Chance Bennett opened his eyes to sunshine and perfect silence. This was odd in that Chance never woke up on a school day until the alarm went off. He glanced over to find the clock blinking big red numbers that were far too low for the amount of sunshine coming in the window. The power had gone off.
Chance grabbed his watch off the dresser and peered at it, relieved to see that he had plenty of time. He dressed quickly and went to wake his parents and make himself breakfast.
While he was eating his waffles his mother, far too pretty and young-looking to have a nearly seventeen-year-old son, hurried past him to the coffee pot. "Bless you, my child, I've taught you well," she said as she poured herself a cup. "I'm sorry to ask, sweetie, but can you walk to school today? I'm already going to be late."
"No problem, Mom." The school was only a few blocks away but she usually drove him anyway. He didn't mind the walk. He'd probably see some of his friends along the way and maybe be able to get there early enough to watch Elena arrive.
Elena was a mystery to him, a very sweet sixteen and made up of satin and lace and a very little bit of punk rock. Black t-shirts and pink hair bows were the norm and she wore both comfortably and at the same time. She'd smiled at him a few times in the past week, too.
Putting that aside, however, people still made a point of watching Elena arrive at school because she did so in a chauffeur-driven limousine. A few kids said that an older boy sat in the back with her and that they had seen her kiss him but that was just the rumor mill. Chance thought that high school was bit young to have a sugar daddy.
He was almost to school when he realized that, in the rush to get ready, he'd forgotten to ask his parents for lunch money. Maybe he would eat his shoes. He looked down to see if they were clean enough to be a viable option and noticed a folded bill lying on the sidewalk. He picked it up and unfolded it, grinning to himself. It was a twenty. His shoes were safe.
A moment later, the long black car pulled up nearby and Elena got out, saying goodbye to whoever was inside. As she turned to go into the school, Chance saw something fall off of her book bag. He ran forward, keeping his eyes on it until he was standing over it. It was a flash drive. He scooped it up and ran after her. "Elena! You dropped this."
She turned and gave him another of her disarming smiles. "Thanks, Chance. Everything for the history report that's due today is on here."
"Hey, I'm glad you caught me anyway. I've been meaning to ask you something. My birthday party is a week from Saturday and I was wondering if you'd like to come."
"Sure. I've got a birthday coming up myself, you know. No party, though. I'm just going to dinner with my parents."
"When is it?" Elena asked. "I'll have to get you something."
He smiled at her. "Thank you but no, you don't. Even if that was what I was angling for, and it isn't, one day is not enough notice. If I wanted a present, I should have told you weeks ago. So banish the thought from your pretty little head."
She wrinkled her nose at him in defiance. "At least let me buy you a dessert at lunch today."
"Fine. It's a date. I'll see you then."
Chance spent first period reading because he was exempt from the math exam by his good grade on the practice test. He had already given his oral report for his history class the day before and the substitute English teacher gave them little to do. It was a golden morning.
Lunch with Elena and all of his friends went very well, too. They sang "Happy Birthday" over a couple of cafeteria cookies that Elena bought for him.
After lunch was science and then Chance was headed home. He had opted to leave school early rather than take classes he didn't need.
As he walked toward home, he noticed a young woman, only a few years older than himself, sitting beside the sidewalk with a computer in her lap and a puzzled look on her face. She smiled when she saw him. "Have a seat."
He looked again to see if he knew her. He didn't, though she did seem vaguely familiar. "May I ask why?"
Her smile widened. "That's what we're going to find out. All I know is that I'm supposed to tell you something. Sit down and we'll figure out what it is, okay?"
He sat. "How do you know? That you're supposed to tell me something, I mean."
"I'm here. I don't know why. There are certainly more important things I should be doing but for some reason, I can't be anywhere but here right now. That means I have to tell someone something and you're the first person who came along. Now, tell me when and where you were born. Be as specific as possible."
Since he was already sitting down, Chance did as she said. He waited patiently as she plugged everything into her computer, curious what she would tell him.
He watched the subtle changes on her face: curiosity followed by surprise and finally concern. "Oh, I see. Listen carefully, young man. Even I you don't believe me now, you will soon. I don't want you kicking yourself later because you didn't pay attention now."
Chance nodded, his eyes widening. "I'm listening."
"This part may not come as a surprise but you were born under a lucky star. So far, you life has been pretty good, right? Your parents are loving and successful, you have lots of friends and good grades come easy. Am I close?"
Chance nodded. He knew well that his fortunes in those regards were often better than his friends.
"What I'm supposed to tell you is that your luck is about to change. The alignment of the planets is going to put Saturn between you and your lucky star for the next year. All the bad luck you should have had all of your life is going to catch up with you."
"Is there anything I should do?" Chase asked, not sure if he believed her.
She removed a necklace with a star charm on it from her pocket. "I wondered why I bought this. Take it. Leave it outside, facing east, until midnight. It should absorb some of the last, luckiest light of the star and maybe keep you from getting killed. To activate it, touch the star and tell it you need some luck. The first time will be the most powerful by far. Don't do it too often or it will lose it's mojo before the year is out. Only in dire situations, okay?"
"Sure. What do I owe you for the advice and the necklace?"
Her smile this time was sad. "This is probably one of the last nice things anyone is going to do for you for a while. I hope it helps."
A long black limousine pulled up beside them. For a moment, Chance expected Elena to roll down a window and speak to him. Instead, the woman beside him rose. "That's my ride. Good luck…no pun intended."
Chance watched until the woman was gone. He studied the necklace as he got to his feet. It was kind of cool. He still didn't know if he believed what she had said but perhaps he should err to the side of caution and just feel stupid later if nothing bad happened. He didn't have to tell anyone else.
Once Chance got home, he put the necklace on the ledge outside his bedroom window, which faced east. "Get really lucky for me, okay? Just in case."
Within an hour, he had nearly forgotten the incident. He played basketball with his friends, did his daily chores, helped his mother with dinner, and went to bed on time
The next day went much like any other. It wasn't quite as good as the day before but Chase didn't break any mirrors, didn't fight with his friends, and didn't publicly embarrass himself. He thought of the warning he'd been given as he was sitting in the car on the way to his birthday dinner. He supposed that, given the day he'd had, his bad luck wasn't real.
The scream of metal and breaking glass were the last things he remembered.