At the end of the day, when the children had fled the room in favor of waiting for their parents to pick them up or catching the bus, Savanah still sat at her desk. She didn’t look as if she planned on moving anytime soon. Her pointy chin was propped up by her palm, and every few seconds she sighed loudly.
Cole gingerly sat himself in the chair at the desk beside hers. His legs wouldn’t fit under, so he had to twist sideways. Savanah’s workbook was still open on her desk, and her pencil was beneath her chair. He rolled it closer with his foot and bent to retrieve it. “Is something wrong, Savanah?” She didn’t thank him for returning the pencil to the groove in the desk.
“No.” She kicked her foot into the leg of the chair and nudged her pencil off the desk at the same time.
Cole was starting to suspect Savanah’s favorite word was no. He left the pencil for now. “How come you’re not at parent pick-up?”
She dropped her chin to the desk hard, causing Cole to wince. It couldn’t have felt good, even if she didn’t so much as blink in discomfort. “Daddy’s coming in,” she said, the words mumbled as she barely moved her lips.
It took Cole a minute to parse that and the sullen expression on her face. “To talk to me?”
Savanah rolled her eyes. “Duh.”
“That’s not how you speak to adults,” he said calmly. Explaining to her that her father was supposed to call and schedule a conference ahead of time wouldn’t change anything, so he didn’t bother. At least he’d finally get to meet and chat with the man responsible for Savanah. “It’s very rude.”
“But adults do it.” She twisted a strand of her black hair around her finger, cutting off circulation and changing the pigment. When she released it, the color came rushing back.
“Your dad tells people ‘duh?’”
She shook her head, dragging her chin over the desk and sending her workbook to join the pencil on the floor. “Mommy did. She liked to yell.”
Cole’s chest did the thing where it felt like it was shrinking, squeezing him too tight. He opened his mouth, not sure exactly what he’d say but knowing he should say something, when someone knocked on the open door. Savanah swiveled to look, resignation flittering across her features. She didn’t appear at all excited. Cole didn’t know what he expected Savanah’s father to look like. He didn’t really have an image in mind as he stood, turning to face the entry.