Jenny sat at the old one-piece school desk, chin on her hand, staring blankly out the classroom windows. The afternoon sun was blazing across the empty desert. From this side of the school building that’s all one could see – not the El Paso skyline, nor the rows of military housing the students called home – just the endless miles of waterless beach. It was hot, as usual, even if it was September. At least the dry heat doesn’t frizz my hair, she thought, as she blew a dark, shoulder-length strand out of her face, It had been horrible in Germany, the last place they had called “home.” She shrugged off her wandering thoughts and stared at the blank paper in front of her again. Focus. Think of a real happening to complete the sentence “The first time I ….” Something thunked her chair from behind. “Gotta pencil I can borrow?” Derek whispered. Jenny handed him the one in her hand and dug into her bag for her pen. She would rather write in pen anyway. She wondered what Derek would write about. Even with a pencil, he won’t produce anything worth reading. From her seat in the next to the last row, she looked across at the other students. Mary, up in the front, was industriously scribbling in her notebook. “Probably about her new horse,” Jenny thought. Mary couldn’t write as well as she could, but Mary was the teacher’s pet, and the teacher would always like whatever she wrote. Jenny had first ridden a horse at six months. “That’s the problem,” she fussed. “I haven’t done anything different recently, nothing interesting. Just school, and it’s so boring!” Tall blond Karen sat next to Mary. She flicked her long hair aside as she straightened up, turned back to look at Jenny and smirked. Then she bent back over her paper and continued writing. “Karen is probably writing something like ‘My first kiss,’ as if she were the only 7th grader in the school who could attract a boy,” Jenny guessed with disgust. She stole a look at Michael. Sitting there by the window with the bright sun illuminating his dark skin and his tight red curls, he looked like a young god to her. She flushed at her thoughts and wondered what Karen would say if she knew she and Michael had been out behind the fence at lunchtime. Probably some ridiculous racist comment about how she should “stick with her own kind.” Not that Jenny wanted to claim Karen or her worshipers as “her own kind.” Her dark eyes smoldered as she let her imagination dance momentarily into forbidden zones of what she would like to do to Karen and her ilk. Jenny sighed and tried again to focus on her writing. She didn’t care what Karen thought about her, but she did care about getting today’s assignment done. Her inner rebelliousness didn’t extend to failing in school. Jenny tried to think of something special. “I could write about the temple in Korea, clinging to the hillside in the mist, or perhaps about visiting a castle on the Rhine in Germany.” But all of that was old hat to her fellow military brats. If nothing else, Jenny prided herself in being unique. She wanted a topic that was fresh and exciting. She frowned again and tapped her pen on her desk impatiently. Her mind was as blank as the paper in front of her. She sighed again and leaned back against the seat. She would much rather be writing about fairies or ogres, unicorns or dragons. She could imagine them as if they were real! Jenny looked up at her teacher. He sat safely ensconced behind his desk, head bent over the paperwork in front of him. “Look at those cheap glasses,” she thought. “He looks like a real nerd. I bet he doesn’t have a particle of imagination. Or at least, if he does, he doesn’t dare show it.” A devilish grin flitted across her face. She wrinkled her brow and turned her thoughts inward for a moment. Then smiling to herself she bent over her ow paper. She didn’t have to ask if she dared. She was always up to the challenge. Taking her pen in hand, she began to write. Carefully, she chose her opening sentence. “The first time I met a dragon….”