fiction: The New Principal 3: Maelstrom

In a slight daze, I wandered out of the school office into the chaos of the hall between classes. The noise and bustle engulfed me, swirling around me on all sides, but it felt like it was at a distance. Maybe I was at the eye of the storm. But it felt like I was the storm, and my swirling thoughts were causing everything else to rotate noisily around me. I walked indifferently through the maelstrom.

“Lexiiiieee! What happened?!” Ugh. Tanya. We’d been chummy in school years before but hadn’t hung out together for a long time. We were too different from each other. She teased me about my serious demeanor, and I tended to find her pink, sparkly girliness grating. Though she meant well. She must have heard my name on the intercom and made note.

“Nothing, Tanya. Nothing happened. Look, I’m going to be late for class. Talk to you later, OK?”

She paused, peering at me. “Oh, I almost forgot! You know I’m in band, right? Well, we just found out when our recital is going to be. Can I put you down for a ticket?”

“Enough with the promo, Tanya. Late, remember?”

“OK, bye,” she said weakly and wandered off.

“Honestly,” I muttered as I hurried away. She’d been regarding me oddly, which seemed to prove that I looked as much of a mess as I felt, so I made a beeline for the restroom.

I neither expected nor found the solitude I would have preferred: there were four other girls who had taken up stations in front of squared-off white porcelain sinks, a few stall doors were closed, and the general echoing clatter was punctuated by the occasional whooshing flush. Worried that my thighs might tell the tale, I went straight to the last sink, where I figured I was least likely to be closely observed. The stall behind me stood empty.

I turned one battered knob and splashed cool water on my face while examining myself in quick, businesslike glances.

Red eyes – check. I looked like I’d been crying. Or, generously, like I had a cold.

I pulled a length of brown paper towel from the rattling dispenser on the wall to my right and dried my face and hands.

Messy hair – check. I extracted the elastic, combed my hair out briskly with my fingers and redid my ponytail.

Sloppy shirt – check. It must have pulled up out of the waistband of my skirt while I was… upended. Over his knee. With my hands and feet barely touching the floor. And he… Never mind. I tucked the shirt back in smartly and smoothed down the blazer and skirt.

As I got myself tidied up, I became aware that, yes, my ass and thighs were throbbing with heat. It had to be visible below the hem of my skirt. Although I was seriously tempted to check, the last thing I wanted was for people to look and I didn’t intend to telegraph that there was something to see, so I mastered the impulse. I had to hope that the others were too involved with their own reflections to pay attention to me as I strode purposefully out the door and off to class.

The hallway was still bustling, the advantage of which was that my legs were unlikely to cross anyone’s sight-line, especially with me being as short as I am. And anyway, I’d mostly blend into the forest of other bare legs.

My thighs, though. They were hot. They’d be warm to the touch, I was sure. It felt like blushing. And with my skin so pale, no blush ever seemed to go unremarked. The very though brought color and heat to my cheeks. That is, my other

Oh god, this was going to be a long day.

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