This short story was submitted to a contest through The Short Fiction Break. It is written according to contest guidelines and following a prompt provided by judges. It is a YA piece.
by: Lauren Sisley
Everyone else in the room decided I was guilty. I wondered if trying to persuade them otherwise was even worth the effort. Mom sat in the corner picking at her nail polish while Dad nodded along as the principal explained the situation. Neither of my parents looked me in the eyes.
“Mr. and Mrs. Konkel, this is a very serious allegation that has been made against your son. If charges are pressed we will have to turn this case over to the local police.”
The sound of my mother’s gasp distracted me from the dialogue. Dad asked questions like a detective. Mom continued in silence letting her heavy breaths do her talking.
“All I can say at this time, Mr. Konkel, is that it matches up. I can’t say for sure that Jordan is at fault, but he is our only suspect.” Principal Wallis placed his hands on his desk and looked my direction. He was the only brave soul in the room.
“And if charges aren’t pressed?” Dad questioned.
“Then, suspension is not off the table. This is still very serious and the school has a zero tolerance policy for this kind of thing.”
I found it ironic that no one asked me if I did it. They just assumed because I was Wilson’s little brother that I had to be guilty. While I was a captive to Principal Wallis’ office I tried to put the pieces together in my mind.
Seventh period I was in English. Miss Thorne was going over poetic devices and I was nodding along like I had any clue who William Shakespeare was. The bell rang and somewhere between my seat in English and the bathroom floor I lost all recollection.
I awoke to the smell of urine. A hand tapped my backside as I realized my face was soaking up the wet floor. My head felt as though it had taken the brunt of the fall. I could feel a bruise already forming under the skin, but other than that I felt fine.
“Better get yourself to the nurse, Kid.” The janitor spoke to me while returning to his mopping. It’s weird how you can go to the same school for three years and never once speak to the janitor. I wondered if he knew my name. Standing to my feet I walked right past the man without a word and made my way out of the bathroom.
When I turned to the hallway I heard the cries.
A girl from my history class was talking to Principal Wallis and pointing toward the bathroom. My vision was blurry, but I could see her busted lip and ripped clothes from where I stood. Fear masked her face almost as well as her smeared makeup.
Principal Wallis turned just as I crossed the hall. “Young man, I think you ought to turn around and head toward my office. You have some explaining to do.”
Then the questions started.
“What were you doing in the bathroom in the middle of eighth period? Do you know Amira Paulson? Why are you covered in urine? Did you flood the bathroom? Why is your head bleeding? Please answer me!” Principal Wallis was getting frustrated.
As hard as I tried I couldn’t come up with a response. There was seventh period and there was the bathroom floor. I couldn’t be sure of anything else.
Watching my parents as they each dealt with the conflict knotted my stomach. I could tell that they were struggling with how they could have raised another monster. They never thought I’d turn out like Wilson. Dad was pacing and finally worked up the courage to address me.
“Well, Son, do you have anything to say for yourself? After all we’ve been through as a family these past few months do they mean anything to you? Did you learn anything from your brother’s mistakes?” It was my first opportunity to speak since they arrived, but the death of my brother was still too raw to touch.
I wanted to be able to give them an answer that would satisfy them. I wanted to remember what happened so I could get myself out of this. I wanted to tell them I’m not like he was, but I couldn’t bring that up. Not now. I just shrugged my shoulders and continued to avoid eye contact like the other three people in the room.
“Jordan, I suggest that if you are innocent you say so.”
“I need my bag.” My words were involuntary.
“Excuse me?” Dad’s voice jumped several decibels.
“I need my book bag. I think I left it in the bathroom.”
“No, it’s been confiscated.” Principal Wallis pointed to a bag behind his desk that I couldn’t have possibly seen from my chair.
“Well, I need it back.”
“Listen here, Jordan. You will get your bag when you cooperate. You’ve gotten yourself into a whole heap of trouble. You don’t get to make requests. Right now your only concern is the truth. Tell us what happened.” I could see a vein popping out of Dad’s neck as he spoke.
“The bag first.” I tried to barter information for the safe return of my belongings.
“What’s so important in this bag anyway?”
In a quick motion Dad bent down and grabbed the bag off the floor. I felt my stomach wrench as he unzipped the front compartment and shook the bag upside down. I couldn’t watch, but I heard the sound of many objects as they hit the desk.
I knew they had found it the moment Mom began to wail.
I could hear him pick the bag up off of his desk. “Is this why you did it?” I balled my fists as I waited for a lecture. It didn’t come. Instead I was punished by the return of silence to the room.
“You’re just like him, Jordan! And I can’t go through this again.” Mom broke the silence as she stood up and left.
All of this was too much for her. I wasn’t the first of her children to carry around a bag of crank. I always promised that I wouldn’t get caught up in this stuff like Wilson did.
“Mr. Konkel, I have no choice but to involve the authorities now.” I heard Principal Wallis pick up the phone and dial.
“How could you do this to your mother?” Dad barked before he joined my mother in the hallway.
I was done for. Not only had they found my stash, but there was a girl in the next room crying rape. Both my parents were furious. The authorities were on their way. I wasn’t sure how I would ever get myself out of this one.
I continued to answer all of Principal Wallis’ questions with silence until there was a knock on the door.
The janitor entered the room. He was a large man, and his face was lined with wrinkles. He wasn’t someone to be crossed.
“Mr. Wallis,” He muttered. He had a student by the collar as he shoved him into the office. “Caught this one in the hall talking about that little girl who was in here crying.” He let go of the student and looked over at me. “Oh, hey, how’s that head doing? You took quite the fall on the floor. I was coming in to mop it all up when I seen you laid out. Stupid seniors always making my job tough. Clogging toilets and all.”
It was a relief to know I hadn’t done it.
I have a week’s suspension from school to figure out how to tell Mom and Dad that I carry Wilson’s bag to remind me who I don’t want to be. It’s all he left me in this world.
I would never hurt them the way that he did, which is why I was so terrified that I had.
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