Chapter 1 First Day
“I’ll go first.” Miles says. As he steps forward and slowly opens the creaky door. He puts one foot inside, his massive metal wings follow him, and then the other foot. He is gone in the darkness.
“Miles!” I whisper loudly. “Miles!” I peek into the house as the door creaks, it seems, when I push it open. All I see is dust settling over white sheets covering furniture. I hear a muffling in the back of the house. I stroll quietly toward the sound. The floor creaks in a few spots, scaring me. Where is Miles? I peek through doorways and finally get to the back of the house. There is a big, open room. Little light shines in through the boarded-up windows. I have to adjust my eyes to see the sunlight shines through the boards. Dust is settling everywhere. I see something glistening in what little light there is. I walk towards it. It’s annoying how I can’t see, so I go to the window and pull on one board to let some light in. When I turn around, I see Violet she is bleeding from her head and she is passed out tied up on the wall. There is something in her mouth, a rag or a sock. Miles is next to her. He is bleeding blue blood, his eyes are open, he is looking at me hopelessly. I run to them and bend down to help. There are slimy snakes everywhere around them, holding them down and holding them against the wall.
This is the first time I felt completely helpless, wondering if I could actually help my friends, let alone help another planet or be a princess of it! I guess, I should start at the beginning ...
I pull my shoulders back and smile, my round face grinning in the mirror. “I don’t look too bad, I guess. Oh great! My face is breaking out!” My reflection stares back at me with fading exuberance, along with a pimple piercing out of my forehead. The grin slowly comes to a frown as I try to pop it. But I’m still torn between excitement and dread. It’s my first day of 10th grade. I won’t be the new, naïve, dewy-eyed freshman anymore. I lift my chin and notice my birthmark is different. It’s reddish. It’s been on my neck, just above my color bone, since the day I was born. I’ve tried to cover it up, but it’s pointless. It’s in the shape of a wing, not any ordinary wing, of course, but that’s what I like to think it is. I put my favorite jeans on and t-shirt and walk over to my window to see what the weather is like. I find a little brown, fuzzy squirrel looking at me from the big white oak tree outside my window.
“Hey, buddy.” I whisper.
“Oh crap! I need a picture of you. Please don’t move,” I plead as I slowly get my phone to take his picture. I’ve had all summer to find one picture of nature for my environmental science project. It figures I’d wait until the last minute.
“Ok buddy, hold still” I reach over to the limb of the oak tree to get my balance so I can get a better look. I have one hand on my phone, one hand on the limb of the oak tree and my hips are on the windowsill, trying to get as close as I can. Bam! Suddenly, there was an eerie noise of something hitting the side of the house. It startles me so much I lose my balance and...
“Wha- Wha- Whoa,” I screamed.
“I gottcha,” Dave said as he grabbed my legs just before I tossed myself out the window and onto the grass below. Two stories down.
“Ah, thanks Dave,” I said as I adjusted my sweatshirt from my trembling doom.
“What were you doing? You could have really hurt yourself, Opal,” Dave said, looking out the window to see what I was doing out there.
“I was taking a picture of the squirrel on the limb for my environmental science class.” I sighed.
“Are you alright?” he said, looking me up and down to see if I was ok.
“I guess,” I sighed, trying to stand. Dave takes ahold of my hand and helps me up. I brush off my pants and notice I ripped my jean pocket. Bummer, I love these jeans.
“Your mom can fix that, sweetie!” He looks out the window to check out the noise that hit the side of the house.
“Hmm, better check that out.” Dave walks out of my room and down the stairs. “Well, come on! It’s time for breakfast.”
“Coming” scanning through my pictures. What is that? Agg, I really need this picture. It was a summer project we’re supposed to do. One picture is all I needed. Just one of an animal, or a plant, a moldy piece of bread. And now I can’t even find a spore.
“Opal, breakfast. Hurry or you’ll be late for your first day. ”
(sigh) “Coming Mom.”
I change out of my jeans examining the ripped pocket that saved my life and grab my backpack and run down the stairs and into the kitchen sliding in on my socks, almost tripping, but the counter saves my fall just like every other morning.
“Opal, can’t you wear anything besides jeans and that old t-shirt?”
My mom is wearing one of her signature floral print dresses. Moves across the kitchen floor as she usually does, as if dancing a ballet, one foot placed gracefully in front of the next. She smiles up at me and places her hand on my cheeks and plants a kiss on my forehead.
“I just bought you some really pretty dresses. I thought you could start the new school year fresh.”
Still smiling like she is waiting for me to go up and change. She gets up on her tippy toes and winks at me, lifting her chin a bit when she does it. My mom is shorter than me, with long strawberry blond wavy hair, like she just got off the beach. She smells like coconuts all the time. Her actual name is Margaret, but she changed it to Star when she started reading tarot cards and using healing stones. She named me Opal because I was born in October, October 13th to be exact. I’m sure if I was born in any other month, like in December, I’d be named Topaz.
I sit down at the breakfast table and sigh. “MOM, please, I feel comfortable in this. It’s my first day. I just want to feel like myself”. My mom leans over to the counter to get my plate of cantaloupe and toast with honey. Yum!! I love this honey. It melts in your mouth. I don’t even know where she gets it. It doesn’t have a label. She undoubtedly trades it for reading tarot cards to somebody. I shrug my shoulders. I don’t care where it comes from. It’s outstanding. I take a bite, and the honey is dripping from the side of my mouth.
My mom’s eyes light up when she hears Dave’s voice coming in from outside.
“Morning, my beautiful girls. Opal, are you eager to get on with your first day? Comfy jeans, perfect choice. And I love your t-shirt. The Rocket Band!” He put his fist out for a fist bump.
Dave takes me to see local bands all the time. I love them. My fist bumps back. He slips me a $20.
“Oh, Dave, don’t encourage her. I just bought her some really pretty dresses to wear.”
He lifts my mom and spins her around like a romance novel. She laughs and forgets that she was a little disappointed. He winks at me and sits down and helps himself to cantaloupe and melt in your mouth with honey. Dave is my step dad he is the only dad I have ever known. He reaches his hand over to me under the table. He opens his hand and lying in it is a crystal. I take it from his hand and put it in my backpack, looking up to make sure my mom didn’t see the exchange. Just in case I don’t want her to worry about me falling out the window. There is a knock at the door. Hmm, that must be Violet.
“Got to go! Violet is here”. I take one last bite and pull my backpack on my shoulders. Try to slide over to the front door, almost banging into it, and reach down to put on my shoes. Violet just opens the door and almost hits me in the head.
“Oops, sorry!” She apologizes. And waves to my parents that are standing behind me.
“Have a good day, girls.” Dave says, rolling his eyes at my clumsiness. And walks over to give me a hug. He quietly states in my ear without my mom hearing.
“That’s twice you were almost impaled today, sweets. Please be careful!“. I widen my eyes as if to say, I know thank God you were there, and hug him back.
“Bye mom.” I say sarcastically. She is hugging Violet and telling her how wonderful she is and how much she loves her new hair. Violet loves my mom, so she is soaking it up. But when she sees me look at her hair with my wide eyes, Violet looks down and is almost embarrassed. So, I hold my excitement in and wait until we get outside before I express how amazing it is.
“Bye Opal! You be good today, ok sweety!” She gives me a serious look and kisses me on the forehead. I roll my eyes.
We walk out the door and down the street.
“Um, love your hair! How come you didn’t tell me?” I say amazed and disappointed that my best friend left me out of a huge decision like dying her hair purple.
“Oh thanks, my mom helped me. I wanted it to be a surprise. You know, new year I guess.” Violet says, not really looking at me.
We pass the zoo on the way to school; I stop almost every day after school. My friend Miles works there. His mom is the zoo Dr. so I get in for free. Hmm, the animals are really loud today. I nudge Violet to see if she can hear, but of course she can’t with her headphones blaring music. Violet is very smart. I don’t think she is ready for how smart she really is, so she puts on this crass behavior so no one will notice.
Hm, that’s not an animal. Who said that? The only person who calls me “Opie” is Jon Cooper, this goofy, short kid I knew from sixth grade. He moved away when his parents split up. He was the only boy that ever-paid attention to me. Violet, Jon and I were best friends for a few years, but then I never saw him again after he moved.
“Opiee!! Wait Up!!”
I turn around. Violet can’t hear him with her headphones on, so she keeps walking. Is this the little goofy kid I used to know? I hardly even recognize him or his voice. I feel my stomach surging. I know my face is getting red. I can feel how hot it is.
“Hey,” he says as he tries to catch his breath.
I try to keep cool, but I spill over my words, “Oh hey, uh, Jon?! Um, wha-what are you doing here?”
He’s tall now, with dirty blond hair. It’s a little long, below his ears and wavy. He’s cute! His dark blue eyes sparkle in the sunlight.
“Phew... I’m so glad I caught up with you.” He says, catching his breath.
“Uh, you are?” I say, feeling bashful.
“Yeah, are you kidding? It will be way better to walk into school with someone I know instead of alone. Hey, is that Violet?” He asks as she turns around to see where I went.
“Jon! What are you doing here?”
“Vi-olet, lose a bet with your hairdresser?” He winks at me and giggles just as Violet gives him a good punch in the arm. “Ouch!”
“Watch yourself, Cooper.” They walk ahead and laugh and pick up where they left off a few years ago as if no time has passed.
Wow Jon Cooper! I can’t believe how tall he is! We used to sit at lunch together in middle school and play good thing bad thing all the time. First, you say the good thing that happened that day and then you say the bad thing and exchange thoughts. He was my friend. I remember when he left Violet, and I made him a special fort in my room and hung fairy lights and doughnuts in it. It feels like such a long time ago. Of course, Violet and Jon are talking like no time has passed. Watching them as they walk ahead of me. I can’t help but look at his butt. I roll my eyes in embarrassment.
“OPAL, let’s go! We’re going to be late,” says Violet as she steps back to see if I’m ok while Jon looks at his phone. “What’s wrong with you? Oh, hey Miles! Sup!” she says, holding her fist up for Miles to bump it. As he does, he walks next to me and looks at me from my feet to my head.
“Hey!” He say’s nodding his head, his curly locks sweeping over his eyes. He doesn’t even care that it’s in his face. He hangs his head, hiding behind it.
“Hey Miles!” I put my arm around his back, hugging him. And hugs me back. All the while not taking his eyes off Jon. Miles and I have been best friends since the day we met. I remember because it was my birthday. I was at the zoo visiting Horizon, the zebra, and Miles sat down next to me and started talking to me about how zebras have a magic inside them and in another life, they were unicorns. I fell into his garnet, green eyes that day, as he talked on and on about unicorns like he had known them his entire life. I have had a secret crush on him ever since. But that was seventh grade, and I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend or did I want one. Miles and I sit on my roof every weekend. He climbs up the oak tree and we talk all night sometimes. I pull my arm down from his back and notice his shirt is shredded under his jean jacket. I pull on the shreds and he takes my arm away.
“Who is this guy?” He says, not acknowledging the shredded shirt I was tugging on.
“Oh, that’s just Jon! He moved away right before you moved here, actually.” I spoke. Miles looks at me again, up and down, and then jogs up to Jon. Violet steps back in his place and walks next to me. Jon and Miles introduce each other. I feel so nervous about their meeting. Can I really like both of them?
“What’s wrong with you?” Violet giggles
“Umm, nothing, just nervous, I guess.” God, I can feel it, my face is so red.
“Nervous about two boys falling head over heels for you or because it’s the first day?”
“Nice!” is all I say.
“Oh, don’t worry,” she says. “Same annoying people, same disastrous school.”
We keep walking. But it’s not the same people Jon is here, and he’s not tragic at all, he’s kind of semi-adorable. Suddenly, I feel different. I feel sort of ecstatic for a change and somewhat approachable. I wonder if he feels anything like I do? No, he couldn’t. (I shake my head.) At least he doesn’t show it. (I shrug my shoulders.) But who cares? (I toss my hair).
“Opie, are you talking to yourself?” Jon says. Seriously, what is wrong with me? My face sears from embarrassment. Miles gives me his worried look, like he always does, checking on me.
Jon and Violet look at each other and laugh. I sigh and try to cover my face. We walk up the stairs to the school and the doors are open.
First day, here we come....