The school bell rang, signaling the starting of school. Students poured through the front doors of Unity High School, walking to their lockers to start their day, all of which hopeful to escape the impending doom of missing homeroom and getting a tardy. The school was a strict school.
As students walked to their lockers, they conversed in topics of different subjects according to their gender. The girls talked and giggled about the newest fashions, singers, and of course the cutest boys in their class and boys that were not in their class. The boys were much more interesting to listen to with their speeches of the latest sports game that had played, video games, and other entertaining subjects.
Rykel Brown set her black backpack on the thin, carpeted floor in front of her locker and proceeded to try the combination that would allow her to stuff her books and homework back into the cramped space. She fumbled with it a few times, getting frustrated at the third attempt.
Come on, come on, you stupid locker! Open! I need to get to class!
After twisting in the combination again, she heaved a sigh of relief when it finally bent to her will and succumbed to the intense pressuring.
“Finally,” she muttered and proceeded to put her books in her locker. But just as she reached to do so, the locker door swung with a screech and slammed shut. Looking up quickly, Rykel saw that it had been Page Williams, the most popular Senior in the school. The tall, red-haired queen smirked down at the angry but submissive girl in triumph.
“Oh, I didn’t see you there, Rykel,” she said, pretending to be surprised.
“Hi, Page,” Rykel said softly, avoiding eye contact with the older girl. Page was a year older than Rykel. She was very fashionable and always spread gossip and somehow knew everything there was to know about everyone. Rykel was a bit afraid of Page and would cringe whenever the Senior came anywhere near her.
“I’m so sorry about your locker,” Page said with a short laugh. “Here, I’ll make it up to you.”
“Hey, those are my books!” Rykel cried as the older girl reached down and snatched her books out of her arms.
“Don’t worry, I was just going to make sure that they went where they belong,” Page said with a sweet smile. And then she dropped them on the floor. Rykel looked down at her books in defeat as some of the homework pages spilled out from the pages. “Oh, how clumsy of me! I can be such a butterfinger. Here, let me help you,” Page said and moved towards Rykel. Rykel backed up, but was saved when the homeroom minute bell rang. Page stopped and smiled.
“I would help you with those, but, as you see, I don’t want to miss homeroom,” she said with a toss of her long, wavy red hair. Her green eyes laughed. “You better hurry up. I would hate to see you get in trouble with Miss Turner.” Then she turned and walked briskly down the hall to their homeroom. As she watched the older girl leave, Rykel felt the tears burning her eyes. Angrilly, she brushed them away and calmed herself down.
Now is not the time to feel bad, she thought, I have to get to class on time.
Rykel timidly made her way into her homeroom class. Her teacher, Miss Turner, stopped talking and seemed to stare directly into her soul with her cold, icy blue eyes and horn-rimmed glasses perched just on the tip of her nose.
“Sorry, excuse me,” Rykel murmured very quietly and hurried to her seat. Along the way, she made eye contact with Page. The pretty red-head gave her a smirk and crossed her arms. Settling down into her desk, Rykel pushed back her short, straight light-brown hair and took in a shaky, quavering breath, trying to calm herself. Miss Turner went on talking, reading the announcements for that week’s schedule.
It felt like an eternity until the bell rang to dismiss the class. When it finally did, Rykel was more than eager to get up and leave.
“Thank you, class, you may head to your next classroom,” Miss Turner said, dismissing the students. The student Juniors and Senior girls rose and began to head out, some still carrying their backpacks. Rykel almost thought that she had made it out unnoticed until she heard Miss Turner’s sharp voice.
“Miss Brown.” Reluctantly, Rykel turned and slowly walked to the teacher’s desk. Miss Turner was not a tall woman, in fact she was shorter than Rykel, but there was something about her that made Rykel feel uneasy around her. Miss Turner was middle-aged and some gray hairs were already starting to show. Her hair was thick and was plastered tightly to her head, being put in a bun that seemed to be as large as the Leaning Tower of Pisa and just as leany. Her icy blue eyes searched Rykel’s face for a moment before she spoke.
“Would you like to tell me why you were late to homeroom today?” Rykel hesitated for a moment and replied,
“It was Page, ma’am. She shut my locker and then dumped my books on the floor.”
“And that was an excuse for being late?” The tone grew sharper.
“Uh....no, Miss Turner, I guess it wasn’t,” Rykel replied quietly. “But my locker, it won’t open.”
“What do you mean “it won’t open”?” Miss Turner wondered.
“I try the combination and it won’t open until the sixth try,” Rykel said.
“Does this happen every time?”
“No, not usually, but--”
“Then I suspect you have no excuse for being late.” Rykel began to speak, but shook her head lamely.
“No, I guess not,” she said gloomily.
“Then you will begin with getting a tardy slip,” Miss Turner said, turning to her paper-work and pretending not to care about the situation anymore. “You will go to the office and then bring it to me.” Rykel swallowed the lump in her throat.
“Yes, ma’am,” she whispered.
Rykel went out, feeling discouraged and disowned.
Rykel looked up to see Page walking beside her. She gave a nod to let the other know she acknowledged her and kept on walking.
“Oh, there’s no need to be sore about what happened in homeroom,” Page said with a short laugh. “We all knew you were going to be late anyway.”
“What’s next? Lunch?”
“Man, you’re so talkative, don’t you ever say anything?”
“Not really. No one talks to me anyways.”
“Hmm. That’s true.” Rykel stopped walking.
“Aren’t you supposed to be with your friends, Page?” she asked a little sourly.
“Amanda’s sick today and Jewels is out of town for a funeral,” Page replied. “But at least I don’t really need them to help me.”
“What does that mean?” Page said nothing, but just gave Rykel a secret smile and walked off ahead of her. Rykel sighed.
I wonder what she’s up to, she thought.
Rykel walked up the wooden steps to her house and entered. It did feel good to be home again away from the ruckus that occurred at school.
“Aunt Katherine, I’m home,” she called. There was no answer. She’s probably out shopping. Rykel walked into the kitchen to just make sure. Nope. The kitchen was empty, but there was a small sticky note attached to the fridge. Taking it off the fridge, Rykel read it.
Going shopping. Won’t be back until late because I am visiting a sick neighbor. Sorry I won’t be able to eat with you, but if you peek inside the fridge, there is a surprise for you. Love you! Aunt Katherine.
Of course, she’s always shopping, Rykel thought and then proceeded to open the fridge. Inside there was a monstrous hunk of cold ham, a slab of colby jack cheese, a liter of Coke, two baskets, a basket of fruits, and a basket of vegetables, a quarter of a gallon of chocolate milk, some leftover pizza, three slices of homemade bread, and two pies, one apple and the other chocolate.
“Wow, if there’s this much in the fridge, I wonder what’s in the freezer,” Rykel said with a smile. Taking out the colby jack cheese, a pear, a slice of bread, a handful of carrots, a slice of chocolate pie, and a glass of chocolate milk, Rykel went to the table and set the plate down and then filled her glass with the chocolate milk. Sitting down, she sighed and then began to eat.
It’s so quiet, she thought. It’s never this quiet when I’m home.
Hearing her phone ping, she got up and went over to the counter where she had put it last night to charge. Reading the text, she felt her heart leap.
Classwork for Economics. Research topic about two different countries. Must NOT use the web or technology to assist you. Must go to the library and find answers. Here are the pairs:
Meg and Dannie
Josh and Drew
Seth and Tyler
Yuri and Chang
Rykel and Page
Jewels and Amanda
Rykel felt her heart beating rapidly as she stared at the text. Rykel and Page.
What? Me and Page? Why does this have to happen? Page won’t want to work with me! She’ll make it worse! Why did Miss Turner put us together for this project? She knows we don’t get along!
Rykel nervously sat back down on the table chair and stared down at her phone, wondering what she should do. Her mind raced furiously as she thought up different possible solutions for each. But in the end, she gave up.
“Why am I trying to get out of this? Miss Turner won’t let me back out,” she said. “There’s only one thing to do now. I don’t like it, but I don’t have a choice. I guess I’ll have to do the project with Page.”
“So....what are we doing again?” Page asked the next day as they searched through the library for their books.
“We have to do a project on two different countries for our Economics class,” Rykel replied. “Weren’t you listening? Miss Turner even emailed us.”
“Well, sooorry,” Page said with an annoyed roll of her eyes. “I was quite busy last night, I’ll have you know.”
“What were you doing? Texting all your guy friends?” Page’s eyes narrowed into slits from across the next isle of books.
“You’re treading on dangerous ground, Rykel,” she said darkly. “You better make up an apology fast or else you’re going to be one misreable girl once we return back to school!” Rykel said nothing, pretending she hadn’t heard and browsed some more. Page shrugged and started talking about all the guys she had met and was dating.
Now it was Rykel’s turn to roll her eyes. Page could be so annoying and talkative. After a time, Rykel blocked her out and hunted some more.
Rykel turned back to the last book her eyes had skimmed over and saw that this book was unlike all the other books on the shelf. In fact, this book wasn’t even supposed to be there. Reaching out to take hold of the book, Rykel noticed that this book was a very strange color. Instead of being a normal color, it was completely white with golden engravings etched on the sides and spine of the book. Curiously, she held it in her hands. Suddenly, a warm, tingling sensation began to spread from her fingertips through her body. A little scared, Rykel looked around for Page. The older girl was still browsing.
“Page,” she whispered, glancing around to make sure that no one else was around. Page looked up and Rykel motioned to her to come over. With an annoyed sigh and a roll of her eyes, Page sauntered over.
“What now?” she grumbled.
“Look,” Rykel said as she held the book up to the Senior.
“So? It’s just a book,” Page answered with a confused look on her face.
“Yeah, but feel it,” Rykel said, excitedly holding out the book for the other to do so. “When I touched it, it did something.”
“Stop being silly,” Page said, pursing her lips. “You’re just imagining things. Now put the book down and--” She stopped, her mouth open. “It moved…”
“What did? The book?” Rykel asked. Page nodded, too awestruck to believe her eyes. “See? What did I tell you? It’s so weird!”
“Keep it away from me,” Page ordered as Rykel tried to show her the book again. “Come on, Rykel, let’s go. I’ve had enough of this.”
“But I just want to see what it does,” Rykel said as she started to open the book.
“No!” Page snatched the book out of Rykel’s hands and shut it quickly. Rykel stared up at her in disbelief.
“Aw, come on, Page, I want to know what it does!” she said.
“Well, guess what? I don’t!” The Senior put the book back on the shelf and sighed. “We don’t know what could happen if we opened it, Rykel.”
“But don’t you see? It’s a magic book! One that will take us to a hidden world or something!” Rykel whispered excitedly.
“Magic? Come on, Rykel, you know there’s no such thing as….” Her eyes suddenly grew wide.
“What?” Rykel asked, concerned that the other was acting so astonished. As she turned around, her eyes also grew wide. The book had slipped out of the shelf and was hovering in front of them in the air. A soft, golden glow seemed to surround it. Rykel reached out again to take it, but Page grabbed her arm.
“Why not? Why can’t we see what it does?” Rykel asked.
“That’s not an answer.” Rykel whisked back around and reached for the book again. Before Page could stop her, the Junior had made contact with the glowing object.
There was a blinding flash of brilliant light and the two girls were sucked into the book. The book, after it had swallowed the two girls, fell to the floor with a thud, the soft glow slowly fading as time went on.
The librarian walked through the aisle and saw the book on the ground. Clicking her tongue in dissatisfaction, she stooped down and picked it up. Closing the book, she set it back on the shelf and continued on her way.
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