Riley had imagined a lot of things about her new school. She'd pictured the loneliness of being the new kid after school had started three weeks ago. She imagined being a lowly sixth grader in a school that went from fifth to eighth, instead of in the highest grade as the sixth grade had been in Reno. She pictured the disapproving looks of the kids as they sized her up and found her not good enough. She had imagined a lot of things, but she had not pictured Emery.
Emery was a short girl with pixie-like flaming red hair and an impish freckled face. She pressed a note into Riley's hand soon after she'd taken a seat in her new classroom. The note said, "Hi, my name is Emery. Do you want to be my friend?"
Riley wasn't sure how to respond. What kind of kid would want to be the friend of someone she'd never laid eyes on before? Was Emery the class outcast? Was she one of the kids from the special education classroom? Was she a popular kid, setting Riley up for a cruel joke?
When the bell rang for first recess, Riley stood by her desk, unsure of what to do. Emery grabbed her hand and dragged her out on the playground.
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