“Assistant Principal Vadner needs you,” I said to the woman sitting between me and where I needed to be.
She looked down at me, over those glasses, the ones she’d apparently been holding on to for the last twenty years.
“What are you doing out of class?” she said, squinting her eyes at me.
“Did you hear about the fire?” I said.
“Of course I—“
“Well then you must have heard about the sprinkler leak, too.”
She pulled her chin back without moving her neck. Like she really hadn’t heard, but wanted to pretend that she had.
“It’s down that way,” I said, pointing behind me and not taking my eyes off of hers.
She blew air out of her nose. Like a bull. “Assistant Principal Vadner would have called if he needed me.”
“He would have called if he didn’t have his hands full with the flooding.” I raised my voice for the last three words. She looked to the side quickly before looking back at me.
“He said, find —“ I stopped as I looked for her desk name plate. Didn’t everybody have those… Why didn’t she have one.
“Martha?” she said. She was on the hook now.
“Martha,” I said, with a nod. “And he said, tell Martha to get the spare key, go into my office, and bring me the master key ring. It has the plumbing shut off key on it.”
I was pushing that one, but it must have made sense to her. Her eyes darted to a corner of her desk. She looked back at me.
“He sounded mad,” I said.
I could tell she wanted to say something else. Her eyes kept moving back between me and where the spare key was apparently hiding.
“I’d be mad, too,” I continued, “if all that water was going everywhere I didn’t have the shut off key.” Extra emphasis. “Anyway,” I said, turning around, “I’ve got to get back to class. Unless…,” I stopped. “Unless, you want me to bring him the master keys?”
“You?” she said, not bothering to hide her disgust at the idea. “No, no.” She was moving stuff around in a drawer behind her now, no longer looking at me. “That would be most inappropriate.”
She found the key, holding it up. And then disappeared into Vadner’s office behind hers.
After a few seconds, I called into the room. “Need help?”
I heard something I couldn’t understand. A moment later, she was back with an oversized key ring and smug smile.
“He’s lucky to have you.” I told her.
The smile was gone.
“Is there something else I can help you with?” She said. Nope. I turned around and started walking. As I did, I heard her dropping the spare key back in her drawer. She passed me up in the hall, on a mission.
Once she’d made the corner, I immediately turned around. I could still hear her shoes clicking down the hallway. I went back to her office, slipped behind her desk, and pulled open her desk drawers until I found it.
The spare key.
“Okay, Vadner,” I said to myself, turning to the dark wooden door. “You’re mine now.”