Andy is about a fiesty tomboy
Dana Collins, my best friend since the second grade, says that I’m overreacting about everything. She says the whole starting high school thing is a perfect example.
“I am definitely over that!” I said to her last night at Riverside Park when she stated this.
“Oh, really, Andrea?” she asked. She only calls me Andrea when she thinks I’m lying. Even though in this case, I really was telling the truth. I get very mad when she calls me by my real name, because no one has called me Andrea (except my mother, Gwen Piper, and apparently Dana) since first grade–they don’t have kindergarten at Denver Elementary School–when I asked everybody not to.
“I really am! And don’t call me that!” I exclaimed. We were almost at my house now. My house, located on 513 Riverside Road, is obviously on the street opposite the park. We just had to cross the street, but as we were about to, a truck went down the road and honked angrily at us.
We quickly made our way along the crosswalk, and looked at the red stop sign that met us on the other side of the road.
Dana grabbed my arm and practically screamed in my ear, “Hey! Look over there!” and pointed to a bench where tourists could stop and take pictures of the Denver, Colorado Historical Society, which is part of the park. But the two people sitting on the bench were not tourists. Oh, no. They were, to my disgust, Gwen Piper and Chris Martin, the It Couple of Denver High School, as rumor has it.
I yelped. Dana’s nails had dug into my arm now. I also yelped because seeing that, Gwen and Chris kissing, I mean, was a sight I really didn’t need to see. Dana and I don’t like looking at people make out.
“I’m blind now,” she said as we walked.
“Yeah,” I said, “They need to keep their disgusting PDA to themselves!”
We were entering my driveway. Dana’s house is right next to mine, so she didn’t have to walk far.
“See you tomorrow,” she said.
“See you then,” I said, waving back at her.
Oh, great. Mrs. Wesley, my teacher at Denver High School, just called on me and I had no idea what she said, so I replied with, “What?”
Gwen snorted supposedly enjoying the fact that I was making a public spectacle of myself.
“Andrea Stanton, what on God’s Green Earth am I going to do with you?” Mrs. Wesley sighed.
“Sorry, ma’am,” I said.
She clapped her hands and said, “Goodness, it’s time for English already!” At my school, the bell system broke down because as a prank last year, the seniors poured Coke from the machine outside of the office onto it.
I don’t understand why we can’t buy a new one. A new bell system, I mean. A lot of teachers got mad at the whole thing, because they always relied on the bell’s ding to awaken students who had fallen asleep. They decided that it was too much of a job to wake the kids, because they would (most of the time, anyway) get smacked by the student.
I swear, high school is no bowl of cherries, let me tell you.
Mrs. Wesley just finished passing out our English Literature textbooks, just like she did with our Advanced Algebra books. Now, Mrs. Wesley is quizzing us on what we do if there’s a fire alarm, or whatever.
Great. She’s on my row.
“Hopefully you are listening, Miss Stanton,” she said.
“Um, yes, I’m listening,” I said nervously.
“Good. What do you do if someone harasses you?”
My reply was instantaneous. “Tell the principal, Mr. Wright, not the vice principal, Mr. Lane. Might as well go straight to the top!” I said. Mrs. Wesley raised her eyebrows.
“Correct,” she muttered, and went on up my row.
“Nice answer, freak!” I heard someone whisper. I looked over my shoulder, and saw Gwen snickering. “The ‘top’ is God, stupid. And what’s with those shoes? Did you buy them at Salvation Army?” I scowled at her. I like my black high-tops!
“Hey, Gwen!” I said. I didn’t know what I was going to say to her, but it was going to have something to do with what she and Chris were doing at the park.
Mrs. Wesley turned around. “Miss Piper, is everything all right?” she asked.
“Oh, of course, Andy and I here were just making sure we know all the rules!” Gwen replied, an Oh-I’m- So-Innocent smile plastered on her tanned face. She gave me a look that said, “I’ll get you later,” and turned around to write a note to her best friend, Tamara Campbell, with her purple sparkle pen. The kind with the feathery pom-pom on top. Ew.
Six and a half hours until I go home. Please, God, don’t let me die of boredom before then! I have no fun classes to look forward to at school. You’d think that they’d slide a few good classes into my schedule, but NO! It has to be suck-zone from 8:30 on. Just LOOK at this stupid schedule!
Denver High School
Student: Stanton, Andrea Jean Student No.: 740022813
Class Teacher Room No.
Algebra Wesley 2
English Wesley 2
World Civ. Wesley 2
Biology Wesley 2
PE Quinn Gym
God! PE? Who do they even think they’re kidding with that? It’s the biggest joke of a class! All anyone ever does is do about, um, let me see, NO activities concerning the Presidential Fitness Test! All Coach Quinn does whenever the time for that heinous test is, “Good luck, kid. Now, where did I put my coffee?”
As this is my first year here, you may be wondering how I know all of this highly useful information. This information was given to me by Dana’s older sister, Cindy, who is telling Dana and I that these tips are extremely useful to help survive the horrors of what we call Denver High School. Coach Quinn reminds me of my dad, because that’s basically the only thing he ever says to me, on account of having to be at work all the time, when I ask him to get me a band-aid because I scraped my knee climbing a tree, or whatever. I already have my own father saying that. Now, my PE teacher is saying it, too?
Thank God lunch starts soon.
We ate outside today. I ran out of Mrs. Wesley’s room, down the stairs, and to my locker to find Dana standing there, leaning against it.
“Hey, Andy,” she said.
“Dana!” I hissed, “What are you doing here? Your locker is on the other side of
She laughed and stepped away so I could open my locker. “I know,” she said slyly. I put my books into my locker, slammed it shut, and stood to face her.
“Dana, did you skip class?” I asked as we headed into the cafeteria, which is across the hall from my locker.
“Um, yes?” was her reply.
“WHAT?” I practically shrieked.
“So what? Who cares if I skipped a few classes? Mr. Wilson sure doesn’t care. He practically fell asleep during the freaking Pledge of Allegiance!” she said as we both picked up trays from the metal bin outside the kitchen.
“Mr. W’s going to be after you,” I warned.
“No, he won’t!” Dana said “Want to know why?” I looked at her.
“Why?” I asked carefully.
Did I mention that Dana is a very tough girl? She can be very sneaky when she wants to be. Only right then, I was too stupid to see that she was tricking me.
“GOTCHA!” she laughed. “Of course I didn’t skip! If I skipped, how would I know about Mr. W’s sleeping habits?”
I was mad now.
“Good God, Dana! Don’t do that!” I exclaimed as one particularly cranky
cafeteria lady spooned salad onto my plastic, navy blue tray.
“What? I just wanted a laugh, is all. No more jokes, okay? Seeing how you can’t take one.” she said as we walked outside.
“I can too take a joke!” I said.
“Fine,” she said. “Whatever. How’s Frankenstein’s bride?” I laughed as we sat
down on one of the wooden picnic tables.
“Who’s that?” I asked.
“Gwen, the Lord Voldemort of DHS!” she said.
“She hasn’t gotten any nicer. Actually, she’s gotten snottier. She totally
attacked me about my shoes!” I held up my feet so Dana could see them.
“Barbie and Ken alert at two o’clock,” she said. I turned around to see Gwen and
Chris walking outside, Tamara walking behind Gwen, looking like a zombie by the way she kept her eyes on them.
They do look like Barbie and Ken.
I stabbed at some of the lettuce in my salad with my fork and said, “Look at Gwen’s hair,” Dana chewed some of her sugar cookie.
“And you’re saying this why?” she asked.
“She just looks like Paris Hilton!” I said.
“You think she looks like that skank?” A girl sitting at the bench behind us asked. We turned around.
“Excuse me?” Dana said, raising an eyebrow.
“Because you’re totally right. She does! And my name’s Lynn, by the way.
Lynn Sawyers.” the girl said.
Dana stuck out a hand. “How do you do?” she asked. Lynn, appalled by Dana’s greeting, shook her hand in silence. “Dana Collins, and this is Andy Stanton,” Dana said.
“Hi,” Lynn said as she swished some ranch dressing around in her salad with her fork.
“Hey, I know you! You’re that girl on Mr. Wilson’s class that lost your pencil!” Dana said, pointing at Lynn.
“Um, yeah! Do you know where it is? It’s my only one!” Lynn said.
“Sure, sure,” Dana said. “It’s in my locker. I was going to give it back to you next period.” Dana stood up and said, “Well, I’m beat. That was the most disgusting lunch I’ve ever had. I am SO bringing my own tomorrow!” Lynn and I nodded in agreement.
We all stood up and walked over to one of the grey plastic trash bins by the school’s entrance and threw our trays into them. We saw Gwen and Chris walking around the track, their arms around each other’s shoulders.
“They disgust me,” Dana muttered.
“Let’s follow them!” Lynn said. “Chris Martin is in my brother T.J.’s classes. Maybe Chris knows where he is.”
Dana opened her mouth, I knew, to tell Lynn that she highly doubted that Chris would give her any useful data on the whereabouts of her brother, but I said, “Shhh!” to her. She glanced worriedly at me.
Lynn Sawyers was not exactly the class looker, if you know what I mean. I knew that, in my past experiences, Gwen would tear her down because of her pale, freckle-covered skin, and her black hair, not to mention her sunglasses, which looked like they would be considered the height of fashion back in 1970, but certainly not here in the cruel 21st century. She tapped on Chris’s shoulder when we reached the couple.
“Hey, do you know where T.J. Sawyers is?” she asked.
“No way, kid,” he said.
“What are you doing here?” Gwen asked her.
“Um, I was just asking if your boyfriend, so to speak, knew where my older brother is. They’re in the same classes, you know.” Lynn pointed out.
Gwen rolled her eyes. “I don’t care, so why are you telling me?” she asked. Lynn looked mad.
“You asked,” she said through gritted teeth.
“No, I asked what you were doing here, not about this J.T. person.” Gwen sneered.
“T.J.,” I corrected her.
“Whatever,” Gwen said. “Now go away, I can’t waste my time talking to social rejects such as you, Freckle Face!” Gwen turned around to face her boyfriend. Lynn, I noticed, was making a very obscene gesture at Gwen. She didn’t do this when Gwen was looking at us, because you don’t really go around making obscene gestures at the school quarterback’s girlfriend if you want to live to see the first day of ninth grade.
I saw that Coach Quinn, who was supervising us, preparing to blow the Death Whistle, at least, that’s what Cindy says it is. I asked Dana where the heck her sister was, and Dana said that she has a different lunch period than we do.
“Don’t walk away from me, you . . . You beeyotch!” Lynn roared. Only she didn’t say beeyotch, if you get my drift.
“WHAT?” Gwen exclaimed, as Chris turned around and removed his arm from her shoulders. “WHAT DID YOU JUST CALL ME?”
Lynn looked far from scared. “I didn’t call you anything.” Lynn lied, shrugging.
“No, you called me a. . . .” Gwen began, but was interrupted.
“KIDS, COME BACK INSIDE!” Coach Quinn yelled, blowing her whistle, blocking out Gwen’s next few swear words at us. Chris put his arm around her again, and he must have given her a really good squeeze, because he and Gwen silently walked past us.
But I saw Gwen look back at us and mouth, “I’ll get you for this!” Lynn looked triumphant.
Dana and I exchanged surprised glances as if to say, “Talk about Don’t-Judge-A Book-By-Its-Cover!” We walked past Coach Quinn, right as she blew her Death Whistle.
“God, I’m deaf now! Thanks, Coach. I really appreciate it.” Dana muttered.
“What was that, Collins?” Coach Quinn asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Nothing, I’m just glad to be here!” Dana lied.
With Dana being such an accomplished liar, I highly doubt Coach Quinn knew the difference. “You know, your long legs could win us some gold in track, if you’re interested.” Coach Quinn said as everyone shuffled inside the school.
“Um, yeah, I guess. . . .” Dana said uneasily. Then, Coach Quinn started telling her all about track season starting in the spring, and track meets, and stuff, while Dana just nodded, trying to look like she was paying attention.
Maybe she was. Who am I to judge?
When we all walked inside, Lynn looked around after removing her Jan Brady-like sunglasses. “Hey! T.J.! Come here! There’s some people I want you to meet!” she exclaimed excitedly as her brother looked around, spotted us, and walked over to where we were standing in the hallway. “This is Andy Stanton, and this is Dana Collins!” she gushed.
“Hey,” he said, and I saw that he was giving ME the old eyeball.
“Hey,” I said back. T.J. had a nice face. Brown hair, brown eyes, and skin
tanned by the sun. He actually looked like me if I were a boy.
“Hi,” Dana said. T.J. and I were just staring at each other. I was staring because besides Lynn’s brother being a hottie, we also resembled each other so much. He was staring probably for the same reasons.
Anyway, after Lynn had gotten over her excitement of introducing us, she said, “Hey, Teej, you’re on Mrs. Wesley’s team, right?” T.J. looked over at her from where he was standing beside me as we walked down the hall.
“Yeah,” he said. “Why?”
Lynn laughed and said, “Because, silly! Andy’s on her team, too!”
I asked T. J, if he, like me, was in all AP classes, and he said, “Yes,” as if he were in the remedial classes instead of the advanced ones.
“Cool,” I smiled. “I thought you looked a little familiar!” For some reason, his face turned bright pink.
“Yeah, you too!” he stammered.
“Oops, gotta go! There’s my locker!” Dana said as she zoomed away from us and up the hall.
“There’s mine!” Lynn said, and she followed Dana up the stairs and into the hallway.
“My locker is number 603.” T.J. said.
“Awesome! Mine’s 607!” I said.
“I’ll see you there!” he said, smiling down at me. He turned around and headed for the doors of the boy’s bathroom. I walked up the three flights of stairs before I finally reached my locker. I stopped as I placed my hand on the combination lock.You know those vents that are on the locker doors? I don’t know why they’re there, because it’s not like we’re going to stuff a bag full of newborn puppies in there and drown them in the river after school, or anything. Nothing actually has to BREATHE in there, unless you get thrown into your locker by Gwen or one of her cronies, Tamara Campbell and Maya Lewis, the two tallest girls in the ninth grade.
So anyway, I saw that a piece of paper was stuffed into one of the evil vents. I opened my locker and out came the note, landing at my feet with a small thud. The paper said, Hey, Andrea! That J.T. guy is not interested in boy-brain slobs like you!
I immediately thought of Gwen’s remark outside. “I asked what you were doing here, not about this J. T. person!” she had said. Plus, she is one of the few people who calls me Andrea. I felt my mouth curve into a frown and heard someone step beside me. It was T.J.!
“Hey,” he said, then, noticing my sour expression, he went, “Whoa, what’s wrong?” I looked at him, and just handed the note to him in silence. He read it with an amused expression.
“Gwen Piper wrote it.” I murmured, feeling my face turning red.
“Oh,” he said. “Because I saw that Tamara Campbell put something right there.” He pointed to the vent the note had fallen out of.
“Really?” I asked. “I bet Gwen told her to put it in there, so just in case anyone saw, she wouldn’t get caught!” I exclaimed as I stooped down to grab my Bio and World Civilization books that Mrs. Wesley had given us all out of my locker.
“Probably,” T.J. said. “Pretty funny, her thinking you liked me, huh?” he asked, leaning against the locker beside mine.
“I guess,” I said quietly. I was blushing. I could feel it.
“Can I, uh, carry your books?” he asked.
“Oh, that’s really sweet, but I don’t want your arms to fall off!” I said, before noticing how extremely well-defined his biceps were.
“No problem!” he grinned as I passed my books over to him. When we walked in to the classroom, everyone, including Gwen, Tamara, and Maya, were staring at us. “Here you go,” T.J. said as he put my books on my desk. I saw that he sat right behind me. Mrs. Wesley said that we could sit wherever we felt comfortable earlier this morning. I was surprised that T.J., well, felt comfortable behind me!
I guess I was blushing so hard, I didn’t hear Mrs. Wesley ask me if everything was all right. She came over and placed a pink slip of paper onto my desk that looked like this:
NOTES FROM TEACHER Mr. Stanton, Andrea has detention for two days due to not paying attention.
After I received and read the thing, T.J. laid a hand on my shoulder to comfort me.
Next thing I knew, he stood up and said, “Don’t give her detention. I found a note that fell out of her locker and gave it to her. It said something bad, and I guess she’s still in shock!” He sat back down and winked at me while I just stared at him.
“Hand me the note, then,” Mrs. Wesley said calmly. Gwen got a look that I can only call pure panic on her face.
“Don’t you dare!” she hissed. I took the note out of my pocket and handed it to Mrs. Wesley. I saw her eyebrows go up. WAY up.
“Do you know who wrote this?” she asked.
“TAMARA CAMPBELL WROTE IT! I SAW HER!” Gwen squeaked. Tamara looked as if Gwen had stabbed her in the back. Which, I guess, she totally had.
“What? No way! You told me to put it in her locker!” Tamara threw an accusing glance at her so-called best friend. “You wrote it, Gwen, and you know it!” she squealed.
“That’s enough,” Mrs. Wesley said. “Gwen and Tamara, for interrupting my class, you both have detention. For a week! Andy, you are off punishment.” She took the pink slip off my desk, tore it in half, and threw it in the trash can by her desk. Tamara gasped.
“But she did it! Not me!” she wailed.
“Actually, you put the note in Andrea’s locker, didn’t you?” Mrs. Wesley asked curiously.
“Well, yeah, but Gwen told me to!” Tamara explained. I rolled my eyes.
“You both took part in this, so you both get what you deserve.” Mrs. Wesley said. “Now turn to page 423 in your World Civilization textbooks, please. Andrea, read the first column.” She walked up to her podium as I began reading.
When I was done, Mrs. Wesley moved up my row, starting with T.J. who asked, “Why is it always ME?” so only I could hear. I couldn’t help laughing. He read the second column about the history of the hieroglyphics and Egyptians, as I had done, but his column had a lot of scientific terms. And he knew how to pronounce EVERY SINGLE ONE. I could never be that smart! Well, maybe I could. I am in all AP classes. . . .
After T.J. finished his column, Mrs. Wesley told us that World Civ was over and that we needed to turn to page 557 in our Biology textbooks.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Wesley, why are we doing work in these classes? We didn’t do any work in Algebra or English except do quizzes and stuff!” the boy beside Maya, Allan Goodwin, asked.
“I just think that we need to brush up on our history and science, is all, Mr. Goodwin.” Mrs. Wesley replied, glancing at him.
“Oh.” Allan said plainly.
“As I was saying, today we will be learning about atoms and chemical compounds to review what we will be learning in Biology this semester.” Mrs. Wesley said, opening her Teacher’s Edition AP Biology book.
I groaned. Atoms and chemical compounds? What are they? I know perfectly well what an atom is. It’s the smallest particle of a chemical element! All I need to do now is figure out what on God’s Green Earth a chemical compound is. I’ll just look in the Glossary in the back of my book.
Chemical Compound — A substance formed by a chemical union of two or more ingredients in definite proportion by weight.
Now all I have to do is remember that forever and I’ll be fine.
“Hey!” I heard someone from the seat beside me say. I turned around. “Mrs. Wesley,” Gwen Piper smirked. “Isn’t it against school rules to look in the Glossary without permission? Because I don’t think that anyone here, including Andrea Stanton, should be an exception to that rule, do you?” Gwen gave me a look of pure evil and said, leaning close to my ear, “When you least expect it, expect it!” Mrs. Wesley looked from me, to T. J., and then to Gwen.
“Yes, Andrea, I’m afraid Miss Piper here is right. But I am not going to punish you. Just leave this as a warning to all of you.” She looked at everyone with a long, calm stare, and closed her book.
“What? You’re just going to let her go? But I got detention!” Gwen shrieked. Mrs. Wesley opened her desk drawer, pulled out a pink slip, wrote on it, and handed it to Gwen, who stared down at it as if it were a ball of fire, or something.
“A pink slip to match your tank top, which, I must say, is against dress code.” Mrs. Wesley handed her a pink slip of paper after she walked over to her desk and took it out of her drawer.
I looked over at Gwen’s desk and said, “Let me see that,” She handed me the pink slip without even looking at me. That probably meant she was crying. The paper was like mine, only it said that she had a violation of the dress code.
Chris Martin leaned over and said, “It’s okay, babe.” I completely forgot he was even in there!
“Shut up!” Gwen sobbed.
“Oh, look at that!” Mrs. Wesley said, looking at her watch. “Good-bye, kids! Gwen, stay in my room, please.” Gwen nodded and sobbed some more after I handed her paper back to her.
T.J. walked beside me and said, “What do you have next? I’ve got Quinn.” I smiled and handed him my schedule.
“Me, too!” I exclaimed.
“Great!” he said. I blushed. He saw this, and his face turned deep purple.
“Hey, are you okay?” I asked.
“Yeah, why?” he asked.
“You just . . .” My voice trailed off as we walked down to the gym. Coach
Quinn was silent as she pointed to the locker rooms.
“See you,” T.J. said as he walked inside the boys’ locker room with all of the other guys.
“See you,” I said, almost tumbling from the force of all the other screaming girls. I looked around. I saw Dana changing clothes in the darkest corner of the room, as was her custom whenever we were forced to take PE in middle school.
“Hey,” I said, laying my Kroger shopping bag full of my gym clothes and tennis shoes beside her own.
“Hi,” Dana grumbled, pulling her white T-shirt on over her head.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Um, I’m in this class, duh!” she said, walking over to the long, dusty mirror and pulling her long red hair into a high ponytail.
“Okay, okay!” I said, peeling my khakis off and pulling my dark green DHS shorts on.
“Sorry,” Dana said, tying her shoelace, “I just don’t feel all that great.”
After I had finished changing, I moved beside her and said, “Really? I feel great, except for, you know, the PE part.” I smiled as I heard a laugh bubble out of her. When Dana laughs, it usually means she is starting to feel better. She doesn’t exactly have a good home life. Well, I actually shouldn’t say it like that. Dana’s parents are divorced. She and Cindy live with their mother. Their father was caught in numerous burglaries and was an alcoholic, so Christine Collins, Dana’s mother, decided that it was an unsafe environment for all three of them, and moved out here to Denver when I was in second grade. After Dana had introduced herself to the class, I decided to let her in on the whole Don’t-Call-Me-Andrea thing.
Dana, after I told her this all those years ago, told me not to call her Danielle, and we became best friends on the spot. Mrs. Claris, the second grade teacher at Denver Elementary School, was new to the staff, and, not knowing any better, let us sit wherever we wanted. Until, that is, Dana and I were so loud she had to sit us in alphabetical order, leaving me to sit with Gwen. You can probably guess how that turned out. She tortured me about my wavy, honey-brown hair and my eyes, which are brown, not to mention that I dressed like the boys in our class, minus the baggy jeans. I actually just wore khakis, camouflage Bermuda shorts, and T-shirts, as I do to this day.
So you can see that Gwen and I never had a friendly relationship, even way back then.
“Well, I don’t really have anything to look forward to.” Dana sighed.
“Why?” I asked. “The new neighbors are moving in today. Maybe they have a kid.” I said, right as Coach Quinn walked in the locker room, blew the Death Whistle, and walked out. We all followed her into the gym and sat down. She ordered us to sit alphabetically, so we did. Dana was on the other side of the room. I was assigned to sit by a quiet, tall girl who only looked at me when I sat beside her on the gym floor. To my relief, T.J. sat down on my other side.
“Hi,” I said to her.
“Hi,” she squeaked. “I’m Andy Stanton,” I said.
“I-I’m Jane Steely.” she said, sighing.
“Are you a freshman?” I asked. “No, I’m a sophomore!” she informed me, with a small bit of pride in her voice.
“Everybody listen up! We’re going to do pacers today! Get in five lines. I’ll blow my whistle, and the first person in each group will run across the floor five times. We clear?”
We all replied, “Yes.”, and did as Coach Quinn said. We all ran, and then, we played a quick game of kickball, ‘for fun’ as Coach Quinn put it when, Allan Goodwin, who I hadn’t seen until then, asked her why we were doing something.
After kickball was finished (my team was undefeated), we went back into the locker rooms, changed, put our gym clothes in our assigned PE lockers, and headed out the building after stopping at our lockers and grabbing our back packs.
“Thank God almighty, I’m free at last!” T.J. exclaimed happily, looking heavenward. I couldn’t help laughing.
“Come on, we’re going to be late for the bus!” I said, with T.J. walking behind me as we headed up the stairs of bus number 35.
The driver, Burt Livingston, said, “Why, howdy, Miss Andy! And I see Theodore James is your buddy, eh?” He laughed.
“It’s T.J., sir,” T.J. explained as we walked through the aisle, filled with other kids’ backpacks, homework, and quite a few paper airplanes.
“What up, girl?” I turned my head.
“Dana! Oh, my God! Hi!” I said.
“Hey, guys!” Lynn said, moving over. “Andy, I saved a seat for you. T.J., the only free spot is beside Dana.”
T.J. smiled. “Aw, that’s cool. No problem.” he said, taking the seat beside Dana, who only looked at him.
“So what did you guys do all day?” Lynn asked.
“We did a ton of crap in Bio. World Civ wasn’t too bad. Gwen and Tamara got
busted, though.” T.J. informed her and Dana.
“Awesome!” Dana said, a little too loudly, causing some of the other passengers
to look at us. “How did it happen?” she asked, leaning her head on the top of the seat
Lynn and I were sharing.
“She sent Andy some note,” he said, then added, “Which was complete B.S.!”
Only he didn’t say the initials.
I have to get out of here soon. My mom has called up here twice, wondering what in the world I’m doing up here in my bathroom. I have to keep telling her I’m looking for First Aid cream to help heal a scratch on my arm from the apple tree in our backyard I’d climbed earlier this summer. Since Dana lives in the house next door to me, she saw it happen, unfortunately, because I had cried my eyes out, which is something I rarely ever do.
When we got off the bus, we walked up the sidewalk to our houses. But today, we stopped at the house beside mine. Not Dana’s, though. They had just finished building this house on my house’s right-Dana’s house is on my left-and a moving truck was sitting in the driveway. About five men were hauling furniture and boxes into the house. We also saw a man, a woman, and a boy that looked about my age entering the bright, apricot-colored house. I looked over to see my mother holding a tray of what looked to be her zucchini casserole.
“Hi, sweetie!” she said, kissing my cheek.
“Hi, Mom. What exactly are you doing?” I asked, still looking at the yellow and green goo that filled the tray.
“I’m being a good neighbor!” she said. She looked like a TV mom from 1950. Her raven-color hair cascaded like a waterfall down her back.
“State Farm says they’re like a good neighbor, and look at what happened to our car!” I looked around. My dad was walking towards us.
“Oh, John! We got the car fixed!” Mom said as she adjusted his tie.
My dad hates State Farm because last year, some drunk teenager crashed into our BMW convertible and State Farm couldn’t pay for the damage. Or something like that. I’m not sure. I’m not really into car insurance, unlike my dad. We switched to Allstate the next day. A few months later, my dad became the manager of Denver’s Allstate office.
“Um, Mrs. Stanton, who are those people?” Dana asked, pointing to the family who had now come out of the house and helped carry boxes.
“Oh, those are the Crawfords. They moved here from Seattle. That’s Jim Crawford, his wife is Lulu, and that’s their son, Adam.” Mom said. She was wearing her best party dress, the floral-printed one, with a yellow sash. She was wearing a yellow ribbon in her hair. But that’s just how my mom is: a zucchini casserole-baking, super fancy lady.
“So, honey, what did you do today?” Dad asked.
“We learned the dos and don’ts. And we read aloud in Bio and World Civ.” I replied, yawning.
“Oh,” Dad said. “Now, let’s be, what did your mother call it, oh, yes, neighborly and help the new folks with their belongings!”
So Dad, Dana, and I followed my mother up the steps of the front porch.
“May I help you?” A tall man asked us after my mom had said hello into the empty house.
“Oh, excuse me, sir! We’re the Stanton family. We live right there!” My mom pointed to our house.
“Oh, nice to meet you.” he said, and stuck out his right hand. My mother shook it and said,
“You are Jim Crawford?”
The man chuckled and said, “Yes. Lulu, Adam, we’ve got company!” A minute or two later, a red-haired woman and a dark-haired boy appeared in the doorway.
“Hello. I’m Moira Stanton. This is my husband John, my daughter Andrea, and this is her friend Dana Collins. We live right next to you, and Dana lives in the next house. It’s a pleasure welcoming you to the neighborhood! Such a clean, wholesome place to live!” my mother babbled. I nudged her, to try to tell her to shut up, but it was too late. That’s how far gone she was.
When Mom finally stopped to gulp down some air, Lulu said, “Thank you for welcoming us so kindly. Would you please join us for supper? It would mean so much to us!” Then, the boy beside her cleared his throat. “Oh, I’m sorry.This is my son, Adam. We just got off the phone with Mr. Wright a while ago. He will be on Mr. Wilson’s team, and is a freshman. He’s in all AP classes.” I saw a smile creep up Dana’s face. This guy was extremely good looking. I’m glad Dana doesn’t live in this house.
Our upstairs bathroom window has a view into the Crawford family’s attic, in which, I just noticed, Adam has chosen for his bedroom. I just had to look at Dana’s smile and I knew that if she lived here, she’d move into this bathroom. Not that I’m looking, or anything. Well, maybe I am, but only to get back at boys for the hundreds of years they’ve spent with binoculars watching innocent girls change.
I just think us women need a little payback, is all I’m saying. Is that so wrong?
And Adam Crawford provides some fine, fine payback.
So anyway, while my mom was babbling, my dad decided that he would give the new neighbors the zucchini casserole that my mother had so lovingly baked for them. But the tray was still hot, so when my dad took it out of Mom’s hands and felt how hot it was, he accidentally threw it in Mr. Crawford’s face! Well, actually, that’s what it had looked like, but Mrs. Crawford wanted to step outside, and she pushed her husband, and as my dad was trying to hand it to him, his face fell in!
Everyone gasped, well, except for Mr. Crawford, his mouth was full. He lifted his head, smiled, and reached in his shirt pocket. He pulled a white handkerchief out of it and wiped his face. “Ahh,” he said, “much better!”
My dad said, “Oh, I’m so sorry!”
Lulu smiled and said, “Oh, it’s all right. It was just an accident!”
Her husband, who, I noticed, had small remnants of the food stuck in some of his hair, said, “Yes. No harm done!” Adam started laughing.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“Nothing! Dad, you just have a ton of that spit in your hair!” he said. Only he didn’t say spit.
“Adam Wilson Crawford! Don’t you dare say that word again!” Lulu said, giving us an apologetic look.
I saw Adam mutter under his breath, “I won’t let you hear!” I couldn’t help laughing! He smiled at me-the complete opposite of my mom’s reaction. She glared at me.
“Can we help you with anything?” Dad asked, his face still red with embarrassment over the casserole incident.
“Oh, no, thank you. Everything’s in the house!” Lulu said, smiling sunnily at us.
“Well, we must be going, then. Nice meeting you!” Mom said.
“Moira, you must come over sometime for afternoon tea! You all must!” Lulu said.
“We will! Thank you.” Mom said. “Good-bye!”
And we hurried out of there.
When we reached our house, my mother exploded on my dad. “WHY DID YOU DO THAT? I WAS GOING TO GIVE THEM THE ZUCCHINI CASSEROLE!” she roared.
“Sorry, honey! They said it was all right!” Dad said cautiously. I am used to this.
“Mom,” I said, “Do you want me to get you a Midol? Because, no offense, you look like you could use some.” My mom stared at me for a second, but then said, “Andrea, Dana, could you two please excuse us for a moment?” Dana and I were more than happy to oblige. “Sure. We’ll just play some video games at my place.” Dana said as we walked out the doorway.
“God, how embarrassing!” I said as we walked along the sidewalk.
“It wasn’t that bad, Andy. I mean, I can see how you officially know that your parents aren’t to be trusted, but they said it was fine. Actually, it was pretty funny!” she said. I know that she was just trying to cheer me up, but it didn’t really work.
“To you, maybe. But did you see how that guy-that Adam guy-laughed at us? I just don’t think I could go through it! I mean, what if we become friends, and if I beat him at something, he might be all, ‘Well, maybe you’re better at Laser Tag, but at least my dad’s not a klutz’ or something!” I complained.
Well, if Adam did ever make fun of my dad for being a klutz, it probably wouldn’t be so bad. It just felt horrible to fully realize it. That my dad’s a klutz, I mean. Oh, well. No one’s perfect.
“Don’t worry about it! He’s a boy, Andy. He’ll probably forget about it by tomorrow. Or next week.” Dana said comfortingly, even though her words didn’t help at all. “Now come on. My mom is making homemade lemonade just the way you like it!” she said. A smile immediately formed on my face.
“Is it really?” I asked.
“It is half lemon juice, half water, and a whole lot of sugar!” Dana said, poking me on the shoulder.
“Well, then what are we just standing here for?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Dana said.
I looked at her. “Come on!” I said, grabbing her hand and running towards her house.
Cindy was sitting on the front porch steps quietly sipping her own glass of lemonade. She waved and said, “So how’d you like it?” Her glasses shimmered in the sunlight. Unlike Dana, Cindy had curly, thick brown hair and sapphire-blue eyes. A junior, she had won many academic awards during the Denver High School Awards Ceremony in May last year.
“School?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“School was fine,” Dana said. Cindy put her glass down on the step beside her and crossed her arms.
“All right, Dana. What’s his name?” she asked.
“Cindy!” Dana shrieked.
“I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!” Cindy squealed, pointing at her sister and jumping up and down on the porch.
“His name is . . .” Dana took a deep, shaky breath as she said, “T.J. Sawyers.”
I actually yelped. A yelp that I’m pretty sure contributed to Dana’s suddenly foul mood.
“What?” I asked.
“I like him, okay?” Dana said. “Now let’s go inside and get some lemonade and play some Cool Boarders!” She went inside, leaving her sister and I alone in the sunshine.
“You like him too, don’t you?” Cindy asked, her voice filled with loving concern. “A little,” I replied.
“Oh, don’t worry. Dana will get over it soon. She always does. And I should know, considering the fact that I have to live with her.” she said, placing a lock of curly brown hair behind her double-pierced ear.
“I know, but what if he starts to like one of us, and we get into a fight, and we don’t want to be friends anymore?” I babbled, now realizing that I inherited this trait from my mother, who is the queen of uncontrollable chatter.
Cindy took hold of my shoulders and shook them. “Andy, cool it! You’ve gotta chill!” she said.
“Fine,” I said, “I think I’m going to go in now and have some lemonade.” I walked up the porch steps and through the front door, that I saw Dana had left open, probably assuming that I would follow after her.
“Hello, Andy!” I heard someone say. I walked into the kitchen.
“Hey, Ms. Collins!” I said, smiling. She glowed, literally. Dana says that she has done that, glowed, I mean, ever since she started dating the Riverside Road Country Club owner, Mr. Landon, who, Dana informed me, is planning to propose on September 26, which is Ms. Collins’s birthday, which I think is pretty romantic. Also, Mr. Landon changed the entry code to the day they started going out. Dana is very happy for her mom, but she told me that she was afraid about adding James Landon to the family because she liked eating at their ‘table for three’ whenever they go eat at Applebee’s or something. Plus, she didn’t want James to do the same thing to her mother that her father had.
But I told her not to worry, because James Landon is a really nice, really funny guy, and I could never imagine him doing anything to hurt Christine Collins, if the 50,000 dollar engagement ring he bought for her is any indication. Did I mention that James Landon is a multi-millionaire? He owns most of Riverside Road’s houses. The Crawford family bought the lot so they could build their house here, so they must be really, really wealthy!
Oh, my God! When MY MOM knocked on the door, opened it, and saw me in here in the dark (the only way I could see what I was doing was from the moonlight streaming in through the window) and then, she saw Adam, who had by now sat on his bed reading a comic book, and my mom freaked.
“ANDREA! GET OUT OF THAT BATHROOM NOW! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE SPYING ON THAT BOY!” she screamed, dragging me by the arm into my own bedroom. I tried to calmly explain to her that I wasn’t spying, but that I was merely thinking things over about school today.
A complete lie, I know, but I don’t want my mom to find out about it, because she’ll tell my dad, who will tell Mr. and Mrs. Crawford, who will tell Adam to put his blinds down. And then, Adam would either hate me or tease me about it. I know he would. Plus, the only time I ever saw anything was when I put my head up to think!
So it wasn’t completely a lie! I did tell her I was thinking! Oh, great. I can hear her telling my dad that I was spying on that boy. I can hear my dad trying to calm her down.
“Honey, she probably wasn’t spying on Adam. She was probably just meditating, or something!” he said.
“Meditating?” my mom shrieked. “She was in the bathroom in the dark and you’re saying that you think she was meditating?” My mom’s voice sounded shrill as she spoke.
“Yes,” Dad said. I felt a great affection for him for coming to my defense like that. “Andy doesn’t seem like the kind of girl that would spy on a young boy.” he said.
“Her name,” my mother said angrily, “is Andrea. Not Andy. Andrea!” Whoa, Mom, take some Midol, for God’s sake.
I wish I was sitting in my bathroom, the door closed, and not hearing a sound except for the crickets chirping outside. Why did my mom have to drag me into my bedroom? Why? I can always hear them in this room.
“I’m going to bed, Moira. Goodnight.” my dad said, and he stomped up the stairs. He stopped when he reached the top step. “Honey, did you hear all of that?” he asked. I nodded. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said when he came into my room and sat down on my bed beside me, pulling me into his arms.
“It’s fine, Dad, really. I just don’t understand why Mom gets so freaked every time I suggest a Midol!” I said. He laughed, but his laugh didn’t consist of the cheery good humor it usually had. Instead, it sounded cold and hard. Not evil, but definitely not happy, either. I looked worriedly at him.
“Dad,” I said, “Are you okay?”
He smiled at me. “Yes.” he said.
“Really?” I asked.
“Really,” he said, “I just wish your mother would try to control herself, is all.”
I laughed. “I think we’re both wishing for that, Dad!” I said.
“Now,” he began, a serious look on his face. “Were you really spying on Adam Crawford?”
I told my dad that I wasn’t spying on the new neighbor, but just thinking about my first day of high school. My dad believed it. My mom was another story.
“How could you?” she asked. She was pacing all around the family room, her hair whipping around her scowling face each time she turned around just to walk in the other direction. She had dragged me downstairs to talk about what I was doing in the bathroom for so long. I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal. I mean, when I was in the bathroom, I looked over, and there was Adam. No big deal, right? When you live with my parents, EVERYTHING is a big deal. Dana’s mom lets her do whatever she wants. With my parents? Yeah. Not so much.
“Mom,” I said, putting a hand over my mouth to try to stifle the ENORMOUS yawn coming from it, “it’s 10:30. We’ll talk about it in the morning, okay?” Mom stared at me.
“We will certainly not talk about it in the morning, young lady!” she hissed.
“Moira, darling,” Dad said, “Andrea is very tired. She has to get up at six o’clock in the morning, remember? Please, let her go to bed. I think it would be best if we all went to bed.” Mom looked heavenward.
“Fine,” she said grumpily. “Goodnight, honey,” Mom said, patting me on the shoulder.
“‘Night, sweet-cheeks,” my dad said, hugging me.
I wriggled free from his arms and ran up the stairs, into my room, changed into my favorite sweats and T-shirt, and got into bed, which I had forgotten to make this morning, on account of the excitement (or my mom’s excitement, I should say) of the new school year. I thought about T. J.. I couldn’t help wondering about how we looked exactly alike, except for us being different genders. I actually look nothing like my parents, with my mother having dark black hair and my dad having dark blonde hair. T.J. and I have the exact same smile, eyes, and skin color. All of the sudden, I sat up. What if T.J. Sawyers is my twin brother? I thought. No, no, that couldn’t be! Why would I be in love with my own brother? EW! Then, it hit me: What if I am adopted? I mean, I look nothing like my parents, T.J. is practically my male clone, and-
While these thoughts ran through my mind, I dozed off, dreaming that Lynn, T. J. and I were siblings. It was one heck of a nightmare, let me tell you.
Now, I sat, bored out of my mind in English, listening to Mrs. Wesley droning on and on about the importance of letter-writing. This. Is. So. Boring.
God, why do we have to learn this? Why, I ask you? WHY?
I don’t understand any of this.
“Gwen, please read page 32,” Mrs. Wesley said, nodding to a smirking Gwen. While she read in her stupid chipmunk voice, Mrs. Wesley passed out some questionnaires about what we have learned about the styles of letters so far. Since I don’t have a very large attention span, I practically dozed off the entire freaking time.
“Now,” she said, “Read over this paper and then, answer the questions. If you paid attention, you will pass. If you did not pay attention, then you are going to fail.” Thank you for letting me know ahead of time that I am going to fail, Mrs. Wesley. I really appreciate it.
After many long minutes of staring at an unanswered page, I quickly circled one of each of the answer choices (A, B, C, or D) and glumly let Mrs. Wesley pick it up off of my desk. I fully saw her wrinkling her nose one she sat down in her chair behind her podium.
Behind me, T.J. cleared his throat and said, “Andy, are you okay? You look kind of . . . well, freaked out every time you look at me. Did I do something?” He actually sounded, well, there’s only one word for it: hurt. I took a piece of paper out of my camouflage-patterned spiral notebook and wrote,
Of course not, Teej! I just completely sucked my way through that stupid test!
You mean questionnaire.
Whatever, T.J. I just wish that my mother would cool it once in a while. I need a normal mom for a change! But why am I telling YOU this? It’s none of your business!!!
What do you need your mom for? You’ve got me!
What? You look like you could use a laugh!
Thanks. Oh, great. Wesley’s looking this way. Talk at lunch?
In the two days that we’ve known each other, I’ve learned that it’s fun talking to T.J.. It’s like talking to Dana, but better, because he’s a guy! Only I couldn’t tell him about what I thought last night, you know, about suspecting that he is my long-lost brother and that we were split at birth and how we might be adopted. And it sure does help that I’m in love with him.
Well, if we actually are sharing the same DNA, it would be kind of cool to meet my long-lost sibling.
But wait. If I am adopted, who are my real parents? Hmm. . . .