Slammed, p.33
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       Slammed, p.33

         Part #1 of Slammed series by Colleen Hoover

  "What about Will? What's he going to do?" she asks before she closes the door.

  "I don't know," I reply. Because at first, I think her question is referring to what he's going to do about Javi. But after she shuts the door, I realize she's asking what he's going to do about his job.

  I lie awake for hours after that, dissecting the situation. We weren't on school grounds. He was defending me. Maybe Javi won't say anything. Will did throw the first punch, though. And the third. And the fourth. And probably would have thrown the fifth if Gavin wouldn't have walked up when he did. I try to recall every small detail of the entire night, in case I'm asked to defend his actions tomorrow.


  The next day, I wake up to find Caulder in my kitchen with Kel eating cereal.

  "Hey. My brother can't take us today. Says he has something he has to do."

  "What does he have to do?"

  Caulder shrugs. "I dunno. He brought your jeep home this morning. Then he left again." A spoonful of fruit loops goes into his mouth.


  I can barely sit through my first two classes. Eddie and I spend second period writing notes back and forth. I told her everything that happened last night. Everything except for Will's poem.

  I feel like I'm floating as we walk to third period. Almost like in my dreams when I'm hovering above myself, watching myself walk. I feel like I'm not in control of my actions, I'm just observing them as they are carried out. Eddie opens the door and walks in first. I follow slowly behind her as I make my way through the classroom door. Will isn't here yet. Neither is Javi. I inhale as I take my seat. The bustling of the conversation among the other classmates is briefly interrupted by a crackling over the intercom.

  "Layken Cohen, please report to administration."

  I immediately swing around and look at Eddie. She gives me a half-hearted smile and a thumbs up. She's just as nervous as I am.

  There are several people in the office when I walk in. I recognize the principal, Mr. Murphy, speaking with two men I don't recognize. When he notices me walk in, he nods and motions for me to follow him through the door. When I enter the room, Will is seated with his arms folded at the table. He doesn't look up at me. This doesn't look good.

  "Mrs. Cohen, please take a seat," Mr. Murphy says to me as he seats himself at the other head, opposite Will.

  I choose the chair closest to me.

  "This is Mr. Chorizo, Javier's father," says Mr. Murphy, motioning toward the man I didn't recognize.

  Mr. Chorizo is sitting across from me. He stands slightly and reaches across the table and shakes my hand.

  "This is Officer Venturelli," he says of the other man.

  He follows suit and leans across the table, shaking my hand.

  "I'm sure you know why you're here. It is our understanding that there was an incident involving Mr. Cooper that occurred off of school grounds," he says, pausing in case I need to object. I don't.

  "We would appreciate it if you could tell us your version of events."

  I glance toward Will and he gives me an ever so slight nod, letting me know he wants me to tell the truth. So I do. For fifteen minutes I explain in honest detail everything that happened last night. Everything except for Will's poem.

  When I'm finished with the details and the questions have all been asked, I’m released to return to class. As I get up to leave, Mr. Chorizo calls after me.

  "Ms. Cohen?"

  I turn and look at him.

  "I just want to say I'm sorry. I apologize for my son's behavior."

  "Thank you," I say. I turn and make my way back to the classroom.

  A substitute is filling in for Will. She's an older lady who I've seen in the halls before, so she must also be a teacher here. I quietly take my seat. I can't think about anything other than Will, and if I'm about to be the reason he loses his job.

  When the bell rings, the class begins to file out and I turn to Eddie.

  "What happened?" she says.

  I tell her what happened, and that I still don't know anything. I linger outside the classroom door for a while, waiting for Will to return but he never does. During fourth period, I realize I'm not in the state of mind to learn anything, so I give myself the rest of the day off.

  When I turn onto our street, Will's car is in his driveway. I pull my jeep up to the curb and don't even bother pulling into the driveway. I throw it in park and quickly run across the street. As soon as I'm about to knock on the door, it swings open and Will is standing there with his satchel slung across his shoulder and his jacket on.

  "What are you doing here?" he says with a surprised look on his face.

  "I saw your car," I say. "What happened?"

  He doesn't invite me in. Instead, he walks outside and locks the door behind him.

  "I resigned. They withdrew my contract," he says as he walks toward his car.

  "But you only have eight weeks left of student teaching. It wasn't your fault, Will. They can't do that!"

  He shakes his head. "No, it's not like that. I wasn't fired. We just all thought it was best if I finished my student teaching at a different school, away from Javier. I've got a meeting with my faculty advisor in half an hour, that's where I'm headed."

  He opens his door and removes his jacket and satchel, throwing them into the passenger seat.

  "But what about your job?" I ask as I hold onto the door, not wanting him to shut it. I have so many questions. "So you're saying you don't have an income now? What are you going to do?"

  He smiles at me and emerges back out of the car as he places his hands on my shoulders.

  "Layken, calm down. I'll figure it out. But right now, I've got to go." He gets back inside, shuts his door, and rolls down his window.

  "If I'm not home in time, can Caulder stay with you guys after school?"

  "Sure," I say.

  "We're leaving pretty early to go to my grandparents tomorrow, can you make sure he doesn't eat any sugar? He needs to get to bed early," he says as he slowly backs out of the driveway.

  "Sure," I say.

  "And Layken? Calm down."

  "Sure," I say again.

  And he's gone. Just like that.


  “Close the laundry door

  Tiptoe across the floor

  Keep your clothes on

  I got all that I can take

  Teach me how to use

  The love that people say you made.”

  -The Avett Brothers, Laundry Room

  Chapter Eighteen

  I spend the rest of the afternoon helping my mother clean. It keeps my mind occupied. She never once asks why I'm not at school. I guess she's leaving the mundane things up to me now. When it's time to pick Caulder and Kel up, Will still isn't home. I bring both of the boys back to the house and we begin another discussion on Halloween costumes.

  "I know what I want to be now," Kel says to my mother.

  She is folding clothes in the living room. She lays a towel on the back of the couch and looks at Kel, “What are you going to be, Sweetie?”

  He smiles at her. "Your lung cancer," he says.

  She is so used to the things that come out of Kel's mouth, she doesn't skip a beat.

  "Oh yeah? Do they sell those at Wal-Mart?"

  "I don’t think so," he says as he grabs a drink out of the refrigerator. "Maybe you could make it. I want to be a lung."

  "Hey," Caulder says. "Can I be the other lung?"

  My mom laughs as she grabs a pen and paper off the bar and sits down. "Well, I guess we better figure out how to sew a pair of cancerous lungs."

  Kel and Caulder flock to her and start spitting out ideas.

  "Mom," I say flatly. "You're not."

  She looks up from her sketch at me and smiles. "Lake, if my baby boy wants to be a cancerous lung for Halloween, then I'm going to make sure he's the best cancerous, tumor-ridden lung there is."

  I roll my eyes and join them at the bar, writing down a list of the supplies
we'll need.


  After we return from the store with the supplies and materials needed for the cancerous lung costumes, Will pulls up in his driveway.

  "Will!" Caulder runs across the street and grabs his hand, pulling him toward our house. "Wait 'till you see this!"

  Will helps my mother and I grab the supplies out of the trunk and we all head inside.

  "Guess what we're going to be? For Halloween?" Caulder is beaming as he stands in the kitchen, pointing at the supplies on the floor.


  "Julia's cancer!" Caulder says, excitedly.

  Will raises his eyebrows and glances at my mother who has just returned from her bedroom with a sewing machine.

  "You only live once, right?" She places the sewing machine on the bar.

  "She's letting us make the tumors for the lungs," Kel says. "You wanna make one? I'll let you make the big one."


  "Kel," I say. "Will and Caulder can't help, they'll be out of town all weekend." I carry two of the sacks to the bar and start unpacking them.

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