Monday, July 26, 2010

School Days: Junior Year

Chapter 5: Tragedy and Triumph

Timothy walked awkwardly toward the room in which his mother slept. She was hooked up to a half dozen machines that I could see and was pale as a sheet. Her chest was rising and falling in the steady rhythm supplied by one of the machines. I choked back my own tears as I watch Timothy slowly open the door and walk in the room.

I blinked away tears as Timothy reached out his hand to touch her. Looking around the hospital to distract myself, I spotted Mr. Kline slumped against the admissions desk. I remembered many summer days spent at the Kline's. Todd, Veronica, Timothy and I would spend the morning swimming in their pool and Mrs. Kline would have lemonade and cookies waiting for us. As soon as we were done; we were off again. When Mr. Kline came home from work - he would play games with us and read to us and finally take us all home so we could do it all again the next day.

I took another look at Timothy and then walked over to Mr. Kline. I didn't have the words so I place my hand on his and simply stood beside him. "Oh little Ginny, you have grown up haven't you?" he said with a weak smile. "All you kids have." He put his arm around my shoulder and we hugged. I'd always imagined the Klines as an extra set of grandparents.

I waited for Timothy to come out of the room; even though Mr. Kline assured me I could go home. I left while Timothy and his father were comforting each other. When I got home, my dad was waiting with a cup of hot chocolate and open arms. Somehow he always knew when I would need comforting most. Must be a dad thing. "I don't know what to say to him - you'd think I would..." I said.

My dad had his arms around me and held me close. "You don't necessarily have to say anything Ginny, just be there for him." I cried myself to sleep that night as Mrs. Kline's face and my mom's face swam in my mind.

The next morning, I stopped by the hospital on the way to school to check on Timothy. I noticed he had on fresh clothes but the bags under his eyes betrayed him. "Have you slept?"

Timothy looked up at me, startled by my presence. "No."

I sat down next to him and put my hand on his. "How is she?"

"Dying." Timothy said simply. "I never knew my real parents; it never really occurred to me to look for them. I've only ever known these people as my family and now..." he trailed off and tears sparkled in his eyes.

"I'm so sorry Tim." I said putting my arm around him.


The morning of the funeral, Timothy had come to school for first period - no one said he had to but school work gave him focus he said. I'd arranged with Mr. Kline to get Tim from school to the cemetery along with Todd and Meghan. I couldn't help but feel Veronica's absence as we walked out of the school together; in elementary school it had always been the four of us and even if she no longer liked the rest of us - Mrs. Kline has been a grandmother to her as well.

"Wait! Timothy!" Veronica voice rang out and I heard her rapid footsteps before any of us turned. Todd and I moved aside since she seemed to want to talk to Timothy.

"I wanted to say how sorry I am." Veronica said softly.

"I swear, if she does something to upset him, I'm gonna finish what I started" I whispered to Todd.

Todd raised an eyebrow, "I don't think even V would cross that line - not today anyway." he replied although he didn't sound certain.

"What's going on? I've been waiting by the car?" Meghan asked from behind us. Her eyes followed our gaze. "Oh..."

When they were done, Veronica turned back toward the school. "You could come with us." I called toward Veronica. "To the funeral...."

Veronica turned back toward me and we locked gazes for several moments. I saw the conflict pass over her face. Part of her wanted to be there; for Timothy, for us, for the Klines.

"No." she said mostly to herself. She was sad as she turned from us again and walked into the school.

Erik and Nai'a met us at the cemetery. Neither had really known Mrs. Kline but had come to support Timothy mostly. There was a crowd of people, many of them parents of my fellow students, even a couple of the teachers.

At Timothy's request, I sat next to him during the service. He reached for my hand several times as if to assure himself that I was still there. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the area of the cemetery where my own mother was buried.

The rest of us returned to school just before lunch. Timothy had said he would be back for the rest of the day but we all suggested he just take the day off.

"Think he'll be back today?" Todd ventured at lunch.

"He said something about the science test." I said quietly.

"Coach Johnson would let him do a makeup." Todd argued.

"Yeah but it's Tim." I said with a weak smile. "Tim doesn't miss tests...."

The others chuckled - it was true; Timothy was all about school and had come to school once with a raging fever because of a math test. He'd gone home as soon as it was over.

None of us were surprised to see Timothy walk into our fourth period science class following lunch. His eyes were red and a bit puffy but he was there. Nai'a put a comforting arm around him as he sat at their table. Coach Johnson walked through the tables as we worked and while passing Tim's chair, he put a comforting hand on his shoulder before walking on.

Most everyone finished the test with a few minutes to spare and the din of noise was rising in the classroom. Coach didn't try to silence us since all the tests had been handed in.

Just before the bell was supposed to ring, Principal Watts voice came over the loud speaker. "We'd like to take a moment to announce the results of our Student Council elections..." the noise in the room came to an immediate stop and just about everyone turned to look at Tim for a moment before turning back to the speaker.

The Freshman and Sophomore class results were announced first. "...Veronica Meyers withdrew from the Junior Class Vice President election this morning so your junior class vice president will be Timothy Kline..." The classroom erupted in a loud cheer which drowned out the rest of the announcement. Most of the class converged on Timothy to congratulate him.

Over their heads I could see the pain in his eyes but he smiled for everyone anyway.

End Chapter

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