Beyond Vica

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     “Gabby? Please come with me.” I startle at the voice of our school’s guidance counselor, Mrs. Hershey. She motions for me. Her smile is pleasant, but not overly warm. Her straight brown hair matches the color of her eyes. I rise and follow her down the narrow hall inside the main office. Her heels click on the tile.

“Have a seat in here." She opens her office door at the end of the hall and steps aside to let me enter. I was in her office at the beginning of the school year for a change in my class schedule. That was the only time I’ve spoken to her other than to say hello in the hall.

I swallow hard and sit in a red-cushioned chair across from her wooden desk. She wheels a black vinyl chair up to her desk. “I understand you were upset today in math.” Her eyes study me.

Is she telling me or asking me? “Yeah. A little,” I mumble.

“Would you like to tell me what happened?”

“Not really.” I focus on picking my nails. What am I supposed to say? I couldn’t take the chair’s teasing any longer. She’d write Dr. Phil for an immediate intervention. I’d be sent away someplace.

“I read your creative writing assignment. You’re a good writer.” Her voice is low and even.

My head snaps up. She has my writing papers in her hands. I feel betrayed by my English teacher. She had said all writing pieces were between us unless she asks our permission to share them.

“Mrs. Smith would like to submit it to a journal for young people, but she thought I should read it first,” Mrs. Hershey says. “It sounds like the land beyond Vica is a wonderful place. Tell me how you came up with Vica.”

I study her for a long time before I answer. It’s not easy for me to let people in on my friendship with Sam. I’ve wanted to preserve every memory. Keep it tight, like if I share anything, it’s no longer mine. I swallow and tell her the story of Brody, Sam, and me naming the stars in the upside-down V. I leave out the details of how Sam said the three stars are us.

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