Lexi, Riley, and Annie are three ordinary girls. Or at least that's how everyone else sees them. The truth is, they have a secret. Their secret - if brought outside of their circle, would result in death.


2. Take a Hike


         "Phew!" Lexi put her hands on her knees and rested. "We made it to the top!"

         "Finally," Riley said. "Wow! Look at the view!"

         "Woah," Annie said quietly. Turning around in a circle, she saw the beautiful valley all around them, and heard chirping coming from a nearby bush. The three girls stood at the top of the tallest "mountain" in the canyon by Riley's house in silence.

         "Well," Lexi said, breaking the silence. "Let's open up that picnic basket of yours, Riley. I'm like, starving!"

         "Kay." Riley opened the basket and pulled out the checkered blanket. They spread it across the sandy soil and sat down.

          Lexi couldn't help but stare at Annie. The one word that described her best was probably…quiet. She was also a little nerdy. Her hair was always in a ponytail, she had a geeky sweater, and honestly, who in the sophomore class wore sneakers with skinny jeans?

          "So, Annie," Lexi began after the girls had munched awkwardly on their peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches for a while, "Where in Kansas did you live?"

          Annie swallowed. "I lived in a little town called Spring Hill with my three older brothers and my ma and pa. My brothers all moved off to college, and we moved here for my dad's work."

          "Nice?" Riley offered, anxiously looking to Lexi for backup.

          "Ooh! Did you live on a farm?" Lexi asked excitedly. "My grandparents live on a farm, and when we had to visit them, at first I was like, ugh. But then it turned out to be like, super fun!"

          "Uh, ya, my family lived on a small farm. We grew crops. We had some farm animals, y'know chickens and stuff. And three boys." Annie answered with an attempt at a joke.

          "That's…cool." Riley said. "Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm stuffed." She put down her half-eaten blueberry muffin and laid down, resting her head on her hands and watching the clouds float past them. After a few minutes, the other two did the same. "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly?"

          "Nope." Lexi examined her gold nails. "But I am excited for the weekend. Thank God it's Friday!"

          "Actually, I have," Annie spoke up. "When I was in the hayloft, I used to imagine myself as one of the sparrows."

          "I think it'd be pretty sweet." Riley said.

          Lexi stopped going over her manicure with a fine-toothed comb and glanced up at the fluffy clouds. "Actually, it would be totes amaze to see everything like, tiny and stuff."

          "Uh, guys?" Riley said suddenly after a few minutes of daydreaming.

          "What?" Lexi responded.

          "I have to go pee."

          "Happy for ya." Lexi said absentmindedly.

          "No, seriously. I have to go!"

          "Go in the bushes." Annie folded her hands on her stomach and laughed. 

          "No!!" Riley looked horrified. She stood up, frantically pacing back and forth. "Fine. I'll be right back." She grabbed some napkins and marched off into the scrabbly bushes surrounding the hill.

          Riley's gasp could be heard from a short distance away. "Bad branch! Stop that! Stop poking me!"

          Lexi giggled a little. Annie snickered. Then they both looked at each other and burst out laughing. Soon Riley came jogging to their campsite with an uncomfortable look on her face.

          "What's so funny?" She asked cluelessly.

          Lexi and Annie laughed harder.

          "What?" Riley asked frustratedly.

          "Bad branch!" Annie barely managed to get out, tearing rolling down her face.

          "Stop it!" Lexi chimed in.

          Finally, the two giggly girls were able to calm down.

          "Well, look what I found!" Riley held out her hand. In her palm was a smooth flat rock about the size of a quarter. It was a translucent white color, completely different from all the other red and brown ones in that area.

          "What is it?" Annie asked.

          "A stone, duh." Lexi asked, apparently uninterested. 

          "Let me see it." Annie took the shiny rock and held it. "Wow! It's as light as a feather!"

          "I wanna hold it!" Lexi grabbed it and tossed it from hand to hand. "Woah! It isn't heavy at all!"

          "I know right!" Riley said, obviously proud of her find. "Well, do you want to head out now? I'm pretty tired and cold."

          "I'm ready." Annie said.

          "Me too," said Lexi. "Ooh, hot chocolate sounds really good right now!"

          "Let's go!" Riley rallied, folding up the blanket. The three girls packed up their picnic and headed down the way they had come.

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