Marcelina stood at the corner of the building and tapped her foot back against the cornerstone as she waited. Right around the corner, the red blinking of the camera taunted her. It told her she could not step onto the playground. Not yet. The time had not come yet.

It was not her fault she’d finished her test and grown bored. Why should she be forced to sit and read some stupid book when she could be outside on the first nice day since they returned to school after the President’s Winter Celebration? If she stayed where she was, she would be ok until the bell rang.

Once the bell rang, she would be able to talk to Jory. She had to talk to Jory. After what she’d heard this morning he needed to be spoken to so she could learn the truth. If what Samantha had said was true…

Marcelina did not know what she’d do if what she’d heard was the truth.

A bell rang inside and she heard feet marching to the door. Soon she could slip in with the rest of them and it would be fine. Once she did that she could find Jory. The eldest students, by grace of being the eldest, came out first. Marcelina shrank back as she saw Siemowit. He would tattle. It was his last year here and he was intent on making it miserable for her.

Once Jory’s class appeared she slid closer to the stairs. His feet touched the playground and she grabbed his hand and pulled him backwards. They were probably ok here. The stairs would block the camera on the door.

“What’s the deal?”

Marcelina thought he sounded guilty. Maybe he even looked guilty. She didn’t know guilt on someone else.

“Samantha said you kissed Charlotte this morning in the library.”

“Samantha is an idiot.”

“So is Charlotte, but you kissed her. Didn’t you? How could you?”

“What’s the big deal?”

“Why did you do it?”

“I never said I did.”

Marcelina blinked because Jory looked watery when she stared at him.

“Charlotte was right.”

“About being stupid?”

Jory scowled at her and she ran her hand across her eyes, surprised to find them wet.

“No, she said you would cry when she found out.”

Marcelina’s lips pressed together. She shoved Jory backwards and then stood right in front of him. His eyes grew wide.

“I did not cry.”

“Did to.”

She watched as her arm shot out and her first connected with his mouth. Her first thought was she should apologize. Her second thought was that if he told, she could be kicked out of school. Not that she minded. However, her parents would be furious.

So busy contemplating the future, Marcelina forgot the present. Jory’s punch hit her in the chin and she was embarrassed at the noise she made. Not that it stopped her from shoving him. By the time they were pulled apart they both had bloody lips.

Jory had lost a tooth.

Marcelina had a black eye.

Both of their parents forbid them to ever say a word to one another again.

That night, they both downloaded sign language lessons from the internet.