Atalanta's Story Continued: Reaching Home Chapter 16

Since I didn't have any problems posting the last addition I thought I'd add this chapter by itself as it sets up the next two chapters. The much anticipated field trip begins as the group of high schoolers attend a lecture on the theatre. Atalanta gets an idea but it is not one either school will like. I also want to thank Ashleigh for her fine editing skills, she makes my writing a lot better.

I hope you enjoy this chapter.

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Chapter 16

Sometime later

Whateley’s green and white van stopped in front of the school’s administration office. Mrs. Snodgrass had wrangled, or fostered an invitation for us to attend a lecture at the Ivy League college that Dr. Bellows mentioned two weeks earlier. She as it turned out was a member of the theater troop, but that Mrs. Carson agreed to the field trip was the biggest surprise. A second van parked beside us unloaded it’s passengers too. Last to pull in and park was our security detail Manny and Sam among those worthy individuals.

There were thirty-one students; us girls in plaid skirts, knee high socks, starched white shirts, and blue blazers with Whateley emblem and our cottages on the lapel. The boys except for slacks were dressed similarly.

“Amazing,” I breathed looking at manicured grounds that were just turning green, at the vibrant flowers waking from their long winter sleep, at the brick walks that led to the gothic buildings that surrounded them. I could almost feel the dreams and aspirations of the founders in the brick and in the stained windows.

“It is,” Manny agreed from beside me.

“Now children,” Mrs. Snodgrass called from her position at the head of our group, “line up by twos and walk in orderly. The person beside you is your partner; you keep each in sight and in line. Okay,” she turned her back and marched to the front entrance. The sound of 80 feet hitting the cobblestones in unison followed, ringing in the clear spring air.

Inside I was one of many that craned our necks to look at vaunted ceilings some at least 60 feet high. Without being told footfalls lightly touched the polished floors of the halls inside. As we walked passed classrooms and halls I could hear the whispers of students eager to learn, and of sacrifices made by the students, their parents, and instructors. Industrial, political, and scientific national leaders had graduated from this school and others like them.

We pushed through a set of double doors emerging into the latest addition of steel and glass into a frenetic energy reflected in steady up ringing as our soles hit tiles. Both my mind and my body took note of this scrambled noise.

Mrs. Snodgrass grouped us at an alcove in front of twin sets of double doors, “You guys sit tight while I find out which lecture hall we are supposed to be in. If you need to use the restroom,” she pointed to a set of doors with the requisite door symbols.

I waited in line behind the other girls and again reflected on why more stalls weren’t in the ladies room. Overall, I had few complaints changing from male to female; even the dreaded monthly visits didn’t irritate me as much as sitting to pee did. Maybe that was because I had to “go’ several times each day.

The line finally dried up and I did my “business” and opening the stall door walked over to the sink to wash up.

The scene in the mirror gave way to that of a young girl dressed in rough dirty shirt, pants, and a hat. Wide-eyed her breaths came in shaky gulps as she held a cap and ball revolver in two hands. Suddenly I was peering between slots in a camouflaged root cellar at the carnage unfolding. The girl’s name was Molly and she was just 16 and the year was 1865—April or May and the war was just days from ending.

Deserters—criminals—from both sides and in all colors were let loose on the countryside to wreak havoc in absence of law and order, some say encouraged by the union. I felt her heart racing and saw the battles she had to fight in her young life to survive.

Tears stung my eyes as anger swelled in my breast at the cowards who preyed on the weak, young, and unskilled. I was suddenly jerked back to the present as the outside door swung in admitting a 20-something ruddy faced woman with shimmering eyes too large for her body. A vein jumped along her neck. Her hands were clenched.

I had just seen a similar look on another face.

“What’s the matter? Can I help?”

Where had that come from? Mrs. Carson would kill me. Screw Mrs. Carson!

She stopped her headlong flight and looked up at me. Though she was several years my senior; it didn’t seem to matter.
“We hired this guy to speak at our club and a bunch of protestors have shown up and taken over the stage and won’t let him speak.”

“Who is this guy?”

She described a newspaper editor who leads an alternate lifestyle and finished by saying, “I think it is because he doesn’t fit their stereotype of what a gay should say and think.”

I smiled broadly feeling heat reach my cheekbones.

Stereotypes: just another form for labels. Screw’em.

“And you want to hear this guy speak,” I prompted her.

“Yes…we all do, but I’m afraid that the meeting is about to break up.”

An idea formed. “Think you can go back in there and tell them to hold on for 15 minutes longer?”

“Sure but what can you do?”

Grinning I drawled, “Enough but you’ll have to wait 15 minutes to see.”

“Okay,” she replied straightening up, “I’ll make’em wait.”

“That’s the spirit,” I beamed and whispered over my shoulder as we reached the door, “remember—15 minutes.”

Manny was waiting outside when for me when we left the restroom parting ways just outside the doors. “Hang in there.”

“Thanks.”

“What was that about,” Manny asked his gaze narrowing, opening the door to the lecture room.

“Boyfriend trouble,” I replied knowing Manny wouldn’t ask farther as he good naturedly rolled his eyes.

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This story is 1075 words long.