Can the bonds of FRIENDSHIP overcome all odds?
The Code
Payton Middle School
“Remain calm.”
“Please exit the building calmly, single file.”
Dylan pushed though the mob of students clogging the doorway. “Get outta my way!” he yelled. “I’m going to die!”
“Dylan, wait up!”
Dylan spun around to the voice. “Hurry up, Travis!”
Travis sighed. “I’m coming, I’m coming.” He wriggled through his fellow classmates. “Excuse me, sorry, coming through, sorry.” He finally made it through the crowded doorway and met Dylan right outside the main entrance. Alarms could be heard faintly inside.
Teachers and other staff members were directing students across the street. “Please stand with your class,” they were saying, “and keep off the grass.”
Dylan and Travis followed the rest of the students already outside across the street. “Another fire drill,” Travis mumbled.
Dylan looked back at the school. “That’s the second one this month,” he stated. “I wonder why there have been so many.”
Travis shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s the construction workers again. Maybe they cut the wires.”
Dylan huffed. “Who’s genius idea was this, anyway? You don’t send kids to school when it’s under construction.”
“Apparently Payton Middle School does,” Travis said, shaking his bangs aside. “Besides, we get out of class this way.”
“True,” Dylan agreed, “and I like that.”
“Plus, the new cafeteria is supposed to be twice the size of the old one.” Travis stuck his hands in his pockets. “And there’s going to be a small, raised eating area in addition to the main area.”
Dylan grinned and gave Travis a high five. “Yes! Finally, no more eating on the steps!”
Travis blinked. “Hey, aren’t we supposed to be standing with our class?”
Dylan frowned. “Yeah, but I’m not gonna.”
“How come?”
Dylan pinched his face up in disgust. “There’s this new girl.”
Travis suddenly understood. “Oh, I see. Is she really that bad?”
“Oh she’s terrible!” Dylan exclaimed. “She’s raises her hand for everything, and she’s always smiling at everyone. It’s just sick!”
Travis pursed his lips. “She sounds just horrid. Let me guess: is she blonde, too?”
“Actually, no. That’s the one thing that is actually okay about her. She’s a ginger.”
Travis’s eyebrows shot upward. “A red head? I wouldn’t have expected that.”
“It took me by surprise as well,” Dylan replied. “But everything else about her is so annoying.”
Travis held up his fist. “Despise girls forever?”
“Of course,” Dylan agreed as he pounded his fist against Travis’s. “That’s our code, after all.”
“Ever since kindergarten,” Travis added.
Dylan felt a tap on his shoulder. He spun around.
“Mrs. Benson wants you to come stand over by us,” Peter said, pushing his glasses up his nose. “We’re supposed to be with our class, you know.”
Dylan rolled his eyes. “Yeah yeah, I’m coming.”
“I’ll come along,” Travis said. “I don’t know where my class is standing, anyway.”
Dylan and Travis followed Peter over to where Mrs. Benson’s class was standing.
“Good to have you back,” Mrs. Benson said to Dylan. Her eyes then drifted towards Travis. “Where’s the rest of your class, Travis?”
“I can’t find them,” he answered honestly.
Mrs. Benson drew her lips to the side of her face as she thought for a moment. “Well then,” she said finally, “you’d better wait with us.”
Travis silently pumped his fist in victory as he turned back to Dylan. “So, where is this new girl, anyway?”
Dylan looked around for a moment. His eyes then settled on a thin, red headed girl talking to another classmate, Madiline. She was cradling her school books in her arms. “There,” he whispered, pointing in her direction subtly, careful not to draw attention to himself.
Travis looked her over. The corners of her mouth were drawn back into a wide smile, revealing her nearly perfect white teeth. Her hair was pulled back into a high ponytail that bounced as she shifted back and forth on her feet. She had brown combat boots pulled over her striped leggings. She was wearing a pink t-shirt dress that ended a little above her knees. She had bright, green eyes that glittered as she spoke and several freckles were clustered around her nose. “Ugh,” he grumbled. “She’s even worse than you described.”
She suddenly laughed loudly in response to something Madiline had said.
“What does she have to laugh about?” Travis asked, spitefully. “Any girl as petty as her doesn’t deserve to be happy.”
She continued laughing, bending over to lean upon her thighs. When she finally stopped, she slowly brought her head back up and, slowly, her eyes met the boys.
Dylan’s breath caught in his throat. “What is she looking at us like that for? Who does she think she is?”
She watched both of them for a second or two, smiling widely still, oblivious to the hateful words being shared between them.
And then she began in their direction.
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