Read Fire Girl Part 1 Online

Authors: Alivia Anderson

Tags: #Coming of Age, #mormon, #LDS, #lds romance, #inspiration and romance, #lds teen

Fire Girl Part 1 (4 page)

BOOK: Fire Girl Part 1
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“Thanks.” No way. No how. Not ever. I would
not be singing in a choir class. I swung the door open to the
office. The smallness of the room made me feel like I had entered a
carnival fun house. A huge mirror took up the entire side wall. The
smell of vanilla wafted into the air.

“Wait. Don’t tell me. You’re Frank and Star’s
granddaughter?” A thin, blonde stood from one of the desks behind
the front counter.

I tried to quiet all the rushing emotions
inside me. My head spun. Frank and Star’s. Yes.
Disturbed
granddaughter. Yes.
Disturbed
cousin that went crazy. Yes.
Disturbed—w
hat else?

She smacked her gum happily and moved
forward. “I knew you were going to join us this year. Last time I
talked with your Grandpa, he didn’t know if he would get the hay up
in time to go get you. I’m Shirley by the way. That’s Minnie.” She
pointed to another lady on the phone. “We went to school with your
father.”

“What? Who’s there?” A loud voice boomed
through an open door adjacent to the office. A tall man with ruddy
cheeks and an obvious thinning comb over bounded out of his office.
He paused and looked me up and down. “You must be Maddie Haven. I’m
Principal Schmidt. I just got off the phone with your Grandma. She
said you go by Maddie, right? Not, Madeline?”

Madeline.

Every time I’d moved it was Madeline. Every
single teacher—Madeline. I forced a smile and shook his hand.
“Maddie.”

Principle Schmidt smiled. “I loved your dad.
I played ball with Frankie. He was a good quarterback.”

I feigned interest. Football, always
football.

“He knew how to get the ball into the end
zone. Did you know your dad still holds the record for most rushing
yards and touch downs in a single season? I remember the way your
dad would rally all of us on the field. He had this way about him.
At the time, I didn’t understand I was witnessing the marks of a
great leader—charismatic, engaging, concerned for others. I suppose
that’s what made him so good in the military. Remember how he was,
Shirley?”

The blonde grinned. “Your dad’s the reason I
have a bad lower back. I cheered so hard in that winning game that
I kicked myself flat onto the ground.”

They erupted into laughter.

I tried not to show the frustration that
ebbed and flowed inside my chest.

“Heckuva guy.” He studied my eyes. “Are you
okay, Maddie?”

No one knew your parents when you were a
military brat. No one talked about the kind of football player your
dad had been in high school. No one knew that you had been forced
to live with your grandparents because you were crazy.

Principal Schmidt cleared his throat and
seemed to sense my discomfort. He glanced at the secretary on the
phone. “Minnie, get her set up.” He moved back toward his office.
“Let me know if you need anything, Maddie.” He shut his door.

“Where’s your paperwork?” The other secretary
barked out. She didn’t even pull away from the computer.

“I-I don’t have any.”

This got her attention. She scowled.
“Vaccination records? Birth certificate? General requirements
checklist?”

I shrugged. Whatever, I didn’t care about any
of this.

Minnie straightened. The floral print
polyester shirt she wore stretched at the buttons. “Well, I can
clearly see you don’t understand the importance of paperwork. You
need a birth certificate and a vaccination record to start
school.”

Shirley gave her a terse look. “It’s fine,
I’ll order the paperwork. Just get her enrolled.”

Minnie threw back a challenging glare and
then flipped back to her rapid typing. “We can’t all be head
cheerleader, now can we?”

I looked between them, not sure what war zone
I’d been placed into the center of.

Shirley gave me an exaggerated eye roll.

I fought the urge to cover my smile.

Minnie let out a low growl and focused on the
screen. “It’s slim pickings, but you can’t have everything you want
when you show up late.” She gave me a sharp look. “Now can
you?”

I thought of Ms. Love’s offer for choir. “The
only thing—I-I don’t want to be in choir.”

Minnie pushed herself back from the office
desk and reached for a paper already being printed. She fixed a
smirk into place and slapped down the sheet in front of me. “Like I
said, sometimes we don’t get what we want.”

***

Lunch turned out to be what I’d expected from
every lunch room in every place I’d ever lived—unassigned but
assigned tables.

I grabbed a tray and some silverware and
mechanically fell into line. My first three classes had gone by
without incident: Trig, History, and Physics. I could get by until
I could get out of here. Dread stirred through my lower gut and I
thought about the fact I had to go sit in choir last hour.

“Hey!” A dark haired girl looked up at me.
She sat in a wheelchair. Her almond shaped eyes shifted into slits.
“No cutting in line.”

I stepped back. “Sorry, I didn’t see
you.”

She noisily hoisted her tray onto the silver
platform next to the food and used a hand control to propel herself
forward in line. “Right.”

Her tone told me she didn’t believe me and
she wouldn’t have accepted an apology anyway.

I paused for a moment and gave her some lead
time. I put my tray down onto the silver counter next to the entrée
options. I didn’t see anything appetizing. I opted instead for an
apple, roll, and a small saucer of green Jello. Chance would make
fun of me if he saw the Jello but I didn’t care. I liked it.

I paid the boy at the cash register and, once
again, looked at the unassigned, but assigned tables. I made my way
down the side aisle and saw the wheelchair girl sitting all by
herself at a round table. She slid herself closer into the table
and then looked up at me. The look on her face told me she didn’t
want anything, need anything, and would kick your butt if you tried
to sit next to her.

It resonated through me like the stunning
realization I’d ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen in a very long
time. I went to the table and held my tray in the air across from
her.

Her eyes widened like I was some intruder to
planet earth out of a sci-fi movie.

I dropped my tray and it clanged hard against
the table. “Can I sit here?”

Her lips tightened. “No.”

I stopped for a second. Maybe I
shouldn’t.

She turned those sarcastic slits up at me.
“Go away.”

I pulled the chair out and sat. “Great.
Thanks for inviting me. The people in Sugar Valley are so warm and
inviting. I wish I would have moved here sooner.”

The side of her lip almost turned up. It was
like she wanted to acknowledge my joke, but she couldn’t. She
lifted her fork into the air and shoved beef stroganoff into her
mouth. The only thing she gave me was the raising of one eyebrow,
an eyebrow that told me she was ready for the ‘be nice to the
wheelchair girl’ routine.

I cocked my eyebrow in return and shoved a
bite of Jello into my mouth. To be at a table with a semi-grumpy
wheelchair girl was preferable to sitting at a table where, chances
were, everyone would just tell me everything they already knew
about me.

Wheelchair girl studied her food and took an
apple off of her tray. She fixed a stare into place and chomped off
a bite.

So we would play it like this. No talking.
Stare down looks across the table. I took my apple and chomped into
it. I could play.

And that’s how it went—chomp and stare. It
was fitting. The first day at school and already I’d isolated my
cousin, had an unknowing enemy with the Student Body guy that ran
the place, and made a silent enemy out of the girl in the
wheelchair.

Perfect.

I slurped up some of my Jello and scrutinized
her. I wondered why she was in a wheelchair. Nothing looked
noticeably wrong with her. Her skin looked healthy, not loads of
acne or anything. Her brown hair looked shiny, not stringy or
sweaty. She didn’t wear hardly any make-up, except for mascara, but
it accented her green eyes perfectly. I peered deeper into them and
saw patches of sky blue that made them look like a tropical sea.
Or, what I thought a tropical sea would look like.

“You’re creeping me out.”

I jolted out of my mind rambling and drained
the rest of my water bottle. “Don’t worry, you’re not my type.”

She wiped her face with a napkin.

I noticed the way her fingers looked kind of
limp or bent somehow.

She evaluated me. “You look guilty of
something.”

A twinge of anger surged through me, but I
knew she just wanted to tick me off. “Nobody’s innocent.”

The side of her lip turned up like I’d told
her a joke. “
Listen
, I don’t know what you’ve heard about
me, but I don’t need pity, I don’t need friends, and I don’t need
some
new
girl thinking she wants to make a statement by
hanging out with me.”

I stared at her for a moment, completely
shocked she would think I would be trying to play some game with
her. I didn’t need this. I already had enough problems in my life
without her thinking I knew anything about her and had some kind of
hidden agenda because I sat by her at lunch. I stood. “I was just
leaving.”

She pushed her tray aside. “Good.”

I started to leave, then turned back and
swiped up her tray.

“Put. It. Down.”

I paused and stared back at her threatening
eyes. “Look, I’m just clearing the table.” My father had been
military and my mother had been
persnickety
about helping
people. It had been drilled into me.

“Oh, please. Don’t strain yourself; I
wouldn’t want you to end up back in some institution.”

My heart raced. The trays I held almost
collapsed to the floor. I steadied them and blinked.

They all knew.

I placed the trays back on the table and
jetted out of the lunchroom as fast as I could muster in my
stilettos. I hated her, them—the whole stupid town.

I trudged across the parking lot and stopped
next to the dumpsters. My hands actually trembled. Who did she
think she was? Yeah, I got she was in a wheelchair, but really? I
grabbed the phone out of my backpack and texted Carrie.
Get the money! I have to get out of here.

I put the phone back. My hand bumped against
a package of cigarettes. The ones Carrie had given to me before I’d
left. She’d told me I’d need them—for tension release.

I’d never smoked one before and hadn’t
believed her. I’d only kept them to appease her. But I picked them
up. My parents had always taught me smoking was wrong. But Aunt
Sylvie hadn’t been a member, and I hadn’t cared that much about
attending church the last year.

I surveyed the package and thought of Carrie.
I’d watched her for months as she’d puffed into the wind and
rapidly told me about each of the foster homes she had been in and
how she’d escaped from each one. A cigarette had always seemed to
calm her. To bring her back from her latest encounter with whoever
ticked her off that day.

I flicked one out and put the minty tobacco
between my lips. I grappled for the lighter she’d included as a
gift.

“Ahh—a beautiful American girl that
smokes.”

I jumped. The lighter slipped through my
fingers to the ground.

A dark skinned, gorgeous, Italian-looking guy
emerged from the dumpsters. He bent to pick up the lighter. “And
she’s like a jumping tiger, too.”

His accent sounded almost fake. I wouldn’t
have believed it if he hadn’t totally fit the part of foreigner. He
placed the lighter back into my palm, and stared into my eyes.

I blinked and stepped back.

He gestured with his head. “Come this
way.”

“Oh—” was the only thing that came out of my
mouth.

He lifted one hand in the kind of gesture a
cop would use to calm down a criminal with a gun. “Shh, it’s
okay.”

I spotted a small diamond earring in his left
ear. His black hair fell just below his shoulders. “You don’t have
to worry about Antone.” He put one hand to his chest. “No,
Antone
, knows the meaning of escape. He knows exactly why
you’re here, and he welcomes you.”

The day had gone from bad to—sort of
interesting and weird at the same time. I tried not to open my
mouth and stare at him. I didn’t know what to say.

Antone raised a knowing eyebrow. “You must be
Maadie?” He said it overly punctuated, giving it a sheep sound.

I let out an amused chuckle, more from nerves
than his improper pronunciation.

Antone’s whole face lit up. “I amuse you? You
find me charming and interesting?”

This couldn’t be real. Not here. Not a guy
like this in Sugar Valley. “I—”

Antone took a step back and made a sweeping
gesture with his hand to a crated box that sat in the corner a few
feet from the dumpster. “Please, make yourself at home.”

The bell rang, in that loud, blaring way that
every bell in every school sounded like.

He took a deep drag on the cigarette and let
the smoke come out in one big puff.

I hesitated.

Antone looked toward the school then back to
me. “You don’t want to go back. You want to talk to Antone.”

Later, I would look back at this moment, as
the one that decided my fate.

 

Chapter 4 Smoke

I shuffled toward the apple crate. A nervous
energy passed through my gut and circled into my stomach, like I’d
eaten a bad salad instead of a warm roll. I rationalized he looked
harmless. I knew my dad wouldn’t like him at all.

“I understand, you are nervous, it’s your
first day in this place. This place that doesn’t appreciate good
rigatoni.” He scoffed and made a fist pump in the air. “My mother
sends me on an exchange to America, the land of opportunity, and I
end up here in
Sugar Valley
.” The way he said it reminded me
of a low budget commercial with bad actors.

BOOK: Fire Girl Part 1
11.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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