Garrison pinched the bridge of his nose before turning back to the two eager faces of his friends. "You guys are insufferable sometimes." He muttered, shaking his head in exasperation.
"You know, the fact that we're so persistent makes us good friends if you think about it." One of them said, placing her hand on her hip. "Valerie, just let him be. It's better if you don't provoke anyone else today." The other glanced at the girl, patiently waiting for her response.
"Please, Luke? Come on, we have a chance to help him, and I refuse to let it go by without a shot!" The girl looked at him pleadingly, until Luke gave in and shrugged.
"Fine. But don't say I didn't warn you."
Garrison just stood there awkwardly, waiting for them to remember.
"You guys...you realize I am literally right in front of you and can hear everything you say? For the record, Valerie, there really is not much of a point in trying to help me study. I try and try, and somehow still fail. I'll just review some notes when I get home."
She shot him a sharp look. "You're kidding, right? Your English final is in 2 days, and all you're going to do is review notes? At least come with me and Luke to the library. Your aunt's going to be home late tonight, right?"
He nodded. If he was going to be honest, Valerie had a good point.
"Well then, you have no other excuse. So let's go." She gripped his wrist and started walking towards the entrance of the school, leaving him no other choice than to be dragged along.
Garrison glanced over his shoulder, and Luke was trailing behind, his hands shoved in his pockets. "You convinced her to do this, didn't you?" He asked.
"Well," Luke just shrugged again. "Finals are coming up. And I also don't want to see you fail. So here we are."
He shook his head again, keeping his eyes glued to the ground to hide the smile that bloomed on his face. These two. Always so determined. If Garrison didn't want to keep the sliver of dignity he had left, he would've said it was almost endearing.
Valerie pushed open the door and led the both of them out.
"Let's go, let's go!" She kept leading them on until they stopped at a crosswalk, waiting for the signal.
Garrison stared down at her head, her mocha curls wrapped in two messy buns atop her head. He flicked one of the loose strands and she whirled around, glancing up at him.
"And what was that for?" "Well," he said. "Your hair looks like two tiny rats' nests on one head." Valerie smacked his shoulder and huffed, but he didn't miss the amused glint in her eyes.
Behind him, Luke snorted. The two of them turned to see, but it had already been replaced with his small, observant smile.
"What are you guys looking at?" Luke asked. Valerie started laughing loudly and pointed what looked like an accusing finger at him. "And you're the one who calls me a pig! Well, I may eat like one, but I sure as hell don't sound like one!"
To Garrison's surprise, the boy laughed right back at her. "Fine, we'll call a truce. We're both pigs now." Luke said.
"Deal." She replied before looking back at the light. "You guys, we have ten seconds to cross!" That spurred all three of them into sprinting across the street, and Garrison could feel his backpack wildly swinging across his back.
After they were all on the other side, Luke completely out of breath, they started to make their way to the library they all knew so well. How could they not? After all, it was where the three of them had met for the first time.
Garrison pushed open the door to the library and let the others walk in first, trailing behind them. "Okay, Valerie. You know the drill." Luke said. "I'll get the English textbooks!" She chimed in.
"And I'll get...the dictionary."
Garrison knew for a fact they were all trying not to laugh under the serious facade they had on. The dictionary...was something they didn't really mention. Not here, at least.
He grabbed their backpacks and sat down at a nearby table, as the other two went on their quest for books.
Not even two minutes later, Luke slammed a stack of textbooks on the table. "Shhh." He said. "Don't be so loud, or we're going to get kicked out." "Sorry." The other boy shrugged.
"Okay, so we should probably start on infinitive phrases. I know you always had a bit of a struggle with that." Garrison nodded and they opened the book, Luke going off about how infinitive phrases were the subjects of a sentence and whatnot.
"For example, the sentence 'To dance beneath the stars with her was Blank's only goal.' Since the infinitive phrase is a noun….blah...blah."
He could have sworn he was trying to pay attention, but he didn't really understand it. It was like it went in one ear and out the other. So he pulled a little 3D puzzle out of his hoodie pocket and started to solve it. It always made him feel a little more focused.
"Garrison? How are you feeling with the topic? ...Garrison?"
"Huh?" He looked up from underneath the table to see Luke's concerned face. "Oh. Uhm. Yeah, I honestly had no idea what you were saying. But I didn't want to interrupt you, since I know you liked explaining things. So that's why I have my puzzle. Sorry."
"Oh...it's okay. I don't blame you for not understanding. But you should have just let me know either way. I can go over it again, if you want?"
Garrison shook his head. "I'm good. Thanks though." Just then, he felt a chill run down his spine, and the feeling that something bad was about to happen pooled in his gut.
"Hey...have you seen Valerie? It's been nearly half an hour and she still hasn't come back." He asked his friend.
"No. Maybe she got lost?" "But how? The building isn't that big, and we've come here once a week for the past two years."
"Hm…" He watched Luke ponder over it. "She could be in the bathroom." "I guess so. Seriously, though. I'm really getting the feeling that we're in danger, and I don't think that's a good thing." Garrison murmured under his breath.
"I dunno, Garrison." The other boy said. "Maybe we should go look for her?" The two of them stood up, ready to search for their remaining friend.
But just then, Valerie burst from an aisle and placed her hands on the table. And when she looked up at Garrison with fear laden in her eyes, the three of them had a silent agreement.
They were in more danger than they could have even imagined.