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       Sensitivity & Strength, Larva High School 1, p.1
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           Mia Beck & Stine Falkenberg Schmidt
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Sensitivity & Strength, Larva High School 1

  Larva High School

  Part 1

  Sensitivity & Strength

  by Stine Falkenberg Schmidt & Mia Schmeltzer Beck


  Copyright © 2013

  by Stine Falkenberg Schmidt & Mia Schmeltzer Beck

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the authors, excepting brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.

  The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons is coincidental and not intended by the authors.

  Recommended for readers 13 and above.

  Layout and Graphic Design:

  Editing: and

  Table of Contents

  1 Expectations and fears

  2 First day of school

  3 Being a rock star

  4 Family feud

  5 Horrible thoughts

  6 Movie night

  7 The new girl

  8 Unwanted love

  9 The piano lesson

  10 Hiding

  11 The fight

  12 Amber’s despair

  13 Moving on

  14 How can I help?

  15 New life

  16 Finding friends

  17 The concert

  18 Summer vacation

  19 Amber’s summer

  20 Coming home

  21 Anxiety and pressure

  22 First day of school

  23 Making a difference

  24 Dilemmas and slammed doors

  25 Growth and contribution

  26 Selling cakes

  27 Nightmares

  28 A first time for everything

  29 The concert

  30 Free falling

  31 The talk

  32 Christmas

  Sneak Peek - Larva High School 2

  About The Authors

  A Note From Mia & Stine:


  Expectations and fears

  “Let’s make a pact.” Sara challenged, looking at Benjamin with determination.

  “What kind of pact?” Benjamin replied with hesitation in his voice. He had known Sara since kindergarten, and for almost four years now, he had enjoyed the privilege of calling himself her boyfriend. Sara was pretty, with big brown eyes and the most beautiful light-brown skin, and Benjamin loved the smell of her long hair. Having Indian parents, Sara had seen her share of Bollywood movies, and once in a while, Benjamin had watched a film with her. To him it was obvious; Sara was as beautiful as any of the Bollywood stars in those movies, but she would hear nothing of it. Sara’s real name was Sarada, but everyone just called her Sara. She was his best friend and the smartest girl he knew. For Sara, school seemed effortless. Since the first grade, she had been part of the program for gifted children. He envied her for that, as to him homework was a drag, and getting a B was an accomplishment. Sara had only gotten one B in her whole life – in music. He had tried to cheer her up afterwards, but he’d found that the best strategy was to never mention it again.

  “A pact of always sticking together, no matter what,.” Sara continued, while she stood up and faced him sitting on the park bench. The park was lush with big trees, and the grass was soft and green. On clear days, it offered a panoramic view of Mount Rainier in the south and Seattle in the west.

  “Summer break is almost over, and next week we will be high school students. I want you to promise me that nothing will change between us. We’ll always be best friends.”

  “I thought we were more than friends,” Benjamin pouted.

  “You know what I mean, Ben. I want one part of my world to stay the same, don’t you?” Sara tilted her head in that charming way that he could never resist.

  “Sure, we can make a pact,” Ben agreed. “It’s not like I’m going to want to have another girlfriend anyway.”

  “Great.” Gripping his hands firmly, Sara announced, “Forever!”

  “Forever!” He repeated with a gentle smile.

  For a moment there was silence between them. They both felt it. The fear of the unknown and the transition to high school made them nervous.

  Ben was desperately trying to think of something funny to say. Something that would lift Sara’s spirit. It was his specialty but right now only lame jokes popped into his mind.

  “It’s going to be the best years of our lives,” Benjamin tried. Sara smiled at him. She could see right through his attempt to lift her mood and knew that it was more a hope than a fact. She knew Benjamin well enough to understand his concern. He was so smart and talented; he could always come up with jokes, and he would make her laugh for no good reason just by goofing around. Whenever she felt unhappy, she wanted to hang out with him. He was her happy pill.

  But school was tough for him. He got bored so easily. It made her wonder why it was so hard for him to focus on the curriculum, when he so easily picked up on strange details about things like foreign politics and historic events that Sara had no concept of. ”That’s common knowledge,” he’d always joke but it wasn’t, at least not to her. She wished he would pay attention in class and use his excellent memory, but it only seemed to work on famous quotes, which had become something of an obsession to him. Sometimes it drove her crazy how he would use them to make his points in an argument. How do you compete with wise words from presidents and spiritual teachers?

  The best thing about him, though, was his boyish charm and the way his eyes sparkled every time he was up to no good or just having fun. Ben’s mother was Native American, and he had inherited a few of her beautiful features – the thick brown hair, the dark eyes, the glow in his skin – but mostly, he was like his father, who was a handsome guy from Canada with blue eyes and a great sense of humor. Benjamin would joke with Sara’s parents that he fit well into their family. “Native Americans are Indian, too!” he would say. By now, Sara’s mother had fallen for Ben’s charms, and her father enjoyed his visits as well. Sara knew Ben was as nervous about starting high school as she was, and she feared he had good reason to be. According to rumors, the older boys could be pretty hard on freshmen, and he seemed like an easy target with his fresh attitude and big mouth.

  “You’re right,” Sara smiled. “It will be the best years of our lives.”


  First day of school

  Walking down the hall of Larva High School, Sara felt both excited and intimidated – so many new faces and details to imprint. The school had been prized for its architecture in the eighties, but decades of student-initiated wear and tear had left it with scratched furniture, dented lockers, and walls covered in names and words in many colors and styles of handwriting. In that morning’s commencement speech, the principal explained that the name Larva was meant to evoke the transformation that each student underwent as he or she entered high school as a teenager and graduated as a young adult. “When you leave Larva High School after your senior year,” she had said with a smile, “You will be much like a butterfly, ready to fly into the world and make a change.”

  In her first class, Sara was relieved to see Victoria, a friend Sara knew from dance lessons a few years back. Victoria was cool, always friendly and nice to everyone. Even though she didn’t know Victoria too well, she was relieved to see a familiar face. She sent Victoria a big smile and was happy when Victoria smiled and waved back. Sara felt relieved: this was a good day.

  After class, Sara was happy to find Benjamin in the hallway. “We’re still meeting for lunch, right?” he said as he passed her.

  “I’ll be there," she said and went
on to find her next classroom. After a short search, she realized that she couldn’t find her room and started to feel uneasy. “104,” she whispered, going back and forth. She could find 103 and 106, but for some reason, 104 and 105 were not there. As the hallways grew emptier, panic started to spread in her body. I can do this, I am not going to be late on my first day, she chanted internally and looked around in frustration. With irritation she turned her schedule over and over in her hands and looked to both sides of the hallway. Room 104 – it says so right here, where is that stupid room?

  “Are you lost?” The voice came from behind and made Sara turn to face a guy smiling politely at her.

  “No. I mean yes. I guess so.” She tried to look calm and collected but felt confused and stupid.

  He smiled and took her schedule. “Ah, yes, room 104. Come with me.”

  Sara watched him walk off and hurried after him. “Thank you, but then you will be late, too!”

  “I’ll be fine, don’t worry," he answered without turning his head. As he led her down the corridors to her classroom she couldn’t help thinking that there was something familiar about him. She was sure she had seen him before, but she couldn’t recall where.

  “Here you are," he said and pointed to the door with a wry smile.

  “Thank you,” Sara cried out as he walked away. He just put a hand up to acknowledge that he heard her, but didn’t turn around.

  * * * * *

  “So how was your morning?” Ben asked her, as they sat down for lunch.

  The cafeteria was much like the rest of the school, old and outdated. The room was huge and had high ceilings and big windows. The constant bustle and noise of students talking and of trays clattering filled the space. The heavy smell of fast food and lunch bags was hanging in the air.

  “I can’t believe it’s lunch already. It has been crazy so far, and the worst part – I got lost just after meeting you in the hallway.” Sara talked quickly.

  “I know, this place is huge,” Ben agreed.

  “Yeah, but there was a guy who helped me find my class. He looked kind of familiar.” Sara squinted her eyes, trying to remember where she had seen him before. “He must have been a junior or senior, definitely not a freshman. Oh, there he is.” Sara pointed to the lunch line, where she had just recognized him.

  “That’s Joshua Johnson!” Benjamin looked surprised at Sara.

  “Do you know him?” Sara frowned.

  “Everybody knows Josh. Lead singer in TUA! Remember when I tried to get you to go with me to that concert, and your parents wouldn’t let you?”

  Sara nodded towards Joshua. “I remember now. I have seen pictures of him… ha, what do you know, a celebrity at our school.” She chuckled

  “Yeah, he’s an amazing singer and guitarist.”

  “Really?” Sara observed Joshua from a distance as he was filling his tray. She wondered how old he was. Probably somewhere around 17 or 18. He did have a cool rock-star attitude about him with his hair and outfit, and he was definitely attractive with his intense green eyes and his brownish curly hair that looked so casual but probably took a long time to style that way.

  “You need to come to their concert. They are actually really good, Sara – you will like TUA,” Benjamin insisted as Sara was trying to determine how to categorize Josh. She settled for mysterious. When Josh walked by her and Benjamin, she smiled at him and felt disappointed when he didn’t seem to notice her at all.


  Being a rock star

  “You’re late.” Mrs. Duncan looked irritated when Joshua entered her classroom.

  “I apologize, but I had to help a freshman who was lost.”

  “What a noble thing to do.” Mrs. Duncan looked like she couldn’t care less. “Find a place to sit.”

  Class was boring and Joshua found it hard to focus. The helpless freshman girl entered his mind. He remembered how nervous he had been when he first started high school, and was pleased with himself for taking the time to help her. As a junior, high school was in his comfort zone. Joshua knew the teachers, he knew what was expected of him, and he was popular with plenty of friends. He was painfully aware that to outsiders, it seemed like he had the perfect life. Only he didn’t! His parents wanted him to do well in school, and they didn’t approve of his plans to become a musician. “Playing the guitar is a nice hobby, but you need an academic degree to make a living,” his father always lectured in that same dull, serious voice.

  His mom was a lawyer and his father a judge. Neither of them could play a musical instrument, so it seemed like a mystery that he was so talented at the guitar. For Joshua, playing instruments was easy, and he had taught himself to play the piano as a kid. His parents used to complain about the noise, but he loved the tones and felt at peace when he could express his feelings through the music. At last his parents had agreed to pay for piano lessons. He would play and play until his fingers were sore, but for the last five years, he had devoted himself to the guitar.

  Being a part of The Underground Amateurs, also known as TUA, was the best thing that had ever happened to Joshua. His friends in the band, Kevin, Jack, and Dylan, shared his obsession with music, and together they had spent the last two years creating a world of music, concerts, followers, and fans. Dylan’s father owned the Old Train Station, an event venue on the east side of Seattle, where they all lived. When the railroad company had built new and more modern facilities the old train station had been closed down, but Dylan’s father had noticed the appeal of the rustic building and had saved it from demolition. Now, local bands as well as more prominent groups rented it out for all kinds of events. It was a happy place.

  It had taken a long time, but finally Dylan’s dad had agreed to let the band perform at an informal open house event for his potential customers. The response had been fantastic, and for the last six months, he had booked TUA regularly to open for other bands. At their last concert, it was finally clear to everyone that the main attraction of the night had been TUA, not the band that followed them. After that concert, Dylan’s dad promised them a chance to play a concert of their own.

  The band was the one place where Joshua felt like a success. His teachers in school, however, were not so impressed. They shared his parent’s beliefs and wanted him to focus more on school. Writing long essays or doing complicated math was mind-numbingly boring, and his mind escaped at every opportunity. When he came home to his brilliant parents, who had flown through school as straight-A students, he didn’t find a lot of understanding from their side. Sometimes he wished he could swap his musical talent for academic brilliance. Then his parents and teachers would be proud and supportive and he would fit in. But every time he hit the stage and saw the sea of faces looking up and enjoying his playing, he knew his calling. He was a musician!

  As always, today Joshua met up with the other band members to practice at Jack’s place after school. Jack’s parents let them use their basement to practice. The only downside was Jack’s younger sister Laura. Joshua hated seeing their rivalry, and he had to admit that even though Jack was his friend, he didn’t approve of the way Jack treated his sister. Sure, Laura could be a pain sometimes, but Jack overreacted and would often get physical, hitting or kicking her when she didn’t obey his orders. A few months back, Laura had come down to see them practice, and after five minutes, Jack asked her to go away. She wasn’t quick enough, so he threw a water bottle after her and shouted, “If you don’t want me to beat you up, get your fat butt out of here!” Joshua didn’t really want to interfere, but it just felt wrong to him. He had tried to tell Jack to ease up a bit, but it didn’t help much. Laura was a freshman now. Joshua didn’t know her very well, but he always hoped she wasn’t home when he came over to practice, just because the fighting between Laura and Jack was hard to watch.

  “Let’s take a break,” Joshua shouted after going over their set. “It sounds good. I think we’re ready for the concert!”

  Jack threw a Joshua a water bottle
and sat down grinning. “So, did anyone see any hot freshmen today?”

  Dylan rambled about a pair of twin sisters he had his eyes on.

  “You are such a pervert, Dylan, and I saw you ogling them.” Kevin teased.

  “I’m not, I just love the first day of school with all the young and innocent girls starting…” Dylan defended himself.

  Jack jumped in. “I don’t know, is it just me, or do they look younger than we did when we started high school?”

  “I think it’s just you, Jack,” Kevin replied with a smirk. Jack was notorious for getting girls. His bad-boy attitude and good looks, combined with his position as the drummer in TUA, attracted the girls to him, and each month he seemed to be dating a new girl.

  “I saw a girl today – she was a real beauty, and she had that completely helpless look. She couldn’t find her classroom, so I helped her out,” Josh recounted and took a big sip from his bottle.

  “Josh, you are such a gentleman,” Dylan mocked Joshua. “What’s her name? Did you get her number?”

  Josh rolled his eyes. “I didn’t get it. It wasn’t like that.” Joshua’s mind went back to the girl from that morning. She did have beautiful eyes and a nice figure. He pushed the thought of her away; it was time to be serious. “Enough about freshmen.” Joshua got up.

  Dylan cracked, “You mean fresh-girls?” The others laughed at the lame joke. Even Joshua smiled and said, “Whatever, Dylan, let’s just play, okay?”


  Family feud

  Laura could hear the drums beating in the basement.

  Her brother’s band was playing, and as always, she found it hard to do any homework with the noise they made. She couldn’t ask them to turn it down. Every time she tried, she ended up in a fight with her brother Jack. Sometimes she just felt like she hated him, and whenever she had the chance, she preferred to go home with a friend to hang out. The other guys in the band were nice to her. Sometimes she wondered if they felt sorry for her. She liked Joshua the most, but then again, so did every other girl in town; he was the perfect combination of hot and mysterious. Despite his popularity, she had never heard of anyone actually dating him. There was a rumor once of him dating a college girl, but Jack said it wasn’t true.

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