✭ Chapter 1

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Ugh. School again. After three years, it's getting a bit, well, boring. But this year, hopefully, will be a bit better than the last. My little sister Parisa is starting her first year at school. Just like every other element, Parisa starts school once she turns eleven. She seemed rather anxious last night, so I woke up early this morning to make sure we get there on time. Being late on the first day stinks, even if we don’t start classes until the next day, and living on the back end of the air sector makes the ride to school long and tiring.

I crack three eggs in a skillet for Parisa and I to share. As I start scrambling them, the delectable scent of the frying eggs wafts through the small kitchen. Parsia shuffles into to the kitchen just as I place the eggs on plates.

"Good morning..." , she grumbles sleepily. "Oh, thanks, Ram." she says, perking up at the sight of the eggs. She's already put on the baby blue dress I advised her to wear for today- since it’s her first day, she should look nice. I remember my first day. I was absolutely terrified. I spent most of that year alone. Until I met Kaelie and Brooke, that is. I smile as I think of the picture of them, resting on my nightstand. It’s a photo of all of us together, at the Summer Solstice Festival three years ago.

“Whatcha thinking about?” Parisa asks, her mouth full of eggs.

“School.” I respond nonchalantly.

“Oh. Are you excited to see your friends?”

“Yeah. Of course!” I answer happily, my thoughts drifting back to school.

“You two should know that we are going to miss having you around.” My dad walks into the kitchen, followed by my mom, their arrival breaking my thoughts. Dad is holding our two bulky suitcases, one in each hand. He plops them down onto the floor and comes over to hug my sister and I.

"Good morning, little wisp." he says beaming down at Parisa. Wisp is my dad's nickname for Parisa. Once you see her skinny build and slight height, it’s quite easy to understand why. And with her long, flowy dirty blonde hair and golden eyes, she suits the name even more. You could say she looks the part of an air element, I guess. Her appearance definitely suits our element then mine does. I have lightish brown hair, with a few golden streaks, and look a lot less graceful in comparison with Parisa. We do share our light olive skin, and golden brown eyes, traits that both our parents bear.

“And Ramaya…” Dad folds me into his arms. “I can’t even bear to think about how lonely this house will be with you two gone.”

"You’ll stay busy." I say, “And before you know it, it’ll be summer again, and we’ll be right back home.”

“I know, I know.” He smiles, and so does my mom. Only it’s not her normal smile. It’s sadder, and doesn’t light up her eyes like it usually does.

"What's wrong Mom?" I ask, concerned, gazing at her face.

“Oh… I’m just just going to miss you two so much.” I break free from Dad’s strong arms to hug my mom.

"Don't worry, Mom. We'll be fine." I assure her.

“I know that. Just promise me you’ll look after your sister.”

“I will. You know that.” She gives me another sad smile.

“You better finish those eggs, Ramaya. You don’t want to be late for the first day of school.” She advises me.

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Everything is ready to go, suitcases and all. I'll be at school in about two hours. I feel nervous, for some reason. It's probably just me feeding off of Parisa's nervous energy. We get the airbikes out of the garage. Parisa finally got her own, just for the occasion of riding to school and back home next summer. Her's is a light blue, and matches her dress. Mine is a bit older, it's silver with a purple stripe. We load the two suitcases into the storage unit on my bike, and we get on. Mom and Dad each give us one last kiss.

“Work hard! And stay out of trouble.” Mom tells us.

I roll my eyes. “Trouble? What’s that? I’ve never heard of Trouble.” I jokingly reply.

“I know you haven’t. Please keep it that way.” She chuckles.

“Can do.” I smile. Mom kisses my cheek, and the Parisa’s.

“We love you two so much! Stay safe.” Dad adds, pecking our foreheads. “We love you too!” Parisa and I reply.

I flick the metallic switch, activating the bike. Parisa mimicks my actions, flipping the switch as well. I concentrate on the air below my bike. It takes a lot of energy to lift the bike, and it’s especially hard if you haven’t had much experience doing that kind of thing. I’m alright at it, since I’ve already had three years of schooling. I send my bike two feet into the air. As the bike takes over, I sit back and watch how Parisa’s doing. She's having a bit of trouble.

“You have to focus all of your energy beneath the bike.” I point out.

She rolls her eyes, annoyed that she can’t get the bike into the air. At last, she squeezes her eyes shut, balls up her fists, and musters up enough energy to shakily send the bike into the air. The bike jolts when it takes over, and Parisa rocks forward. “Whoa.”

"Good job," I say, and she smiles.

"You make it look so easy!" she says, and now it's my turn to smile.

"Well, it is easy!" I tease.

"Enough, enough," my dad says, amused. "Now get going! You don’t want to be late." As we start to pedal, we turn around and shout our goodbyes. School, here we come.

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The air is warm, but it feels cool as it rushes by us. The airbike has a lot of momentum with the winds pushing us, so we can pedal slowly or not at all. Small, rolling hills that make up much of the Air sector fly by, and the ground seems to be one big golden blur. As we cross over a wide, rushing river, I know we’re getting close to Central City.

Maps of Dimicel resemble a wheel, the five sectors surrounding Central City like spokes. Many small communities make up each sector, and some people, but mostly ones who work for the government, live in Central City. We live near the beach, at the very back of the Air Sector. It’s one of the places farthest from Central City, so the trip is usually long.

Parsia asks me some questions about what school's like. Where is the dining room, how do I make a bunch of new friends, and which first-year teachers are nice. I tell her not to worry- she’s likable enough to make friends. A lot of the first year teachers are awesome too. I try to make school sound fun, but not too fun. As much as I want to protect her from worry, I don’t want to lie to her.

She gets happier the longer we ride, and by the time we get to the checkpoint to enter the city, she has enough energy to pedal super fast the rest of the way.

We show the man at the checkpoint our school passes that arrived in the mail last week. He makes small talk with Parisa while he scans the passes and has us sign a paper confirming the entrance. He lets us through, but yells, “Don’t ride those silly airbikes too high or too fast!”

"We won't!" we yell back in unison, as we enter Central City

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This chapter has been edited and revised.

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