Shift by Pili Yarusi: Chapter 1 MOVING ON

Note before you begin: If you haven’t already, please read the prologue. It is the post directly before this one. Thank you again for reading. Please leave a comment below on your experience.

Chapter 1

I am flying.

Screaming, a searing silver-white pain lances through my head. My eyes are open but all I see is grey. I kick out, thrashing at the sheets as I tumble onto the floor. Grabbing a fistful of sheet, I stuff it into my mouth in a conscious effort to calm myself down.

I hate flying. I hate snakes.

Wait.

What?

As the pain of my latest headache eases away, I open my eyes and the world still has a grey tinge to it. There are flutterings of a nightmare. The harder I try to grasp it the further it flies out of my reach until here I lie, a panting confused mess on the cold wooden floor.

Not what I needed. Not another dream about that day. Another headache. I haven’t had either of those in a while. Dream flying? Nausea threatens. I need to calm down.

Looking out the window, the early morning breeze makes my pretty blue and yellow curtains dance. Breathe, Julia. The skies are clear, the sun is warm and inviting. The world shifts to a light greenish yellow. Better now. “The eyes are windows into your soul.” For me, my eyes were like the mood ring to my soul. I try my best to hide them these days.

The silver bracelets on both my wrists clank against the old wood floor as I push myself up. Ugh, I stumble back under the covers. Still dizzy. I wish the nightmares would stop. I reach for my glasses and squint at the old clock on the wall. My hands shake as I slide my familiar silver rimmed glasses on to my foggy eyes. The clock comes into sharp focus. 5:15 am. I sit up a little too quickly and the room spins. I’m going home today. I gaze at my bags neatly stacked in the corner of the room.

I don’t want to go back home to NYC and I don’t want to stay here in Hawai’i. I love the City even with all the bad memories. An event never forgotten, just pushed to the edge of my mind. The doctors, shrinks and authorities said that I imagined the Snake Man that attacked my Mom.

Of course I imagined him. Right? I mean, there is no such thing as snake-men with eyes that look like fish. Of course not. What about the talking, rabid baby bear? Nope! Figment of my imagination.

The doctors said that I must have blacked out due to my medical conditions. When the police got on to the scene, I was unconscious. The police said that we’d been attacked by an unknown assailant and my mom was bitten by a snake. I could have fallen and hit my head really hard, they said. They couldn’t really get a handle on what actually happened. They never have.

The specialists and therapists were very sure about me, though. They said I suffered from “Acute stress reaction, Anemia, Post-concussive syndrome, and Bi-polar disorder.” They threw everything at me. They said I was delusional. Delusional? I was nine. I remember looking up that word, along with all the other things they called me. I was told to stop making things up. There was no such thing as talking bears and fisheyed-man-snakes. So after an entire year of trying to make them believe, I stopped. I stopped telling them what happened. I made myself believe in their stories. No more shrinks. No thank you. Just a dead mom and a new cat from a shelter as therapy for my loss. People have accidents all the time. It’s time you moved on Julia. No more stories of people who turn into animals. At least that’s what the therapist said.

The cat? Yeah… don’t know why or where it came from but my therapist said it was supposed to help. She comes and goes as she pleases. I call her Mochi… because I love mochi.

As she is my Mom’s sister and closest living relative, Aunty Mel became my legal guardian. After Mom’s funeral, Aunty Mel gave me a silver bracelet she said belonged to my Mom. “You can never take it off. Please. It’ll help you to remember her. Never forget your mom. Never forget what she gave up.” The bracelet has my name on it. Julia Lyons.

My Mom. I miss her smile. I remember that she used to be really strict. Because we needed to be careful. I never knew why. She was always worrying. So anytime I could get her to smile, it was special. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering what she looked like…

“Lani-Girl, you up?” My Tūtū calls in her strong singsong voice.

“Aloha Kakahiaka!” I yell out, “I’ll be down in a bit!”

“Good Morning to you too, Lani-Girl!” My Papa bellows.

Then, Tūtū Kiha and Papa ʻIolani stepped into my life. I’ve never met my biological father but his parents are amazing. They’re from Hawai’i. Tūtū means Grandma and Papa is short for Grandpa. My Tūtū and Papa gave me another silver bracelet that has my Hawaiian name on it, ‘Iolani. I’m named after my Papa. But my grandparents call me Lani-Girl for short. So now I have one on each wrist. I am a half Hawaiian and half Caucasian jumble and I was a one hundred percent confused and miserable little girl. So, My grandparents said, “bullshit,” to all the medical conditions and got me a real doctor who simply told me I have bad eyesight and migraines. I take a pill once a day for the migraines and I have glasses. My grandparents also got my Aunty Mel to agree to let me fly out to Hawai’i every summer to visit them. Every July since the accident, my Aunty Melanie is forced to put me on a plane to fly here. I don’t know why, but she doesn’t like that very much. My grandparents live on Hawai‘i Island, the Big Island, at the southern most part of the Hawaiian chain. Tūtū and Papa own and live at the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo on the outskirts of Hilo. It is part of my rehabilitation, the doctors said. I always looked forward to my two months with my grandparents. Hawaii is beautiful.

A beautiful rock in the middle of the ocean.

Looking out of the picture window in my room the Zoo property stretches out into the forest. You can almost see the ocean shimmering in the distance; it’s hard to think of this place as a prison. By the fourth week of each of my trips to Hawaii I would get antsy, trapped. I would tell myself to relax. But the feeling of enclosure would never quite escape me. Like one of the many zoo animals I attend to, I feel like I’m in jail. This trip was no exception. I look around the room that had belonged to me ever since I was a kid. In the fourth grade, I cried myself to sleep in the car ride from the airport and awoke in this room.

Love the view… as long as it’s from a secure balcony or window. I had picked up this fear somewhere in all my delusions because I was fine before the whole “incident”. My doctor said it was vertigo and that it would pass but I wasn’t too sure. I am deathly afraid of heights and flying. I don’t even want to think about it right now. I must have passed out on that first flight to Hawaiʻi.

The room itself was like the whole house, simple. It had a squeaky, but comfy twin bed made up with an old set of faded quilts that my great-grandmother made decades ago. There was a very old chest of drawers shoved in the corner near the doorway and I had my own bathroom. The walls were a faded light blue and yellow curtains that did nothing to keep the sun out when I wanted to sleep in. Not that I ever got to sleep in.

“Lani-Girl?” My Papa bellows, “The Animals are calling! It’s your last day here. I want to make it count!” My grandparents worked me like a horse every summer at the Zoo. Again, part of my rehabilitation. It was hard work and it kept the headaches away.

“Yes, Papa.” I yell, stretching, “I’ll be down in a sec.” Even though my head was touching the topmost part of the bed, my feet dangled off the end. I’d grown about two inches while I’d been here. I smiled smugly. Cornflake was going to hate that.

Cornflake… ah… Nicky. He can’t remember anything from that day except that he was exploring in the alleyway with me and the hand-changing booger boy. Booger totally vanished. Apparently no one of that boys’ description went to my school and I’d never gotten his actual name. I tried years to jog Nic’s memory. Nothing. We held on to each other after that day though. Cornflake is my best friend.

Nicolas Hart. My Nicky. I was the only one allowed to call him that. Everyone else knew my best friend as Nicolas or sometimes Nic. I really missed him. It was the only other downer about coming to Hawaii every summer … I didn’t get to see him. Of course, our friendship had been just that, a friendship. I didn’t mind and neither did he. If anyone asked we’d say, usually in unison, “We’re just friends.” We’d laugh. I grinned up at the peeling paint on the ceiling and grabbed my phone. He was five hours ahead, but knowing him, he’d sleep in. I text him, “Wake up sleepy head!”

Nicky went to Europe with his foster parents for the most of the summer. As for me, my Papa and I worked on the Zoo grounds every day and my Tūtū taught me how to speak Hawaiian or ‘Ōlelo Hawai’i. I’m a fast learner, especially with languages. I’m fluent in ʻŌlelo Hawai’i, but considering I only speak it during the summer, my vocabulary is not as extensive as my Tūtū would have it. Every day during lunch, she sits with me under my favorite plumeria tree and we talk. The pronunciation of the vowels is very much like Spanish, which I could easily converse in and it wasn’t nearly as hard as the little Russian that Nicky had taught me.

This trip was a little different then the others though. My Grandparents asked me a few weeks back if I wanted to stay with them for the rest of school. Except for the fact that I’d have to leave Nicky, it would have been awesome. I told my Aunty Mel that they asked and she flipped. I’d heard her yell at my Grandparents before but this time she and my Tūtū had it out. I couldn’t hear what was coming at Tūtū from my Aunt’s end of what was being said but obviously my Tūtū had reservations about PS 33.

PS 33, or Public School 33, wasn’t bad. Throughout my life I’ve always had problems fitting in. I found that people are generally mean, especially when they find out things about you. Rumors were spread. If it hadn’t been for Nicky I’d have spent all my time at the library. Also, Nicky and I were bored all the time. So we’d cut a few classes and maybe we liked to play tricks on our teachers but that didn’t make us bad kids. We did the homework and aced all the tests. We were just bored.

I roll out of bed and take care of the essentials in the bathroom, including taking my daily pill. My eyes go from sky blue to silver as the gray pill slides down my throat. Funny how certain things make my eyes change color immediately. I put on some clean coveralls over a tattered pair of shorts and a tank and creep down the stairs. I could hear my Grandparents having a hushed conversation. I try to catch what they’re saying. I strain and go down another step and am greeted by the first floor ceiling slamming into my forehead. I’d forgotten to bend down to avoid hitting it. Ouch… one of the set backs of getting taller.

“Good morning sunshine!” My Papa pats the growing lump on my head as I kiss his cheek. I blush. He knows I tried to sneak up on them. “You’re up late!” He takes a healthy swig of coffee. I eye it longingly. Back home in NYC I wake up every morning to coffee and old-fashion donuts. In Hawaii though…

I kiss my Tūtūʻs cheek as she hands me a bottle of OJ. “I see the way you stare at that coffee, Lani-girl. Coffee stunts your growth and…”

“…Gives me headaches,” I finish. My migraines would come anyway but Tūtū refused to let me have coffee. I still tried every morning to get just a little.

My Tūtū shakes her head as I kiss her cheek and pick up a piece of Portuguese sausage straight out of the pan. “Ouch!” I play hot potato with the sausage before taking a bite.

“I already made you a sandwich to take.” Tūtū hands me a brown paper bag which I promptly take after slipping my mismatched socked feet into my rubber boots. I kiss Tūtū once more and I follow Papa out into the bright Hawaiian morning.

***

The sounds and smells of the forest assail me. The sweet smell of maile hangs in the air. The Zoo is in the middle of a protected forest in Pana’ewa. Secluded. So unlike NYC the smell of the forest invites me to breathe deep and relax into its gentle breezes. So like the streets of the City, a canopy of voices, animals all, takes flight. I let myself be carried away by songs of the manu, the birds. I laugh at the hoots of the monkey cage. I wonder where the old lioness in the back is until I hear her roar… she’s being fed. The Animals greet me as if one of their own…

“Eh Lani-Girl…” My Papas voice sounds like an old Hawaiian slack-key guitar song, melodic and soothing. Except when he wants something done. “ʻIOLANI!!! Get your head out of the clouds, girl! This is your last day and if you finish up everything we can go surf after, but right now you got some work to do. So finish your breakfast…”

“Papa… It’s my last day.” I fake-whine, my mouth half full of Tūtūʻs Portuguese sausage and egg sandwiched between freshly made sweet bread. “Can’t we just go surf?” So much better than the list of chores I know he has for me.

“Oh, you love it!”

“Yeah… I’m going to miss it here, Papa.” It was true. I love NYC but there was just something about Hawaiʻi that always made me FEEL loved. I could feel the aloha.

“You can still stay, Lani-Girl. You know your Tūtū and I want you to go to school here.” Papa and I stroll towards the reptile cages.

“You know Aunty Mel would never let me.” My aunt was not a fan of my grandparents and my grandparents couldn’t care less about her. They fought constantly.

And… as much as I love Hawaiʻi, I craved the crazy vibrant energy of the City.

Papa ruffles my already crazy curls. “Well, at least tell your Tūtū I asked again. She really isn’t happy. Here’s your list.” Papa hands me a torn piece of paper bag with a long list of scribbles on it. “Go check on the Moʻo first. The lizards and snakes are getting restless.”

“Papa!” I shiver. “I hate the Moʻo!” Moʻo is Hawaiian for lizard. He knew I couldn’t stand going in there.

“You need to get over your fear. They don’t hate YOU!” Papa giggles.

“Very funny. How is it that even though snakes and most reptiles are banned from Hawai’i, you get to keep them?” I stop near the caged doorway.

“I don’t keep them. They need to stay here so they don’t get into anymore trouble. Why do you think they came here from the mainland in the first place?” My Papa laughs at his own joke before the punch line. “Vacation?” Papa trudges off toward the manu area, the bird cages. He turns back just before disappearing inside, “Eh, no forget to say goodbye, yeah?” His face is serious and he goes in without waiting for an answer.

“You’re crazy Papa!” I laugh and huddle under my poncho as rain clouds move in. Hilo rain is nothing to laugh at and I do not want to get wet. I make it to the Moʻo Pit untouched. The smell of dead mice permeates the air. I hate snakes. I hate lizards. I hate creepy crawly slimy things. But my Papa won’t hear it and my Doctor says this is good for me. So I start talking to the snakes. It’s this thing I do whenever Papa makes me go in. It’s therapy.

“I hate you.”

The moʻo I was least afraid of was an oversized Emoia Impar or a copper striped blue tailed skink. This particular species went extinct a few years back during the war. I guess no one had time to look out for these little things. Skinks are usually a few inches long at best. But my Papa found two, and they are still labeled as extinct because the two he found, they’re both at least three feet long. The female is old and doesn’t come out of her hole. Ever. Papa says she’s there but I’ve never seen her. The male was colorful, strange and had a bad attitude. We have an understanding. Papa has an assortment of crazy reptiles here. There was also a lizard that looks like a cross between a Kimono Dragon and a Yellow bellied snake. It is hiding somewhere in his cage. That one scares me.

What am I even saying? They all scared me.

“I hate you all.” I shouted. It didn’t make me feel any better. It never did. But it made the headache subside just a little. I wonder what it would be like to go back to a time without headaches or bad dreams. I wonder how life would have been if my Mom…

Whatever. I can’t go there.

I look at the check list at the door. The stupid lizards have been fed. Thank God for that. Feeding Moʻo? Worst job ever. I grab the hose at the back of the cave like room and begin shooting down the flooring. Slime and who knows what make it’s way into the drain. “You know,” I look at another terrarium filled with Jackson Chameleon of all sizes, “Besides Nicky, you are all the closest things I have to friends.” Wow. I suck.

I tap on the glass of the yellow bellied snakes cage. It doesn’t surface. I keep talking anyway, “Because of you… well not you, but whatever… I don’t know what it’s like to have a group of friends.” Before she was killed, my mom was my only friend. We took care of each other. I didn’t have any experience keeping friends, so why bother. We moved seven times since I was two.

I turn back towards the skinks cage. It’s the only moʻo who seems to be listening. “Right before she was killed, Mom moved me and my special eyes to New York City to live with Aunty Melanie. Mom was running away from something. Always running…” The skink is playing with something. Oh gross. It was the tail end of his breakfast. The skink seemed to study me as it swallowed the bottom half of the dead mouse. Challenging me. I would not show weakness. Who was I kidding? I wanted to barf. Instead I kept on talking, “The City is a big, dark and stinky place for a kid. I didn’t cry in front of Mom. I was used to it. I had trained my kaleidoscope eyes to keep it all in until I was alone. Then, I would cry in my bed. I didn’t want Mom to hear or see me. She had enough going on already and shouldn’t have to worry about me.” I rambled on, “I didn’t say goodbye to any friends at my last school in San Antonio because we didn’t stay long enough for me to make any. Before that we had lived in Saint Cloud, Portland, Albuquerque, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Hawai’i. I was born here in Hawai’i.” As if bored, the skink turns its head away.

“Lizards suck!” I spray water at the skink cage. It eyes me. “My mom was trying to save me and you killed her!”

“Excuse me?” a male voice echoes through the room. Startled, I eye the skink.

“Did you say something?” I ask the skink.

“Ah, most of these moʻo can’t talk anymore…”

I jump forward, almost smashing into the skink terrarium as something touches my shoulder. I flip around, losing my grip on the water hose. It barely misses spraying a boy in a blue school uniform. I, of course, get drenched.

“Hey, whoa there! You okay?”

“Shit, shit, shit…” I turn off the hose. My coveralls are soaked. “Don’t sneak up on people like that!” I yell at the stupid boy as I unzip the top and tie the sleeves around my waist. His eyes sort of bug out. “What?”

“You… you’re…” The boy stutters and even through his tanned skin I can see him blushing.

Geez. Are all boys this dumb? “What do you need?”

The boy shakes his head and smiles. “Wow. They said you might be a bitch, but I didn’t think they were right…”

“What? Who are you to come in here and scare me, then call me a bitch?” Wow. Who was this guy?

His smile falters, “Sorry… that was mean. I don’t care what they say… you seem okay.” He reaches in to his back pack. “I have a letter for you.” He hands me a heavy envelope and turns on his heels and walks towards the entrance.

“Wait.” The boy stops at the sound of my voice. “What’s this?”

“You’ve been accepted into the Schools. Congrats.” He tilts his head a bit and I swear his eyes flash gold for a second. It must be a play of the light. He smiles. His green eyes search mine. His gaze reminds me of one of the many moʻo in the room. “Your eyes are cool. I hope you choose to come to my School instead.” And he walks out.

It takes me a moment before I run out after him. I look down the only way he could have gone but he’s just disappeared.

The envelope is thick and weighted in my grasp. No return address anywhere. Just my full name and address in big bold green letters.

“Julia ‘Iolani Lyons. Panaʻewa Rainforest Zoo”

Who beside Aunty Mel and Nicky would send me anything here? No one knew I was here. I rip the envelope open. I manage to keep all the papers from flying out but a pamphlet escapes.

A strong tanned hand grabs it before it lands in a puddle of water below. My Grandfathers. His eyes look like they’ve seen a ghost. The pamphlet is a simple shiny green with no embellishments. What’s got Papa so worried?

“Where did you get this?”

“A boy dropped it off.”

“Did you see him leave?”

“No. He sort of just disappeared. It was weird. Why?” Nothing phased Papa’s happy-go-lucky attitude. I’d never seen him look so concerned about anything. “What’s this about Papa?”

“Did you say goodbye?”

“To the boy?” I ask. Papa looks at the cages around me. “Oh yeah… are we done?” I hardly finished any of my chores but leaving the moʻo cages early brightens my day a little.

Papa looks at the pamphlet again and reaches out to take the envelope carrying the rest of the papers. I hand it to him without question. “Papa, you’re starting to scare me. Why the serious face all of a sudden?”

“What serious face?” The look has been replaced by my Papa’s signature smile, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. He is definitely hiding something. “We have to go talk to your Tūtū. Just go say goodbye to your moʻo friends. I’ll have one of the guys take care of the rest.” He walks out of the room without another word. No matter what was going on, Papa was serious when it came to his animals. He’d know if I didn’t say goodbye. I turn to look at all the reptiles. A wave of nausea wants to take me down but I swallow it. I will not show weakness. The skink is the only one that notices me so, waggling my tongue, I blurt, “Goodbye moʻo! See you next year.” And I blow a loud raspberry at it for good measure.

The skink nods and sticks his long blue tongue out in reply.

***

A whopper of a headache is thumping behind my eyes as I read the pamphlet. “Stellar Academy welcomes you, Julia ‘Iolani Lyons. You have been accepted to attend one of our schools of your choice.” Stellar Academy? That was the new, really ginormous school on the northern end of Central Park. The one they built right after the war. What the…? I hadn’t applied to go there. My sophomore year at PS 33 starts in three days. My freshman year there had been a horrible experience and the change might be welcome but why was I transferred?

As I try to get my dizzying thoughts in order I hear yelling filter into the kitchen from the living room. My Tūtū is arguing with someone on the phone. There was only one person she lost her temper with. Aunty Mel.

“How could you not know that she had been accepted,” Tūtū’s voice was a fuming whisper. “Don’t give me that bullshit. Who else would have submitted her?” Tūtū was getting angry, “I don’t care what her mother would have wanted! … You don’t know that! She can still stay here, in Hawaii, where we can watch her. Where she can be safe! The school here is a much better fit for girls like her! She doesn’t need that Stellar School, she is an ‘Iolani not like you… Don’t you tell me to watch what I say Lyons…”

Girls like me. It was an age old argument that hardly stung any more. It was still a slap in the face to be reminded what trouble I’d been. I tried everyday to be better… but it wasn’t enough. It was never enough.

I look at Papa who gives me a sideways smile. “I don’t like it when she yells either…” He grins, “But at least she’s not yelling at me.”

“Papa… what is this all about? The boy who dropped it off said that he hoped I went to his school…”

“That boy goes to the school here… the one your Tūtū and I asked you if you wanted to go to, remember?” I remembered. It was at the start of the summer and I’d stupidly told Aunty Mel about it. It was the last time she and Tūtū had argued. I’d thought that one was bad. This argument was flying far beyond that one. “But now that you have been accepted at Stellar…” Papa continued, “well… It’s really your decision, Lani-girl. We will support and love you no matter what.” Papa envelopes me into his arms and my headache subsides a little. He nudges me toward the living room. “Go make this right.”

I stumble into the beautiful room filled with koa furniture and intricately woven lauhala leaf mats. “Fine! She can go but if anything happens to her… it’s your tail, Lyons.” Tūtū sees me approaching. “Lani-girl. Come here. Your Aunty Melanie would like to speak with you.”

“Yes, Tūtū.” I scurry over and take the phone.

“Oh Julia!” Ouch… my eardrums. Yep. It was my Aunty Melanie. “I’ve missed you so much! Your Grandmother just told me you got accepted to Stellar Academy! I’m so proud…”

“Aunty Mel,” Usually, I could hardly get a word in, but I had to interrupt. “Why am I going to Stellar? I thought you had to be smart or rich or special or something…”

“Kitten…You make me feel so old! How many times do I have to tell you to just call me Mel! Your grandparents told you to call me Aunty…”

“Mel!” I yell into the phone.

“Julia Kitten, you are special and smart! Do you remember the series of exams you took last year?” Yeah. I did. The school psychologist that Nicky and I went to gave us both a series of weird tests, essays, and a physical exam that made me feel like I was a lab rat. It was the worst.

Wait… crap. What about Nicky?

“Well, Stellar looked at your results and decided that you would be a great candidate for their high school program. I received notice a few months back that you might get in but I didn’t want to get my hopes up and I didn’t want you to be disappointed if you didn’t…”

“You knew and you didn’t tell me.” It wasn’t a question.

“Kitten, of course I knew. Like I said I didn’t want you to get your hopes up… I know that your current school hasn’t been the greatest and with your grandparents wanting you to stay in Hawaii…” she trailed off.

“So you made the decision for me? Mel… that is not fair.”

“Julia, please do not start with me too. Your Grandmother has already had her say. You already told me you didn’t want to stay in Hawaiʻi and you don’t like your current school. I know you’re just bored and Stellar is perfect for someone special like you.”

Yeah. “Special”… riiiight. And the less she mentioned my current stint at PS 33 the better. There was no way Aunty Melanie would have let me stay in Hawai’i, even if I wanted to. I just felt like the decision had been made for me. I hated that. But what could I do. And… What about Nicky? It was just another school. Nicky and I could still hang out before school and after school. Deep down I knew it wouldn’t ever be the same. I needed Nicky.

“Mel, I gotta go.”

“Okay?” Mel takes my silence for acquiescence. I’m so proud of you, Kitten.” My moms pet name for me. “Which reminds me… Mochi! Your cat is a rotten punk! She bit me the other day…”

“That’s because you always forget to feed her! Aunty… I gotta go!”

“Okay, okay! Love you, Julia.”

What could I say? “I love you too, Mel.” I hang up the house phone. I hear my grandparents arguing about the whole school situation in the kitchen. I can’t deal. I basically sealed my fate. There was no way I could stay in Hawaiʻi with those moʻo terrorizing me everyday and Mel would not have taken no for an answer. I rub the silver cuffs at my wrists. They itch and burn. Walking out the front door I step into the covered lanai. My beautiful Hawaiian morning has turned grey. Large drops start cascading onto the tin roof of my grandparents plantation home. The forest stretches out in front of me, gloomy and strange. Everything gets a little blurry as I fish around my coveralls for my phone to call Nicky. I gotta tell him the news.

Finding it in my back pocket, I sit down on the old sky blue rattan rocking chair. It protests under my weight. I feel another massive headache coming on. I go to my favorites list when my phone starts buzzing of its own accord signaling an incoming text. It’s from Nicky:

“Good Morning. Bad news.”

Tears threaten and my head pounds as my fingers find the right buttons. “Not worse than mine.” I text back. I could not go to a different school. I could not leave Nicky. Nicky was my rock.

Text back from Nicky, “Wanna bet?”

I laugh but it comes out as a sob. “Extra-large coffee and a bag of old-fashions from Ralph’s.” I type back.

“Donuts? Already feeling better. You’re on.”

Nicky’s corn flake colored hair and goofy smile pops up on my phone. I answer angrily with, “I got transferred to another school,” and it sounds like a garbled mess because Nicky shouts at the same time. I barely catch the words “moving” and “stupid school.”

“What?” we both bleat at the same time.

I begin to laugh. This was crazy-talk! I could not lose my best friend. I would not lose Nicky for some stupid school.

“Hey, Jules … please stop laughing. I’m super serious. I just got some weird notice from the state that I’m being transferred to Stellar Academy.”

I stop breathing.

“No way…” laughing hysterically. “Me too!”


Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment below! This experience is making my heart so happy!

Next Chapter to be published on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

Hugs,

Pili

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