Abetta

Prologue:
Many years back, a global climate shift began to occur. It began gradually with a slow global warming that got treacherous in its effects. Soon it triggered a global cooling, which drastically changed the face of planet Earth, setting Earth as the new Ice Age, causing the time table to start over. With so many people wiped out, there were still so many people in America to keep it running and keep a President. Unfortunately, not long after, the President became too power-hungry, and took over as a dictator. He began to publicly shun all royalty and all descendants of royalty as part of his new position. He has been the dictator for 20 years; 20 years after his normal term of Presidency would’ve ended.
All of this also, strangely, caused Earth’s technology to update quicker than America would’ve thought possible after such an event. Hover-flats, or floating apartments, were built everywhere in large cities. Hover-houses, or floating homes, were built in the areas more rural and the places more expected to melt quicker.
One thing that did change with the dictatorship was the lack of building churches. When the President took over as Chief Leader, or dictator, he ceased the building of churches almost immediately. People began to practice their religion in their homes and feared that if the Chief Leader were to find out, that dire consequences would follow.
This is the story of a 17 year old girl in year 24, Elizabeth Martine Chapman-Hall, who is among the first generation to be born in the New Ice Age.


Part I: The Buzz Begins


Elizabeth Martine Chapman-Hall scurried to pack her last belongings into a carry-on bag for the trip. Her family had recently bought a hover-flat in NYC where her father’s new job was and where her mother could get better treatment for her multiple sclerosis. But for Elizabeth, that meant leaving all of her friends and beautiful, rainy Portland, Oregon behind.

Abetta, as she was called by all, had just beyond shoulder length chocolate brown hair with a slight curl at the end and sparkling caramel eyes that were today clouded with tears. Her slender form moved gracefully across the smooth granite flooring of her hover-home to the hover-vator. She was small for 17 at 5’5” and 115 pounds, but that made it all the easier for her on the track. She was very intelligent and very into art and English and loved to run. She was on her school’s track and Scholastic decathlon teams. Leaving everything behind would be hard.

As she dashed a few last rebellious tears from her eyes, she rode up the hover-vator to her circular room. Her room was all sleek lines and stainless steel, black and white with red and purple accents. There was a curved wall of windows lined with purple silk curtains. Her stainless steel bed was covered in a duvet of silver suede and red silk. Her favorite part was her built in, LED light lined fish aquarium.

Could she truly just walk away and leave it all behind for a new life?

Yes.

No.

As she wrestled with leaving her dear home, her father buzzed the intercom in her room.

“Abetty, child, it’s time to leave.” He said cheerily, his voice as clear as though he were standing in her room.

“Dad, I’m not a child. And, please, don’t call me Abetty. Call me Abetta.” She groaned, sending her voice back down to him.

“Elizabeth, dear, come down. We’ll miss the starjet.” Her mother’s voice came through, and Abetta could hear the strain and raggedness to her mother’s tone. Yes, she could leave if it meant a better environment for her mother.

“Coming, Mother, Dad.” Abetta grabbed her bag and stepped into the hover-vator, feeling the whoosh as the doors closed behind her and she rocketed to the base floor at super speed.


The ride to the landing grounds was the longest ride Abetta had ever endured. Not that the actual trip was grueling, but her anxiety was causing her to wonder if they would ever get there.

“Dad, how fast does this thing go?”

“Hon, I’m going just as fast as the speed limit will let me.”

“Make it go faster.”

“Elizabeth, it’s not going to go any faster. We’re going to get there as soon as possible, okay? There’s no need for you to worry.”

“I’m not worried about myself, I’m worried for Mother.”

“I’ll be okay, Abetta. Just relax,” her mother said calmly. “Though I’m feeling a little tired. Oh well, sleep will make the trip go faster, yea?”

“Whatever you say, Mother.”


“Please remain seated at all times and refrain from removing your safety belts. The ride will end shortly.” came the tinny robotic voice over the intercom.

Abetta looked down at her safety belt, which automatically locked. Crap. She had to use the restroom too. She did her best not to wriggle and squirm in her seat.

She looked over at her parents across the aisle. Her mother had fallen asleep almost the instant that they had taken off and hadn’t woken up yet. She leaned across the aisle and shook her arm gently.

“Mother, Mother, wake up. We’re about to land.”

Mother didn’t stir.

“Dad, Mother’s not waking up.”

Dad sat up straight. “Laura, wake up. Laura?”

Suddenly Laura’s eyes opened. “Sam, Elizabeth, get me to a doctor.” She said very firmly but softly. She gripped Elizabeth’s arm with amazing strength.

“Mother we’re trying. The jet will land in less than 5 minutes. You’ll be there soon.”

“I need one sooner than that.”

“Laura, can you hang on?”

“No, Sam, get one of the droids. I need a doctor now.” The urgency and insistence in her voice was unmistakable.

“Mother, hang on. Help!” Abetta gestured for one of the droids to come over, panic filling her voice.

“What seems to be the problem?” the droid beeped.

“My mother needs a doctor right now.” Abetta’s voice was scaling on the high sharp, squealing side with her panic.

“We can’t help her, sorry.” The droid trilled in frustration. “Now can I get back to my job?”

“You must be able to do something!” Abetta exclaimed, exasperated.

“Talk to another droid.” The droid rolled back down the aisle to the service section.

Abetta stood up and shouted, “Is anyone on here a doctor, specifically a neurosurgeon? My mother has multiple sclerosis and needs a doctor right now!”

The other passengers looked around uncomfortably at each other. Then a flurry of voices spoke out. There was a nurse, but she couldn’t do more than watch according to her license, a doctor who specified in knee surgery, and one eye surgeon. No one whom could help her mother.

“Please!” she begged, her tone becoming frantic.

“I’m sorry sir, there’s nothing we can do.”

“WHAT?! You’re just going to let my wife die on your starjet?”

“Dad, it’s gonna be okay. We’ll get Mother to a doctor the instant we get off the jet, right?”

“It’s too late to get her to a doctor.” Now his voice was remorse and he struggled to hold back tears.

“Wh…What?”

“She’s passed.”


It was the saddest entrance she could’ve thought possible to New York. Here they were 5 minutes from being where they could help her mother get better and she dies on the way there.

She went around her room in the hover-flat, unpacking and crying. There was no way that she was going to school now.

“Dad, I can’t go to school now. Not after what’s happened.”

“Honey, the longer you wait, the harder it will be.”

“But Dad—”

“None of that. You’ll go to school starting next week. Just a week to settle in, as was our original plan. It’s a terrible loss, but we need to be strong and try to do what your mother would’ve wanted us to do.”

“Ok, Dad.”


Thursday was Abetta’s first day at school. She was having second thoughts about going at all.

“Dad, what will the other kids think of me?”

“Abetta, you’ll be fine. Believe me. Everyone does this at some time in their life.”

“Not a week after their mother dies!”

He sighed. “True, but they are expecting us. We need to go and meet them at minimum.”

When they arrived at the school, she was introduced to her principal, Dr. Henry Ramsey. Dr. Ramsey was a large man with ill-fitting clothing from the 50’s as well as pewter-rimmed glasses and a geeky red and white bowtie. His hair was gray and thinning and was swept in a comb over to cover his balding head.

“Dr. Ramsey? This is my daughter, Elizabeth Martine Chapman-Hall.”

“Ah, yes, Mr. Hall—”

“It’s Dr. Hall, actually.”

“Dr. Hall, your daughter will be welcome here. Uh, I was told I was meeting both parents…?”

Abetta looked down at the floor, tears filling her eyes. Her father looked away, blinking away his own tears.

Dr. Hall cleared his throat, composing himself. “My wife, Mrs. Chapman, had multiple sclerosis as you know. I’m afraid that she didn’t survive the flight here.” His voice broke on the last words and his lip quivered as he struggled to hold back his tears.

Dr. Ramsey removed his specs and cleaned them on a linen handkerchief. Replacing them, he said, “I’m terribly sorry about your loss. Are you sure that you want to start her today?”

“Yes, we’re sure.”

“Alright then, come with me Elizabeth. Your father and I will work out your schedule for this year according to what you had in Portland.”

Abetta looked back at her father. He knew what classes she wanted and knew that with her father, she would get them as well.

Abetta’s palms sweated as she walked down the cold stone corridors of her new NYC public school. Her nervous knees knocked as she shivered. Her frosty breath came out in little puffs as she struggled to breathe calmly. She started when she felt a light touch on her arm.

“Relax, Elizabeth, you’ll be fine. This school will be good for you,” said her principal, Dr. Ramsey. “Your homeroom teacher will welcome you to her class.”

He walked Abetta just a few more doors down, then stopped.

“Well, here we are. Good luck!” he stuck out his hand and she shook it uncertainly.

“Uh, thanks, Dr. Ramsey. I’m sure I’ll be fine.” She released his clammy hand and followed him into the room.

“Oh no…” she whispered under her breath as the stares began, then the low, insistent buzz the followed soon after.

“Students! Silence!” the young woman behind the desk reprimanded sharply.

Abetta jumped, as well as the other students.

“Good morning, Principal Ramsey. Ah, new student, I take it?” she eyed Abetta critically.

“Yes, Ms. Mona, this is Elizabeth Martine Chapman-Hall. Elizabeth, this is Ms. Mona.”

Ms. Mona was a tall, slender young woman who had been aged by responsibility. She had pewter black hair and gentle green eyes. Ms. Mona stiffly placed her hand out and Abetta shook it as warmly as possible.

“Please, call me Abetta.”

Her face flushed as snickers swept through the room.

“I will call you Elizabeth as is your given name. Or is there some extreme sentimental value it holds?”

Abetta spoke up again, softer this time, “My mother used to call me that…she died last week on the flight here. Multiple sclerosis.”

The teacher flushed now and her angular features softened, making her seem almost pretty. “I…I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I’ll call you Abetta.” She smiled, displaying her beautiful teeth and her young years.

Dr. Ramsey slipped quietly out the door.

“Now, let’s find you a seat and get you a locker, and then introductions all around.” She rattled around inside her desk for a few moments, gathering her keys.

She looked up at the class. “Georgiana, watch the class for me.”

“Ok, Ms. Mona.” A tall, slender girl of Hispanic background stood up and walked to the front of the room, giving Abetta a dazzling smile.

Once finding her a locker and a seat, introductions were what Abetta was worried about.

The tall slender Hispanic girl with the outfit to die for was Georgiana West. Her circle of friends were Langley Koh Pierce, the short athletic Korean girl; Abigail Sirius, the soft-spoken blond American; and Sapphira Connery, the bouncy redhead in pink. The anorexic-thin Australian girl was Phoebe Elna. Her best friend was the anorexic-thin American brunette, Tristan McSandars. The obnoxious basketball player in the corner was Clancy Pink. The (very) cute skater cut, black-haired basketball player was Skandar Hutcherson. His girlfriend was Nancy Sauté, the beautiful strawberry blond cheerleader next to him. The drummer in the back of the room at the trap set keeping the class entertained was Reese Welsh. His buddies were Orville Young, the class president and the class clown; Hayden Stewart, a football player who could be stupid at times; and Peter Doyle, whose family owned the local bakery, also a basketball player. The last girl, Kaity Leeland, looked like she could peel Ms. Mona’s skin off for putting the new girl next to her.


The next school day, Abetta received her schedule. She had two art classes, two English classes, one science, one math, and seventh period athletics for running.

She had made some friends in her class, but most of the students ignored her, most hoping that she wouldn’t be friends with them and interrupt their social circles. But Georgiana West, Langley Koh Pierce, Abigail Sirius, and Sapphira Connery had welcomed her to their group. From them she found out a little bit of information. Things, such as, Friday third periods were study hall. Great. Right during one of her new art classes.

“Ms. Mona, may I have permission to go down to the art room and work on a project?”

“A project? You’ve only been here two days.”

“I know. I want to show her an example of my art skills at my first class.”

“Ah, I see. You may go, Abetta. Here’s a note.” She scribbled something on a scrap of paper, then let her go.

Abetta scurried to the warm art room. Walking around the room, she admired the other students’ projects. She spotted a beautiful, shimmering fish in the corner. Constructed of scrap steel and random technology pieces from the tech lab, the sparkly fish shimmered as thought light hit it through the water.

She began to work on her previous art project that she had brought with her from Portland. She was sculpting a mermaid, just like the ones she had imagined in the oceans off of Oregon.

The mermaid’s hair was rippling behind her in an invisible wind as she perched on a rock, the ocean spray behind her splashing up and hitting her tail. Her hands were propped in front of her, holding her up as though thrusting her into the world. The sculpture was about three feet high and beautifully detailed.


Skandar hopped up and strode to Ms. Mona’s desk.

“May I go to the art room? I have a project that I desperately need to finish before Monday.”

“Yes, Skandar, here you go.”

Skandar took his note and closed the door, taking long strides to the art room.


Abetta was so intently sculpting her mermaid’s face that she didn’t hear approaching footsteps in the hallway.

Her head and feet moved to her iPod while she stood admiring and eyeing critically.

Suddenly, she heard the art room door open. Snatching her earphones out and whirling around, she saw not a teacher, but Skandar Hutcherson from her homeroom.

“Hey Abetta, what are you making?”

“I’m…uh, I’m working on a sculpture.”

“Really? May I see?”

Abetta blushed and gestured to the mermaid on the table.

Skandar’s eyes opened wide. “You did this? This is amazing!”

Abetta nodded with a shy smile.

He put his hands in his pockets and slowly circled the sculpture. “Wow. Can you believe that you’re doing work like this right now? Imagine what you will be doing when you go to art school! I mean look at your lines. They’re so clean and smooth. And, oh my gosh, look at this detail. You have a great imagination. What material are you using? We don’t see this up in New York.”

Abetta’s mouth dropped open. A superstar athlete talking like an art critic? No way!

“You sound like you’re really interested.”

“Nah, I just live for art. I wasn’t originally in Ms. Mona’s homeroom, but I switched because I wanted to fit another art class into my schedule.”

“Ah, so you’re a superstar athlete that’s an artist in disguise?”

“Ehm, sorta.” He looked uncomfortable for a moment, then it passed. “So what’s the material?”

“Oh, the material is sculpey.”

“Sculpey?”

“Yea, it’s a type of clay that’s really soft and great for sculpting.”

“Clay?”

“What, New York doesn’t have clay?”

“Have you noticed the exterior of the school? It’s Iceland out there, not New York. We can’t get clay.”

“Oh, I forgot. Portland is already melted enough that we have an ocean and clay art materials.”

“Lucky. That stuff makes great sculptures. Or maybe just great artists make it seem that way.”

Abetta blushed again. Attempting to shift the topic off of her, “You must have some great projects too. Can I see some of what you’ve done?”

“I don’t know. Half of the time I want to tear it apart, the other half of the time I’m ready to toss it in the trash.”

“Which one is it?”

“Oh, the fish.”

The only fish in the room was the amazing sparkly fish she had been admiring earlier.

“You made that?”

“Look, I know it needs work…”

“Skandar, that fish is AMAZING! I thought maybe the art teacher had done it.”

“I thought when I turned it in that they were going to toss me out of art class and tell me to stick to sports.”

“Why are you in sports? I know I haven’t seen you play, but this work is amazing! Have you considered going to art school after this?”

“I didn’t think that I was good enough.”

“You’re good enough, trust me. You’re beyond good enough. Let me see. New York is frozen, but you created a fish. Hmm…”

“Touché! I get where you’re going. I created it as a symbol of hope…that maybe one day, New York will melt too.”

“Awesome. I think that you could totally be accepted to art school right now.”

“You too.” Skandar smiled.


For the next several weeks, every Friday during study hall, Skandar and Abetta went to the art room together to work on their projects. They would see who could get down there the fastest without getting in trouble with the hall monitors.

One day though, Tristan, Phoebe, and Kaity decided to follow them both, who, unfortunately, were having a laugh-a-thon in the hallway as they raced to the art room.

Kaity whipped around, planted her manicured hands on her hips, and said snidely, “We need to find out what’s going on with them, girls, and perhaps…spread it around.” Her gaze traveled to Nancy, who was giggling and chatting with a friend.

Tristan smirked. “I catch your drift. Phoebe?”

Phoebe grinned impishly, tossing her hair. “I’m ready. Hit me with it.”

The girls headed toward the art room, pretending to admire the artwork in the hallways as they eavesdropped on their conversation, eyes darting back and forth from the art-covered walls to the art classroom.

Walls. Classroom.

Walls. Classroom.

Nothing.

Kaity blew a strand of hair out of her eyes. “They must be able to talk about something more interesting than the projects they’re working on and the latest weather report! C’mon, there’s nothing to gossip about here…”

Her voice trailed off as she watched Nancy stalk into the art room, summoned by one of Abetta’s laughs. Her eyes widened with amazement.

“Oh, now this could be good.” She gestured for the other two to join her.


Inside the art classroom, Abetta and Skandar were laughing about how messy they were, and right before lunch too.

Abetta had clay all over her hands and on her face and sprinkles of it in her hair. Skandar had paint on his nose and in his bangs as well as a big splotch on his sleeve.

They laughed until tears were streaming down their cheeks.

“Oh my, we’re pitiful!” Abetta snort-laughed. She shook her hair in an attempt to remove the clay. She only succeeded in making her hair stand out and curl with the moisture.

“You’re hilarious, so I can’t imagine how I look!” Skandar laughed. “I must look like I escaped from a cheesy science video.” He tried to brush the paint off his nose with his sleeve, but only spreading it around bigger on his face.

Abetta ran to the sink. “Here,” she said, tossing him a wet paper towel. She whipped a brush out of her art supply bag and brushed the clay out over the trash.

“Ok, that’s better.” He said, patting his face to dry it.

At that moment, while they were stowing away their projects, now both working on canvases, Nancy stalked in, the automatic doors zipping shut behind her.

“Hello, Skandar.” She said, not the least bit welcoming. She stared icily at him.

“Hey, Nancy, you know Abetta, right?” he said, gesturing toward Abetta.

“Hello, Nancy.” Abetta smiled.

“We’ve met.” Nancy sniffed, dismissing her as unimportant. “Now can I talk to you for a second?”

“Sure, Nance, what’s up?”

“Oh, I’ll tell you what’s up,” she began in a furious whisper.

Nancy took Skandar over into one of the corners of the room, leaving Abetta to clean up the rest of the messes.

It became clear to Abetta that this was no ordinary boy-girl chat, Skandar and Nancy were arguing. She began to feel a little uncomfortable and thought that maybe, she should leave.

“We don’t hang out in study hall together anymore.”

“I’m hanging out with a new friend whose friends aren’t into art and has no other friends other than those four other girls. Besides, I like working with Abetta. She’s fun.”

“Well, it’s not fun for me!”

“I kinda needed a break without destroying the relationship. I don’t like how everyone talks about us as though were superstars. Every time I go somewhere, everyone asks where you are.”

“Didn’t you realize that if we went out that people would talk?”

“Well, no. I feel like I need a new name. I should be called ‘Dude, where’s Nancy?’ Hutcherson.”

“Well, if that’s the way you feel about it. I rather like that people talk about us. What else will they talk about?”

“Uh, how about the stuff they might do after school? Gossip isn’t cool, you know.”

“Whatevs. Do you realize how big we were when we started going out? We were the hot topic of every lunch convo, every IM chat, and every exchanged email. We were ‘it’. I don’t feel like ‘it’ anymore, when we deserve to be.”

Abetta looked up long enough to see Skandar’s embarrassed flush at that. She quickly looked back down again.

“Well, maybe I don’t like being ‘it.’”

“Oh, really? You know, you’re making some pretty lame excuses for not hanging out with me as much as you should.”

She was concentrating so hard on not hearing anything that they were saying that at one point dropped all of the stuff in her arms, which consisted of loud metal paint cans, paintbrushes, canvas scraps, and other painting material. Skandar and Nancy looked up, causing Abetta to blush a deep scarlet.

“Do you mind? We could use a little privacy!” Nancy snapped.

Abetta, noticing Skandar’s uncomfortable-ness and deep flush, scrambled to scoop everything back up again and toss it at the wall, the wall grabbing it up and stowing it where it needed to go.

Grabbing her bag, she rushed out of the room, only to see Kaity, Tristan, and Phoebe standing in a semi-circle waiting for her, but obviously still listening to the conversation inside.

“So, Abetta, what’s on your canvas? Skandar Hutcherson?” the three girls snickered.

“Grow up, girls.” Abetta seethed. “I just happened to be caught up in there at the wrong time.”

“Oh, really? Then how come you’ve been here every Friday with Skandar for the last few weeks?”

“We’re friends and I wish you’d quit making it something it’s not. So bug off, okay?” she shot back at them.

To her surprise, they actually backed off, “Geez, can’t you take a joke, Elizabeth?”

Abetta scowled as she made her way to the already crowded lunch room. She dropped her bag on the seat in the circle table where Iana, Ira, Iris, and Pie were waiting for her.

“Hey, Iza, how’s it going? Wow, you look mad. Get some lunch and let’s talk it out okay?” Georgiana said.

Georgiana was Iana, Sapphira was Ira, Abigail was Iris, and Langley was Pie. Langley had always been the weird one and insisted on being different as long as it was on the same lines. They had adopted Abetta as Iza, making her officially as part of their group, the iMixGirls, since they were such a mix of coloring, styles, personalities, and races.

“Thanks, Iana.”

She headed to the lunch line.


Kaity, Tristan, and Phoebe were still eavesdropping on Skandar and Nancy’s argument. They were careful to write down everything they heard and memorize what was just too good to write down and would remember to fill it in later.

They heard a zipper unzipping and then Nancy’s voice, “Here, take your stupid hoodie back. I don’t think it’s so special anyway and besides it clashes with everything I own!”

Kaity, Tristan, and Phoebe pulled away from the door with disbelief. “What? She’s giving back his hoodie? You know what that means…”

“Skandar Hutcherson and Nancy Sauté, breaking up?! Celebrity gossip!”

They skittered to the lunchroom, their evil minds forming a brilliant plan.


Abetta saw Skandar running into the lunch line, his face still flushed.

“Hey, sorry about that. I shouldn’t have…been in there…it probably made it more embarrassing for…you.”

“Well, it infuriated me to hear her call you lame. I mean, you’re obviously not lame.”

Abetta pinked slightly. “Thanks, Skandar.”

He flushed darker than he already was. “No prob.” Then he grinned. “I can tell you’re a real artist.”

“How?”

“I guess when you dropped those paint cans and stuff, you dropped more than just the can.” He pointed at her shirt.

Abetta looked down and saw many colors of paint streaking her white blouse. It would be impossible to wash out. This blouse was trash. She looked up at Skandar who was dying to laugh. She started laughing and he joined in. They kept laughing the whole way through the lunch line.

“Here, you can put this on over it until you can change.” He held out his hoodie toward her, wiping tears from his eyes.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, go ahead. The worst people can do is talk, but they don’t know the truth behind it.”

“Thanks.” She slipped into the hoodie and zipped it up, snuggling in its warmness.

Suddenly out of the corner of her eye, while they were laughing, she noticed that the cafeteria was slightly quieter and everyone was avoiding her gaze as the buzz swept through the cafeteria.

She continued to laugh and just ignored the buzz. Two kids have a laugh-a-thon in the lunch line and then the guy gives her a hoodie to cover up some embarrassing paint. So what?

After she got her lunch and waved to Skandar, she joined the iMixGirls.

“Hey, Iza, what’s up with you and Skandar?” Ira asked.

“Nothing, why do you ask?”

“You two almost fell over in line laughing, and then gives you his hoodie.”

“So?”

Iana leaned forward. “So, it gets the school talking and since no one knows your background and you’re the ‘new girl’, it makes it worse, especially when it involves Skandar Hutcherson, the most popular guy in school. We’re just looking out for you, Iza.”

Abetta smiled. “Thanks, girls.”


Over at the other end of the cafeteria, leading the whisper brigade were the three chief gossipers and eavesdroppers in school: Kaity, Tristan, and Phoebe.

“Oh my gosh, did you see Elizabeth and Skandar?”

“Did you hear that Nancy gave back his hoodie?! And look, Elizabeth is wearing it! What does that mean?”

“Did you know that they have been hanging out with each other every Friday since she got here? Makes me wonder if they knew each other before hand and have been planning this…”

When Nancy heard the gossip, she knew that her suspicions had been confirmed. She’d always thought that he’d been a little distracted during their relationship because he might’ve been going out with someone else at the same time. She tried to occupy herself in other conversation to pretend she wasn’t interested.

Suddenly, stares were all over Abetta and when she felt them coming from every direction, she could hardly eat. She glanced around and when she saw people staring at her then to Skandar, she felt her breakfast coming up her throat.

“Excuse me, I hafta leave. I can’t bear this…I—I think I’m gonna puke.” She pushed away her tray and grabbing her bag, jumped up and fled the cafeteria.

Pushing open the door to the girls’ room, she rode a hover-vator to the second level where girls could lounge on a sectional sofa and leather benches. Sinking onto a leather bench, she stuck her head in her hands.

“I’m not gonna cry. This happens to people all the time. Besides, it’s just talk.” She told herself firmly.

She sat there for a moment, just trying to relax and keep her breakfast from coming up. She rubbed her arms, forgetting for a moment that she was wearing Skandar’s hoodie. She breathed in the smell of it and was surprised that, even after the all the time that Nancy had been wearing it, it still smelled just like him. Not that she noticed what he smelled like, of course.

Abruptly, the door to the girls’ room swished open. The iMixGirls were here.

“Iza? Iza, where are you?”

Abetta lifted her head from her hands. “Up here, girls.”

They all jumped on the hover-vator at once and zipped up there. “Hey, what are you doing hiding up here?”

“Escaping, if only temporarily, from the gossip-world, known commonly as the cafeteria of our school.”

Pie giggled. “You’re hilarious, Iza.”

“I try.”

“Ok, let’s go back to class and just hope that everybody forgets about that rumor by tomorrow.”

“As if…” Abetta murmured. She let her friends drag her out of the restroom.


Later that evening, she and her dad had a quiet dinner.

“So how was school today, honey?” Dad asked in a distracted tone.

“It was great, Dad.” Abetta replied dejectedly, knowing her dad had no time to talk about school gossip since he was so distracted with his work.

“That’s good, sweetheart.” He continued to chew and swallow, but he might as well not be there because he was so zoned out. She had a suspicion that he was thinking about Mother again. It was so hard to move on. Maybe throwing himself into his work was a way to get his mind off of her so much. He had loved her since he was her age.

Sighing, she left him to his work as she cleaned up the dishes and tossed them at a wall, the wall throwing them into a hidden cabinet.

Riding the hover-vator up to her room, she walked to her wall and pressed a button, letting it read her fingerprint before ejecting a keyboard and uncovering a hidden screen.

Her fingers flew as she signed in to IM.

Chat room: iMixGirls

Iana: can u believe wat wuz goin on @ skool 2day????
Ira: ttlly crzy
Iris: iza iz 2 sweet 2 get caught up n all this
Pie: iris can i wlk the dog 2nite?
Ira: hello pie? r u evn payin attention 2 the convo?
Pie: sry can i tho? 
Iris: may-b
Pie: 
Iana: wah pie ne-way, bac on topic…
Iza: hey girlz
Ira: welcum 2 the convo iza!
Pie: sup, iza?
Ira: pie, can u b ne more……BOY-ish??
Pie: sure *burp* hahahaha
Iza: lol pie
Iana: we were just tlkin bout wat skool wuz like 2day
Iza: o
Iana: wat?
Iza: nuthin
Iana: c’mon
Iza: i h8 gossip





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