GENRE: YA Contemporary
I sat behind you in world history. That Monday, when everyone assumed you were absent, home sick or whatever, I remember staring at Jahmil's hair. I usually couldn't see the back of his head since you were always there in front of me, but that day you weren't and we were discussing battle dates, so I let my mind wander to the dreds Jahmil was growing. I wondered how long he was going to let them get and imagined what my mother would say if I wanted to do dreds. The salon on Third, they'd probably do a good job--I could check them out. Later I wondered if that's when you did it, while I was sitting in class thinking about Jahmil's hair.
The next day when the rumors caught and crackled down halls, smoldered at lockers and ignited in classrooms, your empty seat was wildfire. We couldn't stop staring at it. Mr. Lucas tried to ignore the distraction, but his eyes kept darting nervously over to your desk while he explained the assassination of emperor whoever. Finally Evan raised his hand. We all knew he wasn't going to ask about anarchists.
"Yes, Evan," Mr. Lucas exhaled uneasily. He knew what was coming.
"Um, Emily's not here, and people are saying...you know."
Mr. Lucas looked at Evan, then uncomfortably around the room at the rest of us. He coughed into his fist. "Yes, we've all heard the rumors, but we don't have the facts."