Amber paced her room. A glance at the clock showed the time only five minutes later than when she last checked. Turning away she started another circuit of the floor. Two hours still before school. She’d been up an hour already, but after thinking of as many things from shaving to doing her hair as elaborate as she could think and repacking her bag a half-dozen times, Amber was out of distractions. Which left pacing.
“What am I going to do?”
Two weeks. Two weeks now and absolutely nothing had happened. No word, no police showing up at the house. Cheer team started practices without a hitch. She remembered dreading that, but she went because she was captain. It was perfectly normal. At least half of the team knew Frost by name. A couple she knew were friends of his. Nothing. Not so much as a sidelong glance or whispers when they thought she wasn’t looking. Successive practices yielded the same null results on that score.
There was no fault in her memory, of what happened with Frost in the park. Yet for all she could tell the rest of the world behaved as if that night didn’t exist. Jessica on team would have heard something. Frost knew it was her. He had called her name. Amber paused pacing again to wince. The sound, the way he’d called to her that morning was it’s own unique torture.
The absence of backlash had wound her ever tighter. So Amber found herself on the first day of classes pacing her room well before sunrise.
She kept up with practices, yes. It wasn’t like Frost himself would be there. School… It was his senior year, with a near-perfect record. He would be there. Would he look for her? What would he do when he saw her? Did he mean to pretend nothing happened? She fell to one knee, discovering a way to hurt worse. Clutched at her chest; told herself it couldn’t have meant nothing at all to him. What then? What could he be thinking, if not hating her?
Amber knew with absolute certainty he wasn’t afraid. Frost would not be silent for fear of anything. Was he blaming himself? There was no logic to it… Amber sank to the floor, forehead pressed to the carpet, squeezing her middle. Of course. Two weeks and the pain had dulled to the point she could sleep, sometimes. Now she had two ways to keep it fresh. Oh please, she silently begged the heavens, please don’t let him blame himself.
What if he meant to use it against her? Blackmail - no, Frost would never do that. He would call police before that. Wouldn’t he?
She stayed on the floor. Had he kept it completely to himself? Missing for a night, marking on his chest. That wasn’t something that would stay hidden long, not in a family as big as his. Frost wasn’t one to lie, but then… Someone would have approached her. So he must not have mentioned her by name.
Amber knocked her forehead on the floor. All of this was getting her precisely nowhere. She would have to go to school. And what happened then… Was up to him. Nothing she could do.
The first day of school was… unsettling for Frost. Because it was unremarkable. He felt, and was sure some English teacher somewhere had an unaccountable joy from it, like that character in “The Scarlet Letter,” sure everyone saw the mark on him that wasn’t there. The other students acted like every year, excited to see each other, grousing about being in school again. The seniors talking about how glad they were to be almost done.
Even Frost was forgiven for being unfocused. No one commented, indeed not a soul seemed to notice how he scanned the halls, watched out the door during classes and was generally looking everywhere around him. By the end of lunch after bumping into four people in succession not looking where he was going did he even become aware what he was doing. A little frustrated, if not surprised, Frost was seeking a glimpse of a certain sweater, or green hair.
More details had come to mind of the girl Amber over the course of the intervening days. She was in the grade behind him, a junior this year. A nearly straight-A student just elected captain of the cheer squad end of last year. She was that good. Not the sort to be missing the first day. Granted, wisdom would have held not the type to sleep with a guy in the park either. Word of that sort of proclivity got passed around school faster than a cold. Frost was quite certain if such had ever happened before, or with anyone else the school would have rumors at least. The common belief about Amber the junior cheer captain was the opposite. Unapproachable.
What Frost could not answer right away was why he was looking. Not like he could walk up and ask her about that night. The kind of speculation and questions that would start would have no good end for either of them. Talk was the only reason he could think to find her. Yet there he was craning his neck and scanning constantly. What on earth was he thinking?
After lunch Frost decided he at least needed a pretext to speak with her, since he couldn’t shake the idea. A reason why he’d be talking to her, other than returning her clothes. Though that did need to happen, preferably soon. Thanks to over-sharing teammates and sisters, he knew most girls did not own a surplus of certain articles. More importantly, his dresser was far from secure.
An idea did come to him, during last period. Still ridiculous, but perhaps just ridiculous enough to pass scrutiny. Plus it invited follow up. Which made him wonder anew. Did he really want further contact with the girl? The course of events had not lent itself to being what one would want to make a habit of. The actual memory he shied away from, grateful it was still hazy. Because how much of him wanted more of that was both terrifying and frustrating. Frost touched a finger to his chest and answered for himself. There were things that needed knowing. Things that any hope of explanation required talking to Amber. So talk to her he would.
If she would just show up already. Hard to accost someone who wasn’t there.