Can the bonds of FRIENDSHIP overcome all odds?
The Code
Code? What Code?
Dylan leaned over his dad’s shoulder and prodded at the computer screen. “Well, how’s it coming? Have you found anything?”
Mr. Johnson sighed and leaned back in his worn office chair. “No luck so far, son.”
Dylan scowled and crossed his arms. “Rats.”
“Why are you in such a hurry to get this solved? Didn’t you say that this was for a friend?” Mr. Johnson held up the pendant. “Can’t they wait?”
Dylan shrugged. “We made a deal. I decode this, and she helps me with science.”
Mr. Johnson’s eyebrows rose. “She?”
Dylan cringed. “Yeah, she. So?”
Mr. Johnson shrugged. “Oh, I was just a little surprised, I guess.” He placed the pendant back on the table. “Don’t you and Travis have a code against that or something, because of what happened?”
Dylan rolled his eyes. “She and I aren’t friends or anything, Dad.” Dylan cracked his knuckles. “You don’t want me to fail science, do you?”
Mr. Johnson smiled. “No, I suppose I don’t.”
Bethany rushed through the front door and slammed it shut behind her. She bolted the lock and leaned against the deadlock, panting heavily. She could still hear the kids outside.
“Go ahead Bethany, run to mommy!”
“Just wait until school tomorrow!”
Bethany checked her backpack to see if Sapphire was okay. She pulled open the back pocket to find Sapphire calmly asleep on the bottom. Bethany let out a sigh of relief and walked upstairs to her room. She placed her backpack on the floor, leaving it open so Sapphire could wander when she awoke. Bethany then collapsed onto her bed in a fit of tears.
She had thought that if she stayed after school long enough, the kids that had been bothering her would get tired of waiting and just leave.
But they had waited, just like they had said they were going to.
Bethany cringed as her mind drifted back to what had happened as she exited the school building earlier that day.
They were seven very strong eighth graders. It wasn’t fair for them to pick on Bethany. She was one sixth grader. She had tried to defend herself, but it had done no good.
Bethany put her hand up to her left nostril and found that it was bleeding. She reached over her nightstand and stuffed some tissues up her nose with one hand and wiped her tears away with the other.
Bethany felt Sapphire leap up onto the bed and not much later felt her prickly tongue upon her cheek. Bethany laughed and sat up, pulling Sapphire into her lap.
She was only a few weeks old, but she was already two times larger than she was when she was first hatched. Now Sapphire was nearly as large as an average sized dachshund.
And the bigger she got, the more space she claimed.
And right now Bethany’s heart had room for nothing else but a little light blue dragon.
Dylan jumped out of his chair in victory. “You mean that’s it?”
Mr. Johnson smiled and finished writing something on a small piece of paper. “I believe so, yes.” He folded up the paper and placed it in Dylan’s open palm. “I should have known that the origins would be Egyptian. I mean, just look at the lines!” He gestured to the pendant on the tabletop. “Their angles are a dead giveaway.”
Dylan glanced down to study what his father was talking about. Even though he found hieroglyphics fascinating, he didn’t quite understand them completely. He just saw lines and shapes creating letters. His father saw art.
Dylan shrugged it off and shoved the paper into his pocket. Then he placed the pendant around his neck. “Dad, I’m going to run this down to Bethany’s house quick, okay?”
Mr. Johnson turned toward his son. “You know where she lives?” he asked, moderately surprised.
Dylan shrugged. “She moved into that house down the street. I saw her outside a few days ago fumbling around in the hedge.”
“Oh, she lives in that house down the street? The one that has been for sale all year?”
Dylan nodded.
Mr. Johnson seemed to be contemplating something. “Maybe I’ll go over with you and welcome her family to the neighborhood...”
Dylan’s eyes grew wide and his face grew stricken with terror.
Mr. Johnson laughed and shooed Dylan out the door. “Just kidding. Be back before dark.”
“Bethany, won’t you come down to dinner?” Mrs. Jones called up the stairs.
Bethany groaned and rolled over on her bed. “I’m not hungry,” she said to her empty room. Sapphire lay sprawled across her ankles.
“I’m not hungry!” Bethany said again, much louder this time.
Mrs. Jones sighed. “Alright, stay up there then. Just come down if you change your mind.”
Bethany wasn’t going to change her mind.
Mrs. Jones walked back to the dining room. She remembered that sometimes at night Bethany would push the table aside and prance around the dining room, like a princess at a birthday ball, carefree and beautiful.
Now Bethany just spent the evenings shut up in her room.
Mrs. Jones sighed again and turned to her husband seated at the table. “Bethany is still upset about earlier today.”
Mr. Jones frowned. “She still won’t spill who did it, huh?”
Mrs. Jones shook her head. “Not a word.”
Just then, the doorbell rang. Mr. and Mrs. Jones made eye contact. No one ever came to the door during dinner. Mr. Jones shrugged and walked over to answer it.
He pulled the door open to find a young boy with hair so tussled it was debatable if he ever brushed it.
“Hi!” Dylan exclaimed. “Is Bethany here?”
Mr. Jones raised his eyebrows. “Who wants to know?”
Dylan shifted uneasily on his feet. “Uh, Dylan. A.... uh...” He searched for the right word. “A classmate of Bethany’s.”
Mrs. Jones appeared next to Mr. Jones in the doorway. “Do come in, Dylan. I’ll go fetch Bethany.”
Mr. Jones led Dylan to the living room and Mrs. Jones ascended the steps to Bethany’s room. She knocked twice. “Bethany?”
Bethany grunted. “Mom, I SAID I wasn’t hun-“
“There’s someone here to see you.” Mrs. Jones interrupted.
Bethany’s eyes grew wide. Two seconds later she met her mom at the door. “What?”
Mrs. Jones smiled. “It’s a boy.”
Bethany’s mind drifted back to the eighth graders from earlier. She shivered.
“He says his name is Dylan.”
Bethany simply stared at her mother. “Dylan?”
“Yeah. You know him?”
Bethany shook her head. “Hardly. We just have a few classes together.”
“Well, he’s waiting for you downstairs.”’
Bethany shrugged and descended the spiral staircase. She walked over to the couch where Dylan was seated and stood before him, her hands on her hips. “Explain this.”
Dylan looked up. “Oh, hi Bethany. I wanted to-“ Suddenly, his face pinched up in disgust. “What happened to you?”

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