Can the bonds of FRIENDSHIP overcome all odds?
The Code
Dining In
When Dylan and Bethany reached her house, they were surprised to find Mrs. Jones waiting on the front porch. “Did those kids pick on you again today, Bethany?” she asked.
Bethany stopped by the front steps and shook her head. “Not really. We ran into them, but Dylan walked with me, so they didn’t give us any trouble.”
Mrs. Jones looked over at Dylan and beamed. “Thank you, young man. That was a very noble thing to do.”
Dylan shrugged. “It wasn’t really that big of a deal.”
But Mrs. Jones seemed to disagree. “My husband and I are very pleased that you have friended Bethany. We were worried that she wouldn’t make many friends here.”
Bethany blushed. “Mooomm!”
Dylan smiled. “Who, Bethany? Not make friends?” He snickered. “Impossible.”
Bethany rolled her eyes and gently punched his shoulder.
Mrs. Jones smiled widely and leaned against the railing. “Why don’t you stay for dinner, Dylan?”
Bethany’s jaw dropped and Dylan’s cheeks flushed. “Oh no, I really should be getting home,” he gulped. “Mom’s expecting me soon.”
Just as Dylan was turning to leave, Bethany reached out and stopped him. “You... you should stay.” She smiled. “We have that big science test coming up soon, and I’m certain you’ll need help studying.”
Dylan stood there, suspended in mid-step, thinking. “Well, I suppose I can stay.” He stepped up on the porch. “I just need to call my mom.”
“Oh no problem!” Mrs. Jones exclaimed. “Here, I’ll show you to the phone.”
Dylan and Bethany sat on her bed, Sapphire wandering back and forth between them. “She’s getting big,” Dylan realized.
Bethany slowly nodded. “Yeah.” She tickled Sapphire on her belly. “Pretty soon she won’t be able to fit into my backpack anymore.”
Dylan glanced over at Bethany’s backpack on the floor. “What are you going to do with her while you’re at school, then?”
She sighed. “I don’t know.” Bethany looked out her window into her backyard. “We have a shed out back, but my dad always goes in there to get his garden tools, so he’d discover Sapphire for sure.”
Dylan looked Sapphire over. She was getting big. “Don’t your parents get curious, you being shut up in your room almost all the time?”
“A little bit,” Bethany admitted. “But I just tell them that I’m organizing my things and getting used to my room, since we haven’t lived here too long.”
Dylan pursed his lips. “I guess that works.”
Bethany pulled her knees up to her chest and blinked slowly. “They’ve bought it so far, so I’m not really worried.”
Dylan ran his fingers through his hair and glanced over at the pendant dangling around Bethany’s neck. “Maybe it’s talking about the dragon,” he thought suddenly.
Bethany knitted her eyebrows together in confusion. “What?”
“The pendant,” Dylan clarified. “Do you think it’s about Sapphire?”
Bethany looked down the hieroglyphics scratched into the surface of her pendant. See the world through another’s eyes...
“Perhaps,” she guessed. “But there’s probably more to this whole thing that we haven’t picked up on yet.”
“What whole thing?” Dylan blinked, confused.
“This whole dragon thing.” Bethany laid down on her stomach and crossed her ankles in the air behind her. “The sand, the pendant, Sapphire... It’s all related. It’s all a part of something bigger, much bigger. This is one large mystery, hidden in that hedge, and we’ve only barely scratched the surface.”
Dylan raised his eyebrows. “You think there’s more to this?”
Bethany smiled. “I don’t think- I know. I mean, there has to be. The pendant has to fit in here somewhere, along with the jar of orange sand.”
Dylan rolled his eyes. “You sound like my mom. ‘Everything always has to have a place,’ she says. ‘Life is one big puzzle: everything will eventually fit together.’”
“I like your mom already,” Bethany laughed.
Dylan shrugged. “Yeah, I guess when she’s not nagging she can be pretty cool.”
“It’s a mom’s job to nag,” Bethany pointed out. “It’s only because she cares.”
Dylan’s eyes bugged. “Well alrighty then, Miss wiser-than-a-sixth-grader-should-be. How do you know all this stuff, anyways?”
Bethany shrugged. “Experience, I guess.”
Dylan nodded. “Fair enough.”
It was then that Mr. Jones hollered up the stairs, “Hey up there, it’s chow time!”
Bethany and Dylan looked at each other. “You ready?” Bethany asked.
“Heck yeah!” Dylan exclaimed. “I’m starving!”
Dylan and Bethany sat on the right side of the table, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones sat across from them. They had just dug into supper when Mr. Jones started the conversation. “So, Dylan. How did you and Bethany become friends?”
Dylan blushed, and Bethany laughed loudly. “Yeah, tell them how we met, Dylan,” she prompted.
Dylan looked at Mr. and Mrs. Jones nervously. “Well, we met on the day of the fire drill. My friend Travis had told me about a new girl in one of his classes, then proceeded to show me Bethany.”
“I came over to say hello, “ Bethany cut in, “but they didn’t like me at all!” She giggled. “I never thought I’d end up being friends with Dylan.”
Mrs. Jones turned towards Dylan. “You didn’t like Bethany at first? How come?”
Dylan looked down at his plate. “I... I honestly don’t know.”
Things got quiet. There was nothing to be heard except the occasional clanging of silverware.
Dylan took a deep breath. “I think it’s because I was so set on not liking her.”
Bethany set her gaze on Dylan. “Travis?” she asked quietly.
He simply nodded.
Mrs. Jones could feel a little tensions in the room so she abruptly changed the subject. “So, Bethany tells me that there’s a lot of construction going on at school. What’s your take on this, Dylan?”
Dylan shrugged. “I guess it can get annoying at times, but I’m excited to see what the school will be like when it’s all finished.” He grinned. “Plus, we’ve been getting a lot of fire drills and days off, so the less school, the better.”
Everyone at the table laughed. And in that moment, Dylan felt free. He could truly be himself here. Nobody was holding him back, nobody was telling who he could talk to or what he could do. And it felt amazing.
Travis sat upstairs on his bed, fuming. He punched his pillow and slammed it into his face.
No. No no no no no no.

Keep Reading

Chapter 14

The Good, the Bad, and the Eggly

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