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Cricket Lone Wolf Part 21

The school students form an informal orchestra.

Classes had ended for the day before lunch and students wandered the hallways searching for new diversions. Naomi led Daria and Polina to the newly cleaned music room, as the headmaster promised. Daria limped to the first chair with a music stand, flopped into it, sighed heavily moving her leg onto another chair and removed her flute from its case. Naomi sat next to her holding the violin she removed from the shelves full of instruments. She watched Polina, as she searched for an instrument she could play with her friends. Polina saw an oboe on the shelf with a case next to it, which contained a new double reed setup.

Daria leaned closer to Naomi to grab and keep her attention. "I am sorry that I was so hard on you when you arrived. I should have known that you were not interested in Stefan. This school can be daunting when you first see it and the students. How has your adjustment to the school been?" Daria sat back as she tried to influence Naomi into joining her on her quest.

Naomi sat back a little with a small smile growing on her face. Her mind wandered but focused on Daria's words, which caught her off guard. She thought, "Wait a minute, is this Daria who blamed all her misfortune on Stefan, Marcia and me? Where did she go?" Naomi quickly decided to listen to Daria and her pitch. She remembered similar things that happened when Marcia and she attended school together in fifth grade. Daria's attention seemed to be another ploy to take Marcia down in humiliation and disgrace.

As Daria softly talked to Naomi, several more students entered the room. Polina sat with the girls and prepared the double reed of her oboe. Soon, Stefan carried his clarinet over to the small cluster of friends. They sat quietly preparing to test the tonal quality of the instruments. Marcia sat at the piano, which the headmaster made sure was properly ready for the students' use. As Marcia struck a note, her four friends played it on their instruments. Satisfied that they were ready, Marcia walked to the group and selected a piece of music to try.

As they raised their instruments to play, several upper-class students entered the room. One student looked very familiar to Marcia, but until she spoke to her, she was at a loss. The student was Francoise, aka Franci, a former member of Chantel's group. Franci carried a well-used black leather flute case under her arm. She walked slowly hesitantly toward Marcia and put the case on the piano.

"May I join your group of musicians?" She asked in her heavily French-accented English.

Marcia smiled broadly, "You certainly may join our little group. This gathering is our first, and we are always looking for talented people to join. Take a seat near Daria. She is also playing the flute." Franci smiled and took a seat behind Daria and brought out her flute ready to play.

As Marcia stood at the piano, she raised her hand, led the group in their first piece and played the piano accompaniment. At the end of the piece, a loud sigh followed by laughter and soft cheers erupted from the group. Marcia stood and joined the group talking and chatting about their first piece. Daria was the most vocal of the musicians and started to poke criticism at Stefan for his clarinet playing.

"Stefan, you are such a nincompoop for coming in late in the piece. Can't you read music? We're not going to let you play if you keep doing that."

"Give it up, Daria. We are all just getting used to each other. We need more practice and you are not 'Miss Perfect' by any stretch of the imagination. That was our first try and it sounded pretty good to me." Stefan chided.

Daria started to say something back in her irascible manner but stopped when Naomi looked at her as if to say 'stifle it.' Daria gulped and looked down at her flute to empty the accumulated saliva from it. Naomi rested a disapproving hand on Daria's shoulder. Naomi stood and walked to a table that contained several stacks of sheet music for orchestras. She rummaged through the piles and picked several pieces for the small group to try. She took her small stack of music and passed it out among the musicians. Over the next hour, the group played several pieces and except for a couple of false starts, they sounded as if they played together for a long time.

The music session ended with everyone laughing and clapping. They picked up their instruments and took them with them out to their rooms to prepare for dinner. Franci walked silently with Daria and Polina toward the dormitory wing of the school. Idle chatter about music and school social rumors passed between the girls. Daria looked inquisitively at Franci when the discussion of exams surfaced. She was Chantel's roommate when the cheating scandal broke but never implicated in the incident. Daria was curious but kept silent not wanting to create a riff between her new friends.

Franci spoke first, "I was Chantel's roommate and discovered her in the tub of our room. It was grisly, but I have dealt with it and moved on as best I could. Even though I was her roommate, I was not involved in her cheating or other things she controlled at the school. She was evil and came from a family, who lived and worked on the fringes of the criminal world. She built a small criminal empire here when she first became a student. It ran well until Marcia came to the school and Chantel became her mentor. The fact that Marcia was not corruptible bothered Chantel immensely. She wanted to find the chink in Marcia's person that would allow Chantel to control or take her over. When Chantel failed to find that flaw, she plotted to use Marcia and create that flaw. We all know how that worked out and resulted in her death."

Polina looked at Franci curiously and wondered what was this girl doing here? Was there something she wanted or was this a ruse for another run at Marcia? She thought for a few minutes carefully thinking how to talk to Franci. She felt that the direct approach would not work, but maybe a friendly chat was better. She watched the interaction between Daria and Franci and detected a small bond forming. She knew Daria wanted to break down Marcia, but here was another person who might want the same thing.

"What happened with all of Chantel's friends and 'gang members' since the cheating scandal? What happened to you, because you appear to be a cast away from all of that? We have seen a few smaller groups of girls formed within the upper classmen. Why have you been excluded from some or all of them?" Polina asked rashly.

Quietly and somewhat sadly Franci continued, "All Chantel's friends felt I was partly responsible for her death because I did nothing to help her. They avoid me as if I were a social pariah and exclude me from their activities and group functions. That is why I came here to play with you. You will accept me as a friend musician and treat me that way. That is what I need. I also want to get to see what makes Marcia so strong and not corruptible."

Daria spoke up, "She has to have something that we can use against her to take her down. I want to strike her down from her perch above us as the headmaster's pet. She is far from perfect, but she has the right friends in the right places. I am working on her childhood best friend, Naomi, to get to know her better. When I am ready, I will strike and she will fall and trodden under foot."

"Are you recruiting other people to work with you on this endeavor? I might like to join you on this trek of discovery. She seems too good to be that perfect in having everything she wants handed to her. Something she does or has made people see her in a different approving way. Her marks are the highest ever given and she does not seem to have to work very hard to get them. What is with that? Maybe Naomi can help us better understand her and either beat her down or use her abilities against her." Franci bitterly uttered. It seemed Daria infected her with the propaganda against Marcia.

Polina did not like hearing Daria and her desire to undermine Marcia. Marcia had done nothing to garner such venomous treatment from her classmates and now upperclassmen. She felt that maybe she should talk to Naomi, but was not sure Naomi really cared about protecting Marcia from these swipes. She remembered seeing Naomi and Daria deeply involved in quietly talking before the music began. She would talk to Stefan first. Maybe he can get a feel from Naomi about her relationship with Marcia.

The three girls arrived at Daria's room, stored their instruments away and continued to dinner. When they arrived there, they found Marcia, Naomi and Stefan sitting together and joined them. Talk around the table centered on the practice play session of the impromptu orchestra. The group was excited about their new activity and wanted to broadcast it to the school to attract more members. Stefan and Naomi wanted to work together to publicize the fledgling orchestra. When they announced that at the table, Daria had an angry look flood her face but looked down at her plate hoping no one saw.

Marcia and Polina observed Daria's reaction and looked at each other with a knowing glance. The look that passed between them showed concern for Stefan and Naomi. Daria still wanted to be Stefan's girlfriend, but he just wanted a friend, not a relationship. Marcia looked again at Daria, who stared intently at her plate as if to bore a hole in it with her eyes. Marcia looked at Naomi and Stefan and saw two happy teens just chatting innocently about nothing in particular.

Dinner ended and the group split up to return to their respective rooms. Stefan walked with Marcia and Naomi to their room to talk about the student orchestra and what type of publicity they wanted to post. There was a bulletin board in the dining area and that seemed the most logical place to post a sign. The large assembly hall had a notice board too, as well as the waiting area where friends met to go out. Putting signs in those areas would be enough the three friends agreed and closed that discussion.

Marcia looked at the two friends sitting on Naomi's bed close to each other. She sensed there was something between them that neither knew nor wanted to acknowledge. Marcia sat and spoke quietly, "When you two spoke about publicity for the orchestra, Daria looked at Stefan and became livid with him and then you. I think you need to be careful around her for a while. She can be very dangerous."

Naomi looked at Stefan and smiled, "Let her come. I am ready to take her on in anything she chooses. There is nothing between Stefan and me. She can try to find something, but she will come up empty." With that, Naomi stood and escorted Stefan to the door and bade him goodnight.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2012, 2013 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Cal Erickson, aka frogprince

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