The bell startles me outta my seat. I look around and everyone's just moving on to their first block. I sat there silently as every one rushed passed me eager to get into the halls. I had to think about what I had just read. Mr. Gongora did have a knack for playing tricks but this felt different. It didn't feel like one of his tricks--mostly because his tricks usually involved the whole class seeing and he wasn't a creeper like Coach Saenz. *Shiver* Yuck, Coach Saenz. But Gongora was always a sweet heart. He had never had a girlfriend, he would just date and he would treat his students like he would little sisters. "You girls are trouble" he'd always say "it'd be easier to just teach boys, at least I can just scream at them. You lot, you're smarter, you I have to be nice to." he'd continue with a smile and a wink.
I carefully glanced at the picture again. The statue was now facing the camera. It's arms spread out at its sides in the manner that catholic saints are portrayed, palms up and open. The face was blank, the eyes had no pupils, and the curly hair engraved in stone was split down the middle and was short going only slightly past the ears. The angel was depicted as wearing a simple robe garment with a belt around the middle. The faces blank stare seemed to mesmerize me. I suddenly felt ill. I was intrigued and disgusted at the same time yet I couldn't pull myself away. The blank pupil-less eyes were drawing my attention and the more I tried to look at another part of the photo the more the eyes called me back.
I snapped back into reality.
"Urm, huh, yeah, what? Hi." I tried to fake a smile.
"Mrs. Botello is calling you, you're gonna be..."
"Late." Sandra finished ,"Come on, let's get going."
"Hey Sandra, are Botello and Gongora friends" I inquired.
"Um..yeah, I guess, I've seen them talk a few times, they share stuff. Why do you care?"
I briefly thought about telling Sandra about the letter, the picture, the statue. Everything. But I decided that she'd think I'm a nut job so I decided it'd be best to keep it to myself. "I'll just tell Dan" I decided "he's a weird dude, he'll appreciate this." So I settled there. Only Dan and myself would know.
I grabbed the letter, the picture and my make-up and stuffed it all quickly into my backpack and scurried over across the hall to Mrs. Botello's room. From there, class was normal like usual. Short journal, short assignment, distract Botello by asking her stories about her life, turn in said short assignment, talk and wait for the bell. The usual. Oh and throw in some screaming and yelling in there too. When the bell was about to ring for the next block I asked Botello if I could stay behind.
With a strange look she wearily agreed.
When the bell rang, I stayed behind.
"What's going on Rose Mary?" she asked.
"Well, you see, umm, well, Mr. Gongora..."
"Is missing, I know" she interrupted. "His car's here, he clocked in, his lunch is here, but we can't for the life of him figure anything out."
My eyes widened and I got a sudden lump in my throat. Slowly, my eyes started to water.
"Oh sweetie! No, no, don't cry! I'm sure there's a good explanation..."
All I could do was muster the composure to hand her the letter.
She grabbed the envelope and stopped mid-sentence. "Where did you get this!?" she asked with a sudden change of tone in her voice. The sweet and caring voice was gone and now a worried voice took it's place.
She slowly walked over and picked up something on her desk. It was a note written in blue ink--Gongora's ONLY choice in ink color and in his unmistakeable almost illegible print. All the note read was "wait for the letter. Then check your e-mail. - EGong"
"This was in my box this morning" Botello explained "I didn't understand it but..well, here's the letter. Is he up to one of his little pranks or projects?"
I simply nodded no.
"I didn't think so, this paper is at least 50 years old. It looks like the love letters I kept from my youth, only...older still."
I glanced at her quizzically.
"The paper wasn't what bothered me, sweetie."
"Then what did?" I asked
She paused for a moment. Pursed her lips together in thought and took her reading glasses off. She sat at the edge of her desk and gulped visibly.
"My husband collects antiques, you see. Old war items, mostly. Money, guns, coins, hats, clothes, and letters. So I've learned a few things..."
"Mrs. Botello, no offense, but could you get to the point? What bothered you if it wasn't the old paper?" I interrupted.
She took another visible gulp and cautiously said "It's the ink. The ink bothers me."
"Why? It's old and faded like the letter, so?" I asked.
"So if it's as old as the paper, and as old as that letter, which is what it appears to be..." Botello started
*BeepBop* The e-mail alert rang.
"Then how did whomever wrote it know about e-mail?" She said as she cocked one eyebrow.