By JD Rockel
It was early November, and the days were starting to get chilly. It was early on a Thursday morning and Rosa was getting books out of her locker. Ella had already gone to Algebra. Both girls had exams today, and Rosa books together to look over some notes.
The first period presented no surprises with brief announcements over the intercom. No pledge of allegiance to the flag like in their previous school. And no morning prayer. Rosa did miss the prayer and tried to say one for herself and Ella each morning.
When the bell rang at the end of her first-hour class, Rosa went toward her next class and was surprised to see Ella in the hall. They were on the second floor near Ella’s Algebra class.
“Rosa, I need you to do me a solid.”
“Sure, sis, what is it?”
“I have a history test now and I need an English paper from my locker for the next hour. Can you please get it for me from my locker? It’s folded and inside the English book. You can pass it to me after the history class.”
That wasn’t too much to ask. They knew each other’s schedules and it was quite convenient for Rosa. “Of course, Ella. No probs.”
“Thanks so much, sis. Gotta go.”
Ella ran to her history classroom. Rosa went downstairs to Ella’s locker. She opened the locker and looked for the English book. Finding it, she reached in to take it.
“See you after school, Beautiful.”
Rosa was a bit off balance taking the book out of the locker, but she turned around as quickly as she could. It was too late. All she saw were students pushing through the hall on their way to class.
See you after school? Could that have been Jerry? It is Thursday. I wonder…
Rosa closed the locker and went to her class. At the start of the next hour, she met Ella upstairs again.
“Here’s your book and paper, Ella.”
“Oh, thank you so much. You are the greatest.”
“By the way, are you staying for activities night tonight?”
“Yeah. No changes. I’ve been enjoying the board games.”
“OK, just wondering. See you later.”
Rosa didn’t want to reveal that she was mistaken for Ella at her locker. But she did want to know what Ella was doing on Thursday nights. Especially if it meant spending time with Jerry. If he was playing board games with her, that was one thing. But if something else was going on, it could mean real trouble.
As usual, Rosa didn’t see her sister at the end of the day. They always met on the bus but seldom at their lockers. She hadn’t thought that it might be odd until the event this morning. Rosa put her books in her locker and got out of sight until after the buses left. She took the opportunity to call home.
“Hey, Mom. I thought it might be nice to stay late tonight and just see what kind of activity groups there are. If nothing interesting is happening I can spend time in the library and work on a paper I’m writing… Yes, I do know what bus to ride. I expect I will be riding home with Ella.
“No, I won’t disturb her group. I know, it’s her life and she needs space to enjoy it on her own… Mom, I will not interfere with Ella’s evening. I will try to avoid her even seeing me… Thanks, Mom. I love you too. Bye.” Mothers! Sometimes they just don’t understand how old we are.
Rosa waited for about fifteen minutes. The halls cleared out making her think she could check what was happening in the classrooms. She started down her locker hallway heading away from the main entrance. There were two rooms with activities. She couldn’t tell what was being discussed and she didn’t want to stand in the doorway and stare. All she did was look to see if Ella was in the room.
At the end of the hallway, she turned the corner. None of the rooms here were being used. There was a band and drama area that began at the end of the hall. Rosa hadn’t explored that part of the school.
When she got to the corner there were double doors on the right that led to the drama area. She looked through the small windows in the doors and didn’t see any activity, but there were lights on. She decided to explore and went through the doors. Walking down this hall she found a few people who seemed to be reading through a script of some sort.
“You know, Mr. Bernstein, if I hadn’t been very rich, I might have been a really great man.”
“Don’t you think you are?”
“I think I did pretty well under the circumstances.”
“What would you like to have been?”
“Everything you hate.”
Rosa didn’t recognize where the lines were from. She didn’t see Ella and moved on. Ending up at a small theater, she turned around and returned to the double doors. Ready to go through, she looked through the windows and stopped short. It was Ella and Jerry walking hand in hand far ahead of her and heading toward the cafeteria.
Rosa waited for them to move a little further away from her and then quietly slipped through the doors. She hid behind the wall at the corner of the hallways. Looking around the corner, she saw that Ella and Jerry were quite far away. Rosa didn’t want to lose sight of them, so she sprinted to a dark doorway down the hall.
Without a doubt, Ella and Jerry were completely focused on each other. They seemed to be heading to a known destination. After a short time, Rosa ran down the hall to another dark doorway as quietly as she could. This would make a good spy movie.
When the two jogged to the left to continue towards the cafeteria, Rosa made another dash down the hall. One more move when they passed the cafeteria and Rosa froze to see where they would go. They couldn’t be going to the field house, could they?
Down the hallway toward the field house they went. Just before the hallway opened to the large sports area, the two stopped. Continuing into the field house they disappeared to the left. Now what? I must be careful they don’t see me in that large open space.
Rosa snuck to the entrance and peered around the corner to the left. She saw Ella just as she disappeared through a doorway on the far wall. She waited about ten minutes and then walked along the wall to the doorway.
Looking through the small window, she couldn’t see anything. It was too dark. If I’m caught, I’m caught. I must go through the door. Very slowly and quietly she opened the door just enough to get in. Holding onto the door she let it close silently. She didn’t move but waited for her eyes to adjust. After a minute she could see the stored athletic equipment. She walked into the room and along the back wall. The floor was littered with balls and nets. There was no sign of Ella and Jerry.
Slowly continuing along the wall, Rosa came upon a pile of tumbling mats. Compared to the rest of the jumbled mess, these seemed to be stacked very neatly. She continued to walk, ready to pass the mats.
“Oh… oh… That feels so good, Jerr.”
Rosa stopped short. It was Ella’s voice. She was whispering. After so many years of whispering to each other in the bedroom while they were supposed to be sleeping, there was no question of whose voice she heard.
“That’s perfect Jerr. Oh, yes.”
That was enough. Rosa slowly and very carefully took two steps backward. That got her to the corner of the mats. Turning around, she made her way back to the door as quietly and quickly as she could.
She stopped at the door to look out the window. This time she could see the lit field house. Seeing no one, she carefully opened the door and left. Now, what do I do?
Rosa needed to wait and decide what to do. Should she confront the two of them on the bus or wait until she and Ella were alone at home? Of course, if she rode the bus home Ella would be suspicious and ask all sorts of questions.
Rosa concocted a plan that was far flung from her normal ideas. Indeed, it was a page from Ella’s old playbook. She found a hiding spot where she could watch the door through which Ella and Jerry would pass to board the bus. Forget about getting anything from the locker. This was much too important for small details.
As Rosa waited, her mind raced. I know what I heard. I can imagine what they were doing. I can’t blindly make assumptions. But I can’t ignore this. I hope this works.
It was getting late. The buses were outside waiting, and a few students were heading out. I can’t miss the bus… I can’t miss the bus… Come on, Ella…
Just then Jerry and Ella passed by and out the door. Rosa paused for just a moment and then went to the door. She looked out through the window. They were focused on each other again, walking toward the bus hand in hand. Through the folding door and onto the school bus they went.
Rosa stayed in the shadows and watched where they went to sit down. Just a little bit longer. I’ll wait at the door to the bus. Just a little longer. OK, now.
Rosa stepped onto the bus and looked towards the back. She found where they were sitting and walked right up to them. There were only a few other students on the bus, mostly sitting up front.
Rosa had rehearsed her lines and was ready. “Hi Jerry. I waited for you, but you never showed. I see you met my sister Rosa. I hope you had as good a time with her as you have had with me.”
Ella was wide eyed and silent, a grin forming on her face.
Jerry’s jaw went slack, and he muttered, “Yah, yah, your sister?”
“Yes, Jerry. My sister. How was he Rosa? Did you enjoy your time with him?”
Ella got it. Yes she had been caught, but Rosa was playing her game. Switch places. She gave her sister the little smirk that meant keep going.
Jerry was the one to respond, “Yah, yah, you’re twins!”
“Great deduction, Sherlock. I never told you about her because I knew she would want to be with you. My mistake for not meeting you on schedule tonight.”
Ella joined in the game with her sister, “You’re right, Ella. Jerry was great! You are going to have to fight me for him now.”
The bus doors closed, and Rosa fell into the seat in front of Jerry as the bus lurched forward. She couldn’t keep a straight face anymore and started laughing.
Ella joined in and Jerry continued to look like a frightened little puppy.
“It’s OK, Jerr,” said the real Ella. “I’m the real Ella and this is my naughty sister Rosa. Are you OK, darling?”
Jerry looked at Ella and then back at Rosa. Then back to Ella.
“Are you really Ella? Please no more games.”
“Yes, I am really Ella, and I was with you tonight. I don’t know how Rosa found out, but you can be sure I will beat the truth out of her if necessary.”
“This is just too weird,” Jerry replied. His voice was shaky, and his chin was visibly quivering. “Please, please don’t ever do this to me again.”
“But Jerry,” Ella teased, “wasn’t it fun? I thought Rosa was a riot.”
“Nobody would ever believe me if I told them this story. Not even my brother.”
Rosa and Ella went silent and looked at each other. Returning their gaze to Jerry they said together, “Your brother?”