Candice the Secretary met me at the door of the student council room after school the next day. She checked a name off the list in front of her. “Meeting’s cancelled for today,” she reported. “Mr. Leopold got called into some meetings with the superintendant.
“Really?” I looked into the empty room. I wanted to be suspicious, but Candice was the secretary. She always took care of meeting arrangements. “So tomorrow?”
Candice nodded. “Yup.”
I looked inside again, then at my watch. I was already five minutes late. Others would be inside if Candice was lying.”Okay.” I slipped my other arm through the strap of my backpack and walked off down the hall.
Polly called me twenty minutes later, sounding frantic. “Where are you?”
“At home. …”
“You’re supposed to be at the emergency meeting. Both you and Danton? Why aren’t you there? Louie and Marie already talked Mr. Leopold into kicking Robbie out since he wasn’t technically on student council—”
“There’s no emergency meeting. Candice told me it was cancelled. I saw with my own eyes that no one was there.” I stood up though, knowing instinctively that Marie and Candice played me.
“Louie made Mr. Leopold move it so Robbie couldn’t barge in with a protest or something. They’re meeting in his office. And I can see things aren’t going good. Without your or Danton, the younger kids are getting steam rolled.”
I dashed down the stairs, yelling at my mom about a meeting, and dashed out the door. “How do you know?” I asked as I sprinted down the sidewalk.
“You think Robbie would really stay out of it? We’re in a tree outside Mr. Leopold’s office, watching through the window with binoculars.”
I tried not to waste my breath on laughing at that image. I still have five more blocks to go. “I’m on my way. Have you called Danton?”
She hung up. I presumed that meant no. I kicked it in gear, running faster than I ever remembered. My chest burned by the time I reached the front doors of the school, but I didn’t slow down. I careened around a corner just in time to see students filing out of Mr. Leopold’s office.
“Oh, there you are, Char,” Marie said sweetly from beside Mr. Leopold. “You’re late.”
“Candice … she …” I pointed at the secretary, who looked just as innocent. Being so out of breath I couldn’t form a complete word seemed like a mistake now. “No … meeting,” I gasped.
Mr. Leopold raised an eyebrow. “Candice was asked to tell the representatives that the meeting had been moved.”
I shook my head, but I still couldn’t manage to speak. For some reason gulping down air seemed more important. “No,” I repeated.
“Sorry you misunderstood,” Candice shrugged. “But it’s okay. The council came to a decision. We voted unanimously to keep Marie as Events Committee Chairwoman.”
“What!” I gasped. I had to lean over and put my hands on my knees.
“Don’t worry,” Marie gave me a soft pat on the shoulder. “We agreed I would cancel the Jam String.”
“That’s … all?” I forced myself to stand up straight and stare her down.
“If you cared so much, you should’ve been at the meeting, Char.” Marie frowned patronizingly at me and walked by.
I wanted to shout at her the underhanded means she used to keep me away, but I knew that it was my own fault for believing Candice so easily. I sucked down a deep breath, enough to get out a full statement without sounding having to pause. “This isn’t over.”She smiled and kept walking.