marked by balance or equilibrium and readiness for action
poised for flight, but there’s nowhere to go.
a rapid and continuous outpouring
He could get us out of here.
onslaught of hope makes me dizzy.
in a secretive manner
Surreptitiously, I scan the area around me. No one has eyes for anyone but Tyler—and Autumn.
firm and dependable especially in loyalty
I keep my eyes
staunchly on Ty and try to ignore the people around me.
the place properly occupied or served by another
I clear my throat again before Tyler can shoot another student in my
serve as a means for expressing something
How the hell do I
convey “I came back for you” in knocks? How do I tell her I will get her out of there?
a deep opening in the earth's surface
If I could claw through the door, I would. I bite my lip to keep from screaming. We might as well be divided by a
chasm—me crouching on the cold linoleum and her inside on the worn carpet.
a U-shaped bar that can be used to fasten something
I reach for the hammer. The alternative to picking the lock is forcing it. If I hit the
shackle just right, it should spring open.
a large number or amount or extent
We had a whole
slew of car fires a couple years ago.
elicit a report from someone about a mission, job, or event
“I’m not really supposed to talk to you about this. One of our deputies will
debrief you as soon as we’ve set up the perimeter.”
contemplation of things past
retrospect, neither Dad nor I knew what Ty meant. I thought he planned to put things right with Tomás and with Claire.
very thin especially from disease or hunger or cold
A junior slumps against the wall, his face
gaunt, blood pooling from a wound to his shoulder.
completely wanting or lacking
His gaze is
devoid of feeling, emotion—humanity.
humorously sarcastic or mocking
“We’ll be setting up an emergency response center in town so you’ll have somewhere to go.” At this, her smile is a little
wry, and for the first time, she sounds like a worried older sister, not a police officer following protocol.
code of correct conduct
“We’ll be setting up an emergency response center in town so you’ll have somewhere to go.” At this, her smile is a little wry, and for the first time, she sounds like a worried older sister, not a police officer following
speaking in a terse, rude, or abrupt way
The frown on her freckled face fades, and her voice trails off. With a
curt nod, she turns back toward the windshield.
a theatrical performance held during the daytime
For Autumn’s fifteenth birthday, Mrs. Browne took Autumn and me to Birmingham to see a
completely happy and contented
But Autumn and I were still
blissfully ignorant of all that was coming. She was so excited to see The Nutcracker that she talked about it for days. I was far more excited about seeing Birmingham and going to dinner at a fancy restaurant.
obvious to the eye or mind
Timing is everything. If we open the doors too wide, it’ll be
conspicuous. If we’re too slow, everyone won’t get out.
in a rebellious manner
Tyler raises his hand and strikes her a second time. She squares her shoulders and looks up at him
spreading out in different directions
Most of the classrooms are on the
sprawling ground floor, with the library, science rooms, and study halls up on a smaller second floor.
a series of sentinels or posts enclosing some place or thing
Our police car is ushered toward an area
cordoned off by cones and caution tape.
marked by or showing unaffected simplicity
naive. Don’t believe everything people tell you. There’s always more to the story.
impressive in appearance
It’s not just the gun that makes him
imposing. He’s dressed as if he is going to a formal event.
with little or no preparation or forethought
I haven’t warmed up, and the tension in my shoulders and legs makes it almost impossible to move. Behind Ty, the faces of my
impromptu audience are far clearer than they should be—full of anger and judgment.
a deep prolonged sound
Three-year-old Alex held on to Ty’s hair when he carried her around on his shoulders and clung to his hand whenever he set her down.
Peals of laughter lit up our house for the first time since Mom died.
incapable of failure or error
Whenever she zones out, the best thing to do is give her specific tasks, small tasks—feed the dogs, collect eggs, keep an eye on the oven while the cookies we made together bake. It’s not
infallible, but when she feels disoriented and overwhelmed, those tasks keep her from panicking.
lacking vitality as from weariness or illness or unhappiness
Behind him, Esther sits with Avery, who has her leg held high and a bandage around her ankle. They smile
a feeling of great elation
Now she’s here. And safe.
Euphoria tugs at my lips.
absentminded dreaming while awake
I expect him to snap after I finish my monologue. Instead he hesitates and blinks, as if awakening from a
urge on; cause to act
“We can’t get a clear picture of Tyler’s motivation, so we are looking for anyone who might know him well. We’ve sent a team to his house, but we are looking for a student perspective too,” Deputy Lee
a raised mark on the skin
“Ty had bruises. He wouldn’t talk about it, but it wasn’t because of the fights. They were
welts, like someone hit him. I think his dad did.”
sorting and allocating aid on the basis of need
“I’m sorry. We need you to stay off to the side while we deal with the situation and set up a
proceed or issue forth, as from a source
A new message
emanates from Deputy Lee’s radio.
spring back; spring away from an impact
ricochet as bullets land around us
pass into or through, often by overcoming resistance
A freshman beside us stumbles and trips, sliding against the seat when a bullet
perforates her neck.
show in, or as in, a picture
But when I scan the crowd, all the faces blur together, an Impressionist
rendering of despair.
a slight suggestion or vague understanding
The thunderstorm of bullets shatters any
inkling of hope.
the highest level or degree attainable
Anytime I feel as if there are no more
superlatives, that we’ve reached the worst, Ty proves me wrong.
in an advanced state of decomposition and having a foul odor
And I breathe in the too-familiar scent of expensive cologne and