Aria Academy #2: The Package

Zvezdan read her latest book next to the window overlooking her front yard as she ate pretzels on her couch, basking in the sunlight. Her faithful dog, Sputnik, who’d been adopted from the pound four years ago, slept next to her. Zvezdan had suggested the name after researching astronomy on her own and learning about the Russian satellite.

“I wish I could be in outer space right now, anywhere but here,” Zvezdan thought. After the “roof incident,” as her parents called it, they finally agreed to let Zvezdan stay home, which would’ve been perfect if her older sister Zlata wasn’t such a pest.

“You should be with friends. It’s summer!” Zlata had said after getting the mail.

“In case you forgot, I don’t have friends,” Zvezdan replied.

“Suit yourself,” Zlata said as she left the house for freshman orientation. Zlata was starting college this year, while Zvezdan would be starting 8th grade.

“Just one more year with my classmates,” Zvezdan thought to herself as she stared at her reflection in the window. Her wings fluttered. Zvezdan had first noticed them as she left summer camp with her parents. Her reflection in the window showed large, white angel wings, but nobody seemed to notice except her, and she wasn’t going to bring it up any time soon.

When Zvezdan got up from her chair, she glanced at the mail, noticing a red package addressed to her from Aria Academy. She’d never heard of that school. She opened the package to find paperwork and brochures about the school, but Zvezdan focused on the letter addressed to her parents.

“To the parents of Zvezdan Lyubov, we would like to give your daughter admission to Aria Academy based on her academic success and extracurricular activities,” Zvezdan read aloud to Sputnik, who was still snoring away on the floor. She continued to read about why her parents should choose Aria for their daughter, noting the school’s academic success, graduation rates, multitude of extracurriculars, and “their cultivation of unique young minds.”

“This seems too be good to true, doesn’t it Sputnik?” Zvezdan mused out loud. Sputnik didn’t reply. She further examined the contents of the package, full of anecdotes about the happy students on campus and how comfortable they felt. She bet those students didn’t have classmates that ran them off the roof at summer camp. The students in the brochures looked happy, genuinely happy, not like someone was asking them to smile for a photo. Their relaxed smiles were so comforting.

She took another look at her reflection in the window, her wings fluttering, somehow giving her determination.