Radiant - By Christina Daley


Mary rolled off the plastic lounge chair, hitting something hard and flat with a graceless thud. "Ow," she mumbled.

She lay there for a moment, wondering if she should wake up enough to climb back onto the chair. Then again, the apartment roof wasn't so bad. Especially with the sunlight warming things up and…

Mary's eyes shot open. The sun was up already and she wasn't ready for school yet?

"Crap!" she gasped as she scrambled to her feet and made a break for the door. Her telescope was still standing where she had left it, but she would have to come back for it later.

Mary flew down the stairs and into the apartment on the fourth floor. She stumbled out of her clothes and into the shower, where the cold water finished waking her up. This wasn't the first time Mary had fallen asleep on the roof. But this was the first time in a while that she'd woken up this late on a school morning.

She took a cold shower, since she couldn't wait for it to warm up. When she had shut off the water and wrapped a towel around herself, the front door opened. Mom, still in her hospital scrubs, came in. As usual, she looked tired. "Hey, Sweetie—Mary! You haven't dressed yet?"

"Fell asleep on the roof," Mary mumbled as she darted into her room, tripping over a stack of canvas paintings on the floor and knocking over tubes of paint on her desk. She headed to the closet and grabbed pieces of her uniform. She hadn't time to iron anything, so she just put everything on wrinkled.

"Are you having breakfast?" Mom asked as she glanced at the clock on the wall. "Never mind. You'll miss the bus."

Mary hopped on one foot as she tied her shoes. "Can you toss me an apple? I'll eat it on the way."

Mom washed the apple in the kitchen sink while Mary tried to make sense of her wet hair. She couldn't, so she just let it be and grabbed her book bag.

"Here's your apple, Mary. Have a great day and love-you-buh-bye!"

"Thanks Mom, and love-you-buh-bye!"

Mary was out the door and down the stairs, nearly colliding with Bruce, their Cambodian maintenance man.

"Ay!" he cried. "How many time I tew you? No running!"

Mary had a clever retort for him, but she held her tongue. Plus, she didn't have time this morning. He was still cursing her in Cambo as she bolted out the door and down the street towards the city bus stop. She rounded the corner just in time to see the bus pull away.

"Crap," she huffed. There was no way she could catch it before it came to its next stop. Mary was just going to have to run to school.

She tucked her bag under her arm for control before setting off. She felt like she was in one of those video games the boys in the apartment above played, trying to get from point A to B without crashing into something. Granted, bombs and bullets weren't flying at her, but that didn't make darting through the congested streets any less daunting.

The school came into view at last. She wouldn't have time to stop at her locker, and she didn't know if she had all her stuff. Shoving the apple in her mouth to free her hands, Mary opened her bag and dug around inside. It looked like she had everything except…

My brushes! she thought. Mary had left them in her brush bag on her desk, which meant they were probably on the floor with all the junk she knocked over in her haste. She was going to have to bum at least a round brush or something off someone in Art class, which sucked because she hated borrowing stuff.

Just then, Mary ran out to the crosswalk without looking.


"UGH!" she cried as something large slammed into her, throwing her across the ground. The pavement tore at her hands and knees, and everything went dark for a moment. Then, blurry lights and sounds began to surround her. Pain was growing all over her body, especially along her side.

A voice called to her. It seemed close, and it was getting louder as the pain got sharper. "Hey? Hey! Are you all right?" it asked.

Mary blinked several times before she could finally see again. She was in the middle of the street. The cars had stopped and people on the sidewalk were staring.

"Are you all right?" the voice asked again. It was coming from a man wearing some