The walk to the principal’s office was the longest walk Matt had ever taken. His teacher’s heels echoes in the halls of his school as she dragged him behind her. He could tell she couldn’t quite decide what to do with what he’d brought to show and tell that day. One step she held it loosely at her side, the next she tucked it under her arm, the next she made to hand it back to Matt only to snatch it back against her chest in fear.
“Marissa?” Matt recognized his math teacher. His expression at the scene hurrying past any other time would have Matt smiling.
“Not now Randal.” His teacher moved even faster to the point that Matt had trouble keeping his feet on the ground.
Entering the main office, Matt’s teacher rushed to the secretary. “I need to see the principal. It is very important.” She stressed.
“I think he’s on the phone at the moment. What’s the emergency?”
She held up the bag. The woman behind the desk narrowed her eyes. “Is that…?”
Matt’s teacher nodded. “I’ll go get him,” The receptionist pulled herself up from her chair and flew across the room, not pausing for the courtesy of knocking before entering the Big Man’s office. That’s how the teachers described him. “You best behave before I send you to the Big Man!” They always threatened. Matt had never been sent to the office once until now.
Voices could be heard from behind the door. Matt’s face flushed. Was he really doing the right thing? He knew what he had was a deal, he just didn’t know how big. He felt a hand rest on his shoulder. His teacher smiled down on him. “It’s going to be ok,” She said. “We’ll take care of you.”
Matt felt bad for putting her in this position, using her really, but he hadn’t seen any other choice. He wanted to smile back, but before he could move the secretary reemerged and ushered them inside.
Behind a faux expensive desk sat the principal. He was a grave man who looked particularly dead today. The room looked somber and dim, the lights themselves hiding from the coming conversation.
His teacher sat him down in one of two chairs. She sat down next to him, then sprung back up to awkwardly set the package she still held on the desk.
The principal looked at the bag with awe. He hadn’t believed what the secretary had told him at first and even now needed confirmation. He looked across the table at the only woman in the room. She didn’t say a thing.
Breathing exaggeratedly the principal rubbed his legs and folded his hands together. “This is an… unusual situation to say the least. Matt,”
Matt was not feeling ashamed except that he was disappointed he was here. His father had let him down, no two ways about it. But he could set things straight, could right the wrong. For that he knew he had had to be strong, so he steadied his gaze and sat up straight.
“Matt, do you know what this is?” Matt nodded. “Where did you get this?”
The moment of truth, no pun intended. Matt didn’t know all the consequences of his actions or what his future, no, even tomorrow would hold for him. Matt saw his father as he used to be. It hurt; Matt understood that things would never, ever, be the same. They would never be able to return to what they used to be. It wasn’t fair, but it was the way it was.
“It’s my dad’s. I found it in our basement.”
His teacher reached over and squeezed his shoulder. The swallowed and picked up his phone to make a call.
I’m sorry daddy, but I don’t know what else to do.