"Miss Day," said Matron, a nasty smile on her face. She was in charge of most of the 'treatment' the students received – unfortunately for Misty, that meant seeing the wretched woman several times a week. "Are you ready for your treatment?"
Misty didn't want to dignify Matron with a response. She gritted her teeth and nodded, cold in the thin robe.
Matron slapped her across the face. "I asked you a question."
"Yes," Misty muttered, her face smarting from the slap.
She climbed in the bath, trying not to wince at the uncomfortably warm water. It wasn't hot enough to burn her – but it was hot enough to hurt like hell. Matron slammed the lid closed, and smiled at Misty. "I'll be back in half an hour."
Misty closed her eyes and breathed deeply, thinking of ice cream, of swimming in the ocean, or a cold winter's day. Anything to take her mind off the water she was submerged in. She wiggled her toes, making sure she could still feel them. Sometimes the water was so hot she went numb, but she was thankful that wasn't the case this time. She tried extra hard to stay on Matron's good side – the happier she was, the cooler the water.
She hoped that Cordelia hadn't been treated yet, and that she wouldn't get subjected to the baths if she was. Stop thinking about Cordelia, she told herself. It would only make things harder than they already were.
"Miss Day, are you aware of Miss Goode's condition?" Miss Robichaux asked. Misty was required to 'check in' with the headmistress once a week, as were some of the other students who had been deemed problem students.
"Yeah," Misty said, not sure why Miss Robichaux was asking. "She's the same as me."
"So you understand why I cannot, in good conscience, allow the two of you to be around each other?"
Misty shrugged. She knew the answer Miss Robichaux wanted, of course – she just didn't want to give it. She thought it was stupid.
Miss Robichaux sighed. "We are trying to heal you. Both of you. And while the two of you are still sick, well, it isn't right to allow the two of you to talk. Who knows what you might get up to?"
Not liking what the headmistress was insinuating, Misty knew she needed to go before she said something that got her into trouble. More trouble, at least. She felt herself blushing, and looked away from the strict headmistress. "I got it. Can I go now, please?"
"Yes," Miss Robichaux said. She didn't like Misty any more than Misty liked her – that was the only thing they had in common. "Good evening, Miss Day."
"Good evening, Miss Robichaux," Misty replied, trying very hard not to scowl.
A part of Misty wished that she had never broken it off with Cordelia. Broken it off perhaps wasn't the best way to put it – she and Cordelia had never been anything, after all – but it sure felt like a breakup. Misty knew it was for the best, though. She always managed to get herself into trouble, and she didn't want to drag Cordelia into that. She deserved better than that.
She wasn't quite sure if being in separate classes made it easier or harder. She felt so drawn to Cordelia, like a moth to flame, that it was so hard not seeing her as often – but Misty knew that if she saw Cordelia any more than she already did, she wouldn't be able to stay away. She wouldn't be able to stop herself from talking to her.
Misty hated and loved Saturday detentions even more now. They only had one more of them left before the month was out, and she already missed it. The detentions were the only time she was allowed to see Cordelia, and even though it was awkward and neither of them said much, Misty looked forward to them.
After class, Misty went to the only place she knew she wouldn't be disturbed – the abandoned classroom near the dining room. She tried so hard not to let the school and its people disturb her – but it was so, so hard sometimes. She loved her friends, but she knew she didn't quite belong with them – there was an unspoken divide between them. It was no-one's fault, of course, and they didn't treat her any different, but Misty knew they felt it too. She just didn't quite get them, and they just didn't quite get her. They had all been raised among the upper class, had always had money and influence. Misty had been raised almost the opposite, and she wished it didn't make a difference, but it really did. Cordelia had been raised rich as well, but for some reason she didn't seem like the others. She was extremely humble, and Misty could tell that she had been hurt before. Not talking to Cordelia, to the one person Misty knew she could talk to without judgement, hurt even more than the hot baths.
So she cried. It was so unfair. It just felt as though they tried to take everything from her – first she was sent away from the siblings she loved, and then they tried to take her personality and her sexuality away, and now they wanted to take Cordelia, too. She was so sick of it. She wanted to run far away from it all.
"Oh, sorry," Cordelia said, backing out of the room. "I didn't know you were in here."
"It's okay," Misty mumbled, not meeting Cordelia's kind brown eyes. She didn't want Cordelia to see that she had been crying.
"Are you alright?" Cordelia asked tentatively, hovering in the doorway.
"I'm fine," Misty shrugged, looking away and wiping her nose on her sleeve.
"You know," Cordelia said, a mischievous look growing on her face, "if they don't see us together, they won't be able to punish us."
Misty smiled at that. "True."
"So, can I sit?" she asked, gesturing to a spot next to Misty.
Misty sighed. "Delia, I don't want to get you in any more trouble because of me."
"It ain't fair, and-"
"Misty!" Cordelia said loudly, and Misty stopped talking and looked at her. "I don't care if I get in trouble. It's torture not being able to talk to you. I feel like you're the only one who understands."
Misty wished that Cordelia would make this easier on her. "But Cordelia, what if you get the cane again?"
"I don't care. It won't hurt as much as not being around you."
Misty grinned. "That's so sappy, Delia."
"Too bad," she said, and they grinned at each other.
"Maybe we can meet here when we wanna talk," Misty said. "I don't see anyone else come in here. We'd probably be safe."
"Okay. Good idea."
There seemed to be electricity in the air, crackling between them. Misty wondered if Cordelia could feel it too.
"I miss you. In class." Cordelia added that last part hastily, as though she were afraid of… Misty didn't know exactly what.
"Yeah, same. It was borin' before, but it's ten times more borin' now. Got no-one to get into trouble with," she grinned.
Sorry this chapter took ages! I've been away camping and the wifi is so shit. Chapter title comes from 'Outside the Rain' by Stevie Nicks.
Happy New Year! Let's hope 2021 is less of a dumpster fire than last year.