Mutual Holdings Ltd.’s board of trustees announced today that it will be dissolving its zombie safety, training, and hotels holdings, an estimated eighty-nine percent of the company’s net value. Keith Sable III says that the money will be transferred to Sable Engineering to revitalize what many have described as a floundering program of innovation. Mr. Sable is quoted as saying “My ancestor Koji Sano was an engineer. He didn’t make his money by capitalizing on the problems of society, he made it by creating new solutions to end them. That’s what we’re supposed to do in my family, and that’s what we’re doing now. Starting with the cure.”
Standing in the main hallway of Romero High School, Stacy watched through the lens of her camera as a new sun rose on the first day of classes. This was her senior year, and whether her parents liked it or not, she was going to Journalism school, with The Romero Star as her bombshell portfolio. To open this year, the headline was going to be “Romero welcomes back its cured students,” and the front page was going to be Julia Sable walking through the front door.
It turns out when you have unlimited money, reconstructive surgery can do wonders, and her face looked just as pretty as it did before. Even though her natural eye color was green, her glass eye featured an iris of vivid, shimmering red. “You look like a Christmas tree,” Stacy remarked as Julia looked over her shoulder at the cover image. “I’m glad they’re pointing the same direction at least.” That earned her a smack on the shoulder.
Julia pointed at the article text. “No, put Julia Black.”
“Oh no. You changed it again?”
“It’s my mother’s maiden name. Do you know that Daddy doesn’t even mind? Bless his heart. He’s gotten so accepting that I can’t even rebel against him.”
Stacy stared at the screen and hoped Julia couldn’t see her rolling her eyes. With her name fixed, she turned and left. Stacy put her hand on Blas’s head and saved the final draft to send to the Principal for approval. With Mr. Gobi retired, Stacy was the new head of the club. She’d talked the new teacher Ms. Bell into sponsoring until she graduated, but unless someone else stepped up, this would be The Star’s last year. Stacy had made her peace.
When Stacy opened her email, her heart skipped a beat. At the top of her inbox was a message. Subject: “For Stacy.” After his retirement, Mr. Gobi stopped by to pick up Princess. He had a plan that he said had almost worked with his daughter’s dog. With synthetic zombie smells and thick padded clothing, he had nearly managed to untrain the animal. This time he was sure he would succeed.
Since then, he’d become a ghost. Sometimes she would see his bald spot in a grocery line or on the far side of a library. Maybe he’d be walking down one side of a road when she was walking down the other. She’d wave to him, or even try to say hi, but when his eyes behind those thick spectacles turned in her direction at all, they would move right over like she was invisible.
Mr. Gobi could not blame Stacy for what happened, but he also could not forgive.
She grabbed Blas’s fur to keep from shaking and tapped the message. No text, only a doc attachment. A desperation overwhelmed her better judgement and she double-clicked the document right on the spot.
My name is Sanjay Gobi II, and I make no exaggeration when I say that Estacia Isabella Torres is the greatest young journalist I have ever had the privilege to mentor. She would be an asset to any journalism program fortunate enough to get her, but especially to Northwestern University.
The document was a loving chronicle of everything she had accomplished under Mr. Gobi, and tears came to her eyes. She scrolled down and saw that he had re-written the recommendation letter with specific notes for each of the seven programs to which she had applied. She wiped her tears away and spent the next hour composing a thank you letter. Thank you for writing these recommendations. Thank you for agreeing to sponsor the Romero Star. Thank you for helping me save Julia. Thank you for believing in me.
When she finally hit send, she drew in a strained breath. She knew she would receive no reply.
“Are you ok?” a voice too close to her head asked.
Stacy shrieked and jumped from her chair, letting it clatter to the floor. “Oh! Sorry!” Daniel Cobbe stammered, grabbing the chair and righting it. Daniel Cobbe looked like he grew a foot over the summer, but maybe it was how he carried himself now. “Can I talk to you about something?”
“Is it crabs?”
A nervous giggle escaped Daniel, and he shrunk a little. “No. No crabs.”
“Fine. What is it?”
“Do you know how I can impress Julia? It’s just – she’s so pretty and nice. I’ve – I’ve never been able to talk- to talk to anyone like I can with h-her.”
“Her new eye is red like a crab.”
Daniel’s face darkened and his stutter vanished. “Crabs are only red when you cook them, Stacy.” Then he cringed and blushed. “B-but some healthy crabs are olive green like her – her real eye.”
“Invite her to a seafood restaurant.”
Daniel frowned and he took a few shallow breaths. “Please be s-serious. I don’t kn-know many girls to ask for advice.”
Stacy scowled, then remembered her own teacher. What would Mr. Gobi do?
“Daniel,” Stacy said, locking eyes with the boy. “You go right up to her and tell her you want to take her out. Pick a steak restaurant. She’ll be thrilled.”
Daniel gaped, “uh.”
Stacy waved him away. “Go do it now. Don’t put it off or you’ll never get the courage.”
He began to shake. “Ok, ok! I’ll do it!” Then he turned and sprinted away.
As she watched the door fall shut behind him, Stacy felt a memory stir inside her. Each time she exercised her compassion, it came with a little piece of her beloved teacher. That was something that no one could ever take away.
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