Here's the story that I've written with Otter Days! Hope you'll enjoy! The Alex chapters are written by Otter Days, and the Sam chapters are written by me, Storyteller.
As Mrs. Zingerelli walked past me I could almost sense a bad grade coming and then the paper slid on my desk, with a –C on the top. I let out a sigh of relief. A passing grade. I could tell by the way my sister, Sam, had straightened up that she had gotten a great grade. I groaned as I thought of how on the way home she would sit with her over achieving friends as they discussed the academic competition in June, their grades from the test and the cutest geek. Bringg At last the bell rang, I had gathered my books and was just about to make a dash for the door and the weekend, I heard my name called. I turned on my heel and heard Sam snicker as I went past. I went to my teacher and said, “Mrs. Zingerelli, I really need to get to my gymnastic class. Stretches are very important parts!” I spoke in my sweetest voice, hoping she would give me a tardy slip a slide of the hook. “Well, Alexandra,” I hated my name, Alexandra. It was way too girly. I stiffened and looked her in the eye, doing my best to make her feel uncomfortable. “Your grades are at an average of 78. You are barely hitting average. You need to start stepping things up or else you will be off the gymnastic team. “
“What?” I was furious, I was at least passing her dumb math class and my other classes, why this?
“I didn’t say you were off, I just think that you need to step things up. You could ask your sister for help, she is quite brilliant.” I sighed inwardly as I walked off, just one more teacher telling me what I already knew, she was a genius and I was a dummy. “Hey Alex,” And there she was now. We were twins and both thirteen but we were as opposite as night and day. “Sam I am not in the mood.”
“Well I just wanted to tell you that I will be in the library with my math group. We are discussing square roots. I will meet you outside the gym afterwards.” It was just like her to tell me what they were doing. I replied, “Ok, well if you need me, we will be practicing back flips.” Then I turned and stalked off. Ugh! I couldn’t stand her sometimes, no, I couldn’t ever stand her. I walked in to the gym and started my warmups. My friend’s Asia and Lesha caught up to me. “Why were you late this time Alex?” Asia asked. “First Mrs. Zingerelli stopped me on my way out and talked to me about my grades. She said that I have to start getting my grades up or else I couldn’t be on the gymnastic team.”
“That’s ridiculous! Everybody knows that you are the best one on the team! She can’t pull you off.” Lesha said.
“I know, and then she compared me to my sister, again. What do they see in her?” Asia cut in, “I think they just think that if she helps you then maybe it will sharpen her skills and then they’ll win the dumb academic contest.”
“That’s another thing, All Sam and her friends talk about is that stupid contest.” I said and we rounded the final bend. When we caught sight of Ms. Addison we slowed to a walk. “Well, let’s just hope that we can win our gymnastic contest this year.” Lesha said. We both nodded our agreement. We started off with some jumps over the bar and then began our sumersaults on the mat. And then we began our routines. I did two and a half flip for the first one and a front twist for the second one. As I was getting off the board from my second jump when Ms. Addison stopped me and said, “Alex, could you try doing the back flip?” I smiled, I had waited for this moment for a long time. I smiled a brilliant smile and said, “As you wish!” Ms. Addison was our coach in her late twenties and had been on the Olympic team. I went up to the end and pulled all of my strength together and did a perfect back flip. I landed on the soft cushion and felt my legs shake. Ms. Addison went over to me and said, “Well done Alex, you looked like a pro out there!” I smiled and moved my wobbly legs over to the bench, just as the whistle blew, ending the days work. I showered and dressed quickly and found Sam right were she said she would be. We headed towards our bike in the North parking lot. “Why didn’t you invite any of you nerdy friends to come over?” I said, knowing I was hitting a nerve. Sam turned to me and said, “They aren’t nerds!” I could hear the fire in her voice. Then she said, “Why didn’t you ask any of your rubber bands to come over?” That was her name for Lesha and Asia. She called all of us rubber bands because we could stretch really well. We argued all the way to our bike over what our friends were each defending her friend. We headed through the busy traffic of Stockholm, Sweden, toward the richer district. We stopped at the end of the street at a large manor with a huge backyard. We spoke our names to the gate and it swung open invitingly. We pushed our bikes through the driveway and to the garage, throwing them down. We maintained a stony silence through this and headed our separate ways, me to go get my horse and her to study. I had a beautiful stallion that I named Ashes. He was a dark red with a black mane and tail. I saddled him quickly and headed out to the meadows.
Most annoying sister in the world!
I slipped inside of the house, glancing around and making sure that Uncle George and Aunt Marie weren’t anywhere nearby. I heard music drifting down from the radio in their room, and could hear Aunt Marie humming loudly. I quickly snuck past the old style furnished living room and up the wooden grand stairs to the upper stories.
“Sam? Alex? Is that you?” called Ella, the cook’s, voice.
I cringed and leaned over the railing. “It’s me, Ella. What’s the matter?”
The short plump cook stuck her head out of the hallway that led down the kitchen and glanced up at me on the stairs. “Oh, it’s you, Sam. Well, that’s good. I just wondered who it was that slammed the door.” Then she went back down the hallway.
I sighed and started up the stairs again. I knew that it was always Alex that slammed the door, but I couldn’t help but be mad. For goodness sakes! Alex always acted like a jerk. She always had this look like she thought she was awesome. And the glances that her friends gave me were enough to know that she talked about me to them behind my back.
I quickly went into my room. I had my homework done easily within a half hour. All of it was way easy. I was considering having my grandparents move me to a more advanced classes in all of my subjects, instead of being stuck with Alex everywhere I went. Sometimes I felt so embarrassed when my friends started talking about how dumb she was and stuff, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to stand up to them. Besides, Alex was a jerk.
I got away from my desk and collapsed into my window-seat that looked out over the huge garden in the back of our house. The large fruit trees seemed dwarfed by the huge emerald green hedge that made a maze through our backyard. I had a feeling that Alex was riding Ashes through it right at that moment.
I twiddled the old key on the leather string that hung around my neck. It was the only thing that I had left of my parents’, but I had no idea what it was to. I always wondered. I got off the window-seat and walked over to my huge wardrobe. Opening, I pushed back my clothes that hung neatly on hangers above perfectly lined shoes (believe me, you would not want to see Alex’s wardrobe).
Pushing past towards the back of the wardrobe, I felt something hard and thick in my fingers and smiled. Pulling it out, light shed upon the thing that I hadn’t ever showed Alex, that I’d kept a secret ever since I’d found it in the attic all of those years ago when I’d been eight.
A journal. Mom’s journal.
I walked back over to the window-seat and sat down, opening the old, worn pages. Mom’s flowery script filled the page. I clued in onto a few words that had become so important to me over the last few days.
The locket and the key are in place. Now our secret will be kept safe. Now our children have the Keys to the Promise.
I frowned and shut the journal, hiding it back inside of my wardrobe and shutting it and making sure I hadn’t disrupted anything. I went back over to my math book and started practicing—hard—for the academics competition. We had to win—we just had to. And the only way was practice, practice, practice.
The next day at school I worked hard with my friends on some math problems to practice for the competition. My best friends, Kiersten and Nora, huddled close to me while some of my further off friends sat on another bench close by.
“Hey, guys,” started a voice that made Nora start to squeal underneath her breath.
I rolled my eyes. It was the leader of our math team, Josh Jackson. In the math world, he was everything. Well, not to me, of course, though I’m sure Alex thought so. I smirked.
“I just came over to say that I’m really proud of you,” he continued, running a hand through his shaggy brown hair (really, guys these days! Cut your hair, dude!). His brown eyes smiled behind small square glasses. “Keep up the good work!” then he walked off.
I shook my head. While the other girls whispered, I practiced more math. Practice was everything. I glanced over towards the doors and watched Alex walk out like she was the princess of the world with her two snooty friends, Lesha and Asia. Both of them sent me a look like “oh my gosh! Nerd at 3 o’clock!” Though I doubted that they knew time that well.
I looked away.
“Wow it stinks that you came out of such a weird family Alex,” Lesha said. “I know right? I mean, my aunt and uncle are nuts! Sometimes I wonder how I came out unharmed!” They both giggled at that. “Hey, Alex did you hear about the all school dance tomorrow? Lesha and I already have a date. How about you?”
Bam! I turned as a boy in bermuda shorts and a Aeropostale tee. He had mischievous blue eyes and sandy blonde hair, as he walked outside he glanced at me and winked at me. Then he was gone.
“Oh my word did you see that?” Asia said. “He totally just winked at you Alex! I think you found your date!” We heard a slight giggle and all three of us turned to see Sam sitting on the step above us, her green eyes twinkling over the edge her pre-Algebra book. I turned back to my friends and said, “There is no possible way that I will ever go to a dance much less a date with that guy, or any guy.”
“You are no fun Alex.” Lesha retorted. “Besides, even if he did ask me, my aunt and uncle would probably get me out of it. But, then again, he is pretty good looking, I would only want to go to the dance as his friend.” I said, tossing my long shiny raven black bangs from out of my deep sea blue eyes. “Bye the way, who was he? Do you guys know him?” I asked, “That is Aaron Cross, his dad is like a gazillionaire and he is from England.” Briiiing, the bell rang and we headed inside to gymnastics. I felt pretty good about my routine and just as I was coming out of the shower, saying my good-byes to Lesha and Asia, I turned my head around and almost ran right into Josh Jackson, “Oh, umm…hi Alex. Would you,um, come to the uh…dance with me?” He said the last part in a rushed sentence like he wanted to get it over with. “Oh, well, I have to ask my aunt and uncle. I’ll uh talk to you later, ok?”
“Um…alright, I will be at your house at 5:30 tomorrow to pick you up.” I hadn’t even said yes and he was already planning. I ran down the hall and rounded the corner towards the library, when I saw who was there, I whirled back behind the lockers. It was Sam and Aaron Cross. I listened to their conversation. “Oh hey, your Aaron right?”
“Yeah, that’s me. Are you going with anyone to the dance, Sam?”
“Um, no. Why?”
“Well, I wondering if you wanted to come with me?”
“Why? You don’t even know me and there are tons of other girls that I am sure would love to go with you, why don’t you ask one of them.”
“Because, I want to go with you.” I could hear the awkward pause. “I don’t know, I will have to ask my Aunt Marie and Uncle George. I will talk to you later ok?”
“Why are you acting so foreign, didn’t you see me winking at you earlier?”
“You were winking at me? I thought you were winking at A-I mean that other girl?”
“You mean the really ugly black haired one?”
“Uh, yeah the girl with black hair. I think she thinks that too. Well I’ll talk to you later.” She said hurriedly.
I turned and ran back towards the gym, arriving breathless just moments before Sam arrived. “Oh, hi Alex. How was practice?” I couldn’t believe my ears, she was being nice, but then again she probably felt guilty about the conversation in the hall. “Fine.” While I wasn’t going to get upset about a guy, I was going to be mad at my sister for not turning him down flat when she knew perfectly well what I thought of him.
This time I didn’t slam the door—Alex did. She raced up to her room, where another slam told me that her own door was getting the same treatment. I felt a sick pit in my stomach opening, but then I assured myself that first of all, Alex hadn’t heard any of what Aaron and I had exchanged in the hallway, and that second of all of course Aunt Marie and Uncle George would get me out of having to go as Aaron Cross’s date to the dance.
I ran into the kitchen where I could hear Uncle George’s and Aunt Marie’s loud and annoying voices together in an embarrassing song that I didn’t know the words to and didn’t want to. I swung open the door and burst,
“You’ve got to help me!”
Currently they’d been waltzing (fast time) around the kitchen with Ella glaring at them, but they stopped almost immediately when I came in. Aunt Marie wiped floury hands on her apron and turned to me.
“Whatever’s the matter, dear?” she queried.
“I…!” I started, but Uncle George interrupted me.
“Sit down, honey,” he pointed to an open chair at the small kitchen table, “and we’ll talk.”
I practically bowled the chair over as I plopped in it, leaning forward, my eyes bulging, my long, straight, slippery golden-red hair flying in all directions as I burst, “There’s-this-school-dance-and-this-boy-went-and-asked-me-out-and…”
“Whoa!” Aunt Marie held up her hands. “I didn’t understand any of that gobbly gook. Now start over.”
I sighed and started over. “There’s this school dance and this boy went and asked me out and now I need you guys to get me out of it!”
Uncle George gave me a look. “Get you out of it? Who asked you?”
“Aaron Cross,” I cringed.
Aunt Marie’s eyes sparked happily. “Aaron Cross?! I know him! He lives in the mansion right across from ours! He’s a hottie!”
“AUNT MARIE!!!” I yelled.
She only grinned. “I can’t believe you thought otherwise! Of course you’re going with him!” She muttered to herself, “How could she think otherwise?”
“I think I heard about this dance,” Uncle George was saying. “It’s tomorrow at around seven, isn’t it?”
“UGH!” I shrieked. “How come neither of you can see that this is a major problem?!”
Just at that moment, Alex chose to burst into the kitchen. I have to admit, her hair was worse than mine.
“Alex, honey!” cried Aunt Marie. “Who asked YOU out to the dance?”
I looked towards Alex. I’d been so sick about Aaron I hadn’t even thought of asking her if she’d gotten any date invitations.
She looked equally distraught. “Josh Jackson.”
“Josh Jackson!” squealed Aunt Marie. “He’s the nicest boy I’ve ever met! Of course you’re going with him, aren’t you?”
Alex’s mouth dropped. “You’ve met HIM? He’s a total…”
“…cutie, I know!” shrieked Aunt Marie. “I’m sure you already accepted.”
“I can’t believe you’re not going to help me!” I burst angrily.
“We’ve got to get you some cute dresses!” Aunt Marie continued. “Pink for Alex and purple for Sam.”
“NO!!” Alex and I screamed at the same time. We looked at each other.
“Oh, fine,” shrugged Aunt Marie, “but you’ll at least have to wear something stylish!”
Alex snorted. “Jeans and T-shirt work for me!”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” Aunt Marie snapped. “Now, come on—there’s a store right on the block.”
“But all of the clothes there are like a million bucks!” I shrieked in dismay. “And all of the dresses are…”
“…stylish, I know.” Aunt Marie’s eyes twinkled.’
“Oh, brother,” Alex muttered.
Amazingly, the dresses weren’t too bad. They looked like what all the other girls liked to wear, really. Mine was blue and red (wow, real inventive) and Sam’s was silver and aqua (she claimed it before I could get it). Unfortunately, Aunt Marie insisted on heels. Surprisingly, she also said that she wasn’t coming with us. Relief or not? I didn’t know, frankly. Sam and I managed to get away doing our own hair. I just put mine up with some bobby pins, and when I came out into the hallway I wished I’d done something more.
Sam had curled her hair and brushed it until it shined like red gold. (Wow…) She’d pulled it back behind her ears gently with bobby pins. Even though I disliked my sister, she really did look pretty. I smiled to myself. I didn’t need a curling iron—my black hair was NATURALLY curly. There was a ring at the door and guess whose date arrived first? Mine. Unfortunately, before I could pretend I was throwing up and lock myself in my wardrobe, Aunt Marie pushed me out the door.
“Um, uh, you look really pretty tonight, uh, Alex,” stuttered Josh. As if he couldn’t remember my name. Give me a break! I bet I was the first date he’d ever had.
“I, uh, I need to grab something real quickly,” I managed. “Could you wait by the garage?” I pointed towards the building that was on the side of the house, out of sight.
“Oh, yeah, uh, sure,” Josh shrugged. He walked off towards the garage with his hands shoved in his pockets.
My plan? Hide in the rose bushes and wait to see what happened to Aaron and Sam. I couldn’t wait. This was going to be great. After I’d hidden in the bushes I didn’t have to wait much longer. Aaron, looking even more amazing then yesterday at school, amazingly, walked up to the door and rang the bell. I crouched down in the bushes and realized that I had chosen to hide in a rose bush. I could feel the thorns poking me from all sides. Then he rang the doorbell, I froze and craned my ears, trying to listen.
“Oh, hey Aaron.” I noticed with satisfaction the unhappiness in her voice.
“Hi! How are you tonight?”
“Fine. Are you ready?”
“Almost, you look really nice tonight Sam. And where did you get that necklace on a leather string with a key on it?”
“My parents gave it to me, it means a lot to me.”
“Oh yeah, I understand that completely. I am sure you put that in a very secure place!”
“Uh yeah. Are you ready now?”
“Yeah, lets go.”
When they were half way down the block I jumped out of my hiding place and ran to the garage, wiping away any remains of my little adventure. I got to the garage and found Josh sitting there, he jumped up when he saw me and nervously pushed his glasses up on his nose. And thus began the awkward walk to the school dance. I got to the school and broke off to Lesha and Asia.
“Hey, did you hear who Sam came to the dance with? Aaron Cross,” Lesha said, with a matter-of-fact smile.
“Yeah, of course I did.” I glared in Sam’s direction.
“I can’t imagine how she got that date. I mean she is like a freak!” Lesha said.
All of the sudden anger welled up inside of me and I said in a quiet but determined voice, “Take it back.”
Lesha looked surprised. “What? No. Why should I?” She sneered.
“Because of this!” I lunged towards a surprised Lesha and punched her in the gut. Thus the fight began.
There was a noise at the far end of the gym. I turned towards it, surprised.
“You OK, Sam?” Aaron asked, eyes concerned.
I turned back to him and for the first time looked him right in the eye. It was weird, what happened next. There was a slight flash of light, and then Aaron’s body seemed to flicker in and out. On the out cycle, it wasn’t Aaron I was staring at—it was some boy with similar face features, but with black hair and steel gray eyes. I stepped back in surprise and nearly slipped on the hem of my dress. My stumble drew Aaron’s attention.
“You OK?” he queried.
I didn’t take his offered hand and righted myself. I’d never stared in his eyes before the moment the weird flickering thing happened. I looked in his eyes again. This time he fully transformed. Creepy! I looked towards his nose. He was Aaron.
“I…uh…” I turned towards the noise and started towards it, hoping that Aaron would get lost somewhere along the way (preferably with Lesha and Asia).
When I got over, I was surprised at what I saw. Alex was in the middle of a mass of kids chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!” on top of Lesha, pounding her fists into her stomach, face, and jaw. Wow, I wouldn’t want to get on Alex’s bad side. I saw Josh standing to the side and, to my surprise, not doing anything.
“What’s going on?” I asked him, moving to his side and looking him directly in the eyes.
To my horror there was a flash and his image started to flicker, too, just like Aaron’s. In the out cycle, there was a boy with similar features, but with blonde hair and blue eyes. I blinked, looking at his nose. He was once again Josh, nerdy leader of the math team. What on earth was going on? Was I going crazy?
“What’s going on?!” I yelled when Josh hadn’t answered me, directing the question at Alex, who was still pounding her fists into Lesha.
Alex looked up at me in surprise and got off Lesha, who was a groaning heap on the gym floor. Alex’s eyes gleamed fiercely, but before she could reply, somebody else echoed my question.
“WHAT’S GOING ON?!?!?!”
I jumped about a foot and Alex cringed. With clomping high heels and a swishing dress Mrs. Zingerelli swept into the middle of the congregated kids. She glared and looked them all in the eye. The chant of “Fight! Fight! Fight!” slowly started to die away, except for Asia who whispered “Fight, fight, fight…” underneath her breath. Mrs. Zingerelli’s ugly gray eyes finally zoned in on Alex and Lesha’s writhing body on the floor.
“What’s going on?!” she repeated.
“Alex just started beating Lesha up for no reason,” Asia piped up from the mass of hot, sweaty bodies.
Mrs. Zingerelli’s eyes glared in at Alex. “Is that true?” she demanded.
“Oh, it’s true!” groaned Lesha from the floor. “Oh, Mrs. Zingerelli, save me from this agony!”
“Alex,” started Mrs. Zingerelli in a threatening tone, “we cannot have students punching other students! You will accompany me…”
“STOP!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, pushing myself out from the crowd of the kids.
Everybody turned at me; some gasped. One of them was Asia. Lesha just glared.
“You haven’t even heard Alex’s side of the story!” I pointed out. “Now I don’t know what on earth happened here, but I know that Alex wouldn’t get into a fight without good reason.” Alex shot me a surprised glance at this.
“Samantha…” started Mrs. Zingerelli. “I know that you wouldn’t lie and that you’re the best of students, so I’ll consider what you have to say.” She lost the sweet tone and glared at Alex. “However, I’ll have to listen to it from the principal’s office. Lesha, you’ll come, too—I doubt you’re as hurt as you propose to be. Now! Quick march!” she started towards the door with Alex and Lesha trailing.
“Come on, Sam,” whispered Aaron, pulling at my arm.
I ripped my arm out of his grasp and watched Alex go. Before she went out the door she glanced back once over her shoulder. We exchanged looks, our eyes meeting. But that was all we needed. Whatever Alex had punched Lesha for, it must’ve been a good cause.
“OK, kids,” called out Mr. Gregory, the vice-principal. “Let’s start the music back up and get the dancing started! We’re supposed to be having a dance!”
I slipped into the crowd before Aaron could find me again.