Now its presence haunted me. “I purchased journals for my class, and then I slipped a letter with a journal into each bag.”
“So we can assume these two items came from the same person?”
“I guess.” Then suddenly I understood. “Wait!” I took a step back. “No! My students didn’t do this. Not this.” I quickly handed him back the letter. “They weren’t involved with this.”
He turned the letter over and handed it back to me. In large flowing cursive it read, The truth is found here. An arrow followed and below it was a quick sketch of a heart.
I followed the arrow’s order and flipped the letter around, back to my typed phrases where the information about my class’s journals stared back at me.
“It can’t be,” I said. The idea was inconceivable!
From behind me, I heard footsteps. I turned to face Principal Truss. In place of the traditional twinkle, I saw the fear in his eyes.
“We want to collect your class journals,” he said.
I looked at both these men. “I still don’t understand.”
“I’ve spoken with the Board.” Principal Truss stepped toward me. “They’ve spoken with our attorney. Of the present options, this has the least liability.”
“What?” I gave him a confused look.
“We need you to collect their journals.”
“But they’re confidential.” I handed the letter back to Officer Bond. “I told my students that. I told them this was a safe place to express themselves.”
“I understand.” Officer Bond spoke with no emotion. “But right now our goal is to find information.”
“I’m sorry,” I restated. “I can’t accommodate this request.”
With one hand, Principal Truss pressed his fingers into his temples. “Well, we can’t interrogate each member of your class. If we do parents will be here with pitchforks, screaming at the school, at the police, at all of us on how we handle what’s next.”
“What’s next?” I felt bewildered. This was ridiculous.
“How did Stella end up with your class items?” Officer Bond asked.
I glanced at both of them. “I don’t know!”
Principal Truss tried to speak in a soothing voice. “I’ve explored the other options. At this point, this makes the most sense.”
“No! We ask each member of the class where their paper got placed, where their bag is.” My voice only grew louder. “You don’t just take their private journals.”
Principal Truss rubbed his forehead, then glanced at Officer Bond’s box. “Anya no longer has those things.”
“What?” I resented his response. “You did this because your daughter no longer has her bag, or the handout?”
He glanced back at me. “I did this for every child in that classroom who didn’t feel a need to keep a cheap bag and a sheet of information. I did this to not penalize all of them due to the concern we may have with one.”
“This is absurd! They are not your journals to take.”
“Aren’t they?” He gave me a sorrowful smile. “I can do a routine locker check anytime I want at this school. And we do. So when you stamped ‘Property of Helam Junior High’ on every one of those journals, you made them school property.”
“I did it,” my voice trembled while my eyes fought to keep back the tears, “so I could require them to use these journals for the designated assignment, and not for their own personal use.”
“I’m sorry, Savannah,” Principal Truss said softly, “but if this is murder, at the hands of one of our students—taking these journals will be the least of our worries.”
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