Can the bonds of FRIENDSHIP overcome all odds?
The Code
Finally, Some Answers
Bethany blushed. “Nothing. Nothing happened.” She looked down at Dylan. “What are you doing here?”
Dylan glanced at Mr. and Mrs. Jones. “Uh, can we talk elsewhere, perhaps?”
Bethany turned to her parents. “Mom, can we go upstairs to my room?”
Mrs. Jones shrugged. “I suppose. You’re still not hungry?”
Bethany shook her head. “Nah.” She spun around on her heels and began toward the stairs, motioning Dylan to follow.
“Not too long!” Mr. Jones called after them.
Bethany gave a thumbs up, and then disappeared at the top of the staircase.
She pushed Dylan into her room and shut the door. Then she went over to the closet and let Sapphire out. Then she turned to Dylan. “Okay, what is this about?”
Dylan’s eyes lit up and he pulled a crumpled up piece of paper out of his pocket. “It’s about this.”
Bethany’s eyes grew wide. “Is that what I think it is?”
Dylan grinned. “Yup. My dad and I figured it out.”
Bethany squealed with excitement and yanked the paper away from Dylan. She pulled it open and stared down at the six words written there.
“See the world through another’s eyes.” She brought her head back up and faced Dylan. “This is what it says?”
He nodded.
Bethany sat down on her bed, leaned over and placed her head in her hands, thinking.
Dylan walked over and sat down next to her, leaving about a foot of space between them. “What do you think it means?” he asked, quietly, as if he didn’t want to disturb Bethany’s thoughts.
Bethany didn’t stir. “I don’t know,” she said into her hands. She brought her head up. “Do you have the pendant?”
Dylan reached up and pulled the pendant off over his head. “Here it is,” he said, placing it in Bethany’s hand.
Bethany took the pendant and walked over to her dresser. She placed the pendant on her dresser next to the jar of orange sand and the scale.
Dylan walked over to join her. “Are these the other things you mentioned? That you found in the hedge?”
Bethany nodded. “Uh-huh.”
Dylan looked at Bethany. Her hair was matted and she had a small cut on her bottom lip. He frowned. “Seriously. What happened to you?”
Bethany glanced over at Dylan. Could she trust him? He already knew about Sapphire. And he translated the pendant for her, all in one night! But then Bethany remembered how Dylan had been when she had first met him. He had been terribly rude. He had scowled at Bethany, told her to get lost. She studied him now. He hadn’t been rude ever since she told him about Sapphire. Well, not exactly. He had told her that he didn’t shake hands with girls. But perhaps that was just his personal preference.
Bethany blinked. “I got beat up on the way home from school,” she stated plainly.
Dylan felt as if he just got slugged in the stomach. Bethany? Beat up? Who would ever beat her up? She was such a sweet girl.
Dylan hit himself in the head. What was he saying? He was supposed to hate Bethany. He was supposed to hate all girls. He had promised Travis.
But Travis didn’t know Bethany. He didn’t know about Sapphire or Bethany’s adventures to the hedge.
Bethany and Dylan had made a deal. Dylan translates the pendant, and Bethany helps Dylan with science. That was it. Just a deal. It wasn’t like they were friends or anything. It was just a mutual agreement. A trade, if you will. They were two classmates just tying to survive middle school. There was no harm in that.
“Who beat you up?” he asked finally.
Bethany shrugged. “Just some stupid eighth graders.”
“After school today?”
Bethany nodded.
Dylan suddenly understood. “Is that why you stayed in the classroom after school for so long?”
“Yeah.” Bethany glanced over at Sapphire. She was nosing her way into the trashcan in the corner. “I had hoped that if I stayed after long enough, then they’d get tired of waiting for me and leave.”
Dylan smirked. “Well, it seems like they’re very patient people.”
Bethany rolled her eyes. “Yeah, unfortunately.”
Then Dylan’s face grew serious. “Why did they beat you up?”
Bethany felt her face grow warm. “They said that... that I should go back to the hole I crawled out of. That’d I’d never make friends here, that I was too happy and too weird.”
Dylan felt his heart ache. Part of the pain was anger, that anyone could treat someone so harshly. But the other part was guilt, because he knew that he had treated Bethany the same at one point.
He looked down at his feet. He didn’t know what to say. He wanted to tell Bethany how sorry he was for the way he had treated her originally, the way he treated her when he looked through her instead of at her. He wanted to tell her that she did have friends, that he was her friend. He wanted to tell her that she did belong here in Payton city, as much as anyone else did.
But he couldn’t. He couldn’t betray Travis like that. He had promised.
Dylan bit his lip. “I’m sorry that all that happened to you,” he said quietly. “That’s not right.”
Bethany choked back tears. “Oh, it’s no big deal.” She tried to smile. “It’s nothing I can’t handle.”
Dylan admired her strength. He didn’t think he would be able to take it that well if he had been treated like that.
“Bethany, it’s time for your friend to go home now,” a voice from downstairs hollered.
Dylan looked out the window. Dusk was falling. “Yeah, it’s time for me to go. It’ll be dark soon.”
Bethany stood up. “I’ll walk you to the front door.”
As Dylan and Bethany began to descend the stairs, something felt different. Bethany had a new kind of respect for Dylan. She didn’t have to force herself to be nice to him anymore. Now it came naturally.
When they reached the front door, they both paused.
“Hey, thanks for bringing the pendant back over,” Bethany smiled. “I can finally rest now that I know what it says.”
Dylan laughed. “Well, you still have to uphold your part of the bargain, remember. Science and I don’t get along very well.”
Bethany pulled the front door open. “I’d be glad to help.”
Dylan stepped out the door and waved over his shoulder. “Later, Bethany!”
Bethany waved back. “Bye Dylan, I’ll see you tomorrow!”
As Dylan reached the sidewalk, Bethany turned back into her house and shut the door behind her.
But even though her eyes had left Dylan, there was another pair pinned on him.
Travis watched Dylan walk home from his bedroom window, the pain and jealously growing every time Dylan took a step.
The code was breaking, and Travis didn’t like it one bit.

Keep Reading

Chapter 11

Back To The Drawing Board

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