I met up with Riley before school at the embankment. There’s a creek that runs along the back of our school that’s lined with trees. From the school side, you have to walk across the football and baseball fields to reach it. I live on the other side of the creek, so I cross it everyday to get to school. They built a footbridge to make it easier to cross the creek, but in the winter I like to walk directly across the water. It’s only knee-deep in the middle, and it usually freezes solid anyways. Sometimes, if you brush away the snow, you can see frozen fish. But right now, the creek is swollen with the snow melt, so I just take the footbridge.
We start walking over the creek, looking down at the reeds in the stream and the salamanders sunning themselves on the rocks. Riley moved here over the summer. She wanted to take AP Chemistry, but her science credit from her other school didn’t transfer, so she ended up in the same summer school class as me. I had failed the second semester of chemistry during the normal school year. It turned out that she lived only a couple of houses down my street, so I sort of became her tour guide.
Just as we were starting across the baseball field, Riley said, “Look it’s Drake.”
I kept walking straight ahead. Samuel had told me about what Drake said to him at my birthday party. If all the stories about him hadn’t already freaked me out, the comment, and the fact that he was technically trespassing on my property, sealed the deal. “Let’s just get to class.”
“It looks like he’s carrying some kind of pie.” Now, this isn’t the type of thing that a person like Drake would normally carry, so I decided to take a look.
Sure enough, there was Drake, with his leather jacket, casually carrying what looked to be a pie between his two hands.
“I wonder why he’s bringing that to school,” I remarked.
“It’s probably his lunch,” Riley hypothesized.
When we entered the main hallway, we saw another strange sight. Outside every door and lining the windows were cakes. There were birthday cakes (which remain a source of trauma for me), anniversary cakes, coffee cakes, cupcakes, and even one of those rolled up cakes that Dan’s mom sometimes brings home from the Asian grocery store.
Riley saw Dan standing next to a window, so we went over to figure out what was going on. “The night of your birthday party, there was also a school board meeting. The board wanted to fire some teachers because of budget cuts, but then they also said that they were going to give bonuses to the best “performing” teachers, which is dumb because those teachers are the worst.”
“What do you mean?” Riley asked.
“It turns out that the best performing teachers happened to be the ones who just did those testing packets all year.” Dan replied.
“Ugh. Those are the worst.” I shuddered.
“So, the teachers’ union sent out an email asking people to bring in cake. Sort of like, ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’ sort of thing.” Dan concluded.
We talked a bit about the teachers, and then started towards our first period classes. (For me, Precalculus.) Just then Drake walked in. I looked away, but he had already caught me looking at him, so I turned to face him again. “What?” he said. “I like pie.”