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I hated Math.
Now, I didn’t particularly like any of my core classes, but Math was the one class I formed a special hatred for. Maybe it was my teacher’s dreadfully thick Russian accent that made him nearly impossible to understand, or maybe it was the excessive amounts of homework he gave. Whatever it was, it made it so when Kendra Phillips asked me to skip Math with her, I couldn’t say no.
“Run faster, Skyler! They might catch us!” Kendra called, her strawberry blonde ponytail swinging from left to right as she bolted away from the school.
“Don’t you think they would have found us by now?” I answered as I caught up with her. We stopped, catching our breath.
“Well, you never know, they could be right around the corner, waiting for a couple crazy, stupid teens who decided to skip class.”
I looked into Kendra’s beautiful, brown eyes. Freckles lightly spotted her face, shining with sweat from the run. Her outfit consisted of a sweatshirt and leggings, the same way it did every day. Of course, the sweatshirt was replaced with a t-shirt in the spring and summer months. She was thin and strong from all her time on the swim team. She was a beautiful girl, and practically every guy in the high school had a secret crush on her–myself included.
“You know, I can’t get over those eyes of yours,” Kendra said suddenly, her voice like a nightingale.
“Oh, these?” I pointed to my eyes. “That’s nothing,” I laughed, silently pleased that she had been checking me out, too.
My eyes have always been my most dominant feature. They’re a vivid, deep shade of blue that contrasts my pale skin and dark hair perfectly. I got comments about my eyes a lot, and I’ve gotten used to it, but something about Kendra noticing them made my heart soar.
Kendra took my hand and gazed at me, and my heart rate escalated faster than I thought was possible. She leaned in.
Could this day have gotten any better? I was about to kiss Kendra Phillips, the most beautiful girl anyone could ever lay eyes on. I leaned towards her, ready for the kiss to come, when I was stopped short.
I need that A in science.
“Is that all I am to you?” I whispered, our faces only centimeters apart. “Your homework slave?”
Kendra backed away, her eyes filled with shock. “How did you–”
“You know what? A math class sounds really great right now. I’ll see you! But hopefully not soon,” I said, running back to the school. Maybe I’d get caught, but anything would have been better than being taken advantage of by Kendra.
Sometimes, but not always, I hear thoughts. I can’t listen in on the thoughts of whoever I choose whenever I want to, but if a thought becomes someone’s only focus, filled with power and drive, I can hear it almost as clearly as if they said it. I hear them so rarely, I can almost forget about my gift. But it’s saved my neck a couple times, just like it did that day with Kendra.
As I ran into the school and opened the door, I saw Principal Hemley, eyes cold with anger and disappointment.
“Skyler Jacobsen, go to the counseling center. Now.”
I sat down as my counselor, Ms. Bell, looked at me. I know it was only a few seconds, but it felt like hours to me. Her eyes seemed to pierce my soul to the core. I could almost hear them whisper “You messed up, Skyler. Why you? Of all people?”
“Skyler,” Ms. Bell started, “just because your grades are good doesn’t mean I can wipe away a punishment for cutting class. I’m going to have to call your parents, and your citizenship is going to suffer.”
“I understand, Ms. Bell,” I nodded. I did understand that part. What I didn’t understand was how I could’ve been so stupid to think that Kendra Phillips was into me. Why didn’t I just assume from the start that she was going to ask me to do her science homework? Hearing thoughts is a pretty ****** gift if it only works when it’s almost too late.
“But that’s not the only reason why I wanted to talk to you today.”
“No. I want to talk to you about a letter I received about you, from a boarding school in St. George.”
I sighed, rolling my eyes. My grades were outstanding, which meant I received plenty of letters in the mail about going on academic trips to Europe or something like that, but it always turned out to be a hoax. This was probably another one of those.
“I think this one’s legitimate,” Ms. Bell said.
“How can you tell?” I asked.
“This one isn’t so much of an advertisement as much as it is a request. It talks more about the school and the expectations there.”
I rolled my eyes again. “Expectations?”
I hated expectations. Everybody expected certain things of me. I mean, look what happened with Kendra. I got good grades, so she expected me to be a dorky nerd, completely oblivious to her attempts to use me to get an A. Everybody expected me to be a perfect student who obeyed every single rule. They expected me to be president of our Science club or lead our mathlets to victory. That’s part of the reason why I skipped class that day, because I wanted everyone to know that I wasn’t what everyone expected me to be. In reality, I was not leader material. Sure, my grades were good, but I was quiet and kept to myself most of the time–and I wanted to keep it that way.
“At least read the letter,” Ms. Bell encouraged, handing it to me. I looked it over.
A Private Boarding School for Gifted Students
Dear Skyler Jacobsen,
While searching for new students to attend Havenmire this year, I couldn’t help but notice your outstanding academic performance. Because of your excellence, I cordially invite you to join us at Havenmire Academy, a boarding school located in St. George, Utah.
Should you choose to accept this invitation, I have some information regarding the conduct we expect you to have:
After filling out the acceptance form included with this letter, you are expected to attend an orientation on Friday, October 2nd, and begin schooling the following Monday.
I hope you decide to accept this invitation, and hope to see you soon at Havenmire Academy.
I sat, contemplating the letter for a few minutes when Ms. Bell finally spoke.
“I think this would be a good choice for you,” she said.
“I’ll think about it,” I answered. But that was a lie; I knew full well that I was not going.
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