"Strider, where did you put my boot?" Skye sighed in exasperation at her dog. He just panted and sat there, wagging his thin, long tail at her contently. Skye got on her stomach and looked under her bed. Thinking it was a game, Strider sprinted over and leapt on her back, licking her in his hyper state. She hit her head on the metal part of her bed when he leapt on her, because he startled her. The girl came out from under her bed and sat up, rubbing her aching temples. Skye glared at the dog and stood to get to the door. As she opened it, the dog jogged out, and her younger brother zoomed by.

"Pest, stop running!" Skye hollered after him. He turned and stuck his tongue out at her, then bounded down the stairs to catch the dog. Skye rolled her eyes in irritation as she halfway limped down the stairs, thanks to Strider stealing her second boot.

"Good morning Skye!" her parents chorused as they saw her descending the stairs.

"Hi," she answered. "Remind me never to leave my boots where the dumb dog can get to them!" Suddenly, her brother ran past, waving Skye's lost boot in her face. Skye leapt after him, trying to get her shoe back.

"Dustin! I'm gonna kill you!" she shrieked. Their parents watched with bored looks.

"Dustin Todd Erickson! Give her the boot!" Mr. Erickson yelled finally. The boy dropped the shoe quickly and hurried up to his room so that his sister wouldn't crush him. Skye muttered angry words to herself as she shoved her stubbed toe into her sock and pushed her foot into her boot.

"I'm so gonna get him back," she growled as she sat down at the table and started to jab at her food with her fork. When she was finished, she stuck her arms into her jacket, grabbed her schoolbag, and trudged out the door to walk to another year at her school, Riverwood High. As she reached the school grounds, she saw her only friend, Marissa, flirting with a boy.

"Welcome back," she told herself. She walked over to Marissa and pulled the reluctant girl away from the boy and walked with her into the building.

"Another year at this place," Marissa sighed with a smile. Skye nodded in agreement as she got to their usual lockers. Skye leaned against hers and put her fingers through her belt loops on her faded jeans.

"How's the work coming along with your new gelding, Rebel?" Marissa asked eagerly as she put a lock on her locker.

"No progress. He's not responding to any of our treatments," Skye admitted. "His name really does match his personality." Marissa smirked at the comment as they walked to their first class. Right when they sauntered in, a crumpled piece of paper hit Skye in the middle of her forehead. There was some laughter as she glared around, and Marissa looked at her seat. The friends rushed to sit down.

"I can't wait to get back to my barn. Wanna come over and see Phantom after school?" Skye muttered. "He's my new horse."

"You know I will," Marissa whispered as class began.