Authors: Christina Daley
R A D I A N T
© 2013 by Christina Daley. All rights reserved worldwide.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental.
Visit christinadaley.blogspot.com for information.
For my sistas
Table of Contents
rolled off the plastic lounge chair, hitting something hard and flat with a graceless
. "Ow," she mumbled.
y 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…
's eyes shot open. The sun was up already and she wasn't ready for school yet?
"Crap!" she gasped as s
he 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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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…
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.
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 type of uniform.
?" Mary tried to say more, but her voice suddenly stopped working.
"Careful," he said as he helped her up. "Looks like you can move all right. Here, let's get you out of the street."
He helped her over to the sidewalk. "Stay here. Someone's calling the paramedics." And then he was gone.
Mary sat there, still in a daze
. She started noticing familiar stuff all over the ground—an open book bag, books, folders, unused tampons, a shoe, and an apple with one bite mark. Her eyes followed the trail of debris to a brilliant red sports car, half of which was smashed in by a city bus.
What had happened? Mary studied the whole scene, trying to puzzle together the pieces. Then it dawned on her. The car had hit her. Not intentionally.
She had run in front of the bus without knowing it. It was about to hit her, but the car had gotten in the way first. It had saved her life.
thought about looking in the car. Then her feet sorta moved without her meaning them to, and she made her way to the passenger door. She recognized the person inside. Carter. She knew his last name, but she couldn't think of what it was. He was slumped over the seat with blood oozing all over his face. His eyes were shut.
knocked on the window. The tears in her hand stung.
he beat the window with her fist.
Mary stared. She couldn't believe it. On any other day, she wouldn't exchange two words with this guy. Just yesterday, he nearly mowed down an elderly couple while driving out of the school lot. Mary had secretly wished he'd be taught a lesson. But she didn't mean this.
tried the door handle, but it was still locked. Suddenly, Carter's eyes flickered opened. He looked straight at her.
and pressed her face against the window.
She stared at him, waiting for him to open them again. Waiting for any sign of life. But he was still like he was before.
Hands suddenly took hold of Mary, pulling her away from the car. Her feet moved on their own again. Someone was yelling "Miss" a lot. Parts of her brain found other noises too, like sirens, voices, beeping, and other things. The hands directed her to sit on something hard and cold.
Miss? Can you hear me? Can you tell me your name?"
Mary didn't answer. She still hadn't found her voice,
and her mind was fuzzy, too.
Is that her bag there? Does she have a driver's license?"
A different person spoke
. "No license, but I found a student ID. Her name's Mary Phan. She's seventeen and a junior here at Lewis Prep."
Mary heard a
third voice. "I just talked with some of the kids on the sidewalk. One of them said her mom's a nurse at the memorial hospital."
Find out how to contact the mom. Anyone see what happened?"
Cops are questioning witnesses right now. Looks like she ran in front of the bus. It would've nailed her if that sportster hadn't gotten in the way."
Anything on the bus or the driver of the car?"
Everyone on the bus looks fine. The car belongs to a kid named Carter Maxwell. Also a junior." A sigh. "I wouldn't hold my breath. He looks really bad in there."
Mary tuned out everything else. All sights. All sounds.
The only thing she could see in her mind was Carter staring at her.
Mary didn't remember the ride to the hospital. She didn't recall going into the emergency room or the x-rays. She didn't register anything until she heard her mother's voice.
I want the name of that bus driver
!" Mom screamed in the hallway. She threw in a few profanities as she threatened to sue the entire public transportation industry.
had to calm her down before they let her in to see Mary. The hysteria on Mom's face melted into tears as she ran to her.
Mary!" she cried.
hadn't realized how stiff she had been until she was in her mother's arms. She rested her head on her shoulder. "It was my fault."
om shook her head. "It's okay, Sweetie. You don't have to—"
" Mary looked at her. "It was my fault."
looked as if she was trying to make sense of what she said. Mary could tell she was trying to keep the blame on the bus driver. On anyone except her own daughter.
asn't looking," Mary explained.