Claudia, Part 5

I missed the flipping bus. I overslept and missed the flipping bus. I began the long trudge towards school, sloshing through snow. After our bonding at lunch, Claudia and I didn’t see each other. I was looking forward to our morning meeting at the bus stop, but as previously stated, I had missed it. I was so nervous the entire walk to school my knees were shaking. What would I say to her? How would she respond?
Only an hour late, I walk through the school doors, down the hall, and to my class room. Mrs. Turner, the math teacher, notices my frozen face and my heavy breathing and is kind enough to ignore my tardiness. Claudia isn’t in this class with me but I’m still incapable of concentration. the bell finally rings and I leap out of the room. Going down the hall, I say hello to all my friends and absent-mindedly talk to some others, all the while searching for those red curls.
Nothing. Not a red tress in sight.
I sleepwalk through my day until lunch. I know I’ll see her there. Going through the line, getting my food, I sit at a lonely table in the corner, hoping she’ll see me. Nothing. Suddenly, my lunch doesn’t seem very appetizing.
The rest of school is uneventful. I wearily make my way off the bus at my stop, my friends barely noticing my mental absence. Walking down the street, I pass by Claudia’s house. Then it hits me: I’ll go to her house and take her the work she apparently missed. It’s perfect. As I begin to trace her walkway, the front door swings wide and I see red curls race out of the frame. Someone’s shouting from inside the door, and Claudia is sobbing as she runs away from that terrible voice. I’m paralyzed at the worst possible time. My heart shatters over the pain in her face, but she doesn’t see me and runs the other way, towards the neighborhood playground.
She’s sitting on the swings, her face as red as her hair. I approach slowly, carefully, and sit in the swing beside hers. I can’t find words, and she isn’t offering any. We swing in unison for a time, saying nothing. Her cold hand stretches across and clasps mine. We swing peacefully until dark, together.

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