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The Impossible Vastness Of Us


I didn’t hear a word he said after that.

Bracing myself, I turned to Finn.

The muscle in his jaw ticked.

So he was pissed.

Well, that just pissed me off.

“Looks like you’re going to have to make eye contact with me,” I said.

He turned his head slightly to look at me. “Looks like it.”

“You know I’m not really a drug addict, right? Your good buddy Gabe made that crap up.”

His lips quirked at the corner.

My God...was that an actual semismile?

“I know,” he said.

“So that should make working with me a little more reassuring.”

I got no reply.

“You do also know that there is actual talking involved in a verbal presentation?”

“Was it the word verbal that gave it away?” he said.

I smirked. “I’m just pointing out that you’re going to have to work on this whole brooding monosyllabic thing you’ve got going on if we’re going to get a good grade.”

“Noted.”

“I guess you’re going to start working on it tomorrow, then.”

He sighed and sat back in his chair to look at me fully. “Do you have a smart reply to everything?”

“Not to Toaster Strudel.”

If I wasn’t mistaken that little quirk at the corner of his lips came back.

Did Finn actually have a sense of humor?

Before I could say anything more the bell rang, ending class. Finn immediately gathered his stuff.

“Before you go, we should arrange a time to meet up for this presentation.”

“After school Monday? I don’t have rowing then.”

“Sure. Where?”

“Front gate.” And with that clipped response he strode away.

Once the class had filtered out to head for lunch, I made my way over to Franklin. My heart rate was a little fast.

Do not get your hopes up. Do not get your hopes up, I chanted over and over in my head.

“India, thanks for staying behind,” Franklin said when I approached.

“Of course.”

“I’m sorry I’ve taken all week to get back to you. I was hoping to let you know what the situation was sooner but one of our students on the Chronicle surprised us by quitting. Too many after-school activities apparently.”

That meant there were two spots open on the paper, which gave me a better chance.

Do not get your hopes up.

Franklin smiled widely at me. “India, I have to admit that I’m really impressed by what you accomplished at your school paper. The stories you oversaw were current, important and on point. I particularly loved the article you wrote on your interview with the mayor. You asked some hard questions about city council budget cuts. Relevant questions.”

I flushed with pride at his compliment. “Thank you.”

“The other candidates were good but they weren’t good enough. I doubt any of them are truly interested in the Chronicle as much as they’re interested in adding as many extracurriculars to their schedule as they can to impress the Ivies.”

I raised an eyebrow at the comment and he laughed.

“I never said that.”

“I never heard it.”

“No matter my theories, the truth is at the end of the day you’re the best candidate. That’s why I’d like to offer you a place on the paper.”

Finally I was getting somewhere. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I see you doing well with the Chronicle. I think if you work hard enough this year the goal of making editor in your senior year wouldn’t be a fanciful one.”

Just what I had in mind. I grinned. “That would be wonderful. I’ll be the best book reviewer the Chronicle has ever seen.”

Franklin chuckled. “I’m sure you will. You’ll hopefully also be our final reader...our Ethics Maven. If you like?”

I was stunned by the offer. The Ethics Maven may not be a reporter but it was the person that gave reporters and editors the third degree on their stories, made sure they’d done their research properly, that their sources were legit and basically that they’d covered all their bases before the story went to print. It was a much better position than I’d hoped for because it meant I was involved in the process of mostly everything that went into the paper.

“Yes.” I gave a huff of pleased laughter. “Yes, of course. That’s great.”

“You can cope with both? Of course, I’ll be the final reader for your book reviews to keep things fair.”

“Fine, great.”

Franklin nodded and started to walk me toward the door. “Fantastic. Then welcome to the Tobias Rochester Chronicle. We’ll see you Monday after school in the newspaper office.”
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