"We need to keep this a secret. No one can know. No. One." Riley looked both girls in the eyes and for once, her playful grin was replaced by a grim expression.
"Uh, like, what are you thinking, Rile?" Lexi said incredulously. She spun around in Riley's swivel chair. "We should tell the world! We could be famous! Everyone would know Lexi Garcia! I could be more famous than anyone has ever been! Do you know what this means? We could - "
"Riley does have a point, Lexi. If this got out, we could become science experiments. Nothing would be normal for us ever again!" Annie said, her face a mask of concern. She leaned back on Riley's bed and stared at the ceiling.
Riley brow furrowed. Lexi had to understand. Nothing, nothing would ever be the same. She stood, leaning against the door. The three had come straight up to her room when they found the path home. Annie's mom had readily agreed to letting her daughter sleep over, and Lexi just stopped by her house, which was right next to Riley's and grabbed her stuff.
"Lexi," Riley said, trying to force reason into the star-crazed girl's mind. "How would you like it, if you were put on an experimenting table and cut open to find out what was "wrong" with you?" She asked grimly.
Lexi turned several shades paler and gulped nervously. "Ya, but - "
"No buts. How would you like that?" Annie asked, surprisingly firm.
Riley looked at her quiet friend in surprise. I guess she understands the importance of this. She thought, and did a mental shrug. I just hope that Lexi does too.
Lexi dropped her eyes from Annie's intense gaze. "Fine. I won't tell anybody."
"Promise?" Riley looked into her best friend's chocolate eyes.
"Do you, Annie?" The tall blonde looked at the freckled girl.
"Great!" Riley said, letting go of a breath she didn't know she had been holding. "Now, let's get down to business. First of all, how did we even turn into birds?"
"We jumped." Annie said simply. Explaining further, she said, "I've been thinking about this. The stone, I think was the source. Remember when the noon sun passed overhead and the stone got hot? I think it was then that we actually "got" the power. Then, when our feet left the ground for more than more than like three seconds, we turned into birds."
Riley gaped. Her new friend was even smarter than she had originally thought. "Okayyy. Well, that would certainly explain why we don't transform when we run. We have to jump really high I guess, for it to work."
"So, jumping?" Lexi asked. She put her hands on her knees as she sat on the swivel chair and frowned. "Are you like, totally sure that's how it works? Wait, but how do we get like, back to normal?"
"We touch the ground again." Annie looked at her, then stood up on Riley's bed.
Riley could guess what she was about to do. "Uhhh, is this really necessary? We are supposed to be sleeping right now, ya know. What if my mom heard us…"
The dirty blonde didn't respond, but bent at the knees. She waited a while, then launched herself into the air. Unfortunately, she miscalculated the distance to the low ceiling and cracked her head on the top. Her bright green eyes rolled up in her head and she dropped to the floor.
"Annie!!" Riley and Lexi screamed at the same time. They lurched for their friend, but before they could reach her, Annie sat up and blinked several times.
She managed a feeble smile. "Oops! Well, I guess I'll have to try it again, just to show you - "
Suddenly, the three girls could hear footsteps on the stairs.
"Sleep!" Riley hissed.
The three girls scrambled into their sleeping bags and tried to steady their breathing. Through squinted eyes, they could make out the from of Nancy, Riley's mom opening the door a crack. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity to Riley, she closed the door. The friends all heaved a sigh of relief after the receding footsteps could no longer be heard.
"That was close!" Lexi said.
"Too close!" Riley said with a giggle. "Kay, Annie, hurry up with your demonstration and let's get to bed." She checked the clock on her bedside table. "Jeez, it's already midnight."
Annie again stood on the bed. Except this time, she ducked her head when she jumped.
One, two, three! Riley counted in her head. Sure enough, in midair Annie turned into a little swallow. She circled a few times around the small room, then alighted on the floor. Her wings turned into hands, and her claws feet in a matter of seconds. Three seconds, to be exact. Riley thought with a smile.
"Three seconds. Three of us. Three birds." Riley voiced aloud.
"Is it somehow connected? Are there any others like us?" Lexi asked.
She seemed to ask surprisingly deep questions for a valley girl at random times, Riley thought. "I dunno," she said out loud. "But I do know that I am beat. Goodnight."
"Goodnight." The other girls chorused as Riley turned off the light and slid in her bed. The three friends were asleep within a matter of minutes.