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Chapter no 27

The Teacher

ADDIE

WHEN I GET to my locker at the end of the day, the lock has been cut.

I stare at it for a moment, my eyes bugging out. The lock is still hanging exactly where it was the last time I came to my locker, but the metal bar has been sliced by a lock cutter. I’ve heard the staff will sometimes do it if they think there are drugs in your locker, but I don’t know why anyone would think that about me.

But then when I open my locker, I know exactly who did this. My locker is completely filled with shaving cream.

I gasp at the sheer quantity of shaving cream filling the locker. There are probably books and papers in there, and also my coat, but right now, it basically looks like a locker of shaving cream. If there’s anything I want in my locker, I’m going to have to stick my hands in and sift through what looks like three gallons worth of foam.

Several students have witnessed this spectacle, and based on the number of giggles, it’s apparently hilarious. I don’t have to guess why this was done to me. Kenzie has made enough snide comments in gym about shaving my legs, even though I’ve been diligently running a razor over my legs twice a week.

“Oh wow.” Before I even turn around, I know who the voice behind me belongs to. “I bet all that shaving cream will come in handy. Someone did you a huge favor.”

I blink the tears from my eyes before I turn around to look at Kenzie. She and Bella are watching me at my locker, drawing closer than any other student dares to get. How long have they been standing here and waiting for me to witness this disaster? I should feel sorry for them that their lives are so small, but I don’t. I mostly just feel sorry for myself.

Why is Kenzie doing this to me? Is she jealous because she thinks Hudson likes me better than her? That’s clearly not the case. He’s dating her. If he has any lingering feelings for me, even as a friend, that would be a big surprise to me. He won’t even speak to me.

A crowd has gathered around me now. Everyone is watching to see what I’ll do next. Really, they’re watching and feeling glad that they aren’t the

ones with a locker filled with shaving cream. Nobody wants to be on Kenzie Montgomery’s bad side. Yet here I am, and I don’t even know what I did to get here.

“Excuse me!” an adult voice rings out from the periphery of the crowd.

Oh, thank God. “Will you please let me through right now?”

My momentary relief that there would finally be an adult who could help me deal with the situation vanishes when I see who has pushed her way through the crowd. It’s Mrs. Bennett—the worst possible person. And when she sees the contents of my locker, she looks decidedly pissed. Then again, I’ve never seen her not look pissed, so it’s hard to tell the difference.

“Addie!” she says sharply. “What is going on here?”

Kenzie hasn’t budged. You might think she has a lot of nerve, but really, she knows I’m not going to rat her out. That would be social suicide, especially if I did it in front of everyone else. If I have any chance of coming back from something like this, it will vanish if I tell on her now. And anyway, she’ll just deny it, and everyone will believe her instead of me.

Besides, I’ve got her house keys. I can get my revenge.

Mrs. Bennett folds her arms across her chest, waiting for my answer. “Addie…”

“I don’t know,” I finally say. “I guess someone put shaving cream in my locker.”

“Who?” she presses me. I shrug.

She tilts her head. “Really? You don’t have any idea whatsoever who might have broken into your locker and filled it with shaving cream?”

I shake my head slowly.

Mrs. Bennett looks around at the crowd of kids who have become an audience to my humiliation. “All of you. Go home.” Her beady eyes zero back in on me—a stark contrast from her husband’s kind brown eyes. “And you. Clean this up, Addie.”

Seriously, what is her problem? She is so harsh. And she is married to a freaking poet—the nicest teacher in the whole school. Why is she like this? Why is she always so mean?

But at least she gets the kids to stop gawking at me, so that’s something. Although Kenzie and her friends linger at the end of the row of lockers, still watching. I can hear their giggles as I contemplate my situation. Like, what

am I supposed to do now that my locker is filled with shaving cream? I don’t even know how to begin to clean all this up. Not to mention the fact that my books are wrecked.

I guess I could scoop it up. I wish I could just take a hose to the entire thing. And also, I don’t have anything to clean it up with. If I were home, it would be easier, but what am I supposed to do to clean up a bunch of shaving cream in the middle of the hallway at my high school?

“What are you waiting for?” Kenzie calls out. “Do you need us to get you a razor?”

Bella laughs at that. “Don’t give her a razor. She would probably slit her wrists!”

Kenzie says something to Bella, and I can’t quite make it out, but it kind of sounds like she said, “So what?”

Every time I think I’ve experienced the worst day yet, there is a new winner.

Just to make my humiliation complete, Hudson appears to join their little group. He’s wearing his football uniform, but it’s not yet caked in dirt, which means he’s heading over to practice. I’m sure he wanted to see the look on my face as I experienced the locker of shaving cream. Hell, for all I know, he’s the one who cut the lock. I doubt Kenzie did that herself.

“What’s going on?” he says, his pale blue eyes looking right at me for a change.

Kenzie snickers. “Addie is having some issues. Anyway, we better get to practice.”

Hudson is staring in my direction, a frown on his face. Through most of elementary school, he got bullied pretty badly. I remember once on the playground, after a morning of rain, the ground was all muddy, and some kids pushed him so that he fell face down in the mud. He didn’t fight back though. He just took it, like he always did. I was the one who helped him up and took him to the bathroom to get cleaned up after.

To my surprise, instead of joining Kenzie, Hudson walks over to where I’m standing in front of my shaving cream–filled locker. For a moment, I get the urge to throw my arms around his padded shoulders for the hug he would have given me before our whole friendship fell apart. “Addie? What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” I mumble. “I just need to get this cleaned up.”

His eyes rake over the gallons of shaving cream in my locker. “Jesus.”

“Yeah.”

He glances over to where Kenzie and her friends are standing, then looks back at me. “Let me help you get it cleaned up.”

These are literally the most words Hudson has said to me in months. He means well, but he has to realize that he can’t help me clean up my locker. Kenzie won’t allow it.

Sure enough, Kenzie’s voice calls out, “Hudson! We have to get to practice!”

“You should go,” I tell him. “Your girlfriend is going to be mad at you.” His eyes darken. “She’s not my boss. I’m going to help you.”

“Hudson!” She doesn’t come closer to us, but her sharp voice fills the hallway. “We’re going to be late if you don’t come right now!”

“Screw her,” he mumbles under his breath. “Come on. We can get this done quickly.”

I look over at Kenzie, who seems nothing short of furious. She broke into my locker and vandalized it, and I haven’t even done anything to her to deserve it. I can’t imagine what hell she’ll bring down on me for hijacking her boyfriend.

“Listen,” I say, “you’ve got practice. You should go.”

“No,” he says firmly. “I’m going to help you. I want to.” “Except you’re making it worse.”

He jerks his head back. He was trying to be a good guy and help an old friend, but he has to realize I’m right. Kenzie is getting angrier by the second, and if I let him help me, there will be retribution. As painful as it will be to clean this up by myself, it’s better this way.

“Addie…” he says.

“Really. Go to practice. You’ve done enough.”

Hudson doesn’t look happy about it, but he obligingly turns around to join Kenzie. Although before he disappears down the hallway, he turns around to look at me one last time. And he looks so sad.

That surprises me. I mean, Hudson is now one of the most popular kids in school. His life is infinitely better than it was when it was just us two losers hanging out together. But for a moment, I wonder if he misses when it was just the two of us. I wonder if he misses me as much as I miss him.

But we’re never going to be able to be friends again. Things will never be the way they used to be between the two of us.

Not since Hudson helped me kill my father.

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