Lex had only been waylaid by his brief experience with the new kid Quint by only a few minutes. The person had to be Quint, only two people were starting school today and it didn’t look like Tina, his younger sister. Lex’s job as Master of Elections was to know who everyone was, so it didn’t take much to realize that this was probably Quint, and, for the time being, somewhat unimportant.
This delay still gave him plenty of time to get to Ms. Masters classroom so they could discuss whatever issue had just come up.
Normally, Alex tended to ignore the notes that Ms. Masters would send until the end of the day, but she had a very strict system: blue meant that it was a low level change that needed to be taken care of. Yellow meant that the action was immediate, but could wait until the end of the day. Mauve… and she used that word “mauve” not “purple”… meant that there was an emergency, and he was to drop everything and rush to her classroom immediately.
The note just said “now” and it was on mauve paper.
Lex had been Master of Elections since the beginning of the year. He had gotten plenty of blue notes, and a few yellow ones, but he hadn’t seen any mauve ones until today. In fact, he was fairly convinced they were a myth, passed down from one MOE to another as a scare tactic. “Watch out for the mauve ones,” said graduating senior Allyson Turner before she vanished into whatever mysterious ether that she disappeared into.
He stopped just short of her classroom and caught a glimpse of himself in one of the longer windows that flanked her classroom. He was disheveled, tie out of place, shirt undone, and blonde hair sticking up all over the place. His glasses were smudged. He took a moment to correct these flaws before opening the door and stepping inside.
“Please, Mr. Smith. Sit down,” she said in a calm tone. Her voice was very proper, like what he’d imagine someone trying to describe what a British Accent should sound like to an American.
Lex sat down in one of the padded chairs that each classroom at Yancy Adams High was equipped with. He noticed it wasn’t his usual chair, or at least, it was in the usual position, but was not the same one that he normally sat in. The one he normally sat in had a stray black mark from where a sharpie had gone off a poster from the previous MOE, ruining the table. He kind of liked the randomness of it. He finally noticed the desk a few feet away in another location. He thought of getting up and sitting at it, but he figured it as probably some kind of test.
There were always tests at Yancy Adams High.
Lex waited. And after a few minutes of nothing but the sound of a ticking clock - again, it was as if Ms. Masters had them come in to fix the clock to make it louder - and the sound of her loudly flipping papers… he waited. He was very much on her time, and he knew it because no matter what happened, he was very much on her time. They both knew it.
Lex continued to wait, mauve note in his hand.
There were nicer classrooms at YA High, and he always wondered why she chose this one. It faced the sun during most of the autumn months, so there would be blinding light behind her during the day. Despite most of the school being updated constantly, this was the oldest room, and it always seemed to cold except in those rare instances when it was unfortunately too hot, and it never made sense which one it was, too cold or too hot.
Not that any of it mattered, because the only people who ever met in this classroom were the Student Council.
She finally broke the silence. “Jennifer is out.”
Ms. Masters never referred to anyone by their preferred name, rather, she always used what she referred to as their “Proper name.” Lex, despite the fact that he was called Lex for all 16 years of his life, was “Alexander.” Jennifer, despite the fact that she hated the name Jennifer since she shared it with mother that walked out on her family when she was a baby, wanted to be called “Madison” for her middle name, but Ms. Masters constantly corrected her, telling her if she wanted her to change it, then she should visit a court.
Once, a student was so bold as to actually take her up on this offer, was expelled before he was ever referred to as “Big Poppa.”
“Mad— Jennifer is out? Why?” Lex looked down at his notebook. Madison/Jennifer was running for Student Council President, and was largely favored to win.
“I’ve come across information that has disqualified her. I’m not sure you need a reason other than that,” she said, finally looking up at him. If she didn’t look so young, he would have sworn she was the original model for Medusa with those eyes. She didn’t look “at” people so much as she pierced them with her gaze. Right in half.
“What information?” Lex continued, knowing that it was pretty fruitless. She wasn’t going to tell, but his options were to ask and try to continue down the road, or have her ask him why he wasn’t asking, and that went even worse.
“You don’t need to know the particulars. Let’s just say there was some collusion with our opposing basketball team’s star player following last week’s game.”
For Ms. Masters, “collusion” could have meant everything from a full on make out session to simply saying hello at the wrong time.
“I don’t get how this disqualifies her from the office. Literally everyone in the school is getting ready to vote for her.”
“Find someone else.”
“I don’t know if that’s going to be possible—“ Lex caught his words as they were coming out. There were many things he could have said, and those particular words in that particular order was probably the worst thing he could have said, ever.
Ms. Masters stood up to full height. She was a tall woman… she was even taller while wearing her high heels. He got the impression that she was not trying to look sexy so much as she was trying to intimidate people with the click each time she took a step. She walked forward around her desk, exaggerating each click as if it were punctuating a word she was not saying.
“Mr. Smith…” she said… “Alexander… you are the youngest Master of Elections this school has had in it’s 200 year history.”
“Y-yes ma’am,” he said, gulping hard.
“I didn’t want to allow it, but the administration was pushing forward for you to be the Master of Elections.”
Lex knew this to be a lie. Principal Sky pretended to run the school, but it was as Ms. Master’s whim. He was not going to let her onto this fact.
“Well then, Mr. Smith,” she continued, “ I don’t want to hear you ever say that again. You are going to find someone to take Jennifer’s place. It will be someone the school wishes to elect. Do I make myself clear?”
“Your job as Master of Elections is simple,” she said, leaning on her desk, “you are to run the elections. Smoothly. If there is a candidate I do not approve of, someone that will not benefit the Student Council, then they are not to be even be in the running. Jennifer is out of the running. Is that understood?”
Lex once again managed to work up a nod. He had never been yelled at by someone so calm before in his entire life.
“Go. Back to class. It’s useless but at least you can feel like you’re learning something.”