The first time we all meet Stacy, it’s just a regular morning.

Our teacher, Simon, is in front of the room, shuffling flashcards. He leans back against the science counter, mixes the deck a couple of times, and hooks one ankle over the other, the way he always does. Then he holds up the first word.

Ology,” he says out loud, so we can hear how it sounds. I write, the study of. Things are quiet while pencils scratch, sounding just like gerbils making a nest out of cedar chips and Kleenex. Simon holds up the next one. Astro. On a test he’ll put them together, and we’ll have to figure out that astrology means, “the study of stars.”

Ichthy,” Simon says. Fish, I write, and then kick Tim and make a gagging face to remind him how we remember that one: fish tastes icky…ichthy. But Tim doesn’t kick back, even when I kick him again, and then I notice there’s this massive hush in the room. I look up to see a girl standing in the doorway. The new girl. Simon told us she was coming, but up until this second I’d forgotten all about it.

She’s got shiny black hair down to her behind and gray eyes that take up her whole face, and she’s as skinny as I am. She’s wearing a purple-and-black turtleneck and jeans that look brand-new, and she grins at everybody like she’s totally psyched to meet us. She’s got a gap between her two front teeth.

“Hi,” she goes. “I’m Stacy.” I see a flash of silver in her mouth. A tongue ring. “Let’s get this party started.”

And that’s how it begins.