Fiction

Ships that Pass in the Night

By Barbara Dolan

            “Do ships that pass in the night eat together?”

            Walking down to the dorm cafeteria, Bethany heard someone say something, but assuming they weren’t talking to her, she just kept walking and entered the cafeteria. She had gone down to the dorm cafeteria several times in her first two weeks of college, but never alone for dinner before. She wanted to become invisible, hoping no one would think she was bothered by being alone; hoping that no one would really notice her at all. Keeping her head down, and her thoughts on the offerings at the buffet in front of her, Bethany waited to get closer to the serving station, her stomach quietly rumbling an inward command.

            “Do ships that pass in the night eat together?”

            Bethany turned around to see sparkling white teeth circled by a wide, devious grin.  She looked up to see blue eyes that twinkled with laughter.

            “You know, I thought that was a good line.  But you don’t seem to think so, huh?  Maybe I shouldn’t use it again. Or if I use it again, should I say it more seriously?  Maybe with an English accent like Cary Grant?  What do you think, does it work at all?”  He said the last statement doing a fairly accurate Cary Grant imitation.

            Bethany stared at the grinning face, trying to absorb the blue eyes, the golden curly head of hair, while listening to the pleasant rattle of his words.

            “No, it must have worked. You got my attention,” Bethany replied.

            “No, it didn’t work well. I had to say it twice, and even then, you sort of looked like you were trying to decide if I’m some sort of goof. Why shouldn’t two ships that pass in the night eat together?”

            Bethany thought he was laughing at her. He seemed to be a bit cocky in his assumption that she wanted to talk with him at all.

            “Well, for one thing, aren’t most ships female, with female names?  You wouldn’t be a female asking another female to eat together, would you?”  Bethany felt the earnestness with which he approached the subject should be returned. Maybe then her heart would stop pounding.

            “Okay. You’ve got a point. Let me think about that.  But let’s eat together anyway, okay?  Or are you waiting for someone?” The chipper young man began to move down the line, walking around her to make his selections. He then turned to see if she would follow him to a table.

            “I actually was rather hating to be eating here alone. I usually sit with someone. My friend is part of our basketball team, so I often sit with him and some of the players,” Bethany said, hoping it didn’t sound too odd.

            “Well then, this might work. My girlfriend went home for the weekend. Her parents make her come home pretty often, I guess to keep a better eye on her. So, I don’t have a lot to do, and I figured I’d be on my best behavior if I ate by myself and then went back to my room to study.  But then those ships start passing, and what am I supposed to do? If you were my girlfriend, you wouldn’t mind me eating with a pretty ship, would you?”

            Embarrassed by the question, Bethany turned away, steadied her voice and hoped she didn’t blush. There was no reason to blush, she thought. “If you were my boyfriend, I don’t think I’d be going home all that often, no matter what my parents said,” she responded, trying to be cavalier.

            During the meal, Bethany learned that her “shipmate” was Bob, a sophomore studying nothing, who was apparently most predominantly the boyfriend of Vicki—someone he said he would die for, but he wouldn’t jump out of a window for her. They talked about their dorms, the first two weeks of classes, and what it was like not having a car on campus.  Bob said he wanted to be an actor, but he had never tried to be in anything on campus. He said he played the King of Siam in his high school musical, and that was his sole claim to fame and his inspiration for acting.

            Bob suggested that when Vicki got back, he would get his friend Chet’s car. If Bethany was willing, they could go out on a double date.

            Bethany wasn’t crazy about the idea of going out with the friend, Chet, but if he was half as easy to talk to as Bob, she felt it might be worth the risk. She gave Bob her dorm room number and they said good night at the elevators. For some reason, Bob apparently decided that studying was not his idea of a Friday night. She watched him leave the dorm, and wondered what he would be up to, looking for new ships, no doubt.

            The week passed uneventfully, then a call came on the floor of Bethany’s dorm room.  “There’s a call for Bethany,” someone yelled down the corridor. It was the way calls were received at the floor’s pay phone.  Someone answered and then yelled out a name. More often than not the person waiting for the call would be found on the first shout.

            Bethany took the phone from Julie, who was smiling when she handed it over.

“Heh, Bethany, how’s my favorite ship?” said a voice on the other end of the line.  “How about you waiting for us at the front of Douglass Saturday at 5 p.m.? There’s a dance at the Union Hall, and it’s going to be pretty good. We’ll drive around, get something to eat first. Okay?  You’ll like Chet. He is a really good guy, and it is his car, although I’ll be driving.”

            Bethany assumed the other voice on the line was Bob’s because she had been waiting all week for the call, but he apparently didn’t feel the need to introduce himself, as though he didn’t think anyone else would call her.  Bethany agreed to the double date and put her faith in Bob’s hands for no good reason at all, other than his bright eyes and his beautiful grin had gotten to her.

            Saturday night was cloudy and muggy, but reasonably warm for September. A beat-up, green Chevrolet pulled up in front of the dorm and Bob popped out of driver’s seat and held open the door of the rear seat for her, fanning the air to dramatize her entrance.

            In the front seat, passenger side, sat a blond girl about the same age as Bethany.  Bob introduced her as Vicki—his Vicki. He then introduced Bethany to Chet, who sat quietly and nodded when she was introduced. While they both said hello, neither Bethany nor Chet had very much to say, sitting in the back seat. Now and then, Chet would talk with Bob, leaning forward so he could hear. Bob bantered as he drove, happy with life, and seemingly determined to have a good time. They stopped at McDonald’s for dinner, and Bob said he knew of a special place where they could eat their burgers.

            With bags of food on their laps, Bethany watched corn field pass on each side of the car, wondering where the “special place” would be. Bob turned down a gravel road and then suddenly the car went off the road and plowed into the stalks of corn that banged against the front window. When the car stopped suddenly, they hurriedly closed the car windows to keep out the bugs. Vicki pulled the hamburgers and fries out of the bag, and Bob took out a bottle from under the seat and took a swig. He passed the bottle to Vicki who took a swig and then back to Chet. Chet took a swig and handed it to Bethany.

            Bethany looked at the bottled and wondered what had possessed her to come on this blind date. What if they couldn’t back the car out of the field? What if they would be stuck there for the night?  Bethany put her lips to the bottle but didn’t let the vodka flow into her mouth. She based the bottle back to Vicki, who had another swig and gave it to Bob.

            “So, what do you think of my friend, Chet, Bethany?  Isn’t he something?  Chet’s in engineering and has a head full of equations.  That’s why he doesn’t talk much. He speaks in “x’s” and “y’s” and no one can understand him. Speak a little, Chet, and let us hear that dirty math mouth you have.”

            Bethany looked out the corner of her eye at Chet, who was looking straight ahead at Bob. It was clear she and Chet were both there for Bob, and not remotely interested in double dating. Bob and Vicki began necking in the front seat, between swigs on the bottle.  Chet and Bethany sat in the back seat, each looking out their window at the corn, speaking very little. As the sun went down and it became very dark in the corn field, Bob somehow came up for air and decided they needed to get out of the corn field. The car was backed out successfully onto the gravel road.

            They drove along the farm roads and listened to the radio. Bob sang to Vicki, who now and then sang along. Bethany and Chet exchanged few words. Bethany was certain now that Chet would be a guinea pig for just about anything that Bob wanted to do. “Let’s go to Africa,” Bethany imagined Bob saying. “You’ve got the car.” And she could imagine that Chet would respond, “When do you wanna go, Bob?”

            Vicki, on the other hand, was not Bob’s lackey. She smiled on occasion, and talked quietly with him. But otherwise, she sat close, responding gently to what seemed to be his enormous and constant effort to entertain her. He seemed to treat her with a certain amount of reverence, as though he wasn’t so sure she was real. Her white skin and her straight blond hair that hung to her waist, did seem ethereal to Bethany also.

            They pulled up to the dance, and Bob pulled Vicki along at a quick trot, heading for the auditorium.  Chet and Bethany lagged behind, walking slowly with a resigned gait. When they entered the hall, it was so dark they could barely see Bob and Vicki who had walked right out to the dance floor. Vicki’s hair waved slightly as Bob flung her around. Chet and Bethany watched them dance from the side.

            After several dances, Vicki asked Bethany to go with her to find a rest room. They stood in the lighted area for awhile trying to adjust their eyes and welcoming a chance to be alone.

            “Where did you meet Bob?” Bethany asked, feeling comfortable with the tall, lanky angelic figure.

            “We met at the end of high school,” Vicki responded. “We were at a dance and Bob had asked a friend of mine to introduce him to me. He went to the public high school, and I graduated from the Catholic girls’ school.”

            “He must have told you how we met, didn’t he,” Bethany asked. “I thought he was remarkably pleasant and awfully clever. I’ve never been approached by anyone quite that way. Just to put your mind at ease, he talked about you through the entire dinner. He seems to be very faithful to you and definitely smitten with you. I like that quality in a man.”

            “He’s a lot of fun, and he is very nice to me,” Vicki responded. “I don’t know if he mentioned it, but he wants to get married. But I haven’t known him all that long, only five months. I don’t think he really knows me at all, at least not like he thinks he does. He really doesn’t even know himself all that well, or what he wants to do with his life. And he drinks a lot. He reminds me of one of my mother’s boyfriends. All darling when he is drunk, but nothing to lean on when he is sober. No, that’s not fair. Bob is a charming man, and a darling boyfriend. I’m just not the marrying type.”

            Vicki and Bethany went back into the auditorium, expecting to find Bob and Chet, but they were nowhere to be found. They walked around the dance floor, danced with a few who asked, and continued to search. They walked into the parking lot, but couldn’t find Chet’s car, not Bob nor Chet.

            “So where do you think they went?” Bethany asked Vicki. “Do you think they are coming back?” Bethany was shocked by the development. First the cornfield, now being abandoned at the dance. “This is the last blind date I ever go on,” Bethany thought to herself.

            “This isn’t all that abnormal. Bob will show up eventually,” Vicki stated, somewhat calmly. She appeared to be familiar with desertion.

            As they searched the parking lot some more for the car, they saw Chet running under the parking lot lights toward them. Puffing and gasping for breath, he appeared sheet-white and more emotional than Bethany thought he had in him.

            “They took him to the city jail. We went out for a drink in the car. Bob started driving crazy and they stopped us. He got in kind of a fight with the cop and they put him in the squad and took him away. They confiscated the keys, so I had to walk back from the field. Geez, Bob was a mess.  They told him to shut up and he started singing, ‘It Ain’t Me, Babe.’ I guess he is in the jail now, but maybe we can get him out.”

            They walked through the night to the city jail. Bethany stayed outside and Chet and Vicki went into the jail to see if they could bail Bob out with the money they had managed to gather from the three of them, plus two guys Chet talked to at the dance. Vicki had taken charge like some cool-headed attorney. She walked into the jail like she would walk into a library to check out books. Standing outside of the jail, Bethany wondered about the strange group she had joined for this blind date at the behest of good-old boy, Bob. Soon, she saw Vicki leaving the jail.

            “Are they going to let him out?” Bethany asked. She was too nervous to wait another minute.  “What happened to Chet?  Where is he?”

            “Since he wasn’t driving and appeared to be sober, they let Chet have his car back because he could prove to them that he owned it,” Vicki explained. “They are getting the keys for him and they are going to take him to where they impounded it. He’ll come back here to pick us up. I guess it is safe out here. They are keeping Bob. He tried to hit the arresting officer, so they won’t release him until morning. They’re probably trying to teach him a lesson. And just maybe it is a good lesson for Bob to learn. He thinks that the world will always go his way, if he talks fast enough and smiles big enough.  But that’s just not the way it is.”

            Vicki and Bethany sat down in the parking lot on a wheel stop under the parking lot lights. They sat and talked until Chet showed up in his beat-up green Chevy. Deciding that it would be best to stay nearby until the police let Bob out, they parked in the lot. Chet fell asleep in the back seat, and Bethany and Vicki sat in the front seat and talked until the sun started to come up. Bethany soon learned that Vicki’s whole life was not exactly normal, and this night was just another night in an ongoing saga. At least, that is the way Vicki saw it.

            “I had ten brothers and sisters,” Vicki began her narrative. “All of us had blond hair and blue eyes like my mother. We never saw our father, or fathers, but we met all her boyfriends who were pretty good looking. People were amazed that she could have all those kids and still look so young. Actually, it kind of amazed me too. But my mom wasn’t so young as she looked, I guess. She had a rough life, as I see it now. I haven’t seen her for eight years.

            “She didn’t have a real job all of the time, and she had a lot of men over.  We always stayed out of her way, but when it was just us kids in the apartment with her, we were pretty happy. We got to know some of her boyfriends pretty well. They took us away from my mom when the last boyfriend killed my baby sister.”

            Vicki told the story calmly, as thought it really didn’t involve her. Bethany listened without saying a word, but fighting back the urge to cry—especially because Vicki didn’t seem as though she could cry.

            “It was considered manslaughter because he really didn’t mean to kill Theresa. We all shared beds, and the youngest ones slept with mom until they got bigger. Theresa was only six months old. Al, my mom’s boyfriend at the time, may have been drunk. We don’t know if he fell onto the bed or what, but he probably passed out. He and my mom had been drinking together. They went to bed and he rolled over on Theresa and smothered her. They found her in the bed in the morning, dead. They took us away from my mom, and put us into foster homes. I’ve lived in a lot of places, sometimes with some of my brothers and sisters, sometimes alone. We’ve never been all together since the accident, and I don’t know where my mother is now. I was told they decided that she was innocent, but incapable of caring for her children. I still think we would have been better off with her. None of us wanted to leave. We just wanted those men out of our lives.”

            Bethany listened to the story and offered little in the way of a response. It seemed as though Vicki didn’t have much opportunity to talk about herself with anyone, maybe even with Bob. But in the car, with just the two of them, and Chet asleep, the words just poured out into the night to be absorbed by the darkness. Bethany felt, at times, like Vicki was talking to herself.

            They fell asleep just before dawn, until they heard someone nearing the car. It was Bob, looking and smelling as though he had stayed the night in an outhouse.

            “God, it is good to see you guys,” he erupted when we unlocked the door. “I know I smell like shit, but could you just give me a ride home?  I threw up and they don’t have any maids to help you clean it up, so you’ve got to do it yourself. Other people were peeing in the cell. It was gross. I thought maybe I had died and gone to hell. They said you tried to get me out. It’s okay. I guess I learned my lesson the hard way:  Jail is no party. I have to go back in a couple weeks. Can we just go home now?”

            Back in her dorm room, Bethany laid on the upper bunk and thought about the experience. She felt as though a year had passed in the dark, and like it was a long time ago that she was a little girl. She felt as though college, dorm life and dances seemed rather childish at the moment. She thought about the confinement of the cornfield, the dirtiness of the jail cell, and the haunting darkness of Vicki’s life. Then she fell asleep until dinner time.

            Two weeks passed since Bethany had spent the night with Vicki in the car. She didn’t see Bob in the cafeteria for dinner, and wondered what had happened to his court case. Again, there was a call from down the hall.

            “Phone for Bethany” someone shouted.

            “Beth, it is Vicki,” the voice on the line sounded strong and happy. “How are you doing?  I thought I’d call to see if everything is okay with you.”

            “Vicki, it is good to hear from you. Is Bob okay? Did he recover?  I am kind of assuming everyone went to bed and slept off the evening, but I was a little worried about you. Are you doing okay?”

            “Oh, yes, I’m back to normal. School is boring and I have to go home this weekend. My foster parents want me to come home every other weekend, and I just couldn’t bring myself to go last weekend, so I have to go this weekend. I was wondering if you would be willing to come home with me?  Bob will drive us, and I’d just ask you to sleep over with me Saturday night. We’ll drive back to school early on Sunday, if that’s all right. I’d really enjoy spending more time with you.”

            Bethany agreed but wondered what she was getting herself into, knowing that Bob was driving them. She was hoping Bob couldn’t do anything rash at Vicki’s foster parent’s home. Bethany felt the alternative of staying back in the dorm alone might be the greater evil of the two alternatives, so she agreed to go with Vicki for the weekend.

            The ride to Hollenbeck was uneventful. Bethany chatted comfortably with Bob and Vicki about how the couple had met, and their good times at home. Bob lived about 30 miles away, and had thrilled his mother with the news that he was coming home for the weekend. Chet even let him borrow his car for the overnight.  Bob and Vicki tentatively agreed that the three of them would take in a movie on Saturday night, as Bob neared the brick bungalow that was Vicki’s current foster home.

            An older woman, who greeted them at the door, looked a lot like a typical grandmother, garbed in a cotton housedress and grey hair.  She hugged Vicki and shook Bethany’s hand.  The husband of the family appeared to Bethany to be at least ten years older, maybe in his mid-70s. Vicki nodded toward him, but said nothing, and led Bethany into the bedroom. The room was dark and the bed was on a tall stand that required them to take a slight jump to get onto the mattress.  It looked like an old-fashioned room, with an oak chest in the corner with a porcelain lamp centered on it. Bethany looked around to see why it was that the room was so dark in the daylight.  There was only one small window, and the drapes were closed.

            They visited briefly with the foster parents and went out for a walk. Vicki didn’t talk as much as she usually did, and seemed agitated. She briefly said that her foster mother was a well- meaning but silly woman. She said little about her foster father, but Bethany sensed that Vicki did not like him at all.

            As evening approached the girls walked back to the house and sat down for dinner. The roast beef meal, with roasted potatoes, gravy and sweet corn reminded Bethany of her grandmother’s meals.  The girls ate quickly and then went to Vicki’s room to change.  Vicki stayed in her jeans but chose a warmer sweater. She seemed even more on edge when Bob pulled up in front of the house.

            They saw a movie that Bethany thought was a nice escape.  Bob took them out for ice cream after the movie, and chatted pleasantly about his mother’s efforts to minimize Bob’s effect on his young brother. Bob was the oldest, and his little brother looked up to him in all ways. Bob had provided him with beer and cigarettes on more than one occasion, and his mother instinctively knew that her older son was introducing her young son to influences he could do without.  But the family sounded basically happy, which appeared to irritate Vicki more.

            “I’m sick of hearing about your happy family with its happy, know-nothing conflicts,” she said, pouncing on Bob when he stopped talking. “Big deal, so you give Mike cigarettes now and then. Big, fucking deal. Sometimes you sound like such a baby, Bob, like some sort of sheltered little fruitcake.”

            Bob watched Vicki’s face but offered no defense. He took her hand and walked her outside, talking quietly to her as they left the ice cream shop. Bethany stayed in the booth for a while, wanting to give them time to be alone. She asked for more water, and thought about Vicki’s foster home.

            Once back in the car, it was clear that Vicki had been crying.  They drove back to the foster home, and Bob kissed Vicki gently and told her quietly that he would be back to pick her up tomorrow. He walked the girls to the door, got back in the car, and waved as he drove away.

            Vicki stood out on the porch for a moment, giving Bethany the impression that she was reluctant to go inside. But she opened the door, and they walked into the dark hallway. As they entered the living room, on the way to the bedroom, Bethany noticed that Vicki’s foster father was snoozing in the chair in the corner. The television was off, and he had a magazine in his lap. The girls softly walked by him and into the bedroom.

            As they lay in bed, Vicki began crying again. Bethany stayed still wondering if she should say anything. But before long, Bethany fell asleep.

            Conversation outside the door woke her up. She sat up in bed in the dark and tried to register in her mind where she was. Sorting it out, Bethany then tried to hear the words outside the door. It was Vicki’s foster mother talking in a kind of whining voice. The foster father was telling her to be quiet, that Vicki would be back. Bethany was surprised to see when she turned that Vicki was not in the bed beside her.

            Bethany crawled out of the bed and went to the door. She opened it a crack so as not to startle Vicki’s foster parents. They were both in their robes. The grandmotherly woman turned to Bethany to gesture to her to go back into the bedroom. Bethany followed the subtle direction, and the foster mother followed her into Vicki’s room.

            “What’s going on. Where is Vicki?” Bethany asked in a hushed and timid voice. She didn’t even know these people, and now she was alone at night in their house.

            “Vicki’s run away. At least, we think she’s run away. She said she was leaving. I’m sorry, dear, it will be all right. She’s probably just going over to Bob’s house and will be back in the morning. She seemed very upset when I caught her leaving the house. She told me not to get Fred, and left in a hurry. I tried to keep her from leaving, but she was so agitated and crying. She wouldn’t pay any attention to me.”

            The woman seemed unable to explain any further, and told Bethany to go back to bed, Vicki would be back in the morning. Bethany climbed into the bed and searched the room for a clock. It was 3:30 a.m. and it was as pitch-black inside as it was outside. Bethany felt confused and as though she was dreaming. She fell into a restless sleep that was full of dreams.  At 6:30 a.m. she awoke abruptly. This time she could hear Bob’s voice outside the door. He seemed to be running through the house. He suddenly charged into Vicki’s room, catching Bethany holding up the covers over the t-shirt she had worn to bed.

            Bethany forgot, for the first time in her short life, to worry about how she looked this early in the morning. Bob sat on the bed and started to cry. She held his head in her blanket-covered lap and hugged him, barely awake enough to know what she was doing. After a considerably long time, Bob picked up his head and looked into her eyes.

            “She’s gone. That bastard drove her away.”

            Bethany focused on the “she’s gone” and tried to clear her head sufficiently to hear the rest.

            “She wanted you to stay with her, so maybe her foster father wouldn’t bother her again. But he tried anyway, with you right in the bed. Didn’t you hear him come in the room last night?  I guess it was a couple hours after you got home. Vicki said she told him to leave and then got her clothes on and went into the living room. He was waiting for her. You know, she’s been through a lot of this. I told her we could get married tomorrow, that she could live with me at my house, and that no one would mess with her anymore.”

            Bethany needed to let Bob know that Vicki left without explaining anything.

            “She told me about her mother, and that she had lived with a lot of families. But she never said why she kept moving around. I didn’t think to ask her. Bob, I don’t understand.”

            “Well, sometimes the families were okay,” Bob said as though he was somewhere distant, talking to himself. “She was the problem sometimes. She couldn’t trust anyone, and she could never let down her guard. The men in a couple homes raped her when she was pretty young. She asked to be moved without saying why because it was too embarrassing for her. She thought that this family would be okay because the dad was so old. But he was the same kind of guy.

            “I didn’t really know about it until a few weeks ago,” Bob continued.  “I talked to Vicki about it the night after the dance. I guess she was trying to get me to grow up and go straight. I knew she wanted to leave, but I thought she would wait. I thought she would wait until we could get married.

            “Last night she showed up outside my window at home at about 3 a.m. She wanted me to take her to the bus depot. She got on a bus to Milwaukee. I told her to wait a day so I could explain to my parents and go with her. But she wouldn’t wait, and she didn’t want anyone to know she was going. She said she would call when she got there. I want to get back to school so I can get to the dorm and wait for her call. And maybe she will call you, too, at the dorm. We’ve got to get going, because I don’t want to miss her call.”

            Bethany didn’t ask any more questions and began gathering her things to leave.  Bob waited outside in the car. She could hear the woman crying as she hurried out the front door, saying a brief good-bye as she walked past the couple who were sitting in the living room.

            Bob didn’t say much as they drove back to school. He stopped in the dorm to call Chet to ask him if he could keep the car a day longer. He gave Bethany a hug and left the building, obviously worried that he would miss Vicki’s call.

            Bethany climbed into bed, thought it was still morning, and put her face in her pillow and cried. She was confused over the events of the night before and anxious for Vicki.  Somehow, Bethany reflected, Vicki would be all right now that she is on her own. I just know she will be all right, Bethany thought.

            Several weeks passed and Bethany saw and heard nothing from Bob or Chet or Vicki. She was sitting at her desk, studying for a test on Sunday night when she heard someone shouting outside the dorm.  Several people had gathered at the window on her floor and were shouting back. Bethany looked out to see Bob, waving his arms and wobbling across the yard, shouting at the windows.

            “Vicki, where are you, Vicki?  I hope you’re there. Just come down to see me.”

            “Bob, it’s Bethany. Vicki isn’t here, Bob. Wait for me. Don’t go. I’m coming down.”

            “Vicki,” he called back. “Vicki, are you there?”

            Bethany pulled on a sweater over her nightgown, and grabbed a pair of jeans that she quickly put on and raced to the elevator. Inpatient and unable to wait, she ran down the stairs and out the side door onto the yard where Bob had been weaving around. But he wasn’t there. Bethany ran around the building, but he was gone. She went back inside and walked up the stairs to her floor.  Going into her room, she put her face in her hands and began to cry.

            The weeks went on uneventfully, and Christmas break came and went. Bethany shared her experience with her mother and sister, but felt she told the story from a rather dazed perspective. She still felt as though she had dreamed much of it. Because of the darkness and the inability to understand it all herself, the story was greeted by her family as slightly dramatic and probably slightly altered.

            Back at school, Bethany searched for a face she would recognize: Bob, Chet, maybe even Vicki. She thought she might see one of the friends that had help bail Bob out of jail, but she saw no one.

            Reading her book in line in the cafeteria, Bethany was startled to hear a comment she recognized, spoken by someone several people in front of her.

            “Do ships that pass in the night eat together?”

            Bethany looked up and stared in the direction of the speaker. She saw Bob, standing ten people away, smiling his devious grin at a dark-haired girl standing in front of him. Bethany ducked back into the line, hoping that Bob had not seen her. She closed her book and left the cafeteria, walking quickly back to her room to hide. It was all she really knew about any of them, she thought. Bob will survive.

###

Categories: Fiction

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