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Home > Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(9)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(9)
Author: Kasie West

When class is over, I slowly put away my notebook, giving Trevor plenty of time to come up and say hi. After zipping my backpack, I casually look over my shoulder—he’s gone.

There went my only friend in Dallas. And that’s using the term friend a little loosely. Okay, a lot loosely. I could barely call him an acquaintance. Whatever he is, I had been hoping I would run into him at some point today so I wouldn’t feel like too much of a loner loser.

Out in the hall, I look both ways, hoping to catch a glimpse of his back, but all I see is a mass of people. Trevor is nowhere in sight.

I make it to lunch without having to come up with any fun facts except name, age, and where I moved from. Regardless of my practice session with my dad, California came flying out of my mouth without warning and I had to go with it. I had been so careful, trying not to slip up and call it the Compound, that a whole different state had resulted from my nervousness. Oh well, either story would’ve been a lie. At least this way, I won’t have to tell half the truth and risk spilling the other half along with it. I’ll go home and write my own backstory. It will be easier to remember.

The common area in this school is a big section of grass, interspersed with trees and surrounded by stone benches. For as long as I can remember, Laila and I have been friends—ever since she stood up for me on our first day of kindergarten. I’ve never been alone at school since. Now I’m very much alone, and it feels wrong. Rather than eat lunch by myself with an audience, I search out the library.

The smell of books, a mix of dust and leather, greets me as I walk through the door, and I smile. At Lincoln High, the library is three rows of computers where we can download information onto our cards. I get all my books from the one remaining bookstore in town, which without me there will probably go out of business. But that bookstore is nothing compared to this. This library is two stories high with a wide staircase leading up to the second level. Windows line the entire upper portion all the way around, blanketing the floor with light. If I were alone I would throw my arms out and spin in a circle. Instead I walk up the stairs, running my hand along books as I go.

I find the classics section, and after perusing for a while, pull out A Tale of Two Cities, which seems appropriate, and start to read. Just when I begin to realize Dickens’s “worst of times” seem a lot worse than anything I’ve been through, I hear the sound of a crowd of people walking along the tile-floored entrance downstairs.

Crap. I must’ve missed the bell signaling lunch was over. A class is obviously meeting in the library today. I pull out my schedule from the front pocket of my backpack, hoping to find something different from what I know is printed there. PE. The two little unassuming letters make me cringe. Tomorrow seems like a better day to start PE. Nobody should be forced to do physical exercise on Mondays. The decision to ditch on my first day produces a twinge of guilt in my gut. But knowing I can claim “new kid” status for at least a week, I push down the feeling.

I scoot farther back into the aisle, certain no one will find me. Why would they? It’s the classics aisle. It has to be one of the least visited sections in a high school library. So when footsteps scuff the flooring, I’m genuinely surprised.

I look up to see Trevor intently focused on the row of books to his left. His finger trails along the bindings and then he stops and slides the book he holds in between two others.

“Hi,” I say when he turns.

His shoulders jerk back in surprise before his face fully registers recognition. “Oh, hey, Addison. What are you doing?”

“Apparently I’m ditching PE.”

“I was surprised to see you in Government this morning. I thought you said you were a junior.”

“I … uh …” Panic wells in my chest. Had my dad put me in an advanced class? What am I supposed to say? Well, yeah, my mind is at least ten times more efficient than a Normal person’s, so my dad probably wanted to challenge me as much as possible. Even if I were allowed to say that, it probably wouldn’t go over well.

“Did you test into it?”

“Yes!” I say entirely too loudly. “I mean, yes, I did.” I point to the book he just put back, trying to change the subject. “What are you returning?”

“Oh.” He looks at the spine of the book. “Nineteen Eighty-four, Orwell.”

I loved that book, but I don’t like to influence people from giving their honest opinions about a book before I tell them how they should’ve felt. “Did you like it?”

He laughs and leans his shoulder against the bookcase. His whole presence, from his casual smile to his relaxed posture, oozes laid-backness. “I didn’t read it. I don’t know who would.” He points to the books that surround him. “The only time the classics ever get checked out is when they’re required for English.”

“Uh.” I hold up the book in my hands with raised eyebrows.

He tilts his head sideways to read the title. “A Tale of Two Cities. Oh, you like classics. Sorry.”

I smile. “No. It’s okay. I just like books in general. Today I felt like hurting my brain with archaic language and deep thoughts. What about you? If you didn’t read it, why are you returning it?”

“I’m an aide in the library during sixth period.”

“Nice.” That would be my dream class. “How did you manage that?”

“I got hurt and couldn’t do PE.” He smiles. “If they had given me a more exciting class, everyone would start faking injuries.”

By the time he gets to the last word of the sentence, my “fake-injury list” is already at five. “Wait, so you’re telling me this is like a prison sentence for you?”

“More like a torture chamber.”

I gasp. “I’m deeply offended.”

“It’s just this place is so quiet and these books all start to look the same after a while.”

“Charles Dickens is turning over in his grave right now,” I tell him.

He forces a serious expression, straightens up, and nods. “Noted. I will not criticize your personal friends when you are within hearing range.” He shifts the books in his hands then looks at one of the spines. “Well, I’d better get back to work. The librarian”—he checks over his shoulder—“is a Nazi.”

My eyes go wide. “She is?”

He lowers his brow. “Not literally.”

“Oh. Right.”

He gives me a half smile that only half hides the confused look in his eyes. “Okay, bye.”

As soon as he’s gone, I pull out my cell phone and text Laila: It’s hard to play Normal. Oh, and I’ve found your eventual replacement.

Thanks a lot. Who is she?

It’s a he. And for a Norm, he seems pretty cool. Definitely best friend material.

I’m irreplaceable. Gotta go, Mr. C is giving me the eye. I think he’s reading my mind. Better concentrate on blocking it.

Trevor walks past the row, his stack of books half as tall, stops midstep, and backs up. “You really are ditching class.”

I smile, feeling like the rebel I’m not. “Yep.”

He shakes his head and keeps walking.

I pull out my notebook, turn to a blank page, and write, The ghost of Charles Dickens told me that after he turned over in his grave, he couldn’t go back to sleep. He’s decided to leave eternal rest, reinhabit his decaying body, and exact revenge on you for disturbing his slumber. You’ve been warned.

I rip out the page and fold it in half twice, making sure the corners are perfectly lined up. I haven’t had to make a friend since kindergarten, and apparently my tactics haven’t changed much. I write his name on the outside of the paper. Now, how to give it to him.

CHAPTER 9

ap-PA-RA-tus: n. any organization of activities aimed toward a set goal At lunch, I make it a point to sit more than an arm’s length from Laila.

She laughs. “You’re not still mad at me for yesterday, are you?”

“No, I love it when you throw me off the stage to make me talk to a guy I hate.”

“You do not hate him.”

“You’re right. That would require too much energy. I have no feelings toward him whatsoever.”

“You should tell that to your face, because it was looking at him pretty dreamily in the parking lot yesterday. Duke’s charm is already working its magic.”

She’s right, but I’m trying to talk myself out of it. Duke and I have absolutely nothing in common. “No,” I say defensively. “I’m immune.”

“Nobody is.”

Students talk in concentrated clumps on the grass surrounding the stage, and my eyes are drawn to a pair of guys fighting a hazy ninja. A teacher walks over, picks up the hologram simulator, and pockets it, the ninja disappearing. The guys moan their objection. I take a big breath and look back at Laila. “I’m not acting out enough.”

Most of the time Laila can follow my erratic subject shifts, but this time she says, “Uh … what?”

“I’ve been thinking about books where the main character’s parents are going through a divorce. A big theme is rebellion. I think I should give it a try.”

She laughs. “Addie and rebellion. Those two words don’t fit together.”

At first I’m tempted to be offended by the comment, but she’s right. I’m not rebellious. Not even a little bit. But considering the insane amount of tension still present between my mom and me, I’m pretty sure I can channel rebellion right now. “I can totally do it.”

“You do know you’re speaking of fiction, right? Your novels aren’t supposed to be study guides for human behavior.”

I shrug off her comment. “I have at least a six-month window where my parents will blame themselves instead of me for anything I do wrong. I was thinking of a blue streak in my hair.”

Her eyes light up as though she’s suddenly on board. “Really? Because that would be so awesome.”

“Is that enough? I don’t want to go over the top, but I don’t want to undersell my suffering either.”

“It’s only enough because your parents have told you not to touch your beautiful blond curls before. My parents wouldn’t even notice.”

“Am I too late to join the conversation?” Duke asks, jumping up to sit on the stage beside me. It surprises me because I didn’t see him coming. The other thing that surprises me is how I forget how gorgeous he is until he’s next to me again. If he’s going to start coming around more, I need to find some flaws to focus on. I study him for a moment but come up empty. He’s flawless. Not even a single zit. New strategy. I will not look at him.

“Addie was just telling me how she was going to add a blue stripe to her hair today after school,” Laila says, filling him in.

“That would bring out your eyes,” he says.

“How would that bring out my eyes?”

“Because your eyes are …” He trails off as I meet his gaze. “Uh, brown. Your eyes are brown. I could’ve sworn they were blue.”

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