Drowning in Stars - Debra Anastasia Page 0,1

hot. I kept getting smacked with your bubbles.”

He shot another Nerf dart through my window. It whizzed past my cheek.

“Save those bullets for me, though. I need them back.”

I squished my face up at him. “No. I’m not saving you crap.”

He looked dejectedly at his gun. “I only have four left.”

“You should’ve thought of that before hitting me in the face on my birthday.” I rubbed my forehead.

His face lit up. “Happy cake day! How old are you?”

His smile made me put down a little of my guard. “Twelve…”

“Same as me! I bet we will be in the same school.” He aimed his gun at my window and a little past it, but didn’t pull the trigger. “My birthday was yesterday. I’m twelve, too.”

I gave him the news he clearly didn’t know. “Maybe, but your building can be a different district than mine.” I scratched my elbow before sizing him up again. Brown hair and brown eyes. Skinny. He seemed younger than me, even though we were the same age. I had boys in my class shorter than me. I aimed my gun again, letting the stream of little bubbles fly. He quickly started poking them to pop them when they were close enough.

“How’s your school?” He bit at one of the bubbles and made a face. I’m sure the soap didn’t taste good.

“Sucks. The other school for your building is pretty good.” Back in the day Mom tried to get an apartment in that building, but they didn’t take assistance checks. They did now, though. The whole building had changed ownership a few years back. But Mom said it was too late to move.

“Why is it good?” He narrowed his eyes while continuing to pop my bubbles.

“I’ve heard they have a little courtyard where you can have lunch with trees and flowers and stuff. Field trips, too. Lots of them. At least that’s what my friend says. She knows someone who has a cousin that goes there.” The dull whir of the bubble gun combined with the sounds of the night. We heard trucks shifting gears and honking. The exhaust mixing with the humidity made it seem impossible to sleep.

“What’s your name?” He leaned out the window, looking at the concrete five stories below.

“Pixie Rae Stone.” My stupid name. “My mom was hoping for a Southern belle fairy, not a daughter when she gave birth to me.”

“I’m Gaze Patrick Jones.” He squinted one eye and pointed his Nerf gun at a pigeon that was sitting on a ledge of my building.

“What’s that short for?” I aimed my bubbles at the pigeon and he took flight.

“I’m not short. Maybe you’re too tall.”

I pulled back into the window. “How do you know I’m tall?” I mean, I was tall-ish but still shorter than my mom.

“I’ve seen you walking around over there.” He pointed his gun and accidently shot it. The bullet slammed into the window frame and tumbled down between our buildings. “Shit.”

“Damn, you’re allowed to curse?” I leaned back out, fairly confident that he was done shooting, not wanting to lose any more Nerf bullets.

“Sure am. When it’s night, nobody’s listening but you, Pixie Rae.” He smiled at me, and I felt myself smile in return.

“I didn’t say you were short. I was just wondering if you had a more formal name. Like if Gaze was short for anything.”

“Oh. Well, my dad named me after Gazerbeam in The Incredibles, but Gaze is what’s on my birth certificate.” He scratched his head with the end of his Nerf pistol.

“All right.” I wasn’t sure if I liked him or not yet. The little old lady that used to live in his apartment rarely went into this room, but her cat did. I was pretty disappointed when the fat tabby moved out.

Gaze pointed his gun at the pigeon who had flown back in to reclaim his spot. “I hate those sky rats.”

“I like them. They’re ballsy.”

He looked from the bird to me and back again. “Never had one crap on your head before, have you?”

“Not yet,” I agreed. “But since today’s my birthday, maybe I’ll get lucky.”

Gaze laughed. “Maybe. Fingers crossed.” He crossed his fingers. The hall light behind him illuminated. He pushed away from the window and faced the man who entered.

I tucked back into my room. I could hear the murmurings between Gaze and the man, but not make out any words.

I went to my bed to sit down. Officially, it was my birthday now. I mean, someone had already wished