The Scheme


Joe was the last person on Earth I expected to do that.

So we were all stranded in the library on Friday afternoon.

It was supposed to be closed, but Roman got the keys from his sister who works in the office and let us in. Anna had brought snacks I have no idea why. But none of us planned on the principal showing up.

He was at the door rambling on to Naomi. She didn’t mind at all because she’s had a crush on the guy since forever. She could have stood there all day.

I wanted to escape so badly. This wasn’t right. I needed to study and this was not how I had planned to do it.

But Matt was so cute. And he had asked me personally! What could I do?

He insisted if we all worked together, we could easily pull it off: steal Mr. Anderson’s teacher’s manual and copy the answers to the final, ahead of time.

Matt managed to get the book and we safely hid, when the principal approached. Naomi heard him coming before the rest of us even knew.

“What the hell is he doing here?” Roman asked.

“I don’t like this. Oh my God! What if we get caught,” Anna exclaimed, munching on a bag of Doritos. “I can’t afford a detention?”

“Shut up, all of you and let me think,” Matt said. He scratched his gorgeous moppy brown hair. I could have sat and stared at him all afternoon, if it wasn’t for Anna and her constant mumbling.

In the corner, Joe kept looking out the window. He didn’t say anything. Good ol’ faithful Joe. He was Matt’s right-hand man. He never questioned a plan or scheme. He just tagged along and dutifully obeyed Matt.

“Okay here’s what we’ll do…” Matt began, before Naomi returned.

“You got rid of him?” Roman asked.

“How’d you do that?” I said.

“I can be charming when I want to be, you know,” she boasted.

We sat on the floor between the stacks, with Joe holding the flashlight above us, and feverishly copied every answer. I still had uneasiness in my gut. But Matt’s knee was touching my thigh. I couldn’t move.

When we were done, Matt put the book into his backpack and we all readied to leave.

As we headed for the entrance, he congratulated all of us for working as a team.

“I didn’t do anything,” I chuckled.

Matt smiled and touched my arm. “You were here.” My stomach did a flip and my face flushed.

At the door, Matt peeked out. Anna was sweating like a crazy woman. I thought she was going to have a heart attack if we didn’t get out soon. Roman held the door knob and turned it slowly. We tip toed out into the hall. Wow! We had actually succeeded.

And that’s when it happened. The ear-shattering fire alarm sounded, and Anna and I screamed. She ran off in a blur.

“What the hell?” Matt said, as we all turned back.

There was Joe, his hand on the alarm bar. Smiling the most mischievous grin I had ever seen. I thought Matt was going to kill him. Roman was not amused and took off with Naomi. Matt grabbed my arm and we ran off in the opposite direction.

Paula Antonello Moore, Fiction. Copyright: Saturday, March 5, 2016.

Writing challenge: Write a scene that begins, “Joe was the last person I expected to do that,” from 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Image: Library stacks from Against The Grain.