Home > Northern Stars (Compass #4)

Northern Stars (Compass #4)
Author: Brittainy Cherry

 


Part I

 

 

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

-Marcus Aurelius

 

 

1

 

 

Hailee

Eight Years Old

 

 

* * *

 

Aiden was the kind of kid who made it easy to hate him.

“You can’t do that!” I screeched at Aiden, annoyed with his stupid face. He’d reached his dirty hands back into the cookie jar with the cookies I’d baked with Mama for later that day. Mama had already given us each a cookie before we played in the backyard. After we came back in, Aiden snuck into the kitchen and climbed onto the countertop. He was breaking all the rules!

“I can do it if you’d shut your fat mouth, chipmunk cheeks!” he replied.

I huffed and puffed out my cheeks, feeling my face heat as my balled-up hands slammed against my waist. “I don’t have chipmunk cheeks!”

“Then why do your cheeks look like a chipmunks?!”

“At least my face doesn’t look like a gorilla’s butt!”

“I’d rather look like a gorilla’s butt than have chipmunk cheeks.”

“I hate you, gorilla butt!”

“I don’t care, chipmunk cheeks!” he shouted back.

Aiden Walters was a pain in my butt. He was always getting himself in trouble, and I was always trying to stop him from doing stupid stuff. Most of my day was spent telling him no, and most of his day was spent ignoring me.

I climbed up on the countertop next to him and yanked the cookie jar out of his hands. “At least my head isn’t fat like yours!” I said, sticking my tongue out at him.

He grabbed the cookie jar back and slightly shoved me. “Your head is bigger than mine!”

“No, it’s not!”

“Yes, it is! It’s so big! It’s bigger than an elephant’s head!”

I grabbed the jar and tugged it toward me. “Shut up, Aiden!”

“You first, Hailee!” he shot back as he tugged it more.

We went back and forth with a tug-of-war, shouting at one another until Mama entered the kitchen.

“What’s going on in here?!” she yelled.

Aiden and I both got so spooked by her voice that we let go of the cookie jar. It crashed to the ground and shattered into a million billion trillion pieces.

Aiden and I froze in place.

Our eyes darted to Mama.

Then to the broken cookie jar.

Then back to Mama.

Then back to the broken cookie jar.

“He did it!”

“She did it!”

We said it in unison as we pointed toward one another, blaming each other for the mess in front of us. Of course, it was Aiden’s fault, but he was a big fat liar. I was surprised his pants weren’t on fire by how many lies he told.

“I swear, Mama! It was him! He was trying to take more cookies, but I told him not to take more cookies, but still, he tried to take more, cookies, and and—”

“She called me a fat head, Penny, and said I have a face like a gorilla butt!” Aiden said, pushing out his bottom lip and letting his eyes glass over. Oh my gosh! He’s so dramatic!

“He called me a fat mouth and said I had chipmunk cheeks!” I shot back. “I don’t have chipmunk cheeks!”

“Do too!” Aiden mocked.

“Do not!”

“Do too!”

“Do not, not, not!”

“Do too, too, too, tooooooooo!” he sang.

For a boy who was the same age as me, he sure acted like a baby.

Mama didn’t look like she cared for our excuses or bickering. She lowered her eyebrows and combed her hands over her afro puff before nodding once. “Get down now, the both of you. You know the drill.”

Aiden and I both groaned. “But!” we screeched at the same time. I hated that we did things so much at the same time because the last thing I ever wanted was to be the same as someone like him. I hated our same moments. They made me so mad. Our different moments were the best because if I was different than him that meant I wasn’t a fat head gorilla butt.

Mama brushed her hand against her forehead. “No buts. Come on, get down. Then to the living room. Hug-a-thon now.” Mama waved her hand toward us both.

We climbed off the countertop and stomped our feet to the living room.

Mama saw a woman talk about a hug-a-thon thing she made her kids do on a talk show. Whenever her kids would get into a fight, she made them hug each other and apologize for whatever they did wrong. The kids had to hug until both apologized, no matter what.

I wished Mama didn’t watch TV. It gave her bad ideas.

I hated hug-a-thons, and I always ended up having to do them with Aiden because he was a freaking jerk and always got me in trouble. If anything, Aiden should’ve been hugging himself. I wanted no part of this. I wasn’t eating the cookies!

Still, we were forced to hug one another, and we grumbled the whole time.

When Aiden’s mom, Laurie, came over, she noticed us hugging and smiled.

“Another fight?” Laurie questioned.

“You know it,” Mama replied. “Just a regular Tom and Jerry over here.”

“No apologies yet?”

“Not one.”

Laurie glanced down at her watch. “Well, hurry up with it, Aiden, or you won’t be able to make it to your acting class tonight.”

“But Mom!” Aiden whined.

“No buts. Get on with it,” his mom ordered. I liked Laurie, even though her son was a butthead. She always gave me candy when I went to her house and would ask me how my baking lessons were going with Mama.

“I’m sorry for calling you a name, Hailee,” Aiden said. He didn’t mean it, but he said it. He even seemed to mean it, too, which meant those stupid acting classes must’ve been working. That was why he almost cried about the cookie jar! Some stupid teacher taught him that trick!

Still, I smirked because he apologized first. Then I felt Mama poke me in the arm.

I grumbled. “I’m sorry for calling you a name, too, Aiden.”

“There we go. Was that so hard?” Mama asked.

“Yes,” we said at the same time. Another same moment. Gross.

We let go of our hug and dashed away from one another. Aiden and Laurie left to take him to his stupid acting class, and Mama and I made a batch of brownies later that night. They were the best brownies I’d ever made, and when I went to bed, I snuck one into my bedroom without Mama knowing.

I went to my window and looked across, where I saw Aiden sitting in his bedroom, too. I had the most annoying neighbor ever, and I hated that I had to look out my window and see his stupid face.

“Hey, loser!” I yelled.

He looked up and hurried over to the window. He had a grumpy look on his face. “What do you want, bigger loser?”

“Nothing from you, biggest loser!” I shot back.

“Then why did you call me over, huh?”

“Because I wanted to let you know you were a loser. And that I made the best brownies ever tonight, and you didn’t get to try them.” I held the brownie in the air and waved it around.

He narrowed his eyes. “Give me that!”

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