Writers (in order): Irene Tsen, Helena Surwillo, Troy Woodley, Eileen Hung, Kelson Cantrell, Amann S. Mahajan, Lillian Fong, Joel the Great, Nessa Kmetec, Fiona Li, Carly Liao, Diya, Sophie Hahn, Jane Fairfax. Editors: Ms. Ja and Ms. Wilson.

Lys absolutely hated birds. Despised every single species there was with unmatched loathing. So, of course, one would blatantly poop on her head right as she was about to approach Connor.

If she didn’t know better, she’d have thought it was aiming for her.

It seemed as if the universe kept targeting her, reminding her again and again of what she’d done. At the time, she hadn’t deemed what she’d done to have such an impact, but as the inconveniences built up, the nagging in the back of her mind was growing to a shrieking, like a volley of those very birds.

This was supposed to be her making amends; Connor—she hoped—would understand, would help make her understand. For, what was the point of this blaming of her if not a reminder of human nature being prone to elaboration and gratification simultaneously, as well as its ability to forgive.

Her steps regained vigor, and glaring at the sky at that stupid black raven, she pulled out a wipe and cleaned off her jacket. Turning back towards Connor, who still hadn’t noticed her, she hoped her plan wouldn’t fail her as it had before.

She walked towards him, but just as she arrived, the school bell rang, and a tidal wave of students pushed them apart.

That bird must have been aiming for her.

She stumbled into history, her jacket still smelling of bird poop and Lysol, her mind replaying the scene from two weeks ago over and over. She could still hear his shocked voice saying, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

                                                                                         • • •

Two birds, one stone. An idiom Lys lived by, both because of her desire to finish any task as quickly as possible, and because she often wished she could throw rocks at the pesky fowl that constantly threatened to ruin her day. That idiom was what always led her to look for the quickest way out, the easiest corner to cut, and the ways to turn her many problems into one.

Unfortunately, the quickest method wasn’t always the best, and racing to the finish inevitably meant shoving people aside along the way. Lys learned that the hard way.

For so many years, she had raced to the finish out of fear of getting left behind. Only now did she turn back around and see all the people she had hurt, scattered along her path of careless destruction.

Her thoughts brought her back to that day, the day that it had all gone down. She remembered the deep blue sky, the chirping of birds, the feeling of the sun on her skin.

The bright atmosphere hadn’t jibed with her feelings, however. As she’d walked towards Connor’s locker, she’d felt slightly apprehensive. She supposed this jumbled worry was partly a reflection of Connor’s own behavior recently—he had been skittish, quiet, withdrawn.

So although she only intended to borrow some notes from Connor’s locker, Lys wondered if she mightn’t hit another bird with this stone, this opportunity. Perhaps in looking in his locker, she might not only acquire the notes, but also a clue to Connor’s erratic behavior… something indicating why he was so unhappy. Perhaps it wasn’t entirely her business, but maybe she could help.

Two birds, one stone… the notes for tomorrow’s test and a possible clue to Connor’s behavior, all packaged neatly in the opportunity of searching his locker. Lys wasn’t one to pass this up.

The notes she was looking for sat on the top shelf, right where she knew they’d be. (Connor had given her his combo and she had given him his, as a sign of mutual trust.) She quickly pulled them out and scanned the rest of the locker. Everything seemed normal, except for—

A crumpled piece of fancy stationery lying at the bottom of Connor’s otherwise neat locker caught her eye. After a moment’s hesitation, Lys picked it up and tucked it into her arms along with the notes.

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