Chapter 12: Crazy Stories
“And ever since, his ghost has haunted Tokyo Tower, howling to the moon,” finished Zachary, a scruffy boy with constantly closed eyelids.
“Really?” asked a girl with curly black hair.
“Uhuh, true story. That’s why you’re not allowed ‘round the park surrounding it after dark. Y’know, they’ve got…”
But he stopped, for his cousin had grabbed him by the ear and was now pulling him away.
“Ow… ow… ow…”
“How many times have I asked you to stop telling your crazy stories?” she scolded him as he ambled behind her.
“Crazy? Ow… Chelsea… ow… they’re not crazy!”
Chelsea dropped him and placed her hands on her hips.
“Poltergeists throwing stuff off the school roof? Ghouls in those caves making people disappear? They sure sound crazy to me.”
“My analytical skills,” Zachary said, picking himself up, “are top notch, thank you very much. It’s not like the music room piano destroyed itself, y’know.”
“It could have been… er… a teacher with a grudge? I don’t know…”
“But you don’t know either! It’s not like you were there or anything.”
“True but… hey, Sakura!”
Chelsea looked around. Rocking back and forth on her heels was Sakura, her cheeks pink with embarrassment.
“What’s up with you?”
“Oh… nothing,” sing-songed Sakura; it had been her actions that had sent the piano down the perilous path to destruction.
“So, how did ya do on that test last week?” she quickly asked; perhaps a little too quickly, for Chelsea gave her a weird look.
“Er… B-minus,” she said slowly, as if she had doubts on whether answering was a good idea.
“C-plus!” exclaimed Zachary excitedly.
“Best score he’s gotten all year,” muttered Chelsea, rolling her eyes. “So, how about you guys?”
“I got a B-minus as well,” replied Sakura.
“B-plus,” rang a voice from behind Sakura.
“Madison!” Sakura said in surprise. “I’d wondered where you’d gone.”
“I did have difficulty on the last question, though,” Madison continued. “Did anyone get that?”
“Rita, probably,” murmured Chelsea. “Hey Rita!”
The girl with curly black hair looked up. Chelsea beckoned her to come over, which she did, although rather hesitantly; Chelsea was known for her fierce personality.
“Rita, we were just talking about the test, and we were wondering how ya did.”
“Well, I got a…”
But Rita never finished her sentence.
“OK, class, in your seats and settle down.”
At the sound of Mr. Terada’s voice, Rita jumped. Chelsea raised her eyebrow.
After the collective sounds of chairs scraping and pencil cases dumping had receded, Mr. Terada wrote some stuff on the board. The kids, too exited to concentrate, all pretended to scribble down notes; instead opting to draw, doodle and ruler-fight. After the fifth imaginary fencing match concluded, the bell rang for second period, and Mr. Terada led the class to the buses waiting outside.
Down the hallways the babbling brook of students went, until halted by a huffing noise; a rather annoyed but tired voice explained between breaths that something unexpected had come up and he’d been delayed. With a slightly disapproving “mm-hmm”, Mr. Terada signalled for him to move to the back of the class, where the corresponding students were craning their necks to see who it was.
A young boy, not much older than Sakura, made his way through the groups of gossiping tweens, his spiky hair shaking up and down, a rather serious look on his face. Indeed, Li Showrun was hardly ever seen without this look, and he would often use it scathingly upon the many things that he disapproved of, including girl talk, stuffed animals, and their old substitute, Ms. Mackenzie.
As the rest of the class started moving again, Sakura asked Li what the matter was.
“What d’ya mean?”
“You seem...” Sakura searched for the right word.
“…upset,” finished Madison.
“Forget it, I’ll tell you later,” he murmured as he ascended the steps of the bus.
From the corner of his eye, someone was watching Sakura.
Eli Moon had always had the unnatural ability to look as if he was staring straight ahead when his eyes were elsewhere. Granted, it meant that he seemed almost dazed at times, but it did have advantages.
Then again, what was natural about him?
Suddenly, he felt a jab in his shoulder. Zachary.
“Er… are you all right?” he asked.
“Er… yeah, I’m fine. Just… thinking.”
“It’s just that… you seem to think a lot.”
“Why, is that a bad thing?”
“No, not at all! Thinking leads to knowing, that’s what my old man always said.”
Eli thought about this. Some silent moments passed.
Zachary’s silence struck Eli as odd, and he wondered how he could bear to stay quiet. Before he could mention this, however, the voice of their teacher rang throughout the bus.
“OK, is that everybody?” yelled Mr. Terada over the incessant talking, yakking and general chit-chat.
“Yes, Mr. Terada,” the children chorused, before returning to the conversations they were so rudely interrupted from.