Bzzzzzzzzz. Finally, McKenna thought. Lunch time.
McKenna gathered her belongings, then followed a herd of students as they streamed into the hallway. McKenna stopped by her locker, dialed her combination, then stared at her sack lunch sitting crumpled on her math book. Finally, after a moment of staring, she succumbed by snatching it up and heading toward the front foyer of the school.
She was supposed to meet Greg by their school statue, a bronze viking who looked like a leader announcing the call to battle. Because the viking was in such a warrior pose with sword held high and shield bracing oncoming evils, Greg had always said the viking would be the first warrior to head off a zombie attack. Greg and McKenna met at the statue every Wednesday for Zombie Club, where they learned how they would fight off zombies in an attack. The club was not so much about if there was attack but rather when there would be an attack. McKenna didn't fully believe in zombies and an apocalypse of them, but she liked to support her friends and their interests.
McKenna walked over to lean against the railing protecting the school's precious mascot and looked through her texts while she waited for Greg to arrive. However, after a moment of clicking through her phone, she sensed someone staring.
Cautiously, she looked all around her. The hallway was quickly emptying with students either headed to lunch or class, so there weren't many people to watch. A couple walked together, laughing arm in arm. A lone girl huffed by, clearly late for class. The front office receptionist stared at her computer, clicking periodically and picking at a half-eaten salad.
Finally, McKenna casually turned around and saw two figures standing stationary on the other side of the viking statue. She could only see their feet. It appeared to be two men, both with jeans, one with socks and Birkenstocks, the other with gray Converse sneakers. She could hear them whispering and saw the finger of the one with Birkenstocks below the viking's shield, pointing right at her. Were these the people who she could feel staring at her?
Suddenly, she got a sick feeling in her stomach. Lunch, she knew, would not be on her agenda today. She backed away from the viking quietly and headed as nonchalantly as she could back toward her locker. Once she turned the corner, she ran through the hall and ducked into the doorway to the school's copy room.
Why she felt nervous, she couldn't figure out. One of the guys was older, but the other appeared to be her age. Maybe it was just his dad, pointing something out on the plaque of the viking statue. Trying to figure out her next move, McKenna suddenly realized she was empty-handed.
She'd left her sack lunch by the statue.
Blast, she thought. I don't want to go back there now.
She flinched as a group of students walked by. Then she took a deep breath. You're fine, you're fine, she chanted to herself.
Deciding she should really just calm down and see if Greg had ever gotten his zombie butt over to the statue, she crept out from behind the corner. The only person she glimpsed was a lone boy with a bright blue t-shirt and jeans, walking down the hallway away from her. With her sack lunch.
No, wait, she thought. That isn't mine; surely he brought his own and is just headed to the cafeteria to eat.
Her brain worked so murder mystery-like sometimes. This sack lunch day had to be over soon or she'd go crazy.
As she walked back through the hallway to the statue, she realized that the boy was headed in the same direction. He took his time walking, running his fingers along the reddish brick wall of the school as he went. Curious, McKenna slowed down her pace to watch him. Finally, she watched the boy's fingers launch away from the bricks as the wall ended and they arrived in the front foyer of the school.
She glanced over at the statue to locate her lunch. It wasn't anywhere in sight.
Shoot, she thought. What if I actually do get hungry?
The boy turned to lean against the statue as she approached it. He smiled at her and she politely smiled back, not recognizing him. She didn't see anyone lurking behind the viking, so she felt better now, safer. Hopping up on the railing to wait a little longer for Greg, she noticed that the boy beside her smelled nice. Like fresh, minty soap. Then she happened to notice his shoes.
She looked back up at him and he stared at her with a half smile, his hands gripping the railing. Only a brief few seconds passed of her looking into deep, brown eyes that seemed to graze her soul before he suddenly hopped off the railing and disappeared around the other side of the statue.
McKenna froze. There's no way, she thought incredulously. That was not him.
That boy who had haunted her dreams for ages.
Knowing she had to chase after him, at least to look into his eyes again, she flung herself from the railing to run around the statue. She kicked a brown paper bag in the process. She paused. Was this her lunch or the boy's lunch?
She supposed she could at least have an excuse to talk to the boy with the haunting eyes if she had his lunch. So she unrolled the paper, peeking inside to see what was within. She saw the lunch her mother had packed and a small piece of paper. A note from her mother?
Her fingers wrapped around the tiny roll of paper that had been sitting atop the contents of the lunch. Unfurling it, she read:
Meet me by the willow tree on the end of your street at 4. Just you and me. I need your help and I have answers for you about Paris.
McKenna gasped and dropped the paper. She hurriedly ran to the other side of the viking, frantically searched from left to right, but the boy was no where in sight. Dumbfounded and stricken with the memories of Paris rushing back to her, she made her way back to the brown paper bag lying crinkled on the tile floor.
A meeting with the boy... What if he wouldn't really be alone? The man with the newspaper had to have been the other figure behind the statue, she thought. That guy creeped her out beyond measure. Her brain had perused so many possibilities as to his role in the Parisian paper bag incident, most being villainous. So was it worth the risk of going to meet the boy?
Picking up that tiny scroll and rereading the tiny paper, she realized something. There was no way she could ever turn down this opportunity. A meeting that could help her understand the mystery which had been hiding inside her for so long that she could not solve alone. She had to take the chance to find answers and talk to the brown-eyed boy.