Snow Day

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More About This Book

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671038380
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 2/1/2000
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.23 (w) x 7.44 (h) x 0.56 (d)

First Chapter

Chapter One Claire Bonner stood at the end of the diving board in swim class. Hal Brandston thought every eye in the pool area was on her. She was cute and athletic, and still had a little tan left over from last summer.

Hal tried to ignore the irritated looks Lane Leonard was giving him. Okay, he thought, maybe not every eye in the pool area is on Claire. Lane was his best friend and had been for years. They sat in the bleachers at the side of the pool, waiting their turn to dive.

Light flashed from the gold bracelet around Claire's ankle. Even from the bleachers Hal could see the whale-shaped charm that hung from the bracelet. The bracelet itself had her name written in script. Claire always moved with easy grace, making her dives look simple.

With Lane looking at him like he was some lab specimen, Hal felt like he had to say something to explain his attention. Something philosophical, maybe. "Every dive tells a story, you know. You just have to know what to look for."

Lane rolled her eyes. She could broadcast attitude when she wanted to. Today it kind of reflected in the T-shirt she wore with the upside-down smiley face. And no other girl could roll her eyes quite the way Lane did.

Luckily, Hal had Claire to look at instead of those rolling eyes. So he looked.

"I know what to look for," Bill Korn said. He sat next to Hal. They were both dressed in swimsuits, with their goggles and towels around their necks. Bill was medium-size, same as Hal, but he carried an air of good-natured goofiness around him. He also took girl-watching much more seriously than Hal did. Hal had eyes for Claire. Bill looked at every girl in high school.

Claire ran forward in short steps, bounced, tucked, spun, and sliced the water like a knife.

Hal stared at the water, watching Claire glide effortlessly through it like a porpoise. He tried to ignore Lane's reaction and forget about those rolling eyes that made him think of slot machines he'd seen in the movies.

"Hm," he said, deciding to be philosophical. "Interesting. That dive is telling me that she's looking for a new love in her life. Someone fresh, bold...foxy." He was trying to make a joke, kind of lighten things up.

Lane obviously wasn't prepared to have things lightened. "Hal, Claire Bonner wouldn't spit on you if your head was on fire," she said.

Hal took a little offense at that. "I bet she'd spit on me."

"Definitely," Bill said, trying to take off his T-shirt but forgetting that he had a towel around his neck. He looked like an escape artist at work.

"If she could see you, maybe," Lane said. "But unfortunately, to people like her, people like you are invisible." She glanced at Bill, who was fighting a losing battle with his shirt. "If only you were invisible, Bill."

"Huh? What?" Bill mumbled, causing some of the nearby students to dodge back.

Hal turned to Lane, knowing he was treading on dangerous ground. But he saw that Claire was out of the pool again, already heading back up to the high board, and he got kind of brave, one of those two-second bravery things that makes a geek look at a bully and let fly with "You and what army?" when he knows he's about to have his head handed to him.

"So you think I'm invisible, huh?" he asked. "Well, if I'm invisible, then I guess she wouldn't see me when I do this." He boldly waved to Claire. Dumb idea, dumb idea, his mind cried out, finally catching up with that two-second bravery. The bad thing was that bravery faded just as quickly as it came.

Claire just kept climbing the ladder to the high board.

Hal's face burned.

"Maybe if your hair was on fire," Bill suggested.

It was too much to take. Even Bill was busting on him. Hal pushed up from the bleachers and walked toward the pool. "All right. So I'm invisible. But the day will come when Claire Bonner will finally see just what she's been missing."

To make matters worse, he attempted one of those barefoot slides all the first-string swim team pulled off and made look so easy. But he'd never been first-string. Not even on his best day. The next thing he knew, he careened out of control, windmilling his arms and trying in vain to regain his balance.

Luckily, instead of the floor, the pool was there to break his fall. He plunged in, splashing water everywhere. He gave up and went with it, sinking deeper, mortified to find in that very instant he made eye contact with Claire. She was on the diving board, ready to make her next dive. She stared at him, too.

Hal's original idea was to just stay underwater until he died...

...but luckily the deep end had other plans for him.

Hal swam out of Claire's way, knowing he wasn't going to hear the end of it from Lane and Bill. A golden metallic sheen sparkled on the grate at the bottom of the pool. There was something familiar about it. He swam down to it, totally curious.

There, on the grate, was Claire's ankle bracelet, a thin line of gold attached to a whale charm. He reached down and took it from the grate, thrilled to see that it was intact and not broken. He stared at the bracelet for a long time, captivated by the promise it held.

"Dude, just go over there and give her the bracelet," Bill said. "This is your big chance."

Hal glared at him, face turning red again. It's not that easy. "Don't you think I know that? I'm just waiting for the right moment."

"Right moment?" Lane repeated, doing that eye-rolling thing again. "What? Are you proposing?"

They stood in front of the gym with the other students, all waiting for rides to take them home. Everybody was buddied up into groups of friends.

Claire Bonner, however, stood by herself. She looked at the building across the street, but Hal couldn't see anything that was very interesting. It was just a building that had been there for years.

He glanced down nervously at the bracelet in his hand. It felt heavy and solid.

"Come on, bro," Bill said. "Gut check time. Just walk right up to her, look deep into her eyes, and..."

A yellow convertible skidded to a stop at the curb in front of Claire, causing everybody nearby to jump back.

"Get my head beat in," Hal said sincerely. He knew who was driving that car.

"Hey, babe." Chuck Wheeler, football big and summer blond, sat behind the wheel of the convertible. "Hop in. Everyone's waiting for us at the diner."

"Go away," Claire replied.

That brought Chuck up short. But it didn't stop him for long. His voice softened. "Claire bear, what is going on here? You won't call me back, you won't talk to me..."

Hal thought he was going to gag. He couldn't believe Chuck Wheeler was acting soft around any girl. Any girl in school would have gone out with him. Except Lane, he realized.

Claire faced him, arms crossed, definitely not friendly. "I told you I needed some time to think. About us. About everything."

"What's there to think about?" Chuck asked. "You're Claire Bonner, and I'm Chuck Wheeler. We're America's Dream Team."

That was true, Hal knew. That was how everybody in school thought of them.

Claire groaned and wrinkled her nose as if she smelled something bad.

The crowd around them was more interested than Chuck felt they had any right to be. This was the kind of drama that made rumors around the school take quantum leaps.

Chuck turned on the spectators, and he wasn't sweet anymore. "What are you looking at?"

Instantly, all those people found something else to look at, even if it was only the back of the head of the person in front of them.

Chuck leaned out of the car toward Claire and talked more softly. "What is it this time? If it's about Greg's party last night, I'm sorry. I truly am. But I think it turned out for the best. I do."

"Chuck, you stuffed that kid in the trunk of your car."

A guilty look filled Chuck's face. "He said he needed a ride."

Claire shook her head. "You know what? I'm done thinking about it. We're through. And this time I mean it."

Hal, his breath tight in his lungs, watched her leave. She's really going to walk away? When he watched her continue going, a silent cheer filled his mind. She's really going to walk away!

Chuck was stunned for a minute. But he made up for it. "You want to end it? Fine!" he shouted at her back. "It's over! Finito!"

Claire shouted back without ever turning around. "Oooh, Italian," she said. "I'm so impressed."

"Yeah, well, here's a little more: Sayonara!" Chuck put his foot on the accelerator and peeled out of the parking lot.

Hal watched him go, his fist tight around the gold bracelet with the whale charm. Suddenly he felt as if that short length of gold might take him further than he'd ever imagined.

And even Lane can't argue that now definitely isn't the right time to give it back to Claire. He pushed the bracelet into his pocket carefully, making sure it didn't snag.

Copyright © 2000 by Paramount Pictures

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