Chapter 4:


School of Redemption

               “Yes, thank you.” Laverna finished giving her statement to the police officer and began walking towards Mictian, who sat on a rock nearby staring dazed at the ground.

               “You okay?” she asked, stopping in front of him. Night had already fallen, but the area was illuminated by the red and blue flashes of the police cars that surrounded them. Mictian let out a shuddered breath.

               “Not really,” he said. “It’s just… it’s just a lot to take in, you know?” Laverna sat down next to him. She completely understood what he felt because she felt it too; the anxiety, the fear, the confusion, they all came together to produce something gunbearable. She had felt the same mix of emotions when her father left and again when her mother died. She had some experience with managing them. Mictian, on the other hand, had no experience with these emotions, and they were slowly breaking him down from the inside.

               “It’ll be okay,” she said softly, wrapping her arms around him. No matter what she was feeling inside, she vowed to be strong and be the support Mictian needed. He rested his head on hers. A tear splashed onto her arm as the soft wave of tears began to fall from Mictian’s eyes.

               “I didn’t even know the guy,” he croaked. He wiped his face with his hand. “Why am I…” he paused in an attempt to stop the floodgates from opening. “Why am I crying?”

               “Don’t hold anything back,” Laverna replied. “Let it all out.” She squeezed him tightly as the tears began flowing faster and faster. They stayed motionless for a while, isolated from the world.

               “Laverna?” Mictian said finally. He had stopped crying, but his voice still shook from anxiety.

               “Yes?” she replied.

               “Never leave me.” The words carried a sort of weight to them that couldn’t be ignored. She lifted her head and looked up at him.

               “Idiot,” she started, offering a weak smile. “You’re stuck with me for life.”

               “Good.” The two chuckled, comforting themselves in each other’s arms.

               Across the courtyard, Hecate sat with Kasdeya surveying the situation.

               “What do you think happened?” Hecate asked.

               “Not sure,” Kasdeya replied. She paused. “Wait, isn’t that Laverna and Mictian?” She had just noticed the two sitting slightly away from the scene, faces illuminated by police lights.

               “I think so,” Hecate said, squinting her eyes in an effort to see them more clearly. “They seem close.” Taking a moment of pause, she continued. “Should we go to them?”

               “Are you kidding? There’s police there.” Hecate looked down, as if suddenly realizing something.

               “Oh,” she said finally. “You’re right.”

               “Let’s go then.” The two walked away towards the dorm, occasionally glancing over their shoulder. “They better not have screwed up our grade,” Kasdeya muttered under her breath.

               A police officer approached Laverna and Mictian. Seeing her, the two straightened themselves out and stood up.

               “You’re free to go,” the officer said sternly. “We’ll call you if we have any further questions.” The pair nodded.

               “Um…excuse me,” Mictian stammered just as the officer began to turn away. She looked back at them. “Could we…maybe be escorted back to our dorm?”

               “It’s just…we’re nervous is all,” Laverna added. “With everything that happened…” her voice trailed off.

               “Give me a second,” the officer replied speaking into her radio. A stacky response replied, and the officer turned her attention back to the two. “I’ll take you back.”

               “Thank you,” Laverna replied. The officer nodded.

               “You’ve got nothing to worry about with me here.” With that, the three began their walk towards the dorm.

               Eyes wide, Laverna and Mictian glance frantically around as they inched along the path. Laverna stiffened every time a twig snapped or leaves rustled. As nervous as she was, Mictian was far worse. At the start of the walk, he had firmly held on to her arm and refused to let go.

               “I didn’t realize you were such a scaredy cat,” she joked, trying to lighten the mood a little. The leaves rustled and both of their heads snapped to look in the direction of the noise.

               “Shut up,” he groaned. “Like you’re one to talk.”

               “It’s this one, right?” The officer’s question brought them out of their banter.

               “Yeah,” Laverna replied. “Thanks.” The officer turned around and began walking back towards the crime scene. Laverna and Mictian continued into the dorm building. She wasn’t in any mood to talk to the person at the front desk, so she decided to drop off the burgled items in the morning. The two traveled up the stairs and to her room with Mictian still firmly attached to her arm.

               “You can let go now,” Laverna said, turning her head to look at him. He looked back up at her and made a face like a puppy. She sighed. “Alright, fine.” As much as she didn’t show it on the outside, she didn’t want him to go either. The event of the evening had taken a heavy mental and physical toll on both of them, and she felt much more at ease with Mictian around.

               She took her key out of her pocket and put it into the keyhole, but something was wrong.

               “Mictian,” she said, voice shaking. Sensing something was off, he let go of her arm.

               “What?” he questioned nervously. She returned her key to her pocket and took a small step away from the door. Her chest throbbed as her heart tried to escape. Her breathing became quicker and shallower.

               “It’s already unlocked.” There was a silent pause.

               “Maybe you forgot to lock it?”

               “I’m certain I locked it.”

               “So... my room?” Mictian suggested. Laverna quickly nodded. The two rushed back down the hall towards the stairs, not pausing for a moment to look behind them. Mictian reached back and grabbed her hand as if he was afraid of leaving her behind. She squeezed his hand tightly as they sprinted up the two flights of stairs that separated their floors.

               Mictian’s room was right next to the stairs, so they stopped immediately upon reaching the floor. He fished his key out of his pocket, hands shaking and sweaty. Laverna watched their back, breathing heavy and nerves on end. Her eyes darted around, searching for any sign they had been followed. The lock clicked behind her and the door swung open. Mictian rushed in with Laverna right behind him. As soon as they were both inside, they slammed the door shut and slid the deadbolt into place. With her back leaning against the door, she sank down to the floor. Mictian staggered over to and collapsed onto his bed, face down. The two stayed like that for what seemed like hours, finally letting themselves calm down. Laverna forced herself to take deep breaths, calming her nerves and slowing her heartbeat. As the adrenaline started to wear off, she realized just how bad a shape she was in. Every muscle in her body felt like they had been thrown against a wall. Her head felt heavy, and her lungs burned. She was, in every sense of the word, tired. Mictian’s bed looked awfully comfortable in her exhausted state, and Laverna didn’t care enough to hold herself back. She stood up, but quickly returned to the floor after feeling lightheaded. Waiting until she recovered, she crawled over to Mictian.

               “Move over. I’m taking half.” Not waiting for a response, she climbed onto the bed and curled up. She wanted to forget everything that had happened that day, but she couldn’t get it out of her mind. Her heart raced once again as she relived the memories of the murder, the chase, and what happened outside her dorm room. Trying to distract herself from her thoughts, she turned and looked at Mictian. He returned her gaze without moving his head. Both were too exhausted to say anything.

               “Goodnight,” Mictian said finally, closing his eyes.

               “Goodnight,” she replied, rolling onto her back.

               Laverna couldn’t sleep. She lay staring at the ceiling for what seemed like eternity. Mictian had long since fallen asleep, but Laverna couldn’t manage to join him. Every time she closed her eyes, the day’s events kept replaying in her mind. Eventually, she had just given up. Careful not to disturb Mictian, she got up and went to the bathroom connected to his dorm. She turned on the light and took a look at herself in the mirror. Her hair was comparable to a bird’s nest, and there were large bags under her eyes, no doubt caused by her inability to sleep.

               “Ugh,” she groaned. She was trying to be the pillar of strength that Mictian needed, but the face looking back at her in the mirror was anything but that. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The turmoil of emotions she felt inside wanted to bubble up and boil over telling her to let them out. Scream, cry, it didn’t matter, just as long as they could be shown to the world. Tears began to form in the corner of her eyes, but she held them back, wiping them away with her hand. She couldn’t give in now, not when Mictian needed her. He had helped her and her brother so much in the past that she felt indebted to him. This time, it was her turn to help him. Like he had been there for her in the past, she would be there for him. If that meant concealing what she felt, it would be worth it.

               Laverna looked at herself in the mirror again. She ran her fingers through her hair, removing the tangles as best as she could. I was still disheveled but looked more like her usual hairstyle. She turned on the sink and splashed water on her face.

               “Alright,” she said to herself, catching her eye in the mirror. Her green eyes were sharp and attentive. The remainder of the water on her face soaked into her hair and dripped onto the ground. She sighed. “Good enough.”

               “Laverna!” She jumped as Mictian suddenly yelled, voice full of worry. “Where are you?” She rushed out of the bathroom.

               “I’m here, I’m here,” she replied, rushing over to him. He was sitting up, half covered by the blanket.

               “I’m…I’m sorry,” he said, voice shaking. “I just woke up and you weren’t here and I got scared--”

               “It’s alright.” She sat down on the bed and hugged him. “I’m here now.”

               Laverna was sure her decision was right. In his current state, Mictian needed someone to rely on, and she would be that someone, no matter the cost.