“Miss De Lesseps did you hear me?” the headmaster scorned sternly, his bushy grey eyebrows furrow, accentuating his frown lines. Violet had not even realized that she was absent mindedly staring at Michael’s profile instead of listening to the lecture on the importance of applying Norwest Christian’s values to their everyday lives.
“Yes sir - uh sorry.”
“Good, because Mr. Clifford is not the only one at fault here. Not only did you initiate physical retaliation against Zeke, but you left campus in your car, and skipped all of your lessons.”
“Physical retaliation? But Zeke was-” Violet tried to defend herself.
“Believe me, I know the story in its entirety, and fret not, Zeke will be punished for his contribution to the chaos as well, but that business is between he and I.”
You listened silently.
“Now,” the headmaster continued, “ Mr. Clifford, you and I both know very well that we have zero tolerance for hitting.” Michael snorted at the childish manner of the rule, before the man continued in a stricter tone, “And I suggest, you do not take these things lightly. I could expel you if I so desired.”
This silenced the pair.
“But I won’t. It has come to my attention that your grades have dropped dramatically since the beginning of the semester, and in addition to one week’s suspension, you will be required to sacrifice your study hall - or ‘naptime’ - considering how you spend that period presently, and take up Health.”
“With the freshman?” he groaned.
“Yes sir…with the freshman. Seeing as you do not utilize that valuable time, rather spend it drooling all over various items of school property, you must transfer. Having the extra class will improve your GPA significantly….besides, judging from the catastrophic state of both of your necks,” he cleared his throat before continuing, “a little, er, education would not hurt.”
The couple blushed fiercely, casting their guilty eyes down at the carpet.
“Yes Headmaster Durham.” Michael mumbled.
“And as for you Mrs. De Lesseps. I see that you’re quite the intelligent young lady, perhaps you could sacrifice some of your time occupied with,” he cleared his throat once more, raising his eyebrow “extracurricular activities, and dedicate it to tutoring Mr. Clifford instead?”
“Uh, yes sir.” Violet stammered, turning scarlet.
“I will let you off easy this time. But I should warn you, should another incident occur I will not be this forgiving. Your stellar transcript has convinced me to be quite lenient with you, and your teachers seem to think you are, well, ‘a good girl.’ I trust the next time I will have to confront you, it will be because I am handing you your diploma at the end of the year, have I made myself clear?”
“Crystal” she assured him.
“Very well. Your punishments start tomorrow. Michael, your work will be sent home with you, when you return, I expect it to not only be completed, but completed with exceptional quality. Mrs. De Lesseps, you have detention every day for the rest of this week. You will be assisting the English Department in cleaning up the cafeteria for their quarterly seminar. Do not be tardy.”
“Yes sir….” both chimed in unison.
“I am glad we have come to an understanding.” Headmaster Durham concluded “You’re excused for now.”
They stood from the red leather chairs they were seated on, and made their way to the door, Violet tugging down at her plaid skirt as she walked to make sure it wasn’t riding up. The last thing she needed was a demerit for uniform violation.
“Oh and Mrs. De Lesseps…..” the man continued “ you might want to consider investing in a scarf, or turtle neck, or something to better mask the evidence of your indiscretions.”
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
“Last day of freedom.” Michael said while exiting the doors of the student parking lot.
“I suppose it could have gone worse” Violet remarked, as they boarded her car. “Where to?” she asked, starting the engine.
Michael plugged his iPod into the aux cord, crowning himself the dj for their car ride to no particular destination. His selection was one Violet found both enjoyable and endearing at times, and for several minutes the pair sat side by side in comfortable silence.
They crossed the bridge that served as the border between states, just hoping for a little change of landscape. Though the terrain was virtually identical, it was the idea that they were in a completely new territory that felt refreshing.
The sun warmed Michael’s skin through the rolled down window, as they sped across the outstretched bridge, overlooking a wide channel of water. The brisk air burned his flaring nostrils as Violet picked up speed.
Her pale arm rested on the car’s windowsill, her fingers extended to fill streams of wind fill the spaces between them. Her fist open and closed, grabbing at the elusive drafts that grazed her palms.
At the end of the overpass, where the concrete turned into pavement, there was a narrow road, to their direct right. Turning sharply, and swaying because of the force of inertia, the pair continued down this stretch of road for several minutes. It ended abruptly after a few kilometers, before a desolate building, surrounded by a chain link fence.
Cautiously, they got out of the parked car, and approached the ominous lot. On the acre of sparse grass, and yellow dirt, stood a looming grey factory, still as the air that filled their lungs.
“I bet it’s abandoned.” Violet said in a low voice, though she wasn’t sure why she felt the need to keep quiet. Michael nodded silently, jamming his hands in the pockets of his blue jeans, and rocking nervously back and forth on the balls of his feet.
Violet stood before the fence, wrapping her fingers around the cold metal. It towered over her, sitting at 15 feet tall, and lined with coils of rusted barbed wire. It was sealed shut with a tarnished padlock, that looked as if it hadn’t been tampered with for over 15 years.
“Even if we had a key, we couldn’t get this lock open.” she spoke, capturing Michael attention.
“Well going over isn’t an option unless we want to be infected with tetanus.” he uttered, hesitantly scanning the fence up and down with nervous eyes.
“A path…” Violet said.
“There, in the marsh grass, someone’s been walking there. There’s a gap.” she observed.
“I would hardly call a few soggy footprints a ‘path’…” Michael mumbled, but before he could protest any further, Violet was already pushing away the long stalks, following the steps, avoiding the quaggy mud. “Grab the blanket!” she called back to him, before continuing on.
Plush blanket in hand, Michael let out an exasperated sigh before following Violet.
“Someone’s made this to get in, look.” she said over her shoulder, gesturing to a line of old railroad ties that led to a hole cut of of the fence, just big enough to crouch through.
“I better not get my docs dirty.” Michael warned, balancing on the metal beam.
“Stop being such a girl,” Violet laughed in response, squatting through the gap.
Mike stumbled up next to her, breathless from the brief exposure to physical activity. A chilled draft from the building cast over them causing them both to shiver.
“…creepy” he murmured under his breath, as they walked closer to the deserted building.
Before long, they were close enough to throw a stone at it. They looked up, surprised at how massive it was up close. The grey wall was composed of various pieces of graffiti. A busted lip, bleeding pastel colors, an angel with a roman numeral ‘X’ for a face, and an old woman with long, flowing hair were a few works that caught Violet’s eye.
The door was absent, leaving only the archway, its wooden frame rotting. She entered slowly, looking around at the vast room, which captured the echo of her footsteps. She couldn’t see the ceiling, only darkness. As she moved from room to room, light shone in from the spaces where windows once were.
She climbed a set of yellow steel stairs that wobbled with each ascending step, rust flaking off. For a moment, she lost her footing, grappling for the rails to find her balance. Michael’s hand gripped her waist, steadying her.
“Careful.” he sighed, relieved they avoided a potential catastrophe.
Violet nodded, reaching back to hold his hand in her own. A large metal barrel with a chalky substance staining it sat on the second floor. A conveyer belt stretched off the platform and across the middle of the room they entered.
“It was a cement factory.” Violet concurred, reading the block letters stamped on the side of the vat. They continued to the top and found a large pile of concrete rubble lying in front of a hole smashed through the wall. It led to the roof of one of the lower floors. Carefully watching their step, they climbed onto the roof, and settled down, leaning against the wall of the third floor.
The view was phenomenal. It overlooked the wide river, and the sun’s setting rays cast shadows through the tall cables of the bridge.
Violet rested her head on Michael shoulder, nuzzling into him, while watching the amber sky.
“Okay, I had my doubts, but this IS nice.” Michael admitted.
For a few still moments, they appreciated the sounds of the water, casting its waves against the edges of the bank. Michael’s eyes followed the ebb and flow of the consistent tide, watching the ripples sent through the murky green water.
“Mike…” Violet mumbled.
“Hm?” he asked warmly, pressing his lips against her forehead.
“I’m really comfortable. Do you mind if we just talk?” she asked timidly, unsure if he wanted their relations to be purely physical.
“Of course I don’t mind,” he laughed under his breath, “ No, Vi, that sounds good. I’m quite tired as well.”
“Vi…? she paused, thrown off by the pet name.
“Uh, yeah, is that okay?” he asked nervously.
“…yeah, no, I mean, yes, I like it.” she rambled.
And for a string of seconds, they both relapsed into complete silence, admiring the sinking sun, melting into the edge of the water. Michael thought of it as a song. The low hum of the cars passing within an instance, the slosh of the murky water, it all echoed through the walls oh his skull.
Michael’s hand rested on top of Violets, and his thumb brushed back and forth across her knuckles. His fingertips felt like velvet against her pores. Violet exhaled through her nostrils before speaking in a weakened voice…
“My dad called me Vi.”
Michael raised his eyebrows, “Your Dad?”
“Yeah…..” she paused, “My Dad.”
“Dead?” she finished his sentence for him, “No, but he might as well be.”
Michael was silent, but squeezed her hand even tighter.
“He left when I was six. No note, no calls, no goodbye. He drained Mum’s bank account, and disappeared. They never fought, never yelled. He was there one day, and the next thing you know, ten birthdays have passed, and all you have left is some stupid nickname.”
Michael wrapped his arms around her and hugged her close to his chest. He thought about how in the movies, the boy always kissed the girl to make her feel better, but that didn’t feel right to him at that moment. He knew that kissing her could never undo all the wrongs. He knew that she didn’t need a passionate kiss, she just needed to be held.
A warmth washed over Violet. Her lungs filled with frozen air, and his smell flooded her senses. She felt an unfamiliar sensation bubble in her chest. She felt…safe.
His thumb moved against her shoulder blades and his hand held the back of her head closer to his heart. He pulled away, cupping her chin in his palms, and planted a chaste kiss on her forehead.
He went to look back towards the bridge, but Violet grabbed his stubbly jaw line, and turned his face towards her’s.
She kissed him softly of his pink lips, pulling him closer to her. She rested her forehead on his, looking down at his lips for several seconds. She reached out and grabbed his chilly hands, and played with his fingers. With her free hand she unbuttoned the top button of her white blouse before continuing to the second and third, with numb fingers.
Michael swallowed harshly, the vapors of his cold breath fogging his vision. She took his hand and guided it over her plain white cotton bra. She covered his hand with hers and kneaded her chest, so he could feel her.
She let go of his hand, trusting him to continue touching her on his own, and grabbed the wispy hairs on the back of his neck. With parted lips, she kissed him once more, pulling him on top of her as she laid down slowly, her back against the cement floor.
Michael’s fingers played with the edge of the bra cup, asking permission to explore underneath the fabric. Violet arched her back and nodded against him, prompting his hand to rest flat against her bare skin. She felt so warm in his palm.
His thumb brushed over her nipple, causing her to shiver as it hardened under his rough fingertips. Violet grabbed Michael’s lower back, pushing his hips deep into her. Michael’s mouth fell open, at the sensation of his denim clad erection against her clothed core.
He inhaled shakily, before rolling his hips once more, causing Violet to let out a whimper. He deepened the kiss as she fumbled with his belt buckle, trying to undo his pants. It was the he noticed the light taste of saline against her lips.
“Wait.” he paused, with shaky breath, his elbows nearly buckling underneath his weight “Violet, wait.” he grabbed her wrist gently, stopping her from continuing.
A look of confusion and disappointment tainted her face, the corners of her mouth sinking down into a slight frown. “Michael, I need you.” she whined.
He squeezed his eyes shut, mustering up every ounce of self control before continuing.
“Believe me, fuck, I need you too,” he swore under his breath, “but not like this. This isn’t fair to you. You - You’re vulnerable right now, and I can’t take advantage of you like this. I’m sorry I just can’t do it.”
“No, Michael, I want this, I’m ready.” she bucked her hips against his.
“Vi, you’re crying.”
“I am not!” she argued, frustrated.
He brushed his thumb across her tear stained cheek and brought it in front of her face.
“You are princess.”
Violet melted at the nickname, and was overwhelmed with gratitude that Michael was there to take care of her. She released a floodgate of tears, wrapping her arms around his neck and burying her face into his shoulder to quietly sob.
“Shhhhh..shhh” Michael soothed, hugging her waist as he sat up, pulling her into his lap. He placed small kisses against her temple, and slowly hummed a slow ballad as she cried against him.
Choking back tears, she cleared her throat. “Sing to me.” she said weakly.
“I can’t si-…”
“I don’t mind.” she protested.
And with that, his voice softly began Therapy by All Time Low, and rocked her back and forth reminding her, that he was there to keep her safe.
Oil Spill Help: New Coating Quickly Separates Oil From Water
by Michael Keller
Scientists at Durham University in the UK have developed a coating that repels oil and attracts water. When applied to stainless steel mesh like that found in screen doors, the material lets water pass through quickly while blocking oil.
The team behind the innovation, which rapidly separates water-oil mixtures with 98 percent efficiency, says it could be used to clean up oil spills and in similar applications.
Competition can be fierce for bats that venture out at the same time of night to feed. Researchers have recently discovered that Mexican free-tailed bats send out jamming calls to interfere with the echolocation calls of others, effectively causing the bats to miss their target.