A girls parents mysteriously disappear when she is a child. Ten years later she find out where they went, a city on the other side of the prism where they may be the only chance at saving the world, from themselves.


3. Winter Break

Brody was the only one out of them who could drive. Brie and Zander were working on getting their licenses but still had a few weeks left in the class and Avi just thought that it was pointless to get one. 
"Why get my license when I have Brody here to drive me around town." He even made Brody drive him on dates which meant that Brody had to find a date so he wasn't the awkward third wheel. 
Brie was happy about this because she was pretty sure that if Brody didn't have Avi his social status would have been terrible without him being pushed out of his comfort zone. 
As for Brie she was just fine in her little corner of the world with Zander and a few other friends. She wasn't very outgoing and confident but she wasn't shy around the friends she already had.
The entire school was lit up with Christmas lights and the smell of peppermint and eggnog. Since it was the last day of school before the break there were a lot of people missing but not enough that the sense of cheer in the air had diminished. There were people in antlers and Santa hats and it was like there was some secret ugly sweater contest going on throughout the student body. 
Brie loved Christmas as much as the next person but she had never been it's biggest fan either. Her Christmases usually consisted of some homemade craft from Brody, a piece of art for her room from Kenny, a friendship bracelet or something from the thrift shop from Zander, and if she was lucky she might even get a piece of gum from Avi. 
They got to school just in time for Brie to run into her math class and turn in some overdue papers that she had forgotten to turn in. The rest of the school day was entirely a waste of time since none of this kids would focus on the lesson that the teachers were only kind of teaching since they didn't want to be there either. 
Brie went through her classes and said hi to a few of her friends in the hall before meeting Zander for lunch in their usual place in the band hallway. The lunch that day was what Brie assumed wass mashed potatoes, gravy, and some kind of a meat. Neither Brie or Zander every really ate their food, but they did eat the cake that came on the side. They were talking about their Christmas plan when they noticed someone standing over them.
“Hey there Zander,” said Lacey, a girl from his biology class. “What are you doing for Christmas break?” 
“Uh,” he looked over at Brie with a strange look on his face as if to say, ‘Is she really talking to me?’ Lacey was the most popular girl in school and she knew it too. Everyone has had or does have a crush on her. Including Zander. 
Brie hated Lacey ever since they first met. Lacey was just too stuck up and snooty to talk to anyone outside of her popular group which is why Brie was very cautious when she started talking to Zander. 
“I’m probably just gonna hang out at home or with Brie. What about you?” He asked fishing for conversation. Brie could see the red coming to his face. He hadn’t had much experience with popular people either, especially the pretty ones. She was impressed that he was keeping pretty cool through it. 
“Oh, I am going to go on a ski trip with my family in a few days but I was just wondering because I heard about your mom. I just wanted to say that I’m so sorry for you. My cousin had some,” she paused as if looking for the right words, “problems as well so I know how hard it must be for you to go through this. Anyways, I gotta go but you should call me if you ever need a shoulder to cry on, okay?” She handed him a card with glitter all over it and her phone number next to her picture. 
“Ya, I’ll, uh, make sure to do that.” Zander replied taking the card cautiously like it might bite his finger off if he didn’t grab it correctly. 
“See you next year then,” she winked at Zander and then walked away to her corner of the universe with the rest of the popular crowd and left Brie and Zander stunned back in their corner. 
“You have got to be kidding me!” Brie said after she had gotten far enough away. “She thinks that she can just play you right into her little hands but batting her eyes and flashing her fancy phone number.”
Brie tried to rip the paper away but Zander had a death grip on it. “How do you know that she wasn’t just trying to be nice? Maybe she actually understands and feels bad for me. It’s a long shot but she doesn’t seem half bad.” He pulled back the card. 
“Are you telling me that you actually bought that?” Brie asked, shocked. 
“Look, I’m not saying that I’m going to call her. It’s just nice to know that someone like that even knows that I exist, ya know? Not many girls as popular as her talk to me. No offense to you of course.” He put the card into his back pocket and they sat down at their usual table and ate the school’s version of “Christmas ham”.
Brie wasn’t offended by what he had said and she even understood why he wanted it to be real so bad. Because Brie wasn’t like her. She wasn’t super popular or skinny or beautiful. She was average and plain and no matter how hard she tried her hair never seemed to look right. Getting this kind of attention from Lacey must’ve been heaven from Zander since the only other person to really talk to him was Brie. By the end of lunch they had both forgotten about it and just let it go and went back to being in their own little corner of the universe all by themselves 
During the day kids were being checked out left and right. By their last period there was probably on a quarter of the students still there. The last period teachers were even so excited to leave that school got out half an hour early due to holiday spirit. 
The car ride home was a mix of stories about funny sweaters, boring classes, of course Zanders run in with Lacey at lunch that day which earned a ‘Way to go man!’ from Avi. But most importantly they talked about Brody and Avi's robotics project.
"We talked to Mr. Heath today and he told us that we had just barely made the deadline. We are going to have to work hard though because the first competition is only a few weeks into January so I'm gonna need to work on this all of the break so we can catch up to the other teams. I have a few ideas planned out and I think it will be fairly easy as long as I can get the right equipment." Brody babbled on and on for the entire ride home without stop. By the time they got there everyone was begging to get out of the car and away from the robot talk. 
They all walked in and slammed their backpack and jackets on the chair next to the door and Brie and Zander went right upstairs to her room to watch Netflix on her laptop. 
"What show do you want to watch?" She asked over her shoulder as she booted up the computer. 
"I don't care. Something Christmassy. Like Elf!"
"Elf it is," she walked over to the small bed where Zander had already gotten comfortable in the corner. 
They did this every Wednesday after school since forever. It had started as just something to do when they were bored but now it was one of their favorite things to do. They would just sit there and watch movies together on the bed for hours at a time. Lately though they has become every other week because both of their lives had become so busy. 
"I got some candy from school today. Want some?" Zander asked pulling a couple of candy canes out of his pocket. 
"Sure." She took one of the candy canes and stuck it in her mouth before yelling, "LOOK IT'S SNOWING!" 
The window across from her window was filled with the sight of white flakes falling down onto their shed in the backyard. 
The movie pulled up and they started watching. They sat shoulder to shoulder eating their candy canes and laughing at the movie.
At some point in the movie Zander reached back behind him to scratch his back and Brie fell against him. Instead of resuming their previous position he put his arm around her shoulders. 
They used to sit like this all the time as kids but about a year ago it had started becoming slightly awkward since Brie had gotten an on again off again boyfriend. The relationship hadn't lasted long but Zander had never really been as close with her since her boyfriend kept getting jealous of him. 
Brie had been glad for the space Zander gave her but she missed her friend so she decided to break it off. They had never gotten close again since. That's why this small gesture of putting his arm around her made her so happy. Because it meant that they might be getting back their friendship. And not even Lacey was going to take that away from her. 
She took a deep breath and settled into Zander while looking out at the beautiful snowy scene out her window. 
The flakes were so big and fluffy they mesmerized her away from the movie. Her eyes started to feel heavy and she was about to fall asleep before she saw a light flicker on out the window. 
Brie sat up quickly knocking the computer off her lap and into Zander's. 
"Hey, what's wrong?" He asked sleepily. The movie must've put him to sleep too. 
"Look! Out the window! The sheds light is on!" Brie was breathing heavily, not believing her eyes. 
That shed had been her parents workshop. They were the only ones ever allowed in there. She hadn't seen a light on in that shed for ten years but here it was staring her right in the face. 
Brie jumped off the bed and rushed downstairs. Kenny was sitting at the table with what looked like a finished sculpture. She was packaging it as Brie came rushing down the stairs.
"Who is out in the shed?" Brie asked. 
Kenny, pulling her attention away from her art piece looked over it at Brie. She put down her project and turned toward the window in the kitchen overlooking the backyard. 
"No no no no no! I told him anywhere but there!" She pulled on her boots quickly over her sweat pants and threw on her robe by the door and ran outside.

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