Chapter 1


    Eres, a seventh grader… a.k.a. “me”, walked down the school hallway. She had an armload of books and a backpack-full of papers. She had just gone through seven classes plus lunch duty. On top of that all, she had before school choir practice. Now just one thing left to do: My after school future scientists girls club.

    Aside from how tired I was, I was doing great. I had few friends, but they were all loyal. My teachers were strict, but kind. She even has good grades. My good grades made mom and dad happy, which meant I had more freedom.

    It was also beautiful out side. A scorching day with a few wisps of clouds. Despite the mid-August heat, there was a the slightest chill of winter in the air. The trees outside still had a lot of vibrant green, but they also had a mix of fiery crimsons, soft golds, vibrant oranges, and rich browns.

    As a student walked out a near by door, I caught a whiff of a nearby family’s barbeque strong enough to make my mouth water. Oh, how much I wanted to go home, have some of my dads sweet and spicy barbeque, and then cuddle up with my cat on my soft bed, but mom wasn’t home. Besides, I had promised Lilly that I would go with her. I can’t break a promises to my best friend.

    I turned and raced up the stairs to the top floor. Stone walls and metallic railing zoom past. As I reached the top, I take off running at full speed. Zigzag carpet blurs underneath me. I turn left, narrowly missing the wall. I ran down the hall most of the way and stopped in front of room 191.

    I walked in quietly gasping for air. Lilly was already there. She turned and waved me to a seat on her left. As I sat down, I looked around. I never knew there were so many science nuts. I also noticed that the teacher’s name was Mrs. Zurlo. Her name sounds Mediterranean. Italian maybe?

    Then I noticed what we were doing. Dissecting frogs. I’ll have to remember to kill Lilly later. She knows I hate dissecting anything! True, I did not ask, but still! Besides, I want to be a neurologist, not a biologist!

    Then Mrs. Zurlo stood up and said, “Grab your materials and frogs. We are not going to gross each other out. We are not going to run around like crazy maniacs. And we are most certainly not going to leave the classroom without permission. You may talk quietly to your partner. You may not talk to other kids who are out of your partnership. As soon as you have materials, you may start.”

    There was a sudden burst of noise as kids got up from their seats and went to find partners. I was about to turn to ask Lilly to be my partner, but a timid voice to my left startled me.

    “Will you be my lab partner?” A timid voice asked.

     I turned around and saw a sixth grade girl. I recognized her as one of the under-sized bullied girls. Turning to look at Lilly, I noticed she seems quite popular in Nerdom… Half of the class is going out of their way to try to be her partner!

    She turned to the girl and said “Sure.”

    The girls name was Ruriko. I learned from her that her name was Japanese for “ Lapis Lazuli Child.” She wanted to be an Ethologist . She has always been interested in animals, but she wants to help them. She is hoping to find cures for some of the behavioral disorders animals have.

    After telling her a little about myself, we decided we better not put this off. I took the scissors and cut open the frog’s belly. I spent the next hour struggling to take the frog’s organs out without damaging them. During all this, Ruriko was classifying the organs. By the time we were finished, I was sitting in awe at the fact that my lunch was still in my stomach.

    Then Lilly turned to me.

    “So? What did you think?”

    “What did I think?!” I exploded “You could have warned me that we were dissecting frogs! You of all people know that I hate taking apart dead frogs!”

    “Shhhhh.” Lilly mumbled “Mrs. Zurlo hates shouting.”

    “Fine.” I growled through gritted teeth.

    As Lilly had said, Mrs. Zurlo hates shouting, for at that moment she came over and said, “ I am not sure how your teachers prefer your voice level, but in my class, we do not shout.”

    “I am sorry, Mrs. Zurlo.” I said as I hung my head in shame.

    “Good. Now, Lilly, make sure your friend dose not make that mistake again.” And with that, she walked off to help a girl put away her supplies.

    “That’s Mrs. Zurlo for you.” Lilly said with a “I-told-you-so” half-simle.

    “Awww, be quiet.” I said as I shoved her playfully.

    Then I remembered Ruriko. I turned to face her and said “Thanks for being my partner. I had as much fun as I could have had while dissecting frogs.” I extended my hand to her “Friends?”

    She stared at me, a glazed expression on her face, a mixture of shock and… horror?

    “What’s wrong?” I asked, lowering my hand.

    “Wha?… Oh. No it’s nothing.” Ruriko stumbled “ it’s just that no one has ever wanted to be my friend.”

    “Is that a yes?” I inquired playfully.

    “No. That wasn’t me saying yes. That was me explaining the expression on my face.” Ruriko said, and then hastily said, “ But I would like to be your friend.”

    Lilly tapped me on my sholder. “Would you like to introduce me to your new friend?”

    “Oh! Sorry Lilly.” I said “This is Ruriko. She was my partner during the horrible frog-chopping-up project.”

    “It was not horrible!” Lilly said, coating her voice with false offense.

    “Easy for you to say, Miss. Wanabe-Jr.-Biologist!” I teased.

    “At least I am not a brain-eater, Madam Admature Neurologist!” She mocked in response.

    “Yah right.” I said as I checked my watch. “Oh! Sorry Lilly! I have to go home. Mom is expecting me home soon.”

    “Okay, Zombie. See you later!” Lilly said.

    “Right back at you, animal!” I fired back and then turned to Ruriko “Maybe you could join us at the old park.”

    “Oh. Ummmm… Sure! I would have to verify that with my dad, but…” Ruriko said.

    “All right. Meet you two later.” I said.

    And with that, I ran out the door, going home.



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