Can the bonds of FRIENDSHIP overcome all odds?
The Code
Split Ends
When Bethany awoke the next morning, the memories of what happened yesterday had faded from her mind. She had Sapphire back, and that was all she wanted.
When the sun poked through her window, Bethany forced herself out of bed. She checked on Sapphire, then preceded to ready herself for the schoolday.
She could smell pancakes cooking downstairs. It was going to be a good day. She could just feel it.
Travis awoke with a start, shaking. Why is this house always so cold? he wondered.
As he dragged himself out of bed, he heard pounding on his bedroom door. “Aren’t you up yet?” his father yelled, banging louder. “If you’re late one more time this year, I’m taking your skateboard.”
Travis sighed as he listened to his dad’s footsteps fade away. Just another normal morning in the Harris household.
Travis slipped out of his pajamas and into a pair of ripped jeans. He pulled a hoodie over his head and shoved on a tennis shoe. He looked around. Where was his other shoe? Travis got down on his hands and knees and glanced under his bed. There it was. He put his other shoe on, grabbed his backpack off the carpet and slowly made his way downstairs.
When he reached the bottom of the stairs, he met his father. Travis stood there for a bit, waiting for his father to acknowledge him. But he just huffed and walked away. Travis shrugged and slipped into the kitchen, searching for something to eat. He pulled open cupboard after cupboard. Nope. Nothing. Finally, Travis found an apple in the back of the pantry. It was a little bruised, but definitely still edible. Just as he was about to take a bite, Mr. Harris stormed into the kitchen and yanked the apple out of his son’s hands. “What do you think you’re doing?” he demanded.
Travis blinked. “Um, eating?”
Mr. Harris growled. “Not here, you’re not. You get lunch at school.” And then he lifted the apple to his lips and bit into it.
Travis swallowed hard and quietly left the room, fuming silently to himself. He grabbed his skateboard from against the back door and left for school. This was going to be a horrible day. He could just feel it.
Eventually, lunch rolled around, and Bethany made her way down to the cafeteria and wiggled into the lunch line. She glanced over at Jackie, who was already sitting at the table. She caught Bethany’s eye and smiled, patting the seat next to her. Bethany beamed.
Suddenly, Bethany felt a hand on her shoulder. She spun around and saw Dylan smiling at her. “Hey Bethany!” he greeted.
Bethany grinned from ear to ear and pulled Dylan into a quick hug. “Hi!”
“Do you want to sit with me today, during lunch?”
Bethany frowned at looked over at Dylan’s table. “With those guys? With Travis?”
Dylan shook his head. “Oh no, not with them.” He gestured to an empty table on the other side of the cafeteria. “How about over there?”
Bethany nodded. “Sure! That sounds great!”
The two of them got their lunches and took a seat at the far table. Bethany caught Alice’s eye and smiled in her direction. Alice smiled back, then saw Dylan and raised her eyebrows. Bethany just shrugged and turned to her lunch.
“So,” Dylan began, uncapping his water bottle, “did everything work out okay yesterday?”
Bethany bit her lip. “I was almost caught with Sapphire,” she breathed.
Dylan’s eyes grew wide. “By who?”
“My aunt.” Bethany took a bite out of her sandwich. “She was visiting yesterday and I didn’t know.”
“How’d you get away with Sapphire?”
Bethany grinned. “Well, luckily she only saw Sapphire from a distance, so she couldn’t see her very clearly. So when she asked what I was holding, I told her a birthday present for a friend. And she believed me.”
Dylan laughed and gave Bethany a high five. “Niiiice!”
Bethany took a sip of her chocolate milk. “Did you get into too much trouble with your parents yesterday?” she asked.
Dylan shook his head. “Nah.” He stabbed at his mashed potatoes. “I just told them I was helping you with something. They didn’t seem to mind.”
“Yeah, my parents were okay with it, too,” Bethany agreed. “They just told me that, next time, I need to let them know first.”
Dylan locked eyes with Bethany. “Well, hopefully there won’t be a next time.”
Bethany looked down at her tray. “Yeah, hopefully.”
Dylan placed his hand on Bethany’s shoulder. “Sapphire will be just fine.”
Bethany smiled. “I’m sure she will.”
Time: 2:23 pm
Location: Jones residence
Case: mysterious creature
“Hey, boss, are you sure we’re allowed to do this?” Agent Kale questioned. “I thought we needed a search warrant.”
Agent Derek shrugged. “The police said they saw the girl and creature go in this house. All we’re doing is trying to see if anything suspicious is going on.”
Kale frowned. “What if we get caught?”
Derek raised his eyebrows. “By who? Both the parents are at work, and the girl at school. And if the neighbors gets nosy, we show them our badges. All we are is FBI agents at work.”
“Well, I guess.” Kale glanced up the front walk. “So, what do we do?”
Derek thought for a moment. “First, we do a perimeter check.”
Kale nodded and began to make a circle around the Jones’ house. “Perimeter check underway.”
Agents Kale and Derek spent about an hour outside the house, checking on every little thing they could. They went through the shed, poked around in the hedge and peered in the windows.
Agent Derek was unsatisfied, however. “Come on, let’s go get that search warrant.” He climbed behind the wheel in his car and started the engine. “We need to get inside.”
Travis sat in the back of science class, bored as usual. He cracked open his notebook, which he had finally convinced Mr. Hall to let him have back, and prepared himself to doodle.
The blank page seemed lonely. That’s a lot like me, Travis thought.
Travis thought a lot. He thought about his mom and his childhood, and the rejection he had to live with. He thought about his disability, and how it hindered his friendships. He thought about Dylan and he thought about Bethany and how he hated her. And through his thoughts, Travis created his art.
Travis glanced up from his notebook and his eyes landed on Bethany. She was carefully watching Mr. Hall pace back and forth across the room, listening intensely. He rolled his eyes. What did Dylan see in her? How was she a better friend than he?
Travis brought his eyes back down to his notebook and began to draw. He drew a small young boy, happy and smiling. To his right was a young girl, happy and smiling. And then, on the other side on the page, Travis drew another young boy, only this was one a little smaller. And this one was sitting, knees pulled up to his chest, watching the boy and girl with tears in his eyes. On his shirt, Travis drew a black hole where the boy’s heart would be.

Keep Reading

Chapter 20

Things Are Never As They Seem

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