V is for Vampire

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Goals are what motivate people to become better citizens. Motivation being a keyword. Zaliah has the motivation to become a world-famous Astronaut. Just when she is about to get the best news of her life, fate comes knocking on her door and gives her a reality check she doesn't understand that she needed yet.

Fantasy / Romance
Age Rating:

Chapter One

You can decide what you want to do in life, but I suggest doing something that creates. Something that leaves a tangible thing once you’re done. That way even after you’re gone, you will still live on in the things you’ve created.

Doctors. Astronauts. Veterinarians. Veterans. They all carry something behind their names. Legacies, mostly. That’s why I chose to transfer to Riverside STEM high school where I can hold a promise for my family and future.

I have my grandparents to thank for basically everything. I’ve always been a driven girl since I could remember, and even before I could remember grandma and grandpa always tell me how I was always headstrong.

Not only will I be the first to graduate high school in my entire family history, but I’ll also be one to travel to Mars. My mom and dad both disappeared a week after I was born. They were presumed both missing persons but not declared dead because they were known for disappearing.

That’s why my grandpa and grandma raised me from the day they left. They were always binging out on drugs. I’d like to believe my grandparents when they tell me that my mom had the courage to stop popping Adderall long enough to get me to the third trimester and pop me out. But I don’t and somehow, I managed to come out perfect.

I wish I would’ve been able to meet her. I wish I could ask her why she didn’t just leave my dad and move back in with my grandparents. They would’ve helped her whenever she needed it. They tell me how much they wish she could be here to see where I am today. They say she’d be proud of me, but I have reason to believe that she doesn’t even remember giving birth to me. What kind of mother abandons their baby only a week after birth? A fucked up one.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive her for that. She hasn’t even been around to even try and receive my forgiveness, but I guess I could be thankful for that. But who would be able to? What child would be able to forgive their parents, their mother, for abandoning them?

It never made sense to me, but grandpa always said to never stress the small stuff.

Today is my last first day of high school. My senior year. The year I’ve been waiting to shine. I’ve shined before, but now I’m going to be as bright as the sun and soon I’ll be up there. When I put in the application to attend Riverside, I just knew that it was the right call. Not only would it look great on my college applications, but the move will be good for my grandparents and myself.

Moving from a small town in western New York and traveling all the way to Riverside, California is exactly what we needed as a family. I don’t care if mom won’t be able to try and find us. I certainly don’t care that I’m leaving all my supposed to be friends across the country either.

My future is what’s going to make my grandparents gratified, not temporary high school friends.

“Zaliah, are you listening to me?” I heard my grandfather’s voice rambling on, but I stopped paying attention when he started talking about not taking this year so seriously.

But I don’t have a choice. My senior year is the year every college is going to look for on my transcripts and determine whether they want me present and attending their university with pride.

“Sorry, what’d you say?”

“I mean it, your grandmother and I aren’t moving all the way across the country just so you can get perfect grades and sit in the house studying and reading books. We want you to make friends this year. Make them remember you when you walk across the stage.”

“I’m sorry, grandpa. I just don’t see how making friends with teenagers who are doing drugs and drinking before their midterms is a better idea over me reading Jane Austen novels on repeat.” Am I missing the bigger picture here? Every parent would be lucky to have me as their child. I know my worth.

Grandma shook her head gracefully with disappointment, “we mean it, Li. We will go back home if you continue to do what you did for the last three years of high school.”

We pulled into the school parking lot. “Most parents would be proud of who I am. Instead, you guys want me to be out partying and being out late.” I laughed at them.

The thing is my mom ruined just about every aspect of my childhood. Partying was never on my radar. Ever. And all thanks to her. Maybe if I was thirteen, I would’ve dreamed of going out and partying and going to concerts. But I turn seventeen in two months and I’ve nearly reached the age where partying is over for me.

“Fine. I’ll make a friend or two here and I’ll invite them over for a cup o’ tea.” I giggled to try and lighten the mood before I leave them for seven hours.

I’ll try and make a friend or two.

“Thank you, sweetie.” she kissed the side of my cheek and exited the vehicle so I could slide out from the middle seat.

“We love you. And we are more than proud of you.” Grandpa waved before grandma got back in the car.

“Go kick some butt!” Grandma shouted as she blew a kiss to me.

Embarrassing. But I love her.

What is it that they think they’re going to accomplish by making me make a friend? I’m still going to put school before anything and everything. I’m still going to be home most of the time and if they’re lucky I’ll have a friend with me. Going to college for me is everything.

I walked up the wide pavement that was filled with students walking into the building or cliques standing in front gossiping and staring at me. They must not get many new kids my age. But what can I say? My transcript is immaculate and trustworthy.

I ripped my AirPods case out of my back pocket and I stuffed both of my plugs in my ears before I walked into the building. I didn’t expect anyone to talk to me as soon as they laid their eyes on me. But I did expect them to stare. It’s what most people do when they see a foreigner in their school. And I don’t mean race, either.

As soon as the headphones suctioned and registered that they were in my ears they began to play a commercial on Today’s Hits on Pandora on full volume. I’m excited to be at this school but I’m not excited to introduce myself to everyone. Now I understand why being the new kid sucks.

I could never relate back home in New York. Everyone knew who I was. Not because of my family but because of who I was in high school. I was known for the extracurriculars I was always signing up for. Stu-Co President all three years. I tried Gymnastics, cheerleading, and even swim team. I joined different clubs of different sorts. Sign language, science, and yearbook club being my favorite clubs.

I made sure that everyone knew me not only for participation in extracurriculars but for my attitude, too. I could be a bitch if I had to be, but I was mainly known for being the really popular girl who had a kind heart. I figured I might as well be nice to the temporary people in my life. They aren’t going to matter when I buy my grandparents a mansion with maids and their very own butler. They aren’t going to matter when I’m on Mars attempting to save the world. What will matter is my grandparents and their health, and my team that I’m assigned with when I do go to Mars.

I’m going to try and become the world’s best botanist and that’s a promise to this world.

Botanists play a huge factor in today’s day and age. They can concentrate on the agricultural applications of crops used for food, fiber, fuel, turf, cover crops, and research their responses to pest stresses, diseases, and variations in climate. They may also focus on the breeding of plants to grow tougher strains.

The relationships that plants have with their habitats, each other, and the wildlife groups to which they belong are studied by plant ecologists. Their work focuses on native species’ survival, reducing the invasion of non-native exotic plants, and enhancing the ecosystem services they provide, such as clean air and protection against erosion.

To boost the yield, disease resistance, drought resistance, or nutritional value of crops, some botanists perform experiments. They may also develop ways of managing weeds, diseases, and pests that are environmentally healthy. Others are researching plant processes at the molecular level to recognize new applications for them, such as drugs, remediation tools, raw materials, biofuels, or textiles. Some botanists research the impacts of various effects Forms of Plant Contamination. In order to educate politicians and help conserve endangered species and natural areas, they use what they study.

Environmental conservation is essential to the valuable work of botanists. Their research helps to decide how various plants can adapt to climate change and how native species can be protected from invasive species. Agricultural botanists are at the forefront of the food crisis and are helping to increase the availability of medicine, fiber, and timber.

Some took the chances of teasing me about being obsessed with flowers back in New York but then they realized how much better I am than them when I shot them down the ladder. Only a few steps, of course. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you treated me with respect then I returned the favor whether I was brutally honest or not.

I walked into the main office that had a beautiful brass spaceship sculpture standing high on the ceiling and smaller offices made full of glass. It seems a tad bit dangerous if you ask me. I hope that every class doesn’t look like the front offices. School shooters are real, and it could be your friend who would do it.

When I run for president for my final year of high school, it will be my first contribution to the school. Safety. I’m going to open a can of worms for these folks and they’re going to love it.

I tapped my AirPods lightly to pause Pop Smoke. “Can I help you?” a lady greeted me behind a black with dashes of gold marble desk. She was young, she couldn’t be older than 35 years old. Beautiful, but older. She has these bright green eyes that get bright in the glare of light. It’s kind of scary just how green her eyes actually were.

“Hi, my name is Zaliah Baker and I’m-,”

“Zaliah Baker! We’ve been waiting for you! I’m sorry we couldn’t get you in on the first day like everyone else, but at least you only missed three days of classes.” her voice is high pitched. I bet her singing is out of this world if she knew how to harmonize correctly. She’s definitely a soprano.

See. They don’t even know me and yet they were excited to have me here. I say this is going to go the exact way I need it to go. I’m going to travel to freaking Mars.

“How was your drive over here? I prayed that it’d be an easy drive for you and your grandparents.” she’s the first one the introduce herself to me and she’s so chirpy she hasn’t let her smile leave her face since I laid eyes on her. She deserves to be behind this desk if she treats everyone like this every morning.

“It was slow, but we made it. Thank you for asking.” I wish I knew her name.

“Okay, here is your greeting folder along with your application for student council. Mr. Gens mentioned that you were president of your class for three years in a row and he figured that you’d like to apply. All applications that are in the folder are due at the end of the day if you’re interested in joining any of our extracurricular activities. And your schedule is here.” She handed me a pink paper after handing me a royal blue folder that was nearly bent due to all the papers. “You can call me Miss. Peach and I’ll be here from start to end of the days if you ever need help with anything.”

“Could you tell me where,” I looked at my schedule to see where my locker was located, “Locker 117 is?”

“Of course. When you leave, you’re going to take a left and keep going straight until you’re able to turn right into the next hallway. The rest of your classmate’s lockers along with yours will be there. We look forward to having you here, Zaliah Baker.” she shook my hand before I smiled and thanked her for her service. Some women are meant to be behind a desk as only some can handle the desk work.

But not me. I’m going to the moon.

I walked out of the class office and I waved before completely letting the door shut behind me. I want to make a good first impression here. I want to leave my name as a legacy, so everyone here remembers who I am and what I’m going to do.

I took a left and continued down the hallway that was filled with different students. I should get my bag in my locker and make my way toward first period AP Environmental Science with Mr. Pietro.

When I finally found the senior hallway, I took the turn needed, and before I knew my ass was on the ground. “Yo, what the fuck? Watch where you’re going.”

My folder that was once filled with papers was now empty and the papers were scattered all over the ground. A crowd slowly started to formulate around me leaving me no time to try and hold back my embarrassment. I could feel the heat radiating from my face. I wouldn’t call it embarrassment; I would call it anger.

“I’m so sorry.” I’m panicking. What a perfect way to let everyone know I’m here? “It’s my first day and I didn’t see y-,”

“I don’t care.” I felt the anger completely take over my brain and thoughts. The man was laughing at me on my first day for an honest mistake.

When I worked up the courage to look up and see who the fuck was talking to me like that, I was taken by surprise.

The man who was standing in front of me was my age. But that’s not what caught my attention. He stood tall and I’m not talking about just his height. He had two other boys with him, must be his little hyenas. His hair was fabulous. It was faded on the sides and he had chocolate-colored hair with a small fro-top with a small number of curls. His eyes were green but not like Miss. Peach. His eyes looked like a lake after a long days’ worth of raining and thunder storming causing the sand to get mixed with algae.

“She looks like she is going to implode, careful Noah.” one of the boys teased. The uglier one, too. He didn’t even use the right term. It would be explode.

I quickly started shuffling through my papers to straighten them out so I can get away from this group of friends before I really do explode. “What’s your name, sis?” I assume the one who knocked me down is named Noah.

I looked at him in confusion. He was rude as hell to me, now he is calling me sis and asking my name? This isn’t happening on my watch. I quickly shoved the papers back into the blue folder and I shuffled to my feet pushing through the circle or kids that were surrounding me. Not a single one of them helped me pick my things up. Winning these kids over to become class president is going to be harder than anticipated.

Back in New York, we would never treat a newbie like this. At least I wouldn’t. We would be proud to have more people joining. Maybe this was a bad idea. At least if I go back to New York I’ll be promised my position back as president and welcomed with open arms.

“What’s your name?” Noah shouted through the crowd as they opened up a pathway for me. Does he think I’m just going to tell him my name after the way he just treated me?

“Why do you want to know?” everyone started oohing and were taken by surprise. I wonder why they have that reaction. “You don’t care, remember?” I held out my hand as a wave of annoyance before I turned back around, and I started reading the locker’s numbers.

I don’t have time to feed into the negative drama. I have to stay focused on my goals here and these people are not it. Maybe I won’t even be able to keep my promise that I made with my grandparents. Maybe no one will want to be my friend here. I’m not complaining. They don’t have to like me in order for me to be president. I just need to play my political cards right.

“111, 112, 113,” I quickly found my locker, “eleven, twenty-one, thirty-three,” I whispered while turning the knob.

My phone vibrated in my back pocket.


Hope you make wonderful friends there sweetheart. We love you so much and couldn’t be prouder of you. Knock em’ dead!

Grandma always knows what to say at the right times. I love her so much.

“Are you going to tell me your name, kitten?” The same man who knocked me on my ass is back and he’s ready to play.

I ignored him.

“You’re a little sour one. You sure that’s the kind of impression you want to make on your first day?”

I rolled my eyes while removing my purse and bookbag before shoving it in the metal locker. “I’m sorry you ran into me. Happy?”

I looked at him in disgust and he raised an eyebrow. He shouldn’t have been standing in the middle of the hallway acting like he owns the entire place. He’s the one who made a bad first impression. I wasn’t even given the chance yet.

“We’re throwing a party tonight. If I can get them digits, then I’d be more than happy to pick you up and take you.” Is he actually serious right now? Five minutes ago, he was laughing at me for running into him and falling on my ass and now he is asking for my number. “Right. I’m Noah. It was rude of me not to introduce myself.”

Another crowd began to form around us of stupid pathetic high schoolers. Maybe it’s the New York in me but I’m about to make my first impression. “Do you have Mommy issues?”

“Excuse me? What did you just say to me?” Everyone’s eyes were widened.

“Or is it Daddy issues? It can’t be, it has to be Mommy issues.” his face grew red fast and his breathing increased, “Based on your increased breathing and the look of your blood pressure I’d have to say it’s Mommy issues.”

“What makes you think I have Mommy issues?” he inhaled aggressively before exhaling, “I’d be careful with what you say next, kitten.”

“Just based on my observations I can tell.” I shrugged my shoulders. The crowd around us was silent. They just continued watching the show.

“Observations?” he raised an eyebrow in disbelief, “Enlighten me.”

“Okay. You’re dressed in all black, the only color you acquire is the color green in your eyes which probably means you’re closed off. This probably also means that you are one of the boys who like to prey on girls who would love to be your girlfriend and just when they catch the feelings you want them to catch, you shut them out. Based on your body language and how high you hold your head; I’d say you think you run this school which probably means you’re a bully and push people around. Do you steal their lunch money too? You look the type of asshole to do it. And based on how you instantly blamed me for running into you when it’s my first day and I’m unaware of any room in this entire school, I’d say it’s a female who impacted your life. And unless your father is a woman, then, I, well-,”

“You listen here,”

“No, you listen here. I’m not scared of you or anyone else in this school. I don’t care who you are, who your parents are, I don’t. I’m sure you’re used to running this school, but there’s a bad bitch that just entered this town and I’m going to be making serious changes.” I grabbed my notebook from the bottom of my locker, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find environmental science as I’m sure none of you would like to help me find the place.”

Everyone began laughing and making fun of Noah as I walked away, “Oh, and I’m Zaliah, everyone. Nice to meet you, I’m new.”

I reached in my back pocket as I walked away with my back turned to the crowd and I texted my grandma back, already made a great first impression. Thanks, grandma. Love ya! I quickly shoved my phone in my back pocket, and I turned my volume up high.

I quickly found Mr. Wright’s classroom and I was the last one to enter the room. Every seat was filled beside one table where it was completely empty with only a microscope and test tubes set up. I couldn’t be late. I haven’t even heard the bell go off. I’m never late. This can’t be happening. I’m supposed to be remembered as the girl who stood up to a bully on her very first day. A rude one, too.

“Hello, you are?” the man I assumed to be Mr. Wright asked while everyone including him stared at me in silence. This cannot be happening right now.

“Zaliah Baker. Sorry, I’m late, I got lost trying to find my locker.” everyone began giggling lightly. “It’s my first day.”

“Ah, I’ve been waiting for you to show up. Your grades in your last school were flawless and I read your proposal to NASA.” Why is he talking about this in front of the entire class? What if I didn’t want everyone knowing my business. I don’t want to give anyone anything to hold over my head.

“Yes, sir. Thank you for noticing my application and for the letter of recommendation.” I’d never met this guy in my entire life, but I knew he was the main reason my application was accepted even though I was days late to the first day of classes. I’m usually very prompt but unfortunately, fate just doesn’t let it go your way.

This man is the one who wanted me in his classroom. He loved my proposal on engineering pesticides using fewer chemicals and more economical safe products that come naturally from the earth. He wanted me here so I can make it to Mars. He read my paper, which means he read that I want to go to Mars and bring plant life to sight.

He knows I want to make history.

“My name is Mr. Shephard.” Wait, this isn’t Mr. Wright? Who is this man and why did he of all people read my proposal? When did I ever give him permission to read my shit? There is something about this school where they don’t know anything about privacy or respect and I’m going to change that. Not everything is everyone’s business.

I’m starting to miss New York, and it’s only the beginning of first period on my first day.

“I thought Mr. Wright was going to be teaching?” he handed me a textbook and scrambled through some papers.

“Due to health issues, Mr. Wright won’t be present for a short period of time. But I can assure you as his student teacher that I know what I’m doing, and I will be of all help to you or anyone else who needs it.” This isn’t happening. This entire school year is going to fall apart. Every single bad thing that is happening. I made an awful first impression due to someone harassing me for my name. I made an embarrassment of myself running into that Noah dude. And now the one class I was looking forward to acing is nowhere to be seen but his student teacher is here.

This is just dandy.

“That’s unfortunate,” I mumbled to myself.

“You can sit there at the free desk. I don’t know if Mr. Young is going to join us today, but you can pair up with one of the other groups if he decides to not show. You will be assigned this partner for the rest of the school year, no exceptions.” he nodded me away to my seat and walked back over to the SMARTboard.

I sat down in my seat and paid close attention while watching Mr. Shephard present chapter one about ecosystems to the class. I thought I entered AP environmental science, not general studies. I expected a challenge on my first day of class. I expected more from this school that holds such a high reputation.

Halfway through note-taking, a kid barged into the class with an evil grin on his face. That kid being Noah. The same Noah who I just flamed in front of the entire student body.

This cannot be happening.

His face went directly to mine and he groaned in annoyance while rolling his eyes at Mr. Shephard while he scolds him for being late. “What’s your excuse today, Mr. Young?”

He didn’t break eye contact with me and as I looked around to break the awkwardness, I had realized that everyone was staring at me with their same wide eyes they held when I was in the hallway. “I don’t have an excuse; I wasn’t going to show up.”

“We’re glad you blessed us with your presence twenty minutes late, please take your seat and open to page seventeen.”

Noah looked angry once he took his first step to his seat.


The only seat available is next to me and he called him Mr. Young. I’m going to drop this class if I have to deal with him being my partner for the rest of the school year. I’m basically screwed. He doesn’t give me the vibes that he focuses on work or takes it seriously at all. And I refuse to carry the team all by myself. There is no fucking I in team.

“You have to be fucking kidding me,” everyone heard him mutter loud enough under his breath. At least I know I was able to hear his snide remark. Maybe he isn’t even going to sit next to me. Maybe I’m overthinking it and misheard Mr. Shephard. A girl can only hope.

Within seconds, the chair is no longer empty beside me and is filled with this man who has heat radiating off of him because he is so angry. His body posture says it all, too.

I need to stop reading these people and focus on school.

“Yo,” he muttered to me under his breath.

I looked at him in disbelief. My eyebrow could probably float off my face because it was raised so high. What the hell is wrong with this dude?

“Just because we are partners for the rest of the school year, doesn’t mean we are friends and doesn’t mean I forgot what you said in the hallway.” he took his attention to the front of the classroom.

He’s really full of himself and I really have to bring him down a notch. I lightly tapped his shoulder to get his attention and he exhaled heavily before turning to look at me. I quickly turned to look around the classroom dramatically and he looked at me in confusion. “Oh, I’m looking for the fuck I’m supposed to give,” I whispered to him turned my attention back to the board.

If there is one thing that this school is going to learn, it’s that I’m always going to get the last word in. I’ve been like that since I could talk, and I don’t have any intention of changing who I am now. Not now, and not ever.

He lightly chuckled before turning his attention back to Mr. Shephard and class quickly came to an end. If this were any other situation then I’d be quite upset at just how fast class ended but for some unknown reason I couldn’t wait to be the first one out of the classroom.

The bell rang for lunch period and I couldn’t have been more excited to dog my hands into my strawberry burst salad with champagne dressing. If I’m going to pass the NASA long-duration flight astronaut physical, then I have to stay on top of my weight and strength. That’s the second thing at the top of my list. Getting my master’s degree in biological science and finish my 1000 hours of pilot-in-command time on a jet aircraft.

“Hi, my name is Jessenia Peau! I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to introduce myself earlier seeing you were remarkably busy this morning.” a skinny petite girl who was about my height had approached me and I wasn’t even aware of her presence. “You’re really tough to track down.”

“I wasn’t trying to get noticed like . . . that.” I rolled my eyes at her. She gives me cheerleader vibes. Her voice is way too cheerful for it only being eleven in the morning. “Can I help you?”

“Right, sorry. I’m using your lunchtime.” she sat down on the opposite side of the blue wooden picnic table. “As I said before, my name is Jessenia. I’m cheer captain and you have quite the legs.”

These people are so weird. But at least I was right about her being a cheerleader. I just didn’t take her for being captain. She seems too friendly to be a captain. Aren’t they supposed to be stuck up and rude?

“Thanks?” I think I’m supposed to take that as a compliment.

“Tell me, what are your future plans?”

“For the school or after I graduate university?” as I said before, weird.

“Both, I guess.” she shrugged her shoulders at me without dropping her cheerful smile.

“Listen, I don’t mean to sound rude when I ask you this. But what is it that you want? Nobody has taken a second to stop and introduce themselves to me and the first person who did introduce themselves made a fool of me before I even began.”

“Blunt, I love it. Everyone has been talking about you and have been trying to introduce themselves, but you haven’t given them the chance. As I said before, you’re extremely hard to track down before class.” she giggled like your typical cheerleader. Hehehe. “Okay, we want you to try out for the cheerleading team. I was hoping you’d open up and let me get to know you a bit but it’s okay because I already know what your plan is after college. I just don’t know what you plan on doing after extracurriculars.”

“You want me on the cheerleading team?” I nearly choked on my water when I was taking a sip. “How does everyone know my business here?”

“I’m sorry to tell you this,” she paused for a few seconds with an evil smirk on her face, but the smile wasn’t let down, “Actually, I’m not. Everyone wants you on their team. I wouldn’t be surprised if the football team tries to recruit you onto the team. I’m happy to be the first offer as we are probably going to be the best offer.”

“And how are you guys the best offer? I don’t see how cheerleading and to become an astronaut are remotely related.”

“They said you were smart and observant.” she lightly giggled, “If you think about it for a second before questioning the offer then you’d know that cheerleading isn’t just about being cheerful and yelling to the crowds. Cheerleading is about flying, agility, strength, and teamwork. We are a squad, and we take care of our own. As captain, I can promise you that it’ll look great on your application for NASA and I’ll have you ready for college cheerleading.” she dug through her bookbag that was on her shoulder, “Here’s the flyer. I suggest you overthink your options once your offers come to you. I genuinely believe you’ll be a prodigy on my team.”

“Thanks, I guess.” I grabbed the flyer from her hand and skimmed over it before shoving it in my English binder.

“What’s your next period?”

“English lit. You?”

“Same. Would you like to in together?” I wanted to decline immediately but I remember what I promised grandma and grandpa. What a stupid promise I was forced to make.

“Sure. Would you like to walk to the library with me before class? I’m just about done here.”

“We’re going to be friends, best friends.” she raised an eyebrow at me. “What do you need to get from the library?”

“I wanted to see if you guys had anything on Botany.”

She looked at me in confusion as I closed my empty salad container and I shoved it into my purse. “The study of plants and things of that sort.” Normal teenagers don’t usually know what botany is. But that’s what I’m going to be when I get older, so I have to know all about it.

“Our library holds a lot of books, so I’m sure you’ll find something. What made you want to get into botany or whatever it’s called?”

“Plants have always fascinated me since I was a little kid. I don’t know, the features of every plant just amazed me how a tiny seed and create such a powerful source for us.” I peaked at her and saw she had no idea what I was talking about. “I know, boring. But I can’t help it.”

“It’s not boring! It’s just not my subject, that’s all.” she wrapped her muscular arm around my shoulders, “I think I’m going to get into physics or chemistry. I’m unsure yet, but I still have time to choose.”

“Do you know which college you’re going to apply to?” she was pretty much leading the way to the library but it’s okay because I have no idea where it is.

“I wanted to apply for Yale or Saint Bonaventure. You?” she’s so nice. Maybe I can pull off this whole friend thing here. But not Noah, I’ll never be Noah’s friend.

“I have my eyes on Princeton and Stanford. They have really high numbers in plant biology. Why physics?”

“Just like you think plants are cool, I think the properties of physics are cool.” we entered a large room that had all four walls lined with books. This is it. This is my heaven. We approached a woman at a wooden desk, “Excuse me, could you tell us if you have anything on,” she looked at me, forgetting the word I had used.

“Botany, please.” I completed her sentence and greeted the woman with a light smile.

“Give me a few moments and I’ll check on that for you.” the older lady in the olive-green straight dress that was very loose on her turned around and started typing on a computer.

“Follow me.” she walked around the desk and Jessenia and I followed behind her.

“Why Mars?” she asked me but muttered so only I could hear her.

“I want to give hope to people that if we can save Mars, the planet that had no form of water or life, then we can still save Earth.”

“Yeah, we’re going to be best friends. What are you-,”

“Here is everything we have on botany and any other plant-related subject.” the librarian interrupted Jessenia.

“Thank you so much.” I started browsing through the books when the library walked away. I want to find a good one to read, one that will help me with future projects. “You were saying?”

“What are you doing tonight?” she started skimming through the books with me and pulling some out to look at the covers.

“Homework.” I giggled. I’m sure we will have a ton of it by the end of English lit. That class is known for being assigned hard tasks. “Studying.”

“We don’t have school tomorrow; you’re coming with me tonight.” I grabbed Michael Largo’s the Big, Bad Book of Botany.

“Where are we going?” maybe we can be friends. I wouldn’t jump to best friends right away. I barely know the girl. But I can tell that she is an ally I want on my team.

“A party.” she screeched in excitement and the librarian shushed us.

“I don’t do parties, sorry.” she finally dropped her smile.

“Okay, it’s not a party. It’s more of a get-together. A few football players and a few girls from the team.

“I don’t know.” I’m hoping my grandparents would say no if I’m forced into saying yes. “Parties aren’t my thing. I don’t even know what I’d wear.”

“Have you ever been to a party before?”

I shook my head, slightly embarrassed that I’m about to be seventeen years old and I’ve never been to a party.

“A bonfire?”

I shook my head again as I sat the books that I’ve chosen on the counter with my ID card.

“If you want to ride home with me then you can pick something out, don’t overthink it. You just have to go with the flow. You’re coming to this bonfire tonight and I refuse to take no for an answer.” the librarian began scanning my books.

I can’t say no, but I can’t say yes. I don’t want to go to a party with these people. Jessenia might be cool, but jocks are assholes and cheerleaders are bitches. And I know that’s a fact from my school.

“Fine.” I realized she was waiting in suspense for me to agree, “I’ll have to ask my grandparents first.”

“That’s fine with me.” she screeched in excitement.

At the beginning of the day, I was considering transferring back to New York and just stick to my grades to get into the universities I’ve chosen. Now I’m six periods into the same day and I’m being forced to go to a get-together at a bonfire.

If I can win over the captain of the cheerleading team then I can win everyone else over. Just by observing her and the way she acts, I can tell she has influence. Influence is what I need. She’s right, having cheerleading on my applications would look great now I’m thinking about it. If I’m going to make it to Mars while making my grandparents happy while I’m in the process of it, then I’m going to have to play all of my cards right. Every single one of them.

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