specific attacks, and Kelly circling her, telling her to fix her posture, shift her feet, keep her elbows tight. Sweat dampened the back of her tee shirt, her underarms, and neck of her collar. The make-up on her neck had started to melt away and rub off on her brown shirt, blending in with the fabric. When Kelly notices the scar, she stepped closer, forcing Nancy to put her staff down at her side.
"This scar, it was the demon attack right?"
Nancy cleared her throat before saying, "Yes."
"How were you able to survive? The ambulance would have to be there within five minutes to save you—highly unlikely," Kelly explained.
"Another demon hunter was there to save me, it's in the report the headmistress has."
Kelly only looked up at Nancy's eyes in response and then went to pick up the second staff she brought with her. She signals for Nancy to bring her staff up in sparing position and then she goes in to attack Nancy. She first aims straight for Nancy's head, but Nancy blocks it. Kelly backs away with a grin on her face.
"Good, but let's see if you can continue doing that," Kelly says. Ms. Bellmen aims her staff at Nancy's stomach, causing Nancy to parry it and aim at Ms. Bellmen's head. However, Kelly swats it aside and lands a blow on Nancy's shoulder. Nancy shouts out in pain briefly before picking up her own staff and attempting to hit Kelly's legs. Kelly jumps back and lands another blow on Nancy's opposite shoulder. Nancy practically growls at the pain, and then spins away from Kelly. Just after she spins away, Nancy swings her staff hard and hits Kelly right on top of the head with the staff. Nancy's eyes open wide and she lets the staff go, backing away in shock. The wooden staff rolls off the mat as Kelly holds onto her staff, knuckles going white.
"I'm so sorry!" Nancy shouts. Kelly only rubs her head with her eyes closed holding up her opposite hand.
"It's OK. I'll be fine," Kelly opens her eyes and looks at Nancy with a small smile. "Looks like you won't be a complete waste of time after all." They spared for another ten minutes, Nancy was unable to make another hit before Kelly called it quits. "That's it for tonight. I'll see you tomorrow night at the same time," Kelly says before putting her jacket on and untying her hair from the bun it was in previously. Nancy went to clean up the space before leaving. When she stepped outside, she looked up at the night sky, inhaling the fresh clean air. It was crisp and cold, much different from the southern California air back home.
Nancy wiped her face with the towel that hung around her neck. She zipped her jacket up before walking to the cafeteria. She walked inside and headed over to the closet where Mr. Johnson left the cart she had to use to clean the cafeteria hall with. It was composed of a trashcan, trash bags, and mop, cleaning supplies, bucket and towels. Nancy rolled the cart out and then took her jacket off along with the towel, placing it on one of the seats. Putting on some gloves, Nancy then began to wet a towel with water and soap and went to wiping down the tables. Twenty minutes later Nancy was halfway done mopping the floor when she looked up at someone entering the cafe. It was Arnold, the same person that gave her the referral for breaking curfew. He walked over to the vending machines area and Nancy went back to moping the floor. As she was working, Arnold walks over towards her and the cart. Nancy looks up at Arnold and watches as he lifts one foot and kicks the bucket off the cart and onto its side, sending hot and dirty water cascading across the floor Nancy just mopped.
"Are you serious right now?" Nancy questions Arnold. "Are you that much of a child?"
"I'm no child," Arnold says as he opens his can of soda.
"Four-year-olds clean up after they mess up," Nancy says to Arnold. "Clean it up," Nancy, challenges. She was done with these petty acts of bullying. Sure, they were kids who wanted to alienate her. Too many straws were thrown at Nancy and this was the last one.
"Or what? Really? You sound like a three-year-old now. How about this, I walk out of here and go tattle on you since we are stooping to the level of children who are two, Arnold. I'm not your mommy. Clean up your mess," Nancy declared, walking over to the bucket to place the mop on the ground next to it. Feeling bold, Nancy went over to her bag and jacket, grabbed them, and started to walk to the exit. Arnold stayed behind and didn't follow her.
"Stop." Nancy turned around to look at Arnold who now had the mop in his hand. "I'll clean it up, but you still need to mop the rest of the cafeteria," Arnold says. Nancy rolled her eyes and then walked back over to one of the tables to put her stuff down. She then sat down and waited for Arnold to clean up the mess he created. Ten minutes later, he was done and passed the mop to Nancy and as he did so, he glanced at her neck and then back at Nancy's eyes.
"How'd you get the demon scar?" Arnold asked her.
"Demon attacked me in an alley and bit my neck. I was not prepared, knew nothing about demons. I was saved by another demon hunter," Nancy says truthfully, a weight lifting off her shoulders. Laughing slightly, now that she felt better after admitting to someone who probably hated her-Arnold looked at her with his brows knitted close together.
"Are you crazy or something? People usually don't laugh about nearly dying after a demon attack," Arnold acknowledged.
Nancy shrugged her shoulders and put the mop into the bucket before saying, "I'm not laughing at the fact that I was attacked and almost died. I was just surprised how I was able to talk about it. I'm standing here alive and well when so many others have died—my father being one."
Arnold nods his head in agreement. "That's true. I lost my cousin Victor to a demon attack last year. He was a level 3 demon hunter."
Nancy looked into Arnold's eyes and gave her condolences but Arnold waived them off.
"Finish with you work," Arnold said before walking to the exit and leaving Nancy behind to finish her chore.