Braden and I made plans to make our call the next afternoon, after school but before supper. Then, teachers would all be working or off campus, and loud students would be everywhere, so nobody would be looking for us and it would be easy to sneak off somewhere. Until then, he was in charge of finding a good, inconspicuous, yet private location, and I was in charge of watching and listening to people.
By that time rumors were really starting to take off. People had stopped just repeating the same pieces of information to each other and had begun to tell their own takes on who the alleged “defiants” (the word for people who are a part of the Defiance).
Braden and I figured that at some point the Defiants had to do something if they were real (and if nothing ever happened, they obviously weren’t real). Until then, we decided we may as well figure out what people said they were going to do, just in case any of them did happen, we could identify who knew. It was going to be an interesting day. I began my day in the showers, which were empty. In order to avoid the rush that was six to seven in the morning, I showered at five. Then, armed with my research notebook and smooth black pen, I began my day in the common room, pretending that the notebook was last minute homework as I doodled little dinosaurs.
The first conversation I heard was between two rather unremarkable girls passing through the room. They both wore limited makeup and natural hair in natural colors. They were the sort of people that you wouldn’t even realize you forgot.
“Yeah I heard that some upperclassmen started it and they’ve been planning it for years,” one girl (I think her name was Emily. She looked like an Emily.) said. I wrote this down, along with “Emily” and a brief description of her, in case I was wrong about the name.
“Maybe,” the other girl, who had missed some of her hair while straightening it, said, “Did you hear that they’re gonna blow up the gym and murder all the gym teachers?”
“No but I’ll take it as an excuse to skip. Gym sucks,” “Emily” stated as they left the room.
Between then and breakfast, I heard that they’re going to murder the Dean and had a list of kids rumored to be Defiants, very few of which I actually believed might be involved in any way.
After I got my spongy square of dense egg, limp bacon, sticky blueberry muffin, and carton of orange juice, I sat down at my usual table by a window. The kitchen and dining hall were in their own building. It had high, echoey ceilings, large windows, and was made with the same old, weathered stone, and castle-y architecture as the rest of campus.
From the table behind me, I heard a perky, female voice, “Eww, I hope the Defiants get rid of this nasty food.” Her disgust was not hard to miss.
“I hope they get rid of Mrs. Leyds,” another, almost identical voice answered, “those cardigans are like, a crime.” I rolled my eyes and dutifully wrote these down, along with names I figured out by identifying the girls with a swift glance over my shoulder when there was a clang in the kitchen.
“Hey, how’s it coming?” A familiar voice said from behind me as my heart sped up.
“Depends,” I say, smiling. “Do you think that it’s likely a group of rebels will bomb the gym and slaughter the coaches?”
“I guess if they really hate sit-up,” he says, sliding into the empty chair on my right. The sleeve of his blazer brushes against the skin right below the end of my polo’s short sleeve, and I shiver involuntarily.
I make a “yeah, right” sort of sound and he snickered as he read my straight, neat handwriting.
“What about you, any luck?” I asked. He looked up and met my eyes briefly before pulling an ordinary, yellow sticky note folded into fourths out of his pocket.
“Yeah,” he said, holding it out to me in the palm of his hand. “meet me here at four.” I nodded and took the warm paper from his warm hand. Then I unfolded it, read it, and stuck it in my empty orange juice carton when I was done.
“Destroying evidence?” He looked amused.
“Hey, don’t want anyone following us.”
“Alright,” he said with a laugh. “Hey, I gotta go, see you in Spanish?”
I looked to where gestured with those complex hazel eyes of his to see a beckoning group of boys. “Yeah, see you.” I said, picking up my pen and returning to my listening.
He brushed my arm again as he left.