They arrived at dusk to find the brand new All-American Burger Depot lit up like a patriotic amusement park. The building mimicked the American flag, a big concrete rectangle painted red, white, and blue with stars and stripes. For the Grand Opening, fiber-optic Christmas lights in the same colors decorated the building and the outside patio. Zera nearly retched when she spied the twelve-foot-tall plastic bull, glowing atop the restaurant.
Theodore Green, his thick lips pressed together in concentration, stood at the mirror above the fireplace mantle, trying to knot his bowtie. Its black fabric was decorated with a pattern of white twisted-ladder-shaped double-helixes, symbols for DNA, or, as he liked to call them, “the building blocks of life.” His actions were jerky and excited; he’d had to listen to Tiffany complain for the last five minutes about Zera’s green
Reclining on a pile of pillows on her bed, Zera’s thoughts rotated like a carousel — through the events of yesterday, that morning, then back around. For the sixth time that hour, she ran her fingers through her auburn hair, which was now streaked with an inch-wide swath of electric-green. Her heart bolted each time she glimpsed herself in the mirror, in dread of Tiffany’s reaction, but underneath the dread
Friday, March 21 Squeezing through a thicket of ninth graders outside of Ms. Casey’s classroom, all Zera could hear was complaining about the biology test. Mike “Biggie” Lane, at his locker, was blocking the door, and as Zera drew closer she got a whiff of his cologne. Musk . . . and sweet jasmine. Not bad, but too strong — as usual! “Nice cologne, Biggie.” Biggie looked pleased. He moved