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Elemental, chapter 1
Mr. Schmidt sat down at his desk as the bell hummed and the class jumped out of their seats, clutching thick yellow envelopes that held their grades. It was the winter break bedlam. Luna Starling sprinted out the door, thinking of her family’s week-long vacation to Mount Washington. She was glad there was no homework or something. She would never have time. She knew what Camie would say if she did have homework.
“Just skip it. It’s just one little essay.” Her older sister didn’t put the same importance on school as she did.
Luna’s long, shiny red hair whipped around her in the cold winter wind. She shivered and pulled her bulky coat tighter. The fringe on her scarf waved about wildly.
“Hey, Lulu! Winter break-whatcha think?”
“Shut up, Camie, you know I hate it when you call me that.”
“Oooohhh, is wittle Woowoo gonna cwy? Ooooo.”
“Shut up. Just wait until Mom sees your report card. What’d you get, anyway? Straight F’s? They’ll be soooo proud.”
“Oh, I can just see your face when Dad says, ‘Look at those straight A’s. Good job, girly.’ You’ll turn all red and go up to your room. What’s up with you and nice people? You can’t take a compliment.”
“Can so,” Luna muttered under her breath, but Camie had already drifted away and was surrounded by her fellow eighth graders.
Kaylinn and Alisha came up beside her. “Heya, Kaya,” she said.
Kaylinn turned and narrowed her eyes at Luna.
“I’m just venting my feelings for that person over there,” Luna explained, gesturing towards Camie.
“Still…” said Kaylinn.
“Oh, give it a break, you two,” Alisha said in exasperation. They had this argument almost every day. The trio started walking up the street.
“Hey, guess what?” Kaylinn said in an attempt to restart the conversation.
“Yeah, what?” Alisha and Luna said.
“My cousin from Germany is coming for three weeks next summer.”
“Sweet! What’s her name?”
“Does she speak English?”
“How am I supposed to know? My mom never tells me anything.”
“You could try actually asking your mom, rather than just sitting around accepting what she tells you.”
“Hey,” Alisha said, sensing another argument. “What are you all doing for winter break?”
“I’m staying at home,” Kaylinn said bitterly.
“I’m going to go to Mount Washington with my family,” said Luna. “That means Camie,” she added glumly.
Here they went their separate ways. Luna went straight, Kaylinn right and Alisha left. Kaylinn and Alisha waved to Luna. “Break a leg!” Alisha called teasingly to Luna.
“Have fun at Mount Washington, confined in the same room as Big Sis!” Kaylinn yelled.
Luna sighed and yelled back, “Have fun sitting watching Cops while I carve down the slopes of Washington, spraying snow and going off huge jumps!”
Luna continued her walk, feeling excited. After all, it was winter break; why shouldn’t she be excited? Plus her family was going on a huge ski trip, and even with her annoying little twin brothers (Wasn’t that even worse?) and Camie, that should be loads of fun.
She noticed a shimmering outline out of the corner of her eye. It drew closer and closer, and she stepped back. It materialized into a human figure wearing a long duster, and she stood paralyzed in fear, her scream stopping in her throat, her heart beating rapidly.
“It’s okay, I won’t hurt you,” the figure said reassuringly, with a small smile.
“Who are you?” Luna choked out.
“A friend. Is that enough?”
“Very well. Will it help if I say that I knew your uncle?”
“Well, your house is right there, less than a scream’s distance away. Can you take me there? I’m sure your mother will recognize me.”
“If my mom recognizes you, I’ll let you talk to me more. Wait, how do you know where my house is?”
“The same way I knew your uncle,” the stranger replied smoothly.
“It’s clear that you’re not going to go away. Hurry up.”
Luna led the way to her house. She opened the front door and yelled, “Mom!”
Her mother came running down the blue-carpeted stairway, her honey-blonde hair flying behind her. Luna’s family was all blonde, except for her flaming hair.
Miranda Starling stopped dead at the bottom of the staircase, her eyes wide with shock. “Blackstorm,” she whispered faintly, and then she crumpled to the ground.