At school, I don’t see Rosaline anywhere. She isn’t in English, and when I check the library, she isn’t there either. I try the front office to see if she even was marked as present this morning in homeroom.
“No. Rosaline was marked absent this morning.” The secretary says, and I bounce my fist on the desk separating up.
“Thanks for checking.” I say, and turn to leave.
“Is she a friend of yours?” She asks, and I try to think of what information she is thinking about telling me.
“Yes.” I lie. She kind of is, but not really.
“Well tell her she is missing too many days of school.” The phone rings, and our conversation is over, replaced by the requests of some parent or other human.
I mull over this information on my way back to the library. Rosaline missing too many class days? I sit down on a bench and stop to think about the times I’ve seen her in class. The fact is that she is absent a lot; I just never thought anything of it. The bell rings while I’m still stopped in the hall, and I don’t move. I watch all the kids rush by me on their way to somewhere, and I decide I need to get out of here.
The front office isn’t busy, so I step right back up to where I was a few minutes ago.
“Back already?” The secretary asks.
“Yeah. I was wondering if I could call her?”
“Of course hon. Go ahead.” I walk over to use the phone, knowing exactly what will happen. She won’t answer. I open my palm and dial the number scribbled on it. 897-0945
The phone rings five times, and then I hear her voice. “You’re reached Rosaline Lawrence. Leave me a message and I might call you back.” The beep comes, too soon, and it’s all I can do to make something up.
“Hey Rose.” I say, and then wait a second, pretending like she is one the other end. “You are?” Pause. “I’ll come, sure.” Pause. “I’ll tell them. Don’t worry. Want your homework?” Pause. “Okay. See you soon.” Then, I hang up and turn to the secretary.
“Are you going to visit her?” She asks, not looking up from the computer screen.
“Can I? She’s sick.”
“Of course. And don’t worry you don’t have to come back. I’ve worked here long enough to know you won’t be. Now just sign this excuse slip, and you’re free to go.” I walk over to her desk and sign the pink slip. She tears it off and hands it to me.
“Can I have her address? I forgot it.”
“Sure.” She clicks around a few times, and then replies, “724 East 20th.”
“You’re welcome. Just don’t do anything stupid.”
“I won’t.” I lie, and then grab the slip and leave.
I collect her homework, after finding out her schedule from the secretary, when I realized I didn’t know it. Now I have a reason to be taking the subway to her house.
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