Cross My Heart

By: Katie Klein

Chapter One



Never underestimate the power of glitter. It’s Kindergarten 101, really. Squeeze an unrealistic amount of glue on construction paper. Dump a pile of glitter on top. Shake. And let dry. Glitter is like . . . little flecks of brilliance caught in a tube. A miracle in a jar. Because glitter can take any work in progress to that next level. It hides the most glaring of imperfections, works to bring out the best in everything. It takes the ordinary and turns it into something interesting and beautiful.

Refrigerator-worthy.

“Perfect.”

I stand back, hands perched on my hips, admiring my handiwork.

RAFFLE—$5.00 PER TICKET.

The pink words twinkle beneath the tarnished, gold-plated chandelier welcoming guests to the front office. I flick the edge of the poster board, and a few specks of glitter fall, shimmering to the tile floor. A trail of the rosy sparkles chased me the entire morning: from my bedroom to the car, across the parking lot, and down the hallway to here—the foyer of my high school.

I sweep my hands together, then smear my palms across my jeans. Wrong move. I brush my pants vigorously. When this doesn’t work, I remove a miniature lint roller from my purse, peel off the old adhesive layer, and run it across my lap until I’m sparkle-free.

The first bell rings and I bounce to attention, shoving the roller back into my purse. As classmates trickle inside, I sit up straighter, adjusting the cash box in front of me and planting a pleasant smile across my face. Business Friendly. They ignore me, pushing through the glass doors, cell phones pressed against their ears, mid-conversation, twirling through their iPod playlists in search of anthems to begin their day.

My cell phone buzzes, lighting, the vibration exaggerated against the wooden tabletop. Right on time. A photo of Blake, my boyfriend, flashes across the screen. The picture draws a smile—his gray-blue eyes, blonde hair glowing beneath the fluorescents, giving him an ephemeral, angelic appeal. I read the early morning text message wishing me a Happy Monday. He is nothing if not dependable, and I try to think if a school day has passed since we began dating where he hasn’t sent a morning message like this. I can’t, and craft a response.

As I’m typing, a book bag thuds to the floor and Savannah, my best friend, crashes into the chair beside me. She immediately lowers her head to the table, burying it in her arms.

“You’re here early. I’m kind of impressed,” I say, sending my text message and shutting the phone with a snap.

She groans. It’s muffled. Far away.

I glance over at her, not concerned in the least. I love Savannah, but she is prone to melodrama. “Good weekend?”

She lifts her head. Her straight, blonde hair is pulled away from her face with a headband. “Two days away from the love of my life and my weekend is supposed to be good?”

“I know you’re not talking about me,” I tell her. “Because I just saw you Saturday.”

“Let’s just say I can’t wait for lunch, k?”

“I believe you.”

She turns in her seat, studying the poster taped to the wall. “I guess you talked to the Wal-Mart people,” she says.

“I did. They offered an amazing discount on the game and the console—I mean, they’re practically giving it to us.”

She frowns. “They should. People were trampled over those things the day after Thanksgiving.”

“Which fully explains their willingness to give back to the community. And rightly so. It is a family store.”

“I don’t know why they don’t sell bullet-proof vests. God knows you need one to make it in and out safely.”

I force back the knowing smirk pulling at my lips. “Which is why I do all of my shopping . . .”

“Online. We know,” she interrupts, rolling her eyes. “It sucks that the rest of us haven’t reached your level of enlightenment, yet.”

“Keep striving,” I tease.

Mr. Connelly, one of the history teachers, navigates the crowd of students, weaving in and out as he passes through the lobby, a cup of coffee steaming in his hand. He pauses in front of us, the chandelier light reflecting in his shiny, balding forehead.

“Good morning, Jaden. Good morning, Savannah. What are we saving this time?” he asks.

I smile brightly, the spiel I memorized weeks ago poised on my lips. “The children of Bangladesh. Did you know malaria is one of the leading causes of death in children? It’s a totally preventable disease. If we can get treated mosquito nets in every home, the cases would cut dramatically.”

“Sounds like a worthy cause,” he replies. “As always. What are you raffling?”

“An ‘A’ in your American Government class,” Savannah grumbles, arms folded. I can almost read her mind: Because that’s the only way to get an ‘A’ in your class. Which is not entirely true . . . because I have one. In fact, it’s safe to say I’ve aced all of Mr. Connelly’s classes.

I throw her a dirty look. “Wii Fit.”

“I wonder which would bring in more donations,” he mutters thoughtfully, lifting his I READ THE CONSTITUTION FOR THE ARTICLES mug and sipping slowly.

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