Bright Before Sunrise
Author:Schmidt, Tiffany

Miller tilts her head as she considers this. “Fair enough. All right, estudiantes, hand in those worksheets and have a great weekend. I’ll see you all on Lunes.”

 

There’s the usual adioses, “have a good weekend”s, and graciases during the scramble for the classroom door.

 

A girl with pearls and a ponytail touches my arm as I exit the room. I look from her hand to her face and raise my eyebrows. She removes her fingers and smiles tentatively. “You could’ve paired with us, you know. Maybe next time?”

 

I just stare at her.

 

The girl’s smile fades to a scowl. “Or maybe not.”

 

I stay silent, just like my phone. She takes the hint and leaves.

 

Why hasn’t Carly answered me? I can’t think of anything I’ve done to earn her silent treatment—again. I push my way through the hallway congested with people making plans and wasting time. I pull out my phone’s battery and reinsert it, hoping it’s a glitch in the programming or it needs to be reset. It’s old, so either of these is possible. The two minutes it takes to reload are painful.

 

I have a new text message. I curb the urge to fist pump and click on it. Carly.

 

How soon can U get here?

 

I do a victory slam of my palm against my locker—the door pops open. So much for Brighton’s fix. But who cares? I exhale as I shut the door. It’s more than forty-eight hours till I’ll have to open it again or walk the halls of a school that’ll never feel like mine.

 

I make my way to my ten-year-old blue Accord, climb in, and wait impatiently in a line of tricked-out Benzes and BMWs for my turn to make the left down Main Street and drive the two miles to Mom and Paul’s subdivision.

 

ASAP I text Carly, and fight the urge to blare my horn at the Escalade in front of me where a blonde is holding up traffic to lean out her window and kiss a guy in a CPHS baseball shirt.

 

“As soon as possible” is not soon enough.

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

Brighton

 

2:15 P.M.

 

 

22 HOURS, 45 MINUTES LEFT

 

 

Amelia pulls me to the side of the hall as soon as class is over. “Let’s go get mochas and talk. I know you’re stressing.”

 

“Can’t. Friday—manicures with Mom.” My answer is quick, my mind immediately shuttering off tempting thoughts of sinking into a cozy chair at Bean Haven and having an honest conversation with Amelia. “Thanks, though.”

 

“I think she’d understand if you wanted to skip this week.”

 

“I really can’t. I can’t mess with her routine right now. She’s …” I flutter my hand and try to think of the right word, “fragile.”

 

“And you’re not? B, you—”

 

“Brighton! There you are!” Silvia’s a sophomore, but I work with her on yearbook and dance committees. She moves a million miles an hour—both on and off the soccer field—and speaks everything with exclamation points. Her energy is contagious … normally. “Did you get my texts? I need help on my lab report!”

 

Amelia frowns. “We’re kinda in the middle of something.”

 

“Oh, sorry! I know, it’s Friday afternoon—finally! You probably want to leave. It’s not due till Monday. Want me to e-mail what I have and we can meet up tomorrow?”

 

“Can’t you ask someone else?” Amelia suggests. I know the hand she’s put on my arm is supposed to be supportive, but it feels like yet another weight, another demand, another expectation.

 

“Mr. Leland told me to ask Brighton. But I guess if you don’t want to …” I hope the statement ends with “I’ll ask someone else” or “I’ll figure it out,” but Silvia just shrugs and sighs.

 

“She doesn’t.”

 

“Amelia!” I exclaim.

 

Silvia takes a step backward, but I protest, “It’s all right. Really, it’s okay. Show me now.” I squeeze Amelia’s arm and give her an apologetic look. “Have fun tonight with Peter.”

 

“Call me later.” It’s a command, and I nod before I follow Silvia toward the computer lab.

 

“Brighton!” Jake Murphy calls down the hall. “What time should I be at the library on Sunday?”

 

I don’t want to yell, so I hold up eight fingers.

 

“Eight a.m.? You’re killing me,” he bellows.

 

“I try,” I say, shooting finger guns in his direction.

 

This earns me one of his booming laughs and a “For you, my coffee and I will be there. Large. Coffee.”

 

Ellie Cooper stops me next, and it’s hard to maintain a smile. Just this once I’d like to get from point A to point B without having twenty conversations. Invisibility sounds like the most desirable of superpowers—I’ll have to ask Peter which radioactive creature needs to bite me.

 

“B, I’m going to be a little late on Sunday. Tennis lesson.”

 

“That’s okay. We’ll probably be at the library until noonish.”

 

“Great! I’ll be there by ten. At the latest. Who’s coming?”

 

The list is at the bottom of my bag—and if I pull it out, she’ll want to talk about everyone on it. So I wink. “Wait and see.”

 

“You’re the worst. Ugh, okay, I guess I’ll be patient. Oh, almost forgot, Mr. Donnelly wants to see you before you leave.”

 

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