Aria Academy #1: It Began at Summer Camp

Zvezdan Lyubov hated summer camp. As if dealing with her horrible classmates for six hours a day wasn’t enough, the food was terrible, and the counselors were overly cheery and unrealistically optimistic. She just wished someone would be reasonable for a change.

To survive the constant annoyance, she snuck out of as many activities as she could to read one of the books in her backpack while feasting on the snacks she brought from home. Books were her solace. A book a day keeps reality away, Zvezdan thought to herself as she read. There were days she managed to finish a whole book by the time camp ended.

One day, after escaping arts and crafts to go on the roof garden, Zvezdan heard the door open just as she was beginning a new chapter. She hoped the custodian would understand and leave her be. She was content, sitting with her back towards the parking lot. But she noticed that the footsteps were coming closer.

Please don’t send me back, Zvezdan thought as she reluctantly looked up to see that it wasn’t the custodian.

“Hey Zebedee,” Brandon Smith said.

“After all these years, you still don’t know how to pronounce my name?” Zvezdan groaned.

“It’s not my fault your parents gave you such a weird name.”

“What do you want?” Zvezdan asked. Brandon knocked her book out of her hands, sending it flying down towards the parking lot. It landed with a hard thud. Zvezdan looked over the edge, relieved it wasn’t damaged. Maybe before camp was over, she could run down and rescue it. But she turned around to see Brandon livid, his cheeks red, his eyebrows furrowed. Zvezdan clenched her fists, hoping she wouldn’t have to throw the first punch. She didn’t want to explain this to her parents.

“I didn’t appreciate you making fun of me earlier. I want an apology,” Brandon replied. Zvezdan had a hazy recollection of her making fun of him, after he called her a dumb blonde.

“Oh right,” Zvezdan started. “Sorry I stood up for myself after you called me a dumb blonde.”

“You ruined my chances with Lizzie!”

“You had no chance with Lizzie anyway.”

“Take that back!” Brandon shouted as he ran towards her, running them off the sides of the roof. He let go as they went airborne, but Zvezdan knew that this wasn’t going to end well for either of them. She closed her eyes and hoped for the best. She felt a snap mid-air and heard a thud.

But she didn’t feel any pain. She heard Brandon moaning in pain, but Zvezdan felt fine.

How could that be? She asked herself. Zvezdan opened her eyes.

She was floating six inches above the ground. Then her body gracefully rested on the concrete beneath her. On the ground, Zvezdan tried to catch her breath, attempting to make sense of what had just happened as the crowd gathered.

“Not a scratch on her! It’s a miracle!” someone said. Zvezdan looked up. It was Brian, one of the camp counselors, reaching out a hand. Zvezdan looked over at Brandon, who was being helped by the other counselors. She took Brian’s hand.

“You should go inside to call your parents,” Brian advised. Zvezdan nodded, and sauntered inside with Brian. He left to a private office after leaving Zvezdan at the front desk, closing the door behind him. Zvezdan assumed it was to talk to a supervisor.

In the office, Brian took out his cell phone.

“Ms. Vetrovoy, I have another one for you. Zvezdan Lyubov.”

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