BIRCHTREE STREET WAS ONCE an idyllic part of town. There were small beautiful houses with green lawns out front, a family market that sold the most exquisite goods from around the world and a cinema that showcased vintage movies. However, the main attraction of this town was the Birchtree Private School. It comprised of a well-stocked library, swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts and Chem labs. The school offered an accredited degree and very few students gained entry into this prestigious establishment.
There was even a large park in front of the three-storey school building that was lined with benches and large shady trees where students could come and relax after a hard day of studying.
It used to be the best school in the city until one day a fire erupted in the building, consuming half of it before being contained by the firefighters.
The school had to be closed down, although repair works were undertaken to bring it back up to standard and resume its activities.
Mia stared out the windshield of her car, drumming her fingers on the steering wheel. Eight weeks had passed since the terrible tragedy in the city and her heart still went out to those who had perished in the fire. She had heard that a few students had lost their lives and she couldn't imagine how distraught their families must be.
The building before her was now shadowed in darkness. The street lamps around the school were off and the only light came from the street lamps from twenty feet away and the small security guard cabin.
She hated waiting in the darkness. There was something eerie about this place. Even in this low light, she could still make out the dark marks smeared all over the front of half of the school. The windows were broken and the grass below them was charred.
Mia shook herself from these thoughts and turned her attention to the two boys dawdling by the gate. Both of them were on their phones and in that light, she recognized them both as Ronit and Danny. She knew both of them well, though until today, she had barely spoken two words to them. Danny was in her math class and from the way Professor Mila praised him, he was undoubtedly a genius of some kind. He was always dressed in the same clothes. A green beanie cap, rimless glasses on his narrow eyes and a red hoodie jacket over dark blue baggy jeans.
Ronit, his best friend was one of the clever ones as well. He always got straight A's in every subject—something Mia found intimidating, since her grades were usually a solid C.
Ronit was dressed in a checked shirt and khaki pants. His dark hair was neatly combed to the side and she was sure that his hair smelled of some herbal hair gel.
Mia shivered. Ronit and Danny were lucky – they got to work on this group project together. She leaned back in her seat and sighed. If only she had been paired with her best friend Ravina. Instead, she would have to share the awkwardness with two intelligent minds and a snob.
Mia tried to not even think of Jake- the fourth member of the group project. If only Professor Philips hadn't formed the groups. Even as he had announced the group names, Mia had experienced a sinking feeling that she was going to be paired with someone she wouldn't get along with. And when Jake's name was called along with hers, she had sunk back in her chair and muttered a disgruntled, "oh no.”