#Chapter 78: Group Photos
I tried calling my mother after I discovered that the baby picture was missing, but unsurprisingly, she didn’t answer Cursing to myself, I hung up the phone and decided that it was too late now to worry about it, the damage had already been done, it was late at night, and I had work in the morning.
The next morning, I awoke with a start to the sound of my alarm and rain pattering against the window I crawled out of bed, showered, dressed, and made my way to Tiffany’s office with a cup of coffee from the dining hall in my hand. It was so hot that it burned my hand a bit through the cardboard, but I was too focused on getting out of the rain to care
“Good morning!” Tiffany called from her desk when I entered, her voice chipper as usual I managed a tired smile and shook my umbrella off before coming in the rest of the way and hanging my jacket on the hooks at the back of the room.
“Morning,” I said, wincing as I burnt my tongue on a sip of the scalding hot coffee. “What’s on the agenda today?”
Tiffany squinted her eyes to look out the window before looking back down at the pile of paperwork in front of her with a frown. “Well, I was going to suggest making our rounds to the
sports teams today,” she said, “but it looks like the weather decided to throw a wrench in that plan. So, I guess we’ll just try to get through this paperwork.”
I nodded and pulled up a chair If I was being honest, I was glad to just spend the morning in Tiffany’s office; I didn’t particularly feel up to walking around all morning and dealing with sweaty football players who would, no doubt, be asking questions about my ” relationship” with Enzo.
Tiffany must have been able to read my mind, because thankfully she didn’t. ask any questions either, allowing us to work in silence for a while
After a couple of hours of silently scouring through physical exam records, health reports, and statistics, Tiffany threw her pen down on the desk and leaned back with a sigh. I looked up from my work to see the attractive middle-aged blonde rubbing her eyes and yawning.
“Didn’t sleep much, either?” I asked.
She shrugged. “I’ve been a bit busier than usual these days,” she said, pushing her rolling chair back and standing. She walked over to the window and clasped her hands, lifting them over her head and bending to each side in a stretch as she watched the rain. “Lots of students coming in at all hours complaining about fevers, mood swings, and, if you’d believe it…”
Oh no. I knew what she was going to say before she even said it .
feral dog bites.”
“Mad wolf ”
I clapped my hand over my mouth as I realized that I just spoke out loud, albeit under my breath. Tiffany, thankfully, didn’t seem to hear me or at least, she pretended not to. I quickly lowered my hand as she turned back around.
“You know,” she said in a somewhat dreamy, thoughtful voice, “when I went to school here, there was a similar string of illnesses. We called it Lupine Syndrome. It was really a rabies outbreak, though. At least, that was what the head doctors here said at the time”
My eyes widened momentarily as a million things started to race through my mind. Had werewolves been biting people back then, too? I felt my curiosity get the best of me
“Can you tell me more about what it was like when you went to school
Tiffany paused, humming to herself for a moment as she looked thoughtfully up at the ceiling. “It wasn’t much different than it is now, really,” she said finally with a shrug. “I was a lot like you, actually. I had a wonderful group of friends in the hockey club. I wish I stayed in touch with more of them, but… c’est la vie.”
Images of a younger Tiffany floated through my mind as I pictured her with her group of friends. Something about it made me smile; Tiffany was so youthful and full of life now, that it made me wonder what she was like when she was my age.
“Oh! Actually, hang on,” Tiffany exclaimed suddenly I watched with raised eyebrows as she scurried over to 7 a tall metal cabinet at the back of the room, opening the doors and standing on her tiptoes to grab a shoebox off the top shelf. She turned back toward me with a smirk and carried it over to the table with both hands. It was dusty and the cardboard was crinkled around the corners from age She opened it with a grin to reveal a pile of polaroid photographs, handwritten notes, and various other tchotchkes.
“I haven’t looked in here in ages,” she said with a cough, waving away a cloud of dust that was floating in front of her face from abruptly opening the box. I smiled and leaned forward on the table, sitting on my knees in the chair. I felt like a child again, asking my mother to show me an old scrapbook — except this time, my wishes were actually granted instead of being told that scrapbooks were silly and that no one should keep “useless old junk like that”.
“Can I?” I said, reaching for the box. Tiffany nodded enthusiastically and slid it closer to me. I reached in and pulled out a pile of photos, flipping through them as the smile on my face widened. There were so many pictures of Tiffany and her friends; pictures from Halloween parties where she wore matching tiger costumes with her friends, pictures of them sitting around a campfire with bottles of beer in their hands, pictures of her smiling and laughing as they gave each other piggyback rides.
One picture caught my eye, however. It was a photo of the entire group together — the hockey club, judging from the handmade banner they held up with big, cheesy grins on their faces. Tiffany was right in the center, surrounded on either side by her smiling friends, one of which was oddly familiar…
I felt my heart leap up into my throat as I recognized the white-blonde hair and piercing blue eyes that belonged to none other than my adoptive mother
My mother had never once mentioned that she came to this school Why?
As I intensely scanned the photograph, my eyes caught something else. A jagged edge that looked like it had been torn apart, judging from the little white line from the underlayer of the photo paper being exposed. I held the photo closer to my face and studied it harder, noticing a hand draped over Tiffany’s shoulder
“Was this torn?” I asked, handing Tiffany the photo. She furrowed her brow and took the photo from me, her eyes momentarily flashing with an emotion that I couldn’t quite read before she abruptly cleared her throat and put it back in the box, snapping the lid shut
“Oh, look at that!” she said in a weak voice, pointing at the clock. “Your shift is over”
I glanced over my shoulder at the clock, then back at Tiffany “I’m supposed to be here for a couple more hou–”
“Go home, Nina.”
I was taken aback by Tiffany’s sudden out of character behavior and I stammered to respond, but she had already turned her back and was shoving the box back into its spot on the shelf. I felt tears well up in my eyes as I stood and gathered my things, heading for the door.
“I-I’m sorry, Tiffany,” I said quietly as my hand rested on the doorknob. “I didn’t mean to–”
“It’s fine,” she said, obviously wiping her eyes before turning back to face me with a soft smile. “I’m just tired. I’ll see you on Wednesday.”
I nodded silently wishing I could say more, but nothing else would come out and stepped back out into the rain.
I had learned so many things these past two days… The Crescents and the Fullmoons, my possible werewolf heritage, the baby photo, and now I had
learned that my mother had gone to #Chiopher Group Photos
this very school during a time that people were possibly being bitten by werewolves. What was my mother hiding? Furthermore, who was the person that Tiffany ripped out of the photograph, and why did she get so upset that I mentioned it?
“Hey,” a familiar voice said, breaking me from my thoughts. I looked up from the ground to realize that I had already made it back to the quad, but was so deep in thought that I hadn’t even noticed, and Enzo was now standing in front of me
He looked down at me, his hair and his leather jacket wet from the rain, with a strange look in his eyes.
“Can we talk?”
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