Written by Audrey Francis-Plante
DEAN & LILY
Downtown Water Level Now 16 Centimeters
The headline illuminates the screenwall of my room, waking me up. I grunt when I see the time on the corner of the screen. 8:05.
I hurry into the first clothes I find and gasp as I realize I fell asleep drawing. My art supplies are spread all over my bed; my parents could’ve seen them. I cram them into their box and lock it with my digital print, then hide the box in my wardrobe.
My parents are already gone, like every morning, but Mom left my lunch in a plastic box. I grab it and run out.
My still foggy brain remembers the headline and decides to make a detour by the skywalks. Longer but drier. I’m already late anyway.
I love skywalks because they’re always buzzing with people knowing where they’re going, and they’re filled with graffiti. Unexpected blends of colors and patterns tracing the walls and ceilings. All signed with the same emblem:
I’m panting when I make it to the school’s main entrance. Locked. I scan my wristband over the door, and the speaker above it hisses before a female voice rises.
“Good morning, Lily. This is the second time you’re late this year. Remember that the sanction after three times is suspension.”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah, yeah.”
“Your next class is Water Engineering, local 1902-B. Novosphere High wishes you a wonderful day of learning.”
The door unlocks and I dash inside, my wet boots squeaking against the polished marble. I run through the empty hallways, but when I turn a corner, I bump into someone.
“Late, again?” Dean says, steadying me.
I sigh. “Shouldn’t you be in class?”
He looks over his shoulder and then leans toward my ear. I catch a whiff of his lemon scent and bite my lip, hating myself for still responding to it. I focus on his bruised eye instead. (My bad.)
“It begins tonight,” he whispers.
Last night comes back to me in jumbled memories. The other initiates. The rotting orchard. My fight with Dean.
“Already?” I ask.
He taps his wristband to mine and I hear the familiar beep of a message transfer. “Don’t open it before midnight.”
Then he’s gone.
To be continued