There was something strange and magical about being in school after all the other students went home. The halls always echoed – made a few dozen kids sound like a rhinoceros riot – but the echoes hollowed and hallowed with only one set of feet tapping along the floor.
The halls seemed a lot wider than they did a week ago. Thalia stretched out her arm and brushed her fingertips along the wall. Because she could. Because no one would be running up behind her to make her tuck her elbows against her sides and let them pass. She put her foot down lazily, purposefully walked a wavering line. Because she could do that too. No one would complain about her getting in their way.
And then, on a moment, being out of the way didn’t seem so sweet.
Thalia dropped her arm.
She might have been at home at that moment, or at least half way there on one of the flat-bottomed boats that worked its way around the coast of the island every week. It had been easier to stay here. She knew it was not quite true – almost entirely not true – but she had more than once stopped the thought that she had tucked her elbows and been pushed out from under foot.
But it had been easier to stay here. She had work to do, and so did the folk at home. If she had come home, there would have been the inevitable room shuffle, and the walls would have seemed too close until the moment she had to leave. And the holiday was only two days. And she would have spent three days to get there and three days to get back, on a trip she had already taken enough times to turn it to tedium.
And, Thalia reminded herself, touching the wall again and sliding her fingers in an artful loop over the cool stone, the fat, unabandonable truth was that right here, right now, there was no one getting in her way.
And there were a thousand curious corners she’d never been able to sneak into before.
I’m a thief! I stole the first line of this piece from my friend, Bek. Be sure to stop by her blog tomorrow to see what she did in an empty school.