“Sarah,” my name carried upstairs from the front hallway, “Mrs. Westgate's car broke down. You're walking Molly to school today!”
It wasn't a question. It wasn't even a placated request. It was a statement. I'm going to be late for school, again. Wonder if I have some wiggle room.
“I have an exam first period, I can't.”
On the tail of paper shuffling and keys jiggling arrived dad's rushed rebuttal,“Make arrangements to take it after school. I have an Endowment Committee meeting in 15 minutes. I'm late already.” The door opened, closed and then he was gone.
Since learning Mrs. Marché passed away 10 days ago, life walked on eggshells, uncertain. We moved through the days filled with not knowing. Would today be the day mom would come home, or would it be the next? And more importantly would she arrive alone? Carolyn Marché now had no living relatives. At first I assumed she would stay with Bobbie and her folks on Bainbridge Island. She would probably move into my old room. That lucky... witch.
But then there were the guarded late night phone calls. Dad sitting in the library. The receiver to his ear. Head bowed, repeating, “Margaret, she was your best friend. You know what has to be done. Do what you think is best. Talk with the lawyers.”
For days I wondered just what best would be.
And now to roust the Molly.
Gently pushing on the resident second grader's shoulder I uttered, “Molly, time to get up. We're walking.” Thank God it was full Spring and not the bitter winter of our first winter in Stockbridge. Days starting earlier. Temperatures climbing into the sixties, Bainbridge weather. With mom out there, I wasn't surprised by the emotional ties I had back to the island. Hearing about weather, or the ferry horns, or certain smells, especially those that could be contributed to low tide, always and without fail brought me back to our island cottage. But our's no more. Maybe Carolyn's. Most assuredly Bobbie's.
“Come on Molly, time to get up.” This time the bundle under the covers shifted. And morning breath escaped from her mouth as she rolled over to face me. I shifted back and away. "Brush baby, brush."
“He has a meeting this morning. I'm going to walk you to school, a little early, so I can get to school myself.”
Without another word the little one rolled out of bed and started usual morning routine. I really appreciated the fact she wasn't looking for wiggle room.
“Ms. Cahill, your hall pass?” It was a reasonable question given I was walking in a full two hours after the official start of school, and the emptiness of the corridor, but the tone with which it was delivered. The fear it elicited.
“Mr. Parters, I just got here. Missed the bus, I haven't been to the office yet.” And then as if on a bad cue my cell phone vibrated. Incoming text... I glanced down, the screen read. Melody Where are you?
I caught Mr. Parters also glancing at the screen as well. “And detention. No electronic devices on during school hours.”
“But I just got here. I had to take my sister to school first, missing my first period math test and then ride my bike to school.”
If he was paying attention, or cared, I couldn't tell. He took two steps, turned, held out his hand suggesting I step ahead and ushered me to the office.
“Mrs. Clark,” the secretary hearing her name, looked up from her computer screen.
“Yes, Mr. Parters,” still typing on her keyboard.
“I discovered Ms. Cahill sneaking into school.” Sneaking? “Issue her a hall pass and put her on the detention list for this afternoon.”
“Yes, Mr. Parters.”
This wasn't happening. Mr. Parters knew my mom was out of town. I told him I was late because I had to take Molly to school. I told him I needed to take my first period exam right after school.
And then he added, “Summon Melody Westgate down to my office, and put her on the detention list for using electronic devices during school time.”
Hall pass in hand, heading out to my third period class I overheard Mrs. Clark calling Melody to the office. “Mr. Rigs is Melody Westgate in your class?”
The static PA voice reported, “Yes she is right here.”
“Please have her report to Mr. Parters' office.”
“Will do. Melody...” and the voice fell silent.
Melody wasn't stupid. Since I hadn't replied to her text. She knew we had been caught.