Sophie leaned against her locker and checked her watch for the third time that morning.  Eight-fifteen.  Kylie was late. 

The hall was starting to fill with students.  Noise echoed through the corridor as they hollered greetings, excited to see one another after the summer.  A few kids Sophie knew said hi as they passed her.  They all were wearing bright clothes in the latest fashions.  They sported new haircuts and dark tans, and the ones who'd gotten their braces off flashed extra-wide pearly white smiles.

The first day of the school year wasn't really like school at all, Sophie thought.  It was more like a commercial for school.  All the kids wore cool clothes and looked happy, the teachers acted nice, and the classes actually seemed interesting.  It was like watching a movie preview that turns out to be way better than the movie itself. 

As she waited for Kylie, Sophie eyed her own lime green corduroys.  She wished she'd worn something else.  The pants were too heavy for the warm late-summer morning.  But she'd promised Kylie she wouldn't wear the dragon jeans, and these were her only other new pants. 


Kylie rushed up, her blond curls bouncing like hair in a shampoo commercial.  She threw her arms around Sophie as if they hadn't seen each other in years, even though they'd talked on the phone just the night before. 

"Sorry I'm late," Kylie said breathlessly.  "I missed the bus, so my mom had to drive, but she couldn't find the car keys.  Boy, was she mad -"

She broke off when she saw Sophie staring at her.  "What?" Kylie asked.

"Your jeans," Sophie said. 

"What?"  Kylie looked at her legs.  "Did I spill something on them?  What is it?  Toothpaste?" She craned her neck, looking for stains.

"You wore the jeans," Sophie said, eyeing the red-and-gold dragon on Kylie's left leg.  "Kye, we agreed that neither of us would wear those on the first day of school.  Remember?"

Kylie's eyes opened so wide Sophie could see white all around her irises.  "Oooooops!  I totally forgot, Soph.  I was running late, and my mom was yelling at me to hurry.  So I grabbed the first thing -"

"Whatever.  Forget it," Sophie said, cutting her off.  It's just like Kylie to forget her own rule, she thought.

"Really, Soph, I forgot.  You aren't mad, are you?  They're just jeans."

"Right," said Sophie.

The thing was, Sophie knew Kylie hadn't meant to break her rule.  She sometimes did things without thinking.  Sophie knew that.  She was used to it. 

So why did she feel so annoyed?

She tried to shrug off the feeling.  Sophie didn't like to make a big deal out of things.  "So, what do you think of my locker?" she asked, changing the subject.

Her locker was in the sunny southeast corridor on the second floor.  Normally, seventh-graders were assigned lockers on the lower floors.  But this year their class was bigger than usual, so some of them had been given lockers in the upstairs hallways, near the eighth-graders.

"You're lucky you got a good one," said Kylie.

"Mine's across from the cafeteria.  The whole hallway smells like barfburgers."  Barfburgers was what Kylie called school food, whether it was a burger or not.  She claimed it was all made from the same mystery substance, and it all made you want to barf. 

"Yeah, it's nice up here," Sophie agreed, looking around. 

Kylie suddenly gasped.  "And I just saw something that makes it a whole lot nicer!  Scott sighting dead ahead."

Sophie turned.  Across the hallway, Scott Hersh was leaning casually against a row of lockers, talking to a friend.  As they watched, he turned and put his bag inside the locker directly across from Sophie's. 

"I cannot believe your locker is right across from Scott Hersh's!"  Kylie's whisper was so loud, Sophie was sure Scott could hear it on the other side of the hallway.  "You are the luckiest girl alive."

"I guess."

Sophie didn't get why everyone was so into Scott.  He was good-looking, she supposed.  He had deep brown eyes and a scar above his lip that gave him a cute, crooked smile.  But Sophie thought he seemed aloof and unfriendly.  He didn't talk much, and when he did it was only with other football players.