Alone in the Middle

by Rosalie

Chapter 1

Part 1

“Ewwww!” My sister wrinkled her nose. “That is so-” “Disgusting!” That was my sister's twin sister. They often finish their sentences for each other. “What? We don't see anything gross about Suki!” That was my little brother. “Yeah! Suki is awesome!” That was my little brother's twin. They often agree that things that are weird and gross, are totally awesome. Confused? Maybe I should explain. I am Lisa Jenkins. My older sisters? They're 15-year old twins. My little brothers? They're 7-year old twins. Both are identical. Now you're probably waiting to hear about my twin. Well, I don't have one. In case you didn't figure it out, my family has five kids, and I'm the middle. Now let me explain. My mom was pregnant three years after she was married. That was with Ann and Anna. They are now fashion divas, completely popular, and extremely smart. Then, when they were three, I was born. My parents must have been so happy, because I was born alone. After all, who needs another set of twins, when you have a pair of three year olds? Then, when I was five and the divas were eight, along came Jim and Jacob( Jimmy and Jake, actually).

Now, here I was, standing between the divas and the monsters. The monsters had an extremely muddy toad, and were extremely muddy themselves. This, of course lead the divas to crinkle their noses and go “Ewwww!” Now, my sister's were supposed to be watching us for three bucks an hour, each, but they had been working hard on their nails. I was doing homework, and the monsters were clearly being- well, gross! But mom and dad would be home in two hours, during which my sisters wouldn't finish until twenty minutes till. They would freak, trying to clean the mess Jimmy and Jake made and clean them up too. Soon, they would turn to me. They would beg me to wash Jimmy and Jake and put them to bed(something that should've been done an hour before.) I would oblige, they would finish, and so would I. Mom and dad would come home to find the house nice and clean, and would reward the divas with fifteen dollars each. Would my sisters come to me secretly and pay me a share of what I deserved? Nope. I'd be shunned, as if the divas had been working diligently on their job. So I decide to skip the worry this time and ushered my brothers to the bathroom, grabbed their toad(I'd built an immunity to warts), found a tank, dropped the toad in, bathed Jimmy and Jake, and put them to bed.

I had been working on my homework when my parents came in. The divas, seeing I had done the work, had started on their hair, but stopped when they heard the door slam. My parents would reward them and would to come tell me I'd have to be in bed in twenty minutes. The divas couldn't believe how easy it had been. But before my parents could even dole out the cash, a toad hopped across the foyer. Yes, it was Suki the toad. How she got out, I have no idea. But when the divas saw that toad, they freaked. They ran into their room and shut the door. My mom started shouting for dad to get rid of it(“Get it Arthur! No- there!”) My dad started chasing after Suki, and all the screaming woke up the monsters, and when they saw they situation, they started shouting “Don't hurt her dad! Don't hurt her!” And I was left standing there, watching the most craziest situation I had seen from my family yet.(Covered in pie at school, asleep in the back of a hay truck and covered in mud, hiding from a bear. Do not ask. You do not want to know!) But here we were, in a now muddy foyer, two screaming divas, two crazy, awake monsters, one now dirty dad, and a mom who was now on top of a chair. And me? I had gone to my room. I was going to bed. I did not want to get blamed for this.

“I still can't believe that you simply went to bed during that!” said Jamalee(Jamie), laughingly. “Yeah. Honestly, Lise, how could you have just went to bed?!” That was Melody. She was laughing so hard, her books had fallen, and was struggling to pick them up without dropping them all over again. They were talking about how I had completely ignored last night's situation. They loved hearing the situations my family got into, and how I always ended up handling them. They couldn't believe that I let my family fly solo. “Well, I didn't want to have to watch my father jump around after that toad. Honestly, watching him hop around like that, just missing Suki the toad, was not the most greatest thing to watch. I mean, he would just miss her. I probably could've gone on for hours!” As it turned out, my dad managed to catch Suki when she accidentally hopped into a vase. But the monsters did not want to go to bed. The divas refused to come out of their room and didn't even want to open the door.(Unlike me, they haven't built an immunity to warts. They had never played with the monsters in their life.) The monsters kept thinking that dad somehow hurt Suki, and wouldn't go to bed until mom and dad used what they call last resort. It's when they actually threaten to take away an allowance or something. I was “asleep” twenty minutes before my actual bedtime. My parents were so tired, they actually forgot about me. I hadn't even spoken to them this morning. I'd gotten up really early, had my breakfast and was out the door before 7:20, which is when my dad gets up for work.

“Oh look! It's Kevin Steeler! Oh, he is so cool! And sooooo handsome!” Melody said. “I know. And he is sooooo sweet." Jamie and Melody sighed in unison. I merely rolled my eyes. Unlike me, my friends were girly-girls who looked up to my twin sisters and were boy crazy. Also, were not plagued with bad looks. Jamie's jet black hair was cut short under her ears with a slight, natural wave. Her pretty, royal blue eyes were placed perfectly on her face and her nose was dainty, with a slight upward curve. Jamie also had no freckles whatsoever and her skin looked like polished china.

Melody, on the other hand, was a very dainty looking girl with long blond hair that went past her waist. Unlike Jamie, she was very tan, had brown eyes and an extremely freckled nose, freckles that were so small, they might have well not have be there. Melody was very petite, and used this advantage to act as if she needed a guy's help with everything she needed, when in fact, she was very strong.

She had four older brothers who fought a lot with each other. Melody was often there to break it up. Her parents died when she was nine and her oldest brother was eighteen. Since he could hold down a job and was at the top of his class, the social workers gave it a try. Melody's parents had been very rich, as they had been the founders of a large company. Her parents had spoiled her and her brothers did the same. But now the brother who had been taking care of his siblings had moved out and was now married. His second brother, now nineteen, watched over his seventeen and fifteen year old brothers and Melody.

Jamie's past is quite different. Her family is just as rich as Melody's, but it ends there. Jamie is an only child with two loving parents. She is very smart, takes violin, piano, dance and singing lessons. She is very busy, like her parents, but they always find time to have dinner together.
Jamie and Melody both get A's and B's in normal classes.

Part 2


Me on the other hand, well, I get straight A's in Pre-Ap Math and English and am in Enriched Reading. But just because I'm smart like my friends, doesn't mean that my looks are as good as theirs. I have long, heavy plain brown hair that refuses to let me do anything with it, and I have glasses that look really weird. They're bright green with squiggles on the side. They looked cool when I got them, but everyone said it went perfect with the name bookworm because of the color and squiggles and now I hate them. Unlike my sisters, who tan perfectly, I am dark, but my tan lines are all wrong. My sisters are extremely skinny while I have what my mom calls an hour glass figure. That'd be great, but while my sisters can get more stylish clothes, I have to get clothes from places that sell okay stuff, but are never like what my sisters have. One of the few good things about me is that my hair is healthy and I look okay without glasses and I don't get a lot of pimples. My sisters constantly worry about zits. But the worst is that grades seventh through tenth grade and of course, my sisters are in the tenth grade. This probably should have boosted me to the top, but, my sisters want nothing to do with me. They say hi and don't shun me, but they're in a perfect cycle of popularity. No one has stopped it, and probably never will. They don't need me hanging along, trying to be popular. So I don't bother them. Besides, Jamie and Melody are pretty popular. But what surprises most people is that I'm the ring leader. I'm always the one to stick up for them. But to get back to the boy control.


"You know what?" Melody said when they were done drooling. "I heard that Kevin Steeler likes a girl!" Jamie squealed. "Get out! Who is it?" "I don't know." she replied."All I know is that it's a girl he's liked for a while." Then they both turned and stared at me. I couldn't help but blush. I just happen to be friends with Kevin. I had a feeling they'd want me to find out who the mystery girl was. " You guys, Kevin is not going to tell me. I'm a girl, the gender prone to gossip. He'll know that y'all sent me and will refuse to say." Melody looked at me pleadingly. "Please Lisa. We swear we won't tell a soul!" She tossed her hair and put her right hand over her heart. Jamie did the same. It was getting hard to refuse. "You guys..." I couldn't say no any longer. They were in luck. The mystery of who Kevin Steeler liked was about to be solved.

CHAPTER TWO

"Hey Kevin." I leaned against his locker casually, not meeting his eyes. I would smile and it would be all over. "Hey Lise. Whats up?" He closed his locker with a slam. "There's a rumor going around that you like someone." I still couldn't meet his eyes, they were boring onto the top of my head, I just knew it. He laughed. "Yea, I guessed so. I'm guessing the Gossip Group sent ya?" He knew. I looked up and gave a guilty smile. "What can I say? When you're friends with the cutest guy in school, you end up doing the dirty work." Kevin grinned, knowing everyone considered him the cutest, while I still remembered him with is first grade Jimmy Neutron lunch box hitting his knobby knees on the way to school. Or the time when he had to dress up in a little tux for the fourth grade school play and his bow tie was a little too tight. No, I couldn't forget those things and always wanted to laugh whenever I heard "Kevin Steeler" and "cutest boy" in the same sentence. I shook my head. Kev was saying something.
"Well, if they swear not to tell, I'll tell.” Then he whispered who in my ear. I pulled back. I couldn't believe it. "Do you want me not to tell?" I asked. He shook his head. "Go ahead. She acts weird around me anyway." I smiled then turned and walked towards Jamie and Melody. They were in for a surprise of a lifetime!
Last year, in the the sixth grade, Melody changed to public school and Jamie moved into the neighborhood. I remember not wanting anything to do with them. They were rich, like almost everyone else, but they had both gone to private schools their entire life. I had never been a girl who hung out in cliques and parked myself in front of a mirror, talking nonstop about boys, make-up, hair or who was with who. I hung out with the guys, preferring football over brushing my hair, dressing in jeans and a t-shirt over skirts and purses. If my hair got messy, I didn't care. Instead of talking about the newest couples and trends, I preferred talking about baseball and showing off skateboard moves. I was a major tomboy. So when Jamie and Melody showed up, I hardly acknowledged them. Maybe that's why they sought me out. At first glance they dressed like girly-girls, but both wore skirts with shorts underneath and brought brushes for after a game. We became fast friends and I introduced them to my best friend, Kevin. When Melody and Jamie first met Kevin, they couldn't stop flirting. Melody eventually moved on, she was one to take in a cute boy, then lose interest and move on, but Jamie was struck all the way home with Kevin. Now, one year later, Jamie's crush was being returned.

"Well, if they swear not to tell, I'll tell.” Then he whispered who in my ear. I pulled back. I couldn't believe it. "Do you want me not to tell?" I asked. He shook his head. "Go ahead. She acts weird around me anyway." I smiled then turned and walked towards Jamie and Melody. They were in for a surprise of a lifetime!

"So? Who does he like?" Melody demanded. I smiled and shook my head. "What, he didn't tell you? I refuse to believe that. SPILL!" Melody was a gossip queen. I knew if I didn't tell soon, major mortification would pounce. Melody wouldn't do anything mean, just spread something that wasn't totally embarrassing around and then yank it out when she'd figured I'd had enough. So, it was either tell or mortification.

I relented. “Okay, okay.” I turned to Jamie. “Jame, Melody and I know that you like Kevin. So don't protest. Now here's the thing. He likes you back!” Melody squealed and hugged Jamie. Jamie just stood there, mouth open, eyes wide. I waved my hand in front of her. “Jamie? Jaa-miee? Are you there?” Finally I shook her. She closed her mouth and resumed normality again. Her voice was barely audible. “Are you sure?” I nodded. Then she fainted.

I'm kidding. Jamie didn't faint. But she looked like she would. So Melody and I guided her to class.

By the end of the day, Jamie had moved into stage three: Giggle Attack. Whenever she heard Kevin's name or saw him or even just looked at Melody or me, she'd burst into giggles. Unfortunately, she had piano lessons, so Melody and I couldn't come over and gab. Besides, Melody said she had to watch her nephew. So it was go home and have three hours to myself,(soccer practice, mall)or go to the mall and shop a little then pick up Jimmy and Jake. I decided I could use some time alone, and went on home. When I got there, I saw on the table a note. It said:


Lisa,
Ann, Anna, and I went to get new outfits for the upcoming social. We knew you would be bored,which is why I didn't pick you up. Dad will be home late, around seven,and getting two new outfits will take a while. Please help out and get Jake and Jimmy at soccer practice around five. Cook dinner for them and put them to bed. Make sure they do their homework first though! Thanks sweetie! We owe you for this one!
Love,
Mom
I crumpled up the note in frustration. Ann and Anna had something to do with this. In a family of five kids, mom and dad don't always have time to talk to us. That shopping trip would have been a perfect time for me to tell mom about things going on in my life, while Ann and Anna would try on dresses. This was so like them. If mom couldn't find anyone to pick up the twins, they wouldn't go shopping. So they said I would do it and I wouldn't want to go because I hated shopping. That was no longer true. Now I was stuck with another job that would go on unappreciated. I'd read a million other notes that said I owe you. And not a single on of those IOU's had been fulfilled. I started to gather up my stuff, I was willing to leave, make 'em pick up their own kids for a change. But I stopped. This wasn't Jimmy and Jake's fault. It wasn't fair to punish them. I'd get back at the at the divas another way!

"You should of seen the goal I hit Lisi. If the game were real, it would have gotten me ten points!" Jimmy held up both hands to exaggerate the idea. "Nuh-uh! No matter how far away you were, it would have been only five!" Jake sat back triumphantly. He knew the game inside and out. And he was also pretty good. Well, they both were, but Jimmy was the talent and Jake was the strategist. Pretty good for a seven year-old, don't you think? "Lissi, what are we going to eat for supper?" I stopped short. I'd forgotten to put the pizza out to defrost. Now I was going to have to make something else, something quick. But what? I started walking again, the twins chattering excitedly, like a pair of squirrels. We were nearing the house, so it was time to give them instructions. "Jimmy, Jake, listen up. When we get home, ya'll are going to take a shower, do ya'll's homework while I make supper. And I'll know if you did it or not because I'll be checking it while you eat." The monsters groaned. "Lisi-" "Lissi-" They stopped when they saw my face. They sighed in unison. They knew I meant business.

We're ho-me!" Ann yelled, always the musical one."And boy do we look good!" That was Anna, the silly one. They burst into giggles. I rolled my eyes, then smiled. They'd get their payback soon enough. "Hi Lise." "Lise." "Hi sweetie. How was your day?" I didn't answer. She wasn't looking for one. "Thanks for taking care of Jimmy and Jake." She reached into her purse and pulled out a twenty. My eyes popped out. That was more than Ann and Anna's rate! I could see the look on my sister's faces. I had a feeling they almost wished they hadn't gone shopping. Almost. I smiled. "Thanks mom. I was thinking of going out tomorrow with Melody and Jamie. Ben is driving Zack and offered to drive us too." Ann and Anna's eyes got bigger each second I spoke. Melody's older brothers are extremely cute. No doubt they wanted to go now. Ann sidled up to me and took my homework from me. "You know, mom, we should go with them, make sure they don't get into any trouble." Before mom could even consider it, I quickly retorted,"They're not hanging out with us, Ann." "Oh. Never mind." But my mom had already taken in the idea. She tapped her finger on her chin, pondering the thought. “You know, that isn't a bad idea. You three are only twelve. Something might happen.” I sighed. We'd had this conversation before. “Mom, all three of us have cell phones, we always meet up every hour. We don't go to bad stores. You know that. Come on mom, you let me walk to school in morning and afternoon. Alone. By my self!” I emphasized this. “What could go wrong?”

“AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! LISAAAAAAAAAA!! WHERE ARE YOU?” I ran out into the hall. So had my parents and the monsters. “What's wrong Anna? Ann?” My sisters were standing in front of their bedroom, perfectly manicured fingers clenched in tiny fists, blond hair thrown behind their shoulders. They were two perfect images of the girly-girl angry. “You know what you did, Lisa. How DARE you?!” yelled Anna. “ Why would you do such a thing?” wailed Ann. “I don't know what you're talking about!" I replied innocently. My sisters couldn't do anything but point. So my parents, the monsters and I peered into the divas room.
Inside, the room was clean. Not a thing out of place. Or so it seemed. Upon closer inspection, I saw that they're closet was a bit messy. Shirts were on the floor. Skirts splayed open over the top of the shelves. “Yikes. Ann, Anna, it's called cleaning the closet.” My sisters did not enjoy my joke. Ann stepped into my face. “Lisa, you took our outfits. Where are they?” “I don't know what you're talking about.” I replied innocently. “Yes you do!” Anna retorted. Mom slipped a thin arm around her. Dad did the same to Ann. Mom looked up. “Lisa, where did you put the girl's new outfits?” I looked at the floor. Time to come clean. “There under the bed.” Then I turned and left the room. I let them think I was mad. But I was smiling. This was only step one.

CHAPTER THREE

“So Jamie. What are you going to do?” Jamie blushed, but kept walking. “I don't know what you're talking about.” she said, blushing even deeper. I shoved her playfully. “You know, the Kevin factor. What if he asks you out?” This caused Jamie to stop and turn. Hands on her hips with glare that made me want to shrink with fear, she said, “Lisa! You know I'm not aloud to have a boyfriend until fifteen! I'd have to hide it. I don't want to do that!” With this, she continued walking. “Besides, where would I find the time?” With this she gave me a sly look. This caused me to laugh out loud. Jamie has an extremely busy schedule. Along with violin, piano, dance and singing lessons, she has taken on tennis. She definitely would not have the time for a boyfriend.
We were on our way to Melody's. It was Tuesday morning and I once again had gotten up and out before 7:20. No one had bothered me for the rest of the night, not even the monsters. Hiding the outfits was step one. Step Two, well, I wasn't sure what to do for Step Two.

After picking up Melody, I told my friends about my little plan for revenge. I asked for some ideas for Step Two. Jamie and I both came up with some good ideas, but it was Melody who had the best one.

"Listen, here's mine." Jamie and I leaned in closer. "We-" Ring! Darn that bell! "I'll tell you at lunch. See you then!"

I waited four periods for lunch. Just when Jamie and I were about to die from curiosity,(we have fourth together) we were saved by the bell. We scurried like two barn mice to are lockers.

"What do you think her idea is Lise?" asked Jamie as she and I opened our lockers. "I don't know Jamie. Maybe Suki being put in their lunches!" We giggled. "Or maybe the monsters themselves!" Now we were outright laughing! It was just too funny! "Come on Lise. Let's go find out Melody's master plan!"

"So, Mel, what's the plan? We're dying to know!" Melody smiled. She simply sat down, and started eating. No, she sat down, picked up her napkin daintily and laid it on her lap. Then she pushed all her back, daintily picked up her fork and started eating."Melody!" Melody smiled again. She was oh so obviously enjoying her hold over us. Jamie and I looked at each other, at Melody, and at each other again. Then we simultaneously kicked Melody under the table. "Ow! Okay, okay, I'll talk. Honestly!" She leaned in, signaling us to do the same. "Okay, listen. You know how the divas always wear their dance outfits to school the day of the dance? So that way they don't have to change much?" Jamie and I nodded. Melody continued. "Well, wouldn't it be horrible if the day of the dance, after they'd already set everything up, they're just happened to be a food fight. And that the divas just happened to be in the middle of it?" I looked at Jamie and Jamie looked at me. I couldn't keep the smile from creeping on to my face. We looked at Melody. "Go on." I said. Melody smiled. And with that, Melody unraveled the best master plan ever.

Two Weeks Later
"Okay, Melody, Jamie," I looked at both my friends, their faces filled with excitement. "Are y'all ready for this?" They nodded, to excited to speak. "Great. Let's go!" We walked through are cafeteria doors. It was Friday, November 17. It was the last day before Thanksgiving break, also the day of the dance. My sisters looked extremely fabulous in their new outfits. Too bad that was about to change.

For our plan, we'd decided to start the food fight accidentally. We got a friend of ours, Grace O'Malley, to walk by the divas table, where are sisters happened to be sitting on the edge. As she walked by, she would just happen to trip and just happen to dump her lunch on my sister, Ann. Ann was very temperamental, much more then her twin. She'd hit the jock sitting across from her to get back at Grace, so he would jump up and throw the mashed potatoes at Grace who would know to duck. After that, it would be an all-out war.

"Look, you guys, here she comes." I hit my friends frantically. Grace was walking by the divas. "Here she goes..." We watched intently. Suddenly, my sister was hit with a wave of jello. She screamed and, with an angry look on her face, did exactly as planned. Grace ducked, leaving some poor kid to get the bad end of the mushy mashed potatoes. Soon, there was nowhere to hide. Luckily, we were out in the hallway, on our way to the bathroom.

CHAPTER FOUR

"Did you get a load of Ann's face? And I think some of that jello got on Anna too."
"When Grace tripped, I thought I'd keel over laughing. She had this terrified look on her face. Like she didn't know she wasn't going to fall."
"All in all, our plan went perfectly! And the food fight started accidentally, and didn't have to do anything with us. We can't get pinned!"

We were on our way to fifth period. It was a little early, but we had to because of the divas and their cronies coming in. I did not want to get sucked into the whole "they're your sisters, stay with us and get her cleaned up" bit and then end up late. So we slipped out pretty quickly. Now, we were discussing what had just happened. But after about three minutes past the bell, we realized that we probably should go back to the cafeteria.

It was still chaos in the cafeteria. Mr.Watson, our principal, was frantically trying to maintain order. Suddenly, he said the words that made everyone freeze. I could barely believe it myself when I heard him say,"We are taking away the Thanksgiving dance."

The Thanksgiving dance is the best dance of year. We can only have four dances a year. The first one is way back in September. It's more like a social. Then there's the Thanksgiving dance. Then the Spring dance and the end of the year dance. The social is pretty dinky, because girls and boys become wallflowers, the Spring dance is a little wild, only about half done, because everyone has these huge ideas and it goes way over the teeny-tiny budget we have. And the end of the year dance? Boring. Nobody wants to hang around school any longer then humanly possible. So it's the Thanksgiving dance that the school is big about. And canceling it, on the day of the dance? Not cool.

Mr.Watson was babbling. "We're already taking down the decorations. There will be no Thanksgiving dance this year. Now I want the people who started this fight." Everyone looked around uneasily. The jock that started it had been Greg Hart. He was the football star. No one ratted out Greg Hart.

Mr.Watson was getting impatient. "Now! Come on, let's go." Suddenly, a scrawny little girl who barely looked like she was old enough to be in fifth grade, let alone seventh, got up and said in a tiny voice,"Grace O'Malley tripped and fell, dumping her food on Ann Jenkins, who got Greg Hart to throw some food at Grace, who ducked. And that's how it started." The cafeteria was silent. Then, Ann and Anna walked through the cafeteria doors. I closed my eyes. If it weren't for that little shrimp, no one would have gotten in trouble. The bell rang. Mr.Watson said,"Ann, Anna, Grace and Greg, please stay behind. Everyone else, you are dismissed."

CHAPTER FIVE

It was during sixth period, during Mrs. Humming's California Gold Rush lecture, that Melody's plan fell to complete pieces.

"Is this room 204?" the PA system asked. "Yes it is." said Mrs. Humming. "Would you send Lisa Jenkins up please." I got up. In the hall, I saw Melody and Jamie walking out of their classrooms too. I walked over. "So, did y'all get called to the office too?" They nodded. They didn't feel like talking and neither did I. We were silent the whole walk there.

"Do you three know why you're here?" asked Mr.Watson. We shook our heads. "No? Well maybe this will give you a clue." And in walked the divas, Grace O'Malley and Greg Hart. Slowly, my stomach began to churn. Ann no longer had the jello stained outfit, but her hair was slightly red. Grace looked nervous and wouldn't meet my eyes. And Greg just stood there.

"You see, Grace here, told us about your little scheme to start a food fight. She said how you came to her, asking if she would dump her tray onto Ann's lap. She told us the whole story. Clearly, you expected that it would be an accidental food fight and no one would trace it back to you. But thanks to Grace, you three are in big trouble."

"Lisa Jenkins, I am very disappointed in you. How could you do that to your sister, to us, to your school?" I looked down guiltily. My parents had come and picked me up from school, along with the divas. The dance was no longer canceled. Jamie, Melody, Grace, Greg and I were banned from the dance. It totally stunk for Jamie, since Kevin had asked her to go to the dance with him. Melody was always surrounded by guys, and she would flirt like crazy. I would hang with friends. I never had a date and could totally care less. I had fun. That's what I was going to miss. I did feel bad about Grace and Greg though. They had been mere pawns in our plan, pawns that got eaten up, when they so willingly jumped to go to battle. The divas wouldn't go. They'd already wailed at me long and hard, asking me if I had any idea what this would do to their reputation. I felt slightly guilty, but after the first five minutes, I simply sat there writing a story in my head. Honestly, like they could tell the difference.

But they continued to wail for a long time. But it eventually ended, and I found myself alone in my room. In the end my parents had given me one month punishment, only to go to school, pick up the monsters and any other errands that I might have to do. It was no big deal, I still had phone and computer privileges. It was school punishment that I feared. Not the administrators punishment. They already had us clean the cafeteria and there was five of us, so it wasn't a huge deal. No, I meant the school itself.

Now, you know how their was that era back in England, in the 1500's, where the royal family started to turn on each other over the fight to be queen? Will, I've never known that to happen in my school. I mean, their have been loads of fights for power, but the famous family rulers have never fought each other. It would cause turmoil, destruction of the very fabric of the popularity cycle itself. But there's a first time for everything, and my family has been known for firsts. The whole two sets of identical twins? First. Having twins when it's not in your generation? First. Having blonds when both sides of your family come from a long line of curly haired brunettes, with the occasional red head? First. So clearly, it makes sense that a torrent of rumors about a certain unseen, brown-haired girl who was related to the most powerful twins in school, started circulating after Thanksgiving break. It wasn't going to end with a simple sorry. No, my sisters started it, and my school was only going to finish it when a long drawn out fight ended. Or should I use war?

CHAPTER SIX

I suppose every great hero had to stand up and face some ultimate thing at one point or another. Even great role models had to do it. Every day people for Pete's sake. But they had guts and I have... common sense. And when I arrived at school on Monday, my common sense was telling me to avoid crowds and to take as many shortcuts as possible. I had called Jamie and Melody the night before. I was going to meet them at Melody's house, where they would take my backpack and I would keep my books. They would put my backpack in my locker while I would seek the safety of my first period classroom. I would sit in the back hide behind a book. It was really quite amazing how many people don't see you when you don't want to be seen.

As my class slowly filed in, like prisoners awaiting punishment, I lowered my book and observed my classmates. Many of them were dressed in the bright, loose clothing that was custom to California, even in winter. The class was perched on desks, eagerly discussing the gossip that had already started to promulgate around the school, although what it was that could have started besides the food fight, I had no idea. But I did notice that every now and then, a group of kids would throw a curious, sometimes even suspicious look at me, as if was going to pull out some of the cafeteria's disgusting food and start throwing it at them. But as simple-minded those looks may have been, even when there was no actual trace of hostility in their looks, each one would cause me to retreat further and further into my book, where I could escape. I did this until I was finally rescued from the walking in of my teacher.

After first period, the day pretty much played itself out the same way. Until lunch.

I think anyone would agree with me when I say lunch is a very defining place. If you don't have friends, you aren't likely to have an enjoyable lunch experience. Which is probably why loners often stick together. The same goes with all groups. Jocks often stick together, geeks, brainiacs, anyone. Even populars. No especially populars. Of course they split themselves up into smart, dumb, weird, barely and so forth. But, it basically comes down to the fact that if you don't have friends, the lunchroom is a dangerous place. Which is why I was extremely grateful that I had Jaimie and Melody. I'd brought my lunch, and so had they. They snagged a table in the back of the cafeteria and when I got there, they immediately waved me over. As soon as I sat down, they immediately started talking. They were dishing so much gossip, I only got half of what they said.

"Ann and Anna are telling stuff about how you-"
"Greg's going out with Grace and-"
"You would not believe what-"
"They're calling you-"

I eventually stopped them, because I had no idea what they were talking about.
I lean forward. "Okay, now slowly, tell me what is happening. Jamie, you first."
Jamie has little to report. "Well, I found out that Greg and Grace are going out, much to the fury of Ann. Greg apparently doesn't blame you . He thinks it was pretty smart of you and thinks Grace is a great actress. They apparently get along great."

I turned to Melody and said," And what does the Gossip Queen have for us?"
Melody did not laugh. Instead, she said, "You know, I am the Gossip Queen. I know what's true and what's not. And everything I've been hearing, is true. And that's bad."

"So what is it?"

"Ann and Anna are really mad at you. They seem to think that you want to take over their empire while there still here. Which obviously doesn't play well with them. They've been spreading this rumor that you still pee in the bed, which is a low blow, because you would think they would come up with something better than that."
"Melody!" I cried out. "I thought you said all of this was true!"
"It is. They are spreading rumors that aren't true, but it is true that they're spreading this stuff, trust me. Anyways, they say that you're adopted because your parents thought they couldn't have anymore kids. You love playing boy games, which is dumb, because everyone knows that, you cheat, you've never had a boyfriend, guys think you're gross, oh, and-"
"Stop! Stop!" I exclaimed. "I get it! But what are we going to do about it?"
Jamie and Melody looked at each other.
Then Jamie said, "We need to fight back. We know you think you're not pretty or that you don't deserve to be popular. But if you ruled, things would be sooo much better. 'Cause you are pretty and nice and smart. You just need to be in the spotlight."
Then she grinned. "And we're going to help you."
Maybe I should say thats when the war began.

CHAPTER SEVEN

After a week of glares and whispers, the weekend was welcome. Until, of course, I found out what was in store.
Saturday Morning, 8:52 am
Ding-Dong.
"Uhh?" I woke up. My parents were away on business, and the divas had woken up early for some who -knows-who-cares fair and the twins were spending the weekend at a friends house. So when I fell back asleep only to hear that darn doorbell again, I got up and stumbled to the door. As soon as I opened it, Jamie and Melody, came in with bags of-well, I wasn't sure I wanted to know.
They were talking so fast and I just stood there, staring at them through bleary eyes. I am not a morning person, so my brain was only half-running. They were making very little sense. I mean to a person who was expecting this, or enthusiastic about this, or, I don't know, awake, they would probably make some sense. But I was not any of these, so how can you blame me when I yelled,"HUH?"(I do believe I was rightly justified by this. I mean, it asked exactly what I needed. Right?)
They stopped talking immediately. They were giving me these looks like I was the most dumbest person on Earth. So I subtly checked out their clothes. You can often tell what Melody and Jamie are gonna do by looking at their clothes. So I looked.
Jamie had on over-sized sunglasses that she was currently looking over at me in annoyance. That was a big clue. That meant we were probably going to be walking around the town. She was also wearing a skirt and a very cute top with her shopping flip-flops. Shopping?! I gulped and checked out Melody's outfit. She had on her classic running from store-to-store outfit. There would be no scoping out guys on this trip.
I sighed. Jamie and Melody gave me a look simultaneously. I rolled my eyes. I turned and started up the stairs. Halfway up, I turned again, this time with a look of pity. Melody pointed her finger up towards my room. I turned and headed up the stairs. I felt like a dog on it's way to the vet.


Saturday, 10:30 am
At 10:30, I was dressed. I thought we were leaving. We were. I thought we were just going on a shopping spree. We weren't.
Melody's brother pulled up into the shopping area. "I'll be back by four." he said.
"Four? Oh come on Ben. Four? You really shouldn't be leaving us here so late. Pick us up on a whim at say, twelve?"
Melody clapped a hand over my mouth. "Four's fine Ben. See ya."
She hopped out of the car and yanked me out. Before I could plead a bit more, Ben went screeching away. Great. I was stuck.
"Okay. First we need to get you a haircut." said Jamie. "A what now?" I said, touching my hair.
Jamie rolled her eyes. "Come on Lise. That mane of your's probably hasn't been cut since you were what, four?" she guessed.
Close. It was five, but I had a feeling it didn't matter. My hair was going down, unattached. And I couldn't do anything about it.


12:00 pm
An entire hour later, my hair was cropped short. And I mean, short. But... I actually liked it. I had bangs and my hair was layered. It looked windblown, but it was hair sprayed that way. I suddenly seemed to have cheekbones and a long neck. If I didn't have any glasses, I kind of looked...good.
So we left, and headed to...eyemart! Looks like we were getting contacts too. They wouldn't be ready for another hour, so we headed off to get some clothes. Joy.
"What do you think guys? I don't know, maybe it's-" "It's PERFECT!" "Totally. You look awesome." "Really?" "YES!"
I wasn't so sure. The clothes were tight, (in a good way) but I wasn't used to it. But I had to admit, I looked pretty good with my new haircut and clothes. So we bought them, and loads of other clothes.
When we left the store, before we could head into another, I said, "You guys, can we PLEASE get some food? I am absolutely STARVING!" "I know! C'mon Melody, can we PLEASE take a break?" Jamie begged.
Melody probably could have gone the whole day without eating as long as she was moving. We often had to drag her to the Food Court, only to have her pig out and act as if we were the ones who went without food. It was slightly scary.
Melody looked at out pleading faces and sighed. "Fine. Let's go."


1:30 pm, We Make You Beautiful Beauty Salon
When I saw the sign, I groaned. I hated this place.
"You guys, please. I hate this place. And I refuse to wear make-up! You know that!"
Melody once more rolled her eyes.
"Lise. Come on! You have perfect skin that is just dying to wear make-up. Your cheekbones should be accentuated and your lips deserve some color. You are going."
I refused to move. Already, they'd hacked off practically all my hair, put me in different types of clothes, given me contacts and even traded in my tennis for different shoes. Now they wanted to put make-up on my face? No. Way. I remained were I was.
It was the stare-down of the century. Two against one. This was the one thing I refused to do. No matter what, I wasn't going in there.


1:45 pm, We Make You Beautiful Beauty Salon
Not happening.


2:00 pm, We Make You Beautiful Beauty Salon
Jamie uncrossed her arms and gave and an exasperated sigh.
"Lise, this is getting ridiculous. Can we please just go?" she asked.
I shook my head.
"I give up. Let's go get more clothes." said Melody throwing her hands up in the air.
Well this was an odd turn of events. Melody rarely gave up easily. I narrowed my eyes.
"What's the catch?" I asked suspiciously.
"Nothing. Let's go."
I smiled. "Okay. Let's go."
What happened next, was something I couldn't believe.
I'd been standing closest to the entrance of the salon, with Melody and Jamie across from me, my back to the doors. In order to go to the store I wanted to got to, Melody and Jamie had to move out of the way. I moved forward and in that instant, they grabbed me and shoved through the open doors of the salon.


2:15 pm, in a salon chair
"Oh, you have such beautiful cheekbones. I have some make-up that would go just GREAT-"
I tuned her out. As soon as I had entered the salon, this lady descended upon me. Ever had to deal with those pushy salespeople? Well I had one. And once she'd sunk her pink polished nails into me, the only thing I could do was shoot Melody and Jamie dirty looks in the mirror.


3:45 pm, outside multiplex, waiting for Ben
After an hour, I was finally free. We agreed that we should head out early, because the last time Ben picked us up, he was a good thirty minutes early and got really mad when we got there on time, because he was going to be late for his date.
Typical.
So, we're waiting outside. My face looks like a Barbie doll, although I apparently look good. We have clothes, make-up, shoes and hair stuff. At least it's over with.
Supposedly.
Ben pulls up, only he's not alone. Ben is seventeen, so he has loads of friends, of course all in high school. And for some reason, one of his friends and his friends younger brother was with him. Ben was driving the Nash's everyone car. It's a van, so we could all fit. Just someone would have to sit next to the younger brother. Guess who it turned out to be?
Yeah.
Me.

CHAPTER EIGHT

As soon as I slid into the seat, I immediately realized who Ben's friend's younger brother was. It was Mike Wells. Which meant his brother Cam Wells was Ben's friend. I couldn't believe it. I'd known Mike since we were in the third grade. He was best friends with Kevin which made him friends with me. And I kinda had a crush on him in elementary. But I was over him now. Even with his blue eyes and way brown hair. Okay, I admit he was really cute when he wasn't under you because you tackled him on the football field, covered in mud. But that didn't mean I still LIKED him. It just meant I thought he was cute. In fact, Melody probably called dibs. But that meant she probably would have sat next to him. Which meant...
It was going to be a long car ride.


“So...Mike, what's up?” I asked. I can't stand silence, so I was trying to make some conversation.
“Well, it's the first time I've seen you in a while.” He replied, giving me a nice, easy smile.
I wondered if I had a fever. I was feeling a bit warm.
I smiled back. “Yeah, well, different schedules I guess.”
He nodded. Then he asked, “Hey, do you still play football?”
I rolled my eyes. “Duh. Of course. But volleyball is my team sport at school.”
“Oh yeah. I heard. Voted MVP right? Congrats. I've been playing football and basketball. We're winning you know.”
Who knew talking to him was this easy? “Yeah. Don't you dare let Winston win. I'll have to come and teach you how to play.”
There was that smile again. “Don't worry, I don't need lessons again. But I could play you anyway, right?”
What? “Yeah, of course. You know where I live. We could invite Kevin.”
“No, I mean... without Kevin. Just you and me. One on one.”
I could feel all the blood rushing to my face. Was he asking me...he was waiting I had to say something.
“Some- I mean, sure. Come over tomorrow. Around one. And bring your basketball.” I said.
“Alright shoppers, we've reached Lisa's house everyone off. See you tomorrow Melody."
We were home. Melody and Jamie were spending the night at my house. I turned to Mike.
"Well, I got to go. See you tomorrow." I flashed him a quick grin.
He smiled back. "Yeah, definitely. Bye." he said.
As soon as we got to my room, Melody burst.
"Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh." she started to say.
Jamie and I stood there. We needed to wait out Melody's excitement storm.
"I don't believe it. You have a kinda date with Mike WELLS! I'm going to scream."
"Please don't." I said. "I don't think everyone on our street is wearing ear protection."
"But can you believe this? As soon as you sat next to him, he started blushing. And then, when he was building up the courage to ask you out, he kept stuttering. It was soo cute."
He was stuttering? I didn't notice that. "He was?"
"Yup. He so likes you."
I was so excited. Then I thought of something.
"But what about tomorrow? I can't wear a skirt or something. I'll be playing basketball."
Melody and Jamie shrugged.
"So? Just wear shorts t-shirt. No make-up, and you don't have to worry about your hair anymore." she said, smiling.
"No, you don't get it. When you play basketball, you move and twist a lot. You don't need to worry about your shirt riding up every time you try to move. That's why jerseys are tucked in when you play. So what am I going to wear?"
Melody's eyes widened. She clearly hadn't thought of this.
But Jamie had.
"Here." she said. She was holding one of my over-sized sleep shirts. This one was my favorite. It had some wolves on the front and was this awesome color.
"Tie it up low, so that way it's not to big. Make sure you tie it down, at least halfway down your bottom. That way it won't ride up when you play."
"Okay, great. Lise has that covered now. So can we get something to eat?"


Around five o'clock, Ann and Anna came home. While they didn't want to talk to me, they had to make sure I was home. So they came upstairs and Ann poked her head into my room.

As soon as she saw me, she yelled, "ANNA! Come here!"
Anna came rushing over. When she saw me, she screamed.
Now, I didn't think I looked to bad. I'd taken off the make-up, and was wearing this nice comfy top and some really cute shorts. We'd just been gabbing when the divas had their little moment.

They started talking really fast and were totally freaking out. They couldn't seem to understand that, yes, I was Lisa, yes, I was their sister, yes, I played sports and yes, my hair was short.
After they realized all this, they retreated. They started to whisper and headed to their room.

Melody, Jamie and I looked at each other. The enemy was in the same house and we were just talking. Spying sounded like loads more fun.

CHAPTER NINE


After my parents had me, they decided they needed a bigger house. So, they moved to this neighborhood and had a new house built. My parents didn't want us to have playroom. Instead, they wanted a place that we could play in, but also a place we could hide if we ever needed to, in case of robbers or something. So they built a secret passage.
It's not much. There's this hidden staircase in the hallway upstairs. The staircase goes up into the secret passage, which is sort of like an attic. The secret passage goes into every room in the house.
In every room is this air vent. It's pretty big, about six inches long and five inches wide. If you go to the right air vent, you can listen to whoever is in the room, because the air flows into the vent. So, naturally, it's a good way to spy.
I haven't done it in years and I doubt that the divas have been in here in years. They might've even forgotten about it.
So, Melody, Jamie and I snuck up the stairs and towards the vent that went into the divas' room. We leaned in and began to listen:


"I can't believe this!" said Ann. "She chooses now to get a makeover. This is our last year. And besides, she does not deserve the popularity crown. She's always been quiet. Why does she have to start trouble NOW?" "I don't know. She has always let us be. Everyone knew she had the potential. I mean she is our sister. But, she didn't want it. Everyone gave up. We weren't going to give our empire to her. But, if she continues this way, maybe we should." replied Anna.
They fell silent as the three of us looked at each other in shock. I could reign? They would consider giving me the crown? But more importantly, what did they mean by saying people eventually gave up? What supposed potential did I have? What the heck was going on?
Suddenly, Ann said, "You know, if she just wasn't so...spiteful-" I snorted, earning me a silencing glare from Jamie and Melody. "- I would be fine with giving her the crown. But what if she ruins everything we've built. We're going into high school. It won't look good if our little sis is acting like a girl out of the DON'T side of a fashion magazine." She took a breath. "Okay. You know what, I say we do this. We already have in mind who we should give the empire to, but only if Lisa does these things." "What?" asked Anna. "If she stays the way she is, you know, wears the clothes, acts more fashion smart, fits in with our friends and-" "She has to organize the Spring Fling." said Anna. "What?" "Think about it. The Spring Fling totally stinks. It always falls flat. Wouldn't you like at least one more dance to go to and actually have fun at?" I could almost see the smile on Ann's face. This wasn't good.
"You're right. She'll have to pull that off. But they're is one more thing. She has to have a date to the Spring Fling." My jaw dropped. "Ooh, now that I'd like to see. He'd have to be cute." "Definitely a jock." "Of some social standing." "And he has to have asked her, not the other way around." "Yes. One more thing though." I inwardly groaned. "What are we going to do about the rumors?" "We're going to keep doing them. She is on her own. She has to prove she can to do this even with the rumors. She'll never do it." "Perfect."
I couldn't believe it. While my sisters move on to crushes and gossip, I sat there. My sisters were going to give me a chance and then make sure I didn't have a chance? And they thought I was strange. Who's the one with the twisted minds now?


"Okay. We know what we need to do. This will be easy." I looked at Melody.
"How can you say that? This is going to be IMPOSSIBLE!"
Melody rolled her eyes. "Lise, Mike already asked you on a date. We have clothes that you like and that are trendy at the same time. You can get along fine with their friends. Your two best friends know everything about fashion and you have a great organization skills. I am telling you, this will be a snap."
I shook my head. "No it won't. I don't even know if Mike likes me that way, Ann and Anna's friends will refuse to like me if the divas have anything to say about it. I don't care about fashion which means I won't remember any of it, and I have to be on the Spring Fling committee and take charge of an entire group of people I don't know with rumors of me still peeing in the bed circulating around the school. And you think this will be easy?!"
Melody fell silent. Then Jamie spoke up.
"Okay, so this won't be easy, but it isn't impossible. Mike does like you. You can charm Ann and Anna's friends. The committee will be a mess, so if you take charge, no one will CARE. With the fashion, you don't have to learn every single thing, but just the basics. And, remember, you've got us.
I breathed. They were right. I did have them. Then one more thing hit me.
You know how there's always that one girl who drives you insane because she acts so perfect but she is really the most horrible girl at school? Well, I know her, and her name is Amber Cheshire.
Amber Cheshire is the Ann and Anna of my grade. She's never liked me, but I'd never been teased by her because of the fact of who my sisters were. But she's become the assumed ruler of next year. Things may be bad now, but if she becomes the most popular girl in school, it's doomed. So it makes total sense that she is the girl that my sisters were talking about. I was going against Amber Cheshire. Forget it. Time to quit.
I opened my mouth to say this, but Melody beat me to it.
"No, you can take Amber, Lise. She's weaker than you think. You forget that we were her friends for a short while. We know things. You can do this."
I was too tired to argue. It was getting late. I yawned.
"You guys let's go to sleep. I'm tired."
Jamie nudged me. "Yeah, you need your beauty sleep for tomorrow. Because Mike's coming over."
"Good NIGHT Jamie."
I fell asleep listening to her giggle.

CHAPTER TEN

Ding-Dong
I looked up. That was Mike!
I took a breath. It was no big deal. All we were gonna do was play basketball. Ann and Anna were upstairs. The monsters were still at their friends house and mom and dad would be home tonight. Mike and I could play basketball in peace.
My clothes were ready. I'd put my hair in a clip to help me deal with the California sun. I was ready.
I opened the door.
Mike looked so cute. His blue eyes were sparkling, his brown hair a bit messy. He smiled. "Hey." he said.
"Hey. You ready to play?" I gave him a playful grin.
"Yeah. Ready to lose?" he replied.
"Aww. Mike thinks he's gonna win. How cute." I shot back.
He narrowed his eyes. "Then let's get started."
After two games, both in my favor, Mike sat on our front step. He was panting. I sat next to him. I had to admit, I was glad for a rest.
"Man, it's hot out here. You wanna take a break?" he asked.
"A break from what? Your losing streak?" I teased.
He grinned. "Once it's over you will lose! But yeah, a break would be nice."
"You want something to drink?"
"Yeah."
"Okay, wait here. Guys aren't aloud in when my parents aren't home."
"It's cool."
"I went to the kitchen and got two ice-filled glasses of water. Then I decided some popsicles would taste great.
When I came back out, Mike was gone.
"Mike? Where are you?"
"Boo!"
"Ahh!" I let out a yelp.
"He grinned. "Gotcha. Hey, are those popsicles?" His interest immediately moved to the snacks.
I rolled my eyes. So like a boy. He always had a thing for food.
"Yes and you can't have any."
"Aw, I'm sorry I scared you. Please forgive me." He gave me a self-pitying look.
I smiled. "Gotcha back!"


After we had our popsicles, we just talked. We talked about how his family's doing, how my family's doing, grades, sports and loads more. Then school came up.
"So I hear your sisters have it out for you." he opened it up with.
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah. So they got a little jello in their hair. It was still pretty funny."
He grinned and a dimple popped up in his cheek. Why hadn't I noticed before?
"Yeah, I had a bird's eye view. That was good. It was totally hilarious. But since I could see them, I could see something else too." He leaned in.
I gulped.
"I could see you three the entire time. I knew it was you. you were watching way to closely."
So he was cute and smart.
I needed to pull myself out of this, so I said, "Well, why were you watching?"
He grinned. "You know that kid that Greg hit? The one that was behind Grace? It was Josh Evans."
Josh? Oops. I didn't know Greg had hit him. We'd been good friends for awhile.
"Well, what was Josh doing up? Was he heading to their table?" I asked.
Mike had a mischievous twinkle in his eye I had seen way too many times before. He replied, "He was going to ask out Amber."
My mouth dropped. "AMBER? You are kidding me!"
Mike nodded his head. "We tried to talk him out of it, not because Amber would say no. It was because she would say yes. And then poor Josh would be stuck with her as a girlfriend. But he wouldn't be convinced. And then he got hit in the face with mashed potatoes."
I giggled. It was just so...bizarre.
"Wow. Amber and Josh. That's hard to think about. Well you tell Josh I'm sorry he got the wrong end of the mashed potatoes."
"Oh, I will. But, you know, the guys had been trying to convince me to do some asking of myself."
My face grew hot.
Mike looked down. "I do like you, you know. And even though the Spring Fling kind of stinks, I was th-"
"Hi Mike!"
My eyes widened. I couldn't believe it. I didn't even know she knew where I lived. She's d never been invited over before.
But she was here, in the flesh.
Amber.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Mike looked up and said a bit uneasily,"Hey Amber."
I was in shock, but it was fading away quickly into annoyance mixed with anger.
"Amber, hi. What are you doing here?" I said, my voice laced with a syrupy sweetness.
"Oh, your sisters invited me over. We need to talk about some things. But I had no idea Mike was here!"
Liar.
"Oh, well, I'm sure Ann and Anna are eagerly waiting for your entrance."
Code: Get out of here.
Amber gave me an innocent look with her over-sized brown eyes. "But I haven't seen you or Mike for awhile. We have a lot of catching up to do!"
Code: I'm not going anywhere.
And so, while Amber began her incessant talk, and I stared at her, I couldn't help but think, Maybe Mike might actually like her and not me. Maybe...
I shook my head. I mean Mike JUST said he likes me. But, I mean Amber, was, Amber. Along with her big brown eyes, she had curly, auburn hair, this slightly up-turned nose (which makes her seem stuck-up in my opinion.) and annoyingly perfect teeth. So basically, she's Miss Perfect. Oh wait! I forgot. She gets bad grades, has no athletic skills whatsoever, and acts as if the world belongs to her. So maybe she 's not THAT perfect.


But anyways, while she was talking her head off, I sat there a bit sulkily. I mean, Mike was about to ask me to the Spring Fling for crying out loud. But how had she known Mike was here? And then I knew.
The divas.
I had no idea they would have sunk this low! I mean, to sabotage one of the ways for me to pass their own conditions? That was twisted.
But I decided to just forget about it. Instead, I got up, brushed myself off, and said, "Well, Amber, I have to go meet Melody and Jamie at the park. I hate to end this wonderful conversation we're having, but I really do have to go. I'm sure my sisters are waiting for you to come up." I turned to Mike. "I'm sorry Mike, but you're going to have to leave." I shrugged, as if I really did have to go.
Mike didn't fail me. His eyes widened in recognition and he got up too.
"Yeah, uh Amber I have to go to. Sorry. Uh, Bye." He took off.
Amber stared at me with a look that could probably killed me if it was possible. I smiled innocently, as I watched her turn and go inside. Then I headed down the street.


Only a few minutes later, Mike popped up next to me.
"That was too good. I actually thought for a sec that you really had to go!"
I smiled. "I know. You're lucky you missed the look on her face. I thought I was going to die on the spot!"
He laughed. "Well I'm glad you didn't. Because who would go to the Spring Fling with me?"
My eyes widened for the third time that day. Mike looked uncomfortable. "Listen, I didn't mean to ask like that. It's just when Amber showed up and-" He stopped when I covered his mouth.
"Listen, I'd love to go with you, okay?" He nodded. "So... since I'm going with you, let's try and save what little dignity you have by playing basketball and hoping you don't lose, although it's practically inevitable."
I took my hand away to reveal a grin. "They say pride comes before a fall."
"And they also say ignorance is bliss, although your ignorance of how to play basketball isn't keeping you in bliss land."
And then I snatched the ball from him and took off running.
"No fair!" he shouted.
"No one said life was fair!" I yelled back.
But it got pretty darn close.

CHAPTER TWELVE

On Monday, I woke up early again. I was planning on leaving as early as possible and meet up with Jamie, Melody and Mike. So when I was done getting dressed at seven, I headed downstairs.


Now, you must remember that most of my family is asleep in the mornings. I, wake up early purposely, so I can not worry about stuff most people worry about in the morning. So that means I have to be sneaky. And quiet. Which I'm good at. But one of my key rules of being sneaky, is that you must change your way of sneaking every so often. And if you don't, you will eventually get caught. But I had gotten cocky lately, and had just totally forgotten about that rule. So I walk downstairs, into the kitchen, to find my mother sipping warm milk.
(I have no idea why she drinks warm milk in the morning. It's supposed to make you sleepy, but she says it's perfect for waking her up.)
My mother smiled when I entered the kitchen. She motioned to a plate of scrambled eggs and strawberries. Yum.
"So, Lisa, I didn't know you wake up this early. I always thought you cut it close."
I was in a bit of a shock. I was rarely caught, and the last time I'd been caught was when I was nine.
"Well, I prefer to wake up earlier. I don't like cutting it close. Now, why are you awake?"
My mom just sipped her milk.
So I sat down and began to eat my breakfast.
And then, my mom said, "Well, you've been getting up so early lately. It was like this in the beginning of the year, and then you were eating breakfast with us and then, suddenly, you weren't."
I concentrated on drinking my orange juice.
"And you and your sisters no longer speak normally and you like that boy Mike."
I stopped drinking.
"How do you know about Mike?"
"I do have friends you know, honey. And kids do still talk to their parents, you know."
Really? I had no idea.
My mom stopped drinking her milk and looked at me.
"So, you're going to the Spring Fling with him?"
"Mom, you know Mike. He would never-"
"I think it's wonderful."
"Oh."
I was silent.


Then my mom asked it. "So what's going on at school?"
So I told her. Not everything. Just an edited version. About Amber. Not about the divas. About Grace and Greg. Not about Jamie and Kevin. I had to leave things out. No mother is that understanding. Besides, she'd probably find out about it when it was all over and her "friends" told her.
When I was done, she nodded, kissed me on the head, said good luck, and went upstairs to get dressed.
And I was out the door.


When I met up with Mike at the crossroads, he had this big smile on his face. Like he was just so happy. It was sort of contagious. I don't know what we started talking about, but it ended up with us in a fit of giggling.
"Awww, how cute."
Melody's voice sobered me up quick. But I saw the look on her face, and I knew that it was too late, Melody was storing this away forever, in her little files, with this file branded with the word BLACKMAIL, nice and big across the front.
Isn't she just a wonderful friend?
But I ended up laughing again, and soon we were all laughing. If Jamie hadn't gotten there, we probably would've been there all day.
"So, Mike, you're going to the Spring Fling?"
I rolled my eyes. Melody thought she was being cute, by pretending she had no idea Mike and I were going together.
Mike smiled. "Yeah. Didn't you hear? I'm going with Amber. She asked me when I was tied to a wall, with lazers pointing at me. You of all people didn't hear?"
Melody rolled her eyes as Jamie and I laughed.
So it was liked that the whole way to school. I kind of wish we had just kept walking forever, because what awaited us at school was not a pleasant thing.
Amber.
That girl had the nerve to walk right up to the four of us and say "Hi Mike."
So what, we were just nothing but air?
So I retaliated by saying, "Hi Amber!" copying the same perkiness she had used.
She glanced at me with disdain, as Melody, Jamie and Mike tried to hide their snickers. "Lisa."
She turned back to Mike and said "So Mike. The Spring Fling is coming up and I was wondering if..."
I couldn't believe it. She was actually going to...
"...you'd go with me?"
Yup, she was going to.
I stared at her. Then I looked at Mike. How was he going to handle this?
Mike looked down, then back up again. Then he said, "Uh, well, Amber, I'm already going with Lisa."
Now before you go awww, wait for the next part.
Then he reached down and grabbed my hand.
My face immediately fired up, and I got the same feeling I get when I'm standing on the edge of something high up. I was holding Mike Wells's hand. He had grabbed my hand!
Amber glanced down at our hands, at Mike and then me, shooting me darts of poison with her eyes. Then she turned and walked away.
I'm not sure what we did with the next twenty minutes before school. I don't know what we talked about, or if Melody dished some gossip. The only thing I remember is the fact that Mike held my hand the whole time.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

After school, I may have been floating on a cloud, but that cloud dissipated as soon as I saw the flyer Jamie held up in front of my face.


SPRING FLING
COMMITEE
Alright, it's time for the Spring Fling!
If you have any organization skills,
artistic skills or just want be a part
of the show, come to the cafeteria
after school this Monday. See you there!






It wasn't fair. Sure, I could organize any party, but I had to address whoever decided to show up to this thing. And I do not have good people skills!
So I looked at Jamie and Melody with the most pitiful, pleading look in the world. But my two best friends have hearts of ice, because they just grabbed an arm and started pulling.


The cafeteria was in chaos. I'd seen it at lunchtime, but there was a organized chaos. Here though, no one cared. So the place was full of girls who were waiting for someone to take charge by talking. The only guys were the boyfriends who were dragged here and the occasional geek. There were only two people who were quiet. Ann and Anna were sitting like two identical, perfectly primped divas. Which they were. Not a word was spoken between the two of them. And as soon as I entered, they turned their blue eyes on me with great solemnity. It was kind of funny. They were so serious that it was pretty hilarious. They were never serious. So this was a first. But I couldn't laugh. The microphone was on stage, ready and waiting. I gulped. Melody and Jamie looked at me. They would probably have loved to come up with me, but I had to do it myself. So I took a breath and headed p to the stage.


As soon as I got up there, I waited. When I do have to demand attention, I wait. It's actually pretty effective. So I waited.
I didn't have to wait long. As soon as they realized someone was on stage, it got silent fast. When every eye was on me, the butterflies began to fly and I began to speak.
"Every year, our Spring Fling stinks. Everyone wants a certain thing for it and we don't have as much money as we need. The Spring Fling has a theme. Spring! The main problems are decoration, food and music. So this year, we're going to split up in three teams. The decoration team will be headed by Melody Nash. The music team will be headed by Jamie Bliss. And I will head the food team. You may pick the team you want, but if we need more on a certain team, we'll pull people. Any questions?"


At first, no one spoke. Then one guy, a jock, yelled out, "Who made you queen?"
I looked at him and said, "Me. Now let's go!"


"Lisa we have a problem."
I inwardly groaned. With Wendell, we always had a problem. He was one of the geeks. He always made things seem worse than they were. And he did it a lot.
"What is it now, Wendell?" I asked.
"Well, I lost the water case."
I sighed. "Wendell, did you check under the bleachers? In the gym? The supply room?"
Wendell scurried off to do these things. He often lost things and wouldn't really look, so you had to give him places to go look, or else you'd end up looking instead of him.


It was three weeks after I'd taken charge of the committee. Things were going great and the Spring Fling was a week away. Because the divas and her friends were in the committee, I had to hang out with some of them. And we'd had some okay conversations. But I had to admit, I was pretty glad that they were graduating.
And Mike and I were still going to the Spring Fling together. We'd already gone out on some "dates", if that's what you could call them. Amber was staying low and the divas were being nicer. Things were good.


If I had only known how horrible things could go wrong, all in one week.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

The weekend had been great. I'd spent some time with Mike, hung out with Jamie and Melody, and I had to fit in some babysitting time with the monsters, but that was kind of to be expected. So when Monday rolled around, I expected everything to go great. But that Monday, when got to school, I found a bunch of people milling around the entrance. There was some big sign that said:


THE SPRING FLING STINKS!
If you were planning on going to the Spring Fling, change your plans. This
year, the committee is headed by Lisa Jenkins, and while her makeover is great,
She cannot plan a dance. So save yourself the torture and skip the Spring Fling!




I was shocked. Why would anyone say this? I had planned a great Spring Fling. The latest music, good food, a dance contest and great decorations. But it would all go to waste if no one came.
I decided that no one needed to read this garbage, so I took it down. But I soon found out that there were a lot more. They were plastered all over the walls. I decided to just tell my friends that the signs weren't true. It would get passed around soon enough.
So after Monday, I thought it was over. No more sabotage. But on Tuesday, another thing happened.


Now this didn't happen until after school. Tuesday was the day we were setting up the music area. All the equipment was in the cafeteria, or so we were told. When we got there, the cafeteria was empty. No equipment whatsoever. It took us over an hour to find everything. And then it took another hour to set it all up, because someone had hid the instructions!


I decided this had gone far enough, and called Jamie and Melody later that night on three-way.


"Okay, what do y'all think is going on. I mean who would try to sabotage the Spring Fling?"
"I think it's Ann and Anna. They don't want you to succeed. So this is their way of holding you back."
"Maybe it's Amber. She was so mad that you and Mike are going together. She probably wants to ruin it for you."
"Maybe they're working together! They could be totally sabotaging this dance just because they're so twisted."
"But why would they do that? They're the ones who wanted to have a great Spring Fling in the first place."
"Well..."


And it went on and on. We went for the obvious suspects of course, but then someone would give a reason why they wouldn't do it. In the end, we figured all we could do was be extra careful. We of course wouldn't find out who the real culprit was until Friday. And who it was would surprise us all.




It was Friday. I woke up so early, I had to wait a whole hour before I could leave. I was really excited. I mean, I was going to the Spring Fling with Mike Wells. I was going to go to a fun Spring Fling. Despite a week of incidents, the cafeteria was ready. And so was I.
I think.
The whole day, I was very jittery. Kevin and Mike walked with us to school. Mike had been really happy, and I'd tried to be the same. But the big bright, happy sun that was supposed to be making me happy had some clouds overhead.
Like, what if the person who'd been trying destroy the dance, ruined everything? What if something happens that I can't go to the dance? What if Mike suddenly decides he doesn't want to go with me? What if...
"What's wrong?"
I looked up into Mike's blue eyes. Clearly, he liked me. Clearly, he chose me over Amber. Clearly.
"Oh, nothing. I'm just excited." I said.
Mike smiled. We walked into school.
That's when the jitters began.


No matter what I told myself, I had butterflies flitting around in my stomach. They refused to settle down, and I couldn't quash them. It was torture.


But I tried to get over it, and when I went home to change, I told myself everything was fine. And it was. Until midway through the dance.
That's when that surprising culprit showed his face.
And it blew me away.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

3:30pm, Friday, School
"Ohmigosh, I'm so excited! In one hour, we'll be at the Spring Fling. And this one will be awesome!"
"I have my clothes!We're going to Jamie's house, right?"
"Yup! C'mon!"


It was 3:30, and school was out for the day. Melody and I were going over to Jamie's house, because it was closest tot the school. We didn't want to change at school like so many other people, and th dance wasn't until 4:30. So off we were.


4:30pm, School cafeteria
I looked around the dance floor for Mike. He'd said he would meet me here.
"Boo."
I jumped and turned around. It was Mike.
I smiled and shoved him. "Thanks for scaring me."
"Aww, I'm sorry. How can I make it up to you?"
"Well, I don't know. Let me think." I said, tapping a finger on my chin.
Mike grinned and grabbed my hand. "You tell me at the end of the dance, okay?"
"Okay." I replied, grinning.
For the next hour or so, I danced with Mike,(my first time ever willing to dance.)and watched Jamie dance with Kevin and Melody flirt. The dance was going well.
Or so I thought.


5:45, On stage
"Okay, everyone, can I have your attention please?"
The music stopped as Kacy, a friend of the divas, stood at the mike.
"Now, even though there were rumors that this dance would be a total flop, Lisa pulled through. This is probably the best Spring Fling in history! Give it up for Lisa!"


I began to blush as cheers and claps filled the cafeteria. I wasn't used to so much attention, but they were clapping for me. So I smiled.


"Now, Ann and Anna would like to say a few words."
My head shot up. What were they going to say?
Ann leaned into the mike.
"As y'all know, Lisa is our baby sister." I rolled my eyes. "But she's done some considerable growing up lately, and since we are going to high school next year..." she paused.
I could feel Jamie and Melody burning a hole in the back of my head. Were they going to name me their successor? Were the rumors going to stop? Without knowing it, I gripped Mike's hand tighter.
Just as Ann was about to continue, a gigantic water balloon splashed on my head. I was soaked!


6:00pm, Girls restroom
"I don't believe this! Who would do this?"
Melody whirled at me, hair dryer in hand.
"Whoever did this is going to pay! It's not fair! Everything was going great!"
I slowly took the hairdryer away from her.
"Mel, put the hairdryer down first, okay? Now listen to me. It's no big deal."


We were in the restroom, trying to dry me off. The school has two hairdryers for us girls to use and though I had never used one, I was thankful we had them.
When the water balloon landed on my head, Mike had looked up and seen someone in the rafters. I was whisked away, and a teacher chaperon ran up on stage, demanding whoever just did that come forward. Mike shouted that someone was up there and a bunch of people started running to go see if they could catch the culprit. And then, it rained.
As in, raining water balloons. All over the cafeteria, water balloons were falling. Everyone was running outside, trying to escape the fake downpour.
So now, I was with Melody, waiting for an update from Jamie and trying dry off.


6:15pm, Girls restroom
Jamie burst into the girl's restroom.
"Ohmigosh. Ohmigosh, ohmigosh!"
"What?" I asked.
Jamie took a deep breath.
"Alright, here we go. See, I went after the kid who dropped the balloons with Mike and Kevin. We ran up the stairs to the top of the caf, right? So we were up there, and I saw this person hiding behind some boxes. I nudged Kevin and he showed Mike. We split up and surrounded the kid. Then Mike jumped him, and you will not BELIEVE who it was!"
"WHO?" we yelled in unison.
"Wendell."

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

I stared at Jamie in shock. Wendell? Wendell, the geek who lost everything, who was so annoying, drove me insane, Wendell?
"Apparently, you've really been annoying him lately. Always making him look for himself instead of doing it yourself, that he was really annoyed. So he started the posters and stuff. But he knew that wouldn't work. So he planned the water balloon attack. He had everything rigged up in the rafters so as soon as he pulled a string, the water balloons would fall. He planned on blaming you, because of the food fight. And the thing is, that's what he's doing right now."
That wasn't right. "But how can he still do that if he confessed all this?" I asked.
"Because, he said that's what you did. But I know that you didn't do that. So you need to get out there to tell them he's lying."
My hair was wet and my clothes were soggy, but I was so mad, I could've been dry for all the hot anger in me. To think that Wendell would do that? Unbelievable! Inconceivable! He was in soooo much trouble!


When I got out there, everyone was still there. Loads of people were wet and they were standing there, glaring. At me and Wendell. Some people either believed Wendell or didn't. Wendell was sitting in a chair surrounded by teachers. I headed over to them.
"Wendell, you little brat how dare you try and pin this on me-"
"Whoa, Lisa, calm down." said Mike as he caught before I could smash Wendell's face into the ground.
"No! That little worm is trying to say I did this! Why would I? I worked my bottom off trying to make this Spring Fling good!"
Mrs. Trevino stepped forward and said, "Lisa, you did cause the food fight, so it seems a bit suspicious that this happened too."
"But I can prove it wasn't me! I was hit with a water balloon and was still downstairs when all the water balloons began dropping. How could I have released all of those water balloons?"
Wendell spoke up and said, "Mrs. Trevino, she made me release them. She said that if I didn't, she'd beat me up."
"I don't believe this! I wouldn't beat you up! And I wouldn't ruin the Spring Fling. And I wouldn't get myself sopping wet!"
The crowds' heads were going back and forth, between me and Wendell. They weren't sure who to believe.


"You're willing to beat me up now! It's because I messed up! I was supposed to hit Mike! She really did it! Honest!"
"That's not true! Lisa has never been in the rafters before! I should know! I worked with her for the past three weeks!" spoke up Jamie.
"But she's an accomplice! She threatened me too!"
Arrgh! I was going to scream!
"Listen Mrs. Trevino. I didn't do it. You can ask my committee. I've either been in the cafeteria, in class, or at home. I've never been anywhere near the rafters!"
Wendell was silent. He clearly thought Mrs. Trevino was going to convict me.


For a good fifteen minutes, we waited while Mrs. Trevino discussed it all over with Mr. Watson. Finally, They looked at me and said, "We believe you Lisa. You wouldn't do this." She turned to Wendell and said, " Wendell, come with us."
The crowd broke into cheers. Mr. Watson said, "Everyone can go home now."
As people started to leave, I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn't have to worry about getting in trouble.


"So, you think this was a good Spring Fling?" I asked.
Mike smiled. "Definitely."
We were walking home, and had already said bye to Jamie and Melody. We neared my house and I turned to Mike.
"Well, good-night."
"G'night."
We stood there and I started to open the door. And then...
"I know how I can make up for scaring you."
I turned around. "How?" I asked.
"Like this."
And then, he KISSED ME!

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

At first, I was so surprised, I didn't know what to do. Then slowly, I relaxed. I felt all warm inside, and felt like my brain was exploding. It was short, but really, really sweet. And when it ended, all I could do was think about it.
Mike was blushing so hard, his ears turned red.
"Well, G'night."
"'Night."
When I got to my room, I flopped onto my bed, just lying there. It was only six-thirty, so if I fell asleep now, my mom would wonder what was wrong. I'd missed dinner, but we'd gone out for pizza, so I wasn't hungry. I didn't really know what to do. But then, someone knocked on my door. I really couldn't say I was busy, so I yelled, "Come in."
The divas walked in and I inwardly groaned.
"So Anna. Have you heard? Are little sis has had her first kiss."
"Oh, that's too sweet. Remember our first kiss?"
"Yeah, Ricky and Matt."
"Twins visiting from Hawaii, right?"
"Yup. So, what did you think?"
I lifted my head. "I am NOT telling you my views on our kiss. And how did you know we kissed anyway?"
Ann shook her head, as if she thought I was a doofus or something.
"Hello? It's called window in our bedroom that looks out over the front."
Oh yeah. I'd forgot.
"Well, you shouldn't of been spying anyway. That was private. And why are you two even in here?"
Ann and Anna's identical grins slipped off their faces. Anna walked over to the left side of my bed, Ann on my right.
I sat up and leaned against the wall. I'd always heard it was good to keep your back against a wall. I hoped it would help with Ann and Anna.
Anna spoke first, "Lise, you were are first pick for reign you know."
What?
"But you didn't seem to want it and the way you acted and dressed. We hoped you'd grow out of it, but..."
Ann broke in. "So when little Amber came in, we figured she'd be best."
"And you didn't even care. So cutting our losses seemed fine with you."
"But these past couple of weeks, you've changed-"
"You got Mike and you began caring-"
"Amber does not deserve to be that popular. To reign-"
"To be the person who can intimidate, help, do almost anything-"
"If she got it, it'd be disgrace."
"So you're going to be it. You'll need to walk around with us for a while, sit at our table-"
"Jamie and Melody too."
"Of course. They're your best friends. They need to rise with you."
"So on Monday, you'll sit with us, invite Mike if you want, and next year, you'll be the popular one. And a bit of advice, make sure you give it to someone worthy."
And with having done their bit, without asking me if I wanted this, they walked out of the room.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

So yeah, I was the supposed "queen". But the fact that they just assumed that this was what I wanted, kind of made me angry.
Oh well.


So, on Monday, I went back to school. I wasn't sure what was going to happen. My sisters had been calling people all weekend, which meant the news would have been spread by now. I'd invited Jaimie and Melody over and we just talked about everything that had happened. I was realizing that I was going to be queen in five days. That was when my sisters would graduate and they would be moving on to high school. It was a bit weird. I was only going to be an eighth grader, but the ninth and tenth graders would consider me their equal. Did I really want to be in such a position of power? I hated being the center of attention, when everyone's eyes are on me, everyone wants me to slip up so they can hold it against me. I really hate that!
But this was what I wanted. Right?


I told no one of this. Not even Jamie and Melody. They were my best friends, but telling them would be like admitting I stole the cookies from the cookie jar. It was a stupid sign of weakness and I knew it.


But there I was, standing in the center of the courtyard, Mike's hand in mine, talking to Jamie and Melody. The diva's like to take their sweet time getting to school. They actually ride the bus. They always say walking's for losers and used to look pointedly at me. But they've gone their whole life going to school on a bus while I've always walked.
We'll never be the same.


But when their bus pulled up, I had to admit, my heart beat a bit faster, and my grip on Mike tightened. I felt nervous, jittery. I knew that they always got off last, because they thought that they were doing a favor to those who could end up behind them. Since they think they're so perfect.
It was agonizing to watch all those kids get off. One by one by one. Sheer torture.
Then they got off.
They started walking to their group, which was behind us. I don't know what I was expecting, them stopping at us, telling us to join them, or announcing that I was the next alpha, but they didn't do nothing of the sort.
As they walked by us, Ann, who was closest to me, turned her head the slightest bit, giving me that walk-by look, a total impassive look on her face. It was the look models have, and then it was gone.
After that, I calmed down. I talked and laughed with my friends, worried about last ditch finals, and had fun. I wasn't the alpha yet, and while I was sitting with the divas, we sat on their tails, practically as if we were on are own. Sure they'd talk to us every now and then, but they were still tenth graders and we were still the squirmy little seventh graders who were new and could never be as cool as them. We were the losers, the tag-alongs, the babies. It didn't matter I was the next alpha. I was younger. I knew my place. And so did they.
The last day came and went, school was out and it was summer. I didn't know what it would hold, just like I had no idea what being the alpha would. I had no more fears, just excitement. My day had come.


The End