Chapter 1

September 1st

"Brringgg" went the last bell of the day, the very first day of middle school for Rachel, Lily, and Maria friends since first grade but, three very different girls. Rachel and Lily were dying to get out of school and go exploring in the woods behind Lily's new house. Maria on the other hand loved her art class and wanted to stay an hour more but knew she would have to meet up with her friends.
Maria got outside to meet Rachel and Lily. She saw their cheeks hinted pink from running to get out of school so quickly. After scanning the buses, Maria located bus 21 and pointed to it. They all hopped onto the bus to go over to Lily's new house. When they got to their stop, the bus came to a screeching halt. They all quickly climbed off and rushed over to Lily's house.
The house was magnificent it was way bigger than Lily's old one and it looked as elegant as a mansion. A chandelier hung from the high vault ceiling over the granite countertop in the kitchen. The marble tiles had a certain gleam to them. The walls had the "new house" smell, mixed with the sweet scent of a freshly baked apple pie. The Lily's mom and dad had taken her sister to dance class so they were alone.

"Your room is huge!" Maria twirled around in awe.

"Yeah I'm just annoyed your neighbor can help you with homework." Rachel said sarcastically. Lily's neighbor was the smartest guy in basically the whole school, possibly even the whole town.

"Hey!" Lily cried defensively her mouth bent into a smile. They all burst out laughing, knowing that Lily was just as smart.

There was still a lot of time left before Lily's parents and sister got home, so after they finished their paragraph about themselves for language arts class, they went outside to go wander around the woods behind Lily's house. They explored for a least half an hour. When it was almost time to go back Rachel and Maria saw a tunnel (more or less almost fell down it) in the ground big enough for them to crawl, slide, or fall down. Maria convinced them that they should start to head back but she saw a determined look in Rachel's eyes that said one way or another they would be going down there. Lily, the most athletic one of the group, made it clear that they were going to camp in the woods. Rachel planned for their future camp site to be in the clearing only half a mile away. They headed back to confirm their plans. Right after they got back Lily's parents and sister came home.

"How was the first day of school?" asked Lily's mom.

"Fine" they all answered in unison.

"Grace" Rachel looked up to face her.

"Grace if it's okay with our parents can we go camping in the woods to celebrate starting middle school?"

"I don't thinkā€¦"Maria started. Grace cut her off before Rachel kicked her. She was lucky Rachel didn't have a chance to because she had been playing soccer for a long time.

"Of course Rachel" Grace cheerfully smiled. By the end of their conversation it was time for Maria and Rachel to go back home. The drive to their houses was so silent you could have heard a pin drop. Rachel broke the silence when the ride was over by saying bye and start packing her camping gear for tomorrow .Before Lily could say a word she jumped out of the car, dragging Maria along with her.

September 2nd

Maria and Rachel arrived at Lily's door around three. "You ready?" Rachel asked.

"For camping? I guess." Lily replied not know if she was ready for exploring with Rachel and sensible Maria at the same time, if it was possible. Maria just shrugged. She knew she would have to go one way or another. Shock was still overpowering her. She couldn't believe her parents had actually said yes when she asked last night. It took only a few minutes for them to get everything packed and grab their pizza. Rachel was practically skipping to the clearing they found the day before.
Putting up their tent was like a comedy show because they never had to put up a tent before. Not a moment went past when someone wasn't tangled in the wires and canvas. Lily didn't mind setting the tent up but after they finished, she raced everyone to the tunnel they saw. She knew Rachel would make them go there eventually and she didn't want to fix the tent if it fell down again. Out of all three of them Maria was the least athletic and when she got to the tunnel she couldn't see Rachel or Lily.

"Hello? Rachel? Lily? Where are you?" Maria called out. "Boo!" Rachel and Lily shrieked as they jumped out at her. They didn't actually scare her, but she wouldn't admit it either way. She stumbled back and tripped down the tunnel.

"Quick let's go grab the climbing gear" Rachel commanded.

"What climbing gear? I just brought food and flashlights" Lily inquired. "Am I the only one who wanted to look in the tunnel?"

"I think so" Lily joked.

"Come on let's get my gear and some food and flashlights" Rachel getting sick of their conversation and wanted to help Maria.

Page break

The first thing Maria saw was Lily pacing back and forth on the sandy floor but she couldn't remember where she was exactly she was. She started to get up, but as soon as Rachel saw her attempt, she rushed over to her and grabbed her hands.

"Maria. Are you ok?" Rachel asked, not sounding horribly worried.

"Please you have to be ok" Lily begged.

"I'm fine but where are we?" Maria rubbed her head.

"We're in a cave! I guess" Rachel said, first amazed by her surroundings but then came back to reality.

"You guess. You just guess!" Maria's frantic voice echoed through the cave. The cave was serene and beautiful if you weren't trapped inside. There was a little pool of sparkling water that was multiple shades of blue and green and a bunch of rocks.

"Dare you to jump in" Lily challenged, trying to relive the tension. She also wanted to get Rachel to swim. "Okay. Cannonball!" Rachel yelled as she ran and jumped in, making a big splash, which also soaked Lily.
"EEKK you got me all wet" Lily shrieked.

"Ha ha. Sucks to be you."

"You are so going to get it, "Lily threatened.

"Then come get me" Rachel teased. She knew Lily hated getting her clothes wet.

While they were fighting Maria found a nice comfortable rock to sit and draw what she wanted to see the most, the sky. With a funny looking stick, she drew a big rectangle with numerous birds flying around. Lily gave up trying to get Rachel without getting wet. After a few minutes she decided to look around to see if anyone else had been in the cave before them. All of a sudden she tripped and fell and that's when she saw it etched into the floor. There on the floor, was a small map. Lily was too amazed to say anything. She kept tracing the map with her finger. There were unrecognizable symbols and words.

"Come on you guys. It's almost dark out" Maria said as she wiped away her drawing trying to get back to what she thought was a crisis. It turns out they had forgotten to tell her they could get out.

"She's right we should change our clothes and let them dry so we don't have to explain to your mom why there soaking wet" Rachel agreed while she was coming out of the pool, pointing the clothes that were clinging to her.

"Fine I suppose you're right" Lily said stubbornly wanting to look at the map more. Rachel tugged on the rope that they'd had use to get down and started climbing.

"You first" Maria gestured to the rope after Rachel had gotten above ground.

"No I can help you so you don't fall and Rachel can try to pull you up" "Fine" Maria grumbled. She grabbed the rope and climbed. It wasn't as difficult for Maria then Lily thought it would be. She practically floated up the rope. When they were all out of the cave, they headed back to the campsite. Maria started a fire while the other two girls got changed. Once it got dark, they put their half-dry clothes away and sat by the warm fire, roasting marshmallows, not saying anything except uttering "goodnight" when they climbed into their sleeping bags. Slowly, the girls drifted off to dreamland.