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Chapter 21

I smiled at her feeble attempt to conceal her curiosity and carefully opened the seal, my mind flashing to the way Mrs. Hunter had opened the envelope which concealed my team’s fate on the day of the big debate. I understood it now, I realized the joy in creating suspense for other people. Not only this, but I used the envelope as an opportunity to punish my teacher for having me take an entrance exam to a government program without my knowledge. I knew I was going to have to decline, should I be accepted, but I enjoyed the feeling of achievement nonetheless. I removed each bit of the sealing with great care, keeping it intact. Finally, I had opened the wrapping and slipped the papers out of the envelope. I turned away to read it in secret. There was no need for this, I simply felt I hadn’t quite done justice for her secrecy, I chuckled silently as I began to wonder how I would react to the kinds of secrets I kept from people. I brushed the thought to the side and began to read.

Congratulations, Miss Olivia E. James.

You passed the entrance exam with flying colors and have been accepted into our program for the young and innovative. We believe your brain and brains like it will light the way to a very bright future. A meeting has been arranged with your legal guardians to discuss the program further and to confirm your agreement to the laws and safety guidelines. Encased in this envelope is the address of the meeting place and any other information the entrance exam may have been given based on the answers you chose and the work you supplied. We hope to have the pleasure of working with you in the future and thank you for your admission.

I finished reading and stuffed the letter back into the envelope, knowing my life was about to become far more complicated. I then allowed my teacher to read the page filled with useless information about me, such as my estimated iq level, my academic strengths, my weaknesses, and much more. Once she was finished and had returned the page carefully, I stuffed it back into the envelope along with the address to the meeting place where both would be forgotten and thanked Mrs. McDonald for giving me the envelope. I then walked out of the room and met Chloe once more, only half-following what it was my best friend had to say and focusing the rest of my attention on the excuse I would have to create for my parents to understand my reasoning behind wanting to stay instead of doing the program. I knew that no matter what I said, my parents would try to find a way to get me to accept entering the program. I could practically hear my mother telling me how much of an opportunity this was while my father used every last ounce of self-control he had not to sign me up for the program despite what I wanted.

Chloe stopped walking abruptly and I walked right into whoever was in front of me. I looked up and I could feel my face light up at the sight of him. “Peter,” I said aloud as if to reinforce the idea of his existence.

“Hey, stranger,” he said cheerfully. I laughed and asked him what I had missed in debate, ignoring the faces Chloe shot me. He explained that the team was looking deeper into their topics to go up against the state’s top teams. “I can help you research your topic since you were gone so long,” he suggested and despite the fact that I most definitely had it covered with the advantage of being one of the people I defended, I agreed. Butterflies began to swarm in my stomach as Peter asked for my phone.


“I just figured you’d- I thought we should- I need your phone number,” he said finally. He then took out his own phone and handed it to me. I did the same and added myself to his long list of contacts. Once I was finished, I returned his phone and waited for him to do the same. I could feel my face burning as he walked away, smacking his palm against his forehead and cursing himself for being so awkward.

“He likes you!” Chloe exploded loud enough for the entire area of surrounding people to turn their heads and listen more closely. I tried to quiet her but it was no use. She had already begun to explain the signs of his buried feelings for me. I acted like I wasn’t listening but deep down I knew the burning of my cheeks meant that I wanted her to be right. I wanted this so badly. I wanted Peter to like me back.

She laughed at my embarrassment and demanded we have a sleepover at her house on Saturday. I quickly checked the family calendar and, seeing as it was clear, agreed and added in the new event.

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