“Miss Andrews, this is a matter of utmost importance. We need to know if you discussed anything that would give us an idea of where she might be at this time.” He stood over her desk and jabbed at the official looking documents signed by judges with salaries she couldn’t even dream of.
“I told you. My sessions are confidential.” Alexis was so suspicious you’d have considered it paranoid. Keyla had, until these men came to interview her. Now it seemed somewhat justified.
“I don’t think you understand Miss Andrews. She may be in significant danger. Surely you can break confidentiality for the health and wellbeing of your patient?” He didn’t raise his voice, but it projected a level of threat that made the hairs on the back of Kayla’s arms prickle.
“How is she in danger? Could you specify? I really don’t see how anything discussed in our sessions has any bearing on what you’ve been saying. It’s confidential.” There was nothing Alexis said that suggested she would do anything to would harm anyone. She seemed like such a gentle girl.
“You are required to break that confidentiality if the student is a threat to others. We believe that this is the case, just look at what she was capable of in this very school.” Okay, that was a bit unexpected. “We also have a witness, a teacher who knew her very well, testify that she killed two men. That’s two that we know of.”
A pair of photos landed on her desk. Corpses. Pale, verging on blue. One’s face was beaten beyond recognition, the other was a nasty wound in the eye. Alexis couldn’t have done that. They were just trying to shock her. “I can legally break confidentiality if I so choose, and only when something specifically discussed within the session will lead to harm to others. She made no such statement and I got no impression from her that it was the case.” Keyla stood from her chair. “What happened in this school was unfortunate but it doesn’t warrant me to break the laws I am required to uphold. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“You don’t have the power to ask us to leave Miss Andrews.” And they didn’t.
“This is my office, and I am requesting this interview end now.”
“This isn’t your office anymore. I can have you removed from your position of counsellor if you are not going to comply with our investigation Miss Andrews,” he said.
Remove? They could get her fired?
“You licence, how long did you study for it?” he said.
“You can’t do that.” She replied, dumbfounded.
“I can, and I will. Tell us what she discussed, even if you don’t think it’s relevant. We want your notes on the interviews you had with Alexis Loch.”
No. “No.” She wasn’t even hiding something. Alexis hadn’t said anything that these men could possibly want. But she couldn’t betray trust of a student for any reason, not even for her career.
It was lucky she didn’t keep that particular file in her desk…
* * *
Emma packed up her books into the backpack her father had bought her for her birthday. She couldn’t say she hated it, actually, it was probably something she’d like. That was, she’d like it if the girls at school liked it.
They hadn’t. Backpacks weren’t to be worn. Shoulder bags, satchels, that was in. But she couldn’t let her father know she really didn’t want to wear it.
Besides. She did like the colour, and it was more comfortable. You could fit more books in it… And school had gotten so much better since it had happened. Emma feared Haley would escalate. The next day, she dreaded coming to school. How would Haley get her revenge? What was she going to do to get payback on Alexis?
Except she didn’t turn up. Not that day, or the next week.
Soon the rumour mill started churning. All kinds of stories started running through school like wildfire. There was talk that Alexis and Haley had both fallen for the same boy and Alex had attacked Haley in a bitter rivalry. Others insisted that Alex lived in a home for the mentally deranged and had lashed out in a fit of deranged anger. One girl swore she’d seen Haley getting CPR, that she’d been pronounced dead in hospital that night.
It was all rubbish of course. Haley had come back, but she had certainly changed. Her nose was still bruised, only half healed. She kept her head down. Emma didn’t come across her in the corridor. Haley didn’t eat in the canteen so she didn’t see her there. She was obviously exempt from gym.
In the one class they shared she’d sat at the back and hadn’t said a word. To anyone.
Emma finished packing her books, threw the bag over her shoulder and left with a nervous smile goodbye to the teacher. She lingered after class out of habit. Leaving school ten minutes late was easier. No one to trip you up on your way out. Anyone waiting for you was likely to get bored and find something else to do unless they were really committed. But since the incident she’d faced no trouble beyond the odd half-teasing comment, and those had been tentative as if testing the water.
Everyone was scared someone would go crazy like Alexis did. You could never tell who was normal and who wasn’t. It seemed she was a quiet, weird girl – not a murderous maniac that would lash out ‘unprovoked’ like that. Who knows who else would snap with a bit of teasing?
The corridors were empty. Emma’s steps echoed off the bare walls. She’d thought a lot about what had happened. It was the first time anyone at school had actually done anything for her. It was the first time she felt she’d really had a friend to back her up. Alex had even said it.
“Don’t fuck with my friends.” Emma whispered to herself, like she had done numerous times since. The only problem was, well, Alex was gone. Emma didn’t believe what people were saying about her being on the run from the police. No one got in that much trouble for breaking someone’s arm at school surely? But Alex said she’d be in ‘regular contact’.
But she hadn’t. She’d gone.
Was that just a lie for Haley? The teachers wouldn’t say anything about it. There was no assembly like there was when a boy from the grade above got hit by a car last year. Other than the lame generic ‘violence awareness’ which skirted around all the issues that applied to anyone, all authority figures had held a wall of silence. Alexis had just stopped coming to school.
A dry cough echoed down the corridor. Not a cough, an ‘excuse me’ type clearing of the throat. Emma had been so lost in thought she hadn’t been paying attention to where she was going. Normally she’d be more aware approaching the main exit. Anyone could be waiting for her.
And someone was waiting for her.
Just like she always did. Nothing had changed at all. Things never changed.
Emma turned on her heel and started walking in the opposite direction, doubling her pace. Maybe she hadn’t noticed. No, Haley had looked right at her… but maybe… Please?
Each step that rang out in the barren corridor wasn’t so alone: they had another echo. Someone was walking behind her. It was going to start all over again. Maybe she could find Alex, tell her that Haley hadn’t gotten the message. Maybe she’d come back and-