Krinden and Narra met at the corner, as usual.

Beatriz was waiting for them, as usual.

T'lara came at exactly eight-forty five, as usual.

It was a 'usual' spring day, the weather just warm enough for it to be not quite winter, but too cool for it to be summer.

The second grade class of GA was hard at work on their essays. The topic was 'Why I'm Excited for Marc's Visit'. Krinden, Narra and T'lara had their small desks shoved together into a sloppy square. Beatriz's desk was pushing against the side of Krinden's, its owner keeping up a steady stream of chatter.

Finally, Narra gritted her teeth. "Beatriz, would you please BE QUIET!"

Beatriz looked up in surprise. Her face crumpled as she tried to hide her tears. 'Second graders don't cry.' She told herself. 'Crying is for babies.' She bit her lower lip, concentrating on her essay.

"Girls, times up. Please pass your papers to the front of the room and go out to the playground. I'll have your essays marked and corrected by the end of recess, and than we can begin decorating the room for Marc. Remember, she'll be here in less then two hours, so be ready."

The girls congregated at their usual bench. Krinden and Narra sitting, heads together, giggling. T'lara, standing, as she preferred, looking around the yard, expressionless. Beatriz, crouching in front of Krinden, trying to pretend that they were having a DMC.

T'lara gasped, than covered her mouth.

"What's wrong, T'lara?" asked Krinden, concerned.

"Nothing is wrong," she said primly, "but I think that that's Marc."

The girls stared at the tall, mysterious figure, striding into the school doors.

'Wow. If that's her…" Narra trailed off.

"She's incredible." Beatriz put in.

"Yeah. She looked as if she…belonged." Krinden said. "I can't put it in words exactly, but she seemed so…confident."



As the bell rang, the swarm of girls hurried into the building. They entered their classroom.

"Whoa! What happened?" The girls stared at the bags piled up on their desks and around the floor.

The teacher hurried in. "Girls it's time to start decorating. I'll separate you into groups, and each group will get a bag."

We'll have:

Sara, Mickey, Jeeqi and Narra,

Krinden, T'lara, Paimiie and Nancy,

Beatriz, Xerwow, Halley and Opal, and

Mary, Ellie, Judy and Debra."

The girls scrambled into groups, Beatriz loudly complaining the whole time. The girls worked harmoniously for a half hour, until there was a knock at the door.

As the teacher answered the door, the girls whispered excitedly. The teacher came back in.

"Girls, let's hurry and clean up. We have a very special guest…"

The girls dashed to and fro, crumpling things, tossing things, smoothing things and wiping things. At last the room shone, although that may have been from the glitter that had somehow got on everyone and everything.

The teacher walked out. As the girls settled into their seats, they found their marked essays on their desks.

Here's how they scored:

Krinden: 95

Narra: 90

T'lara: 100

Beatriz: 75

Beatriz crumpled her essay angrily, and demanded to see what the others had gotten. After seeing their marks, her face grew flushed.

But before she could say another word, the door opened, and in walked…