Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Terrible Secret Chapter 9

To start at the beginning, go HERE.


Chapter 9

All of Andi’s running availed her nothing. Between that awful man and Mrs. Evans, she found herself late to school for the first time all year. She entered the schoolroom with no excuse for her tardiness. She slipped quietly into her seat, hoping Mr. Foster wouldn’t notice. He was busy with the younger students.
“Andrea Carter, stand up.” The words fell like gunshots in the quiet room.
Andi stood.
“You are fifteen minutes late for class.” Mr. Foster frowned. “I do not tolerate tardiness. You know that, do you not?”
“Yes, sir,” Andi replied.

“Have you an explanation? I am prepared to hear it.” He folded his arms across his chest and regarded her thoughtfully.
Andi swallowed and considered her options. “No explanation, sir.”
This was a pretty safe statement. Tommy Jones used it at least once a week, received his licks, and his tardiness was not mentioned again—until the next time.  
Andi hoped the same thing happened to her.
“Come forward and receive your punishment.”
Andi went forward with a sigh of relief. She took her four smacks with the ruler against her palm and returned to her seat. I’m glad that’s over.  
But it wasn’t over. Not by a long shot.
“I will require a note from home.” Mr. Foster's demand caught Andi off guard.
She wrinkled her forehead. “A note?” Confusion muddied her mind.
“Yes. Explaining your tardiness.”
“You never make Tommy bring a note.”
“But I know why Thomas is always late,” he said. “Since you are unwilling to explain your tardiness, I will require a note of explanation. It will be placed on my desk when you come to school tomorrow. Understood?”
“Yes, sir,” Andi replied, horrified. Unfair! How would she convince Mother to write a note when Justin had arrived in town early this morning. She sighed and opened her book to her math lesson.
The day was off to an unpromising start . . .
      The day got no better as it got longer. Andi rested her chin in her hands with her book propped open, but her eyelids kept closing. She soon found herself with her head lying on the open book, fast asleep. She didn’t realize what had happened until Cory tapped her urgently on the back.
“Andi,” he whispered. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Huh?” Andi jerked up.
“You were asleep,” Cory replied. “What’s going on out at your place? Cattle rustlers keeping your family up all night? Stampede? Fire?”
Andi shook her head. “Nothing like that. I just couldn’t sleep last night, and—”
“I’ll bet it has something to do with how you were acting yesterday afternoon,” Cory accused. He frowned. “You were acting mighty strange.”

“It’s not,” she insisted, but Cory shook his head and returned to his studies.
The teacher looked up. He frowned at Andi, but she smiled sweetly and returned to her books.
Three more times that day Cory awakened his friend, but Andi was less than grateful. She barely passed her recitations, and her math problems showed seven errors.
Mr. Foster held Andi after school.
Can this day get any worse? Andi groaned and approached her teacher’s desk.
“You are without a doubt one of my brightest pupils,” Mr. Foster told her when the school room had emptied. “Today, however, you have appeared distracted, preoccupied, and even a little apprehensive. Is something bothering you?”
Andi stood stone still. Plenty is bothering me. But it was nothing she could discuss with the schoolmaster.
When her teacher persisted, Andi shook her head at his questions. A clipped “no, sir,” finally resulted in Mr. Foster giving a long, annoyed sigh and sending her on her way.

***

“I usually take notes from home at face value, Mrs. Carter, but . . .” Mr. Foster sighed and handed over the sloppily scribbled note. “Under the circumstances, I thought you might want to see this.” He cleared his throat. “I am of the opinion that you did not write this note.”
Elizabeth Carter sat stone-faced across from the teacher in the sitting room and held the scrap of stationary paper in her hand. She silently scanned the words.

Dear Mr. Foster,
 Please excuse Andrea’s tardiness yesterday. An unexpected matter came up on the ranch, and her brother was late driving her to school. Thank you very much.
 Sincerely,
 Elizabeth Carter

Her eyebrows shot up and she read the note again. She could scarcely believe that Andrea would have done such a thing. Folding the paper, she cleared her throat. “You are correct, Mr. Foster”—she handed the note back—“I did not write this.”
“I didn’t think you did. That is why I rode all the way out here.”
“When did you receive this note?” Elizabeth indicated the paper.

“Yesterday.” He sighed. “I was concerned two days ago when your daughter came rushing into my classroom fifteen minutes late with absolutely no explanation for her tardiness.”
“Fifteen minutes late?” Elizabeth frowned in concern.
Mr. Foster nodded. “The note gives no explanation for her tardiness.” He smiled. “Other notes from this household are usually quite thorough in their content. I thought I should ride out and speak with you personally.”
“I’m glad you did,” Elizabeth answered. “Andrea has been acting a strangely the past few days.”
“I agree,” Mr. Foster said. “I’m concerned with her stumbling in her answers, her sleepiness, her lack of attention during cl—”
The door opened then shut with a slam. Hurried footsteps headed toward the stairs.
“Andrea,” Elizabeth called. “Come here, please.”

***
Andi slammed the front door and raced for the stairs. Her room was a haven these days. At her mother’s call, she stopped short. Uh-oh. She felt her face flame. I should have run straight to the barn.
She bit her lip and joined Mother and Mr. Foster. “Y-yes, ma’am?”
Elizabeth took the note from Mr. Foster and handed it to her daughter. “Tell me, please. Did you write this?” Her eyes held Andi’s frightened gaze.
Andi swallowed. There was no use denying it. Of course she had written it. “Yes,” she muttered. She was not about to add another lie to the one she had been forced to write in the note yesterday.
“May I know the reason why?”
Andi tried to remain calm, but it was no use. Icy fingers of dread clutched the back of her neck. Her stomach clenched. A spasm of pain made her winch. Do I tell the truth and watch Justin be hurt or killed by those . . . those murderous animals? Never!
She took a deep breath to steady her trembling hands. “Mr. Foster said I needed a note from home to explain why I was tardy on Tuesday, so . . . I brought him one.”
“You were tardy on Tuesday?” Elizabeth pursed her lips in thought. “That was the day Justin left early for town, was it not? And you were with him.”
“Yes,” Andi admitted.
“How could you have been marked tardy?”
Andi shrugged. “I got to school late.” The less she said, the better.
“Andrea,” Elizabeth demanded. “Why were you late on Tuesday?”
Andi looked at the floor. “I . . . well . . .” She shrugged. “No particular reason.” The words came out as a mumble. She raised her head. “Please don’t ask me any more questions. No harm done, right?”
Elizabeth stood and took the note from Andi’s shaking hand. “No harm done? You call forging a note from me no harm done?” She fixed Andi with a gaze that meant this matter was far from over. “Go to your room, Andrea. I will deal with you shortly.”

Andi’s face lost what little color remained. Any second she felt she might swoon like a prissy ninny. Her heart raced as she looked from her mother to Mr. Foster. “I’m . . . sorry,” she managed
Then she turned and fled from the room. She raced up the stairs and into her room, where she slammed the door and threw herself on her bed. My head hurts, my stomach hurts, I’m tired, and I’m scared! What am I going to do?

 

7 comments:

  1. Oh no! Poor Andi! I noticed you said "Mr. Perkin’s" instead of "Mr. Foster's".

    -Abigail D.

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    1. Good catch. I'll fix it. That was Mr. Foster's "original" name back in the day. :-)

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  2. Oh, poor girl, believing she has to lie to save her brother. Andi's mother is NOT happy for sure.
    ,<3 MA

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  3. Poor Andi, I hope they can get to the bottom of this. <3

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  4. Oh my gosh! You should publish this story in a book!!!!
    ~cheyenne

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    1. You will not be saying that in about five chapters from now. Why not, you ask? Because this story has NO ENDING and it simply ends at the very worse time you can possibly imagine, and everybody is going to be really mad at me for posting this thing in the first place.

      Of course . . . what I'm hoping for are suggestions on HOW TO FINISH IT.

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  5. Andi should finally tell the truth, and they set the murderers up: Somehow word manages to "leak out" (accidentally on purpose), and the bad guys go out to the ranch one night to do something, whether it's kidnap Andi or Justin, or kill both, or just kill one and kidnap the other, but the sheriff is waiting and just as they're about to do the job, the sheriff makes himself and his deputies' presence known. The bad guys hold up a gun and the leader says something like: Make one move and I shoot. Then the sheriff does the same thing. The sheriff and his deputies end up shoot all the men in some non fatal place (arm, leg, etc.)and the sheriff takes them to jail. Just a thought on how to end.

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Let Andi know what you think!