give in or consent reluctantly
We stock up on canned food, drink hot chocolate until we
succumb to sugar comas, and pray to be saved from the cold.
characterized by effort to the point of exhaustion
Still, Coach Lindt’s start-of-season training beats Principal Trenton’s long and
arduous start-of-semester speech—virtue, hard work, and the proper behavior of young ladies and gentlemen.
walk with great difficulty
“Did you freeze up over holiday break, Sarge? A snail could catch up with you
floundering like that.”
try to gain favor through flattery or deferential behavior
At six-foot-five and with sun-touched hair and blue eyes, Chris is not just our best runner but also Opportunity’s poster-boy athlete. On uniform days, the freshman girls
fawn over him.
unroll, unfold, or spread out
The knot in my stomach
unfurls and recoils with every twist and turn of my mind.
reflect deeply on a subject
“I look so young and innocent in this picture,” Fareed
muses, staring at his cover sheet.
lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
Browne, Tyler. Gelled blond hair, pale eyes, and an oh-so-familiar blank look. The one time his eyes weren’t glossed over with
contempt was when I slammed his head into a locker.
a swaggering show of courage
Huh. A closet genius.
Maybe that explains why, despite his
bravado, Tyler never made good on any of his threats.
fall away or decline
ebb and flow around us as students climb the raked aisles between the four blocks of seating.
twist or curve abruptly
Under strands of rainbow-colored hair, her mouth
quirks up in a half smile.
a person who is uninterested in intellectual pursuits
“Midterms aren’t until next week. And I had better things to do than study over break.”
suggestive of or tending to moral looseness
salacious news, so I expect Asha to be disappointed, but she leans in closer.
think moodily or anxiously about something
I have enough on my mind without the frost.
I glance sideways to find Chris grinning at me. “What?”
recovering readily from adversity, depression, or the like
If only I could be like Tracy, who is everything I want to be, everything I should be—brave,
resilient, certain of herself.
offering little or no hope
It’s like the two of them are in their own universe, where everything around them glistens with the possibility of creation. And I’m left with
bleak Opportunity and nothing more.
cause to become more serious
sobers. “Have you heard from Brown yet?”
lasting for a markedly brief time
The green paint on the mask has faded and the edges are worn off, but the familiar shapes are soothing and help me find my balance. It’s
a recurrent rhythmical series
Everything disappears but the
cadence of my feet and the cold air on my cheeks.
an artful or simulated semblance
I drop the role of protective brother and shrug back into my
guise as Opportunity High’s most infamous student. It fits me like a well-worn glove.
open to doubt or suspicion
This year, we share that
dubious honor, and only Far knows I’ve been tiptoeing the lines.
characterized by orderliness
Teachers standing near the doors try to approach Tyler, but he picks them off
methodically, like everyone who gets too close.
climb awkwardly, as if by scrambling
clamber to the other doors, pushing forward, but no one is leaving.
turned outward in an ungainly manner
Two students—a boy and a girl, both from one of the outer towns—are
splayed across the chairs in front of Tyler. The boy still has his bag half slung over his shoulder as his blood mixes with hers.
liable to sudden unpredictable change
Another shot. More shots. My heart beats to match their
a means of serving
He rattles the handles to no
avail, kicks against the door, and I’m not sure if his anger is pain or desperation.
a large gathering of people
Students mass together to get away from Tyler. They climb over the seats to get to the far side of the auditorium, where the
throng is just as heavy.
the most direct route
The chorus members who made a
beeline backstage have not reappeared, but few would risk running out in the open to cross the elevated stage.
make unclear or less visible
From between the seats, I can see the body of one of our classmates. Her face is
obscured by someone’s book bag, and blood pools on the floor.
lightness in movement or manner
She throws herself in a leap—a grand jeté—and I can see myself dance like her. She moves with
speak, pronounce, or utter in a certain way
He sounds so calm. The Fareed I know, with his steadily teasing smile, has disappeared. I’ve never met this Fareed. He
articulates with care so his Afghan accent isn’t as pronounced.
working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way
I walked toward the edge of the cotton field, but Tyler followed me. He wasn’t even
subtle about it. He whistled some happy tune while his footsteps crossed my shadow and his breath tickled the back of my neck.
marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions
He told me he wasn’t supposed to let students in his car because it could be seen as inappropriate. But he smiled before he protested, and it didn’t sound very
not secure; beset with difficulties
After Matt was released from the hospital, he gave me one of his figurines to give to Jonah. It found a place of pride on his dashboard, and I found a place to get away to think—away from Matt’s
precarious health and my sister’s deployment, away from Chris, away from all the expectations.
in a random manner
A second car is parked
haphazardly across three parking spaces.
without knowledge or intention
I walk toward him and kick a shoe. I’ve
inadvertently kicked my teammates’ shoes all the time during warm-ups, so I don’t even look down—not immediately.
be in contradiction with
belies his gun, and we’re all enthralled by it.
His smile belies his gun, and we’re all
enthralled by it. Despite being a thousand against one, we are powerless.
unrestrained by convention or propriety
Dancing teaches you how to read people from the way they hold themselves, the way their hands clench when they’re scared, the grand motions they make when they’re excited. The threats and yearning in a stolen glance and the
brazen gestures of fear and fight and despair.