Authors: Rachel Vail
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Themes, #Emotions & Feelings, #Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, #Friendship, #Social Issues
Could Olivia be love sick?
I felt something. It’s hard to tell if it was what you’re supposed to feel, because of course I’ve never felt anything before, anything like it. I’ve had strep throat about twenty times, so as soon as it starts to come, even before the throat culture can be positive, I know if I have it or if it’s just swollen glands; on the other hand, when I got chicken pox last year, I had no idea what was happening to me. I thought maybe it was adolescence or the flu, until I got itchy. So, since I’ve never had a crush before, there is no way of telling if that’s what just happened to me. Maybe it’s a virus, for all I know. Or mumps. Although I think I got inoculated against that.
But I definitely felt something.
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First published in the United States of America by Scholastic Inc., 1999
Published by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2014
Copyright © 1999 by Rachel Vail
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Puffin Books ISBN 978-0-698-13957-2
to Arlene and Arthur, whose generosity, energy and love are inspirational
THE FRIENDSHIP RING
If You Only Knew
Please, Please, Please
Not That I Care
What Are Friends For?
ome growth spurt. My mother
says an inch, but I know she was tilting the book. I know it was only half an inch, maybe three quarters. She wants to reassure me, but the only time I ever think about how short I am is when everybody keeps consoling me that height doesn’t matter and that anyway I’ll have my growth spurt soon, when my adolescence starts.
I’m not worried about the fact that I still care about current events and my schoolwork either. I know most other seventh-grade girls have only two interests: popularity and boys. That stuff bores me, honestly; when those conversations come up—
Do you think he likes me? Are you mad at me?
—I go over my times tables in my head and wait for a more interesting topic. I know that makes me seem behind the other girls in my grade, less mature, less normal. I can’t help it. It’s not that I’m antisocial; I’m actually very friendly. It’s just that I can’t help noticing that the seventh-grade girls who used to be reasonably intelligent people have recently become idiotic, single-minded bimbos, one after another, as the hormones hit. People like CJ Hurley, a gifted ballerina and a sensitive friend, lose all perspective and every interest when some dirty-fingernailed but popular boy calls her up on the phone.
I wonder when it will happen to me.
his morning when I got to
school, I had only a few paragraphs to go in the chapter I was reading, so I stumbled up onto the curb with the book still in front of my face. When I finished the chapter, closed my book, and looked up, Morgan Miller was staring right at me. I looked behind me to be sure it wasn’t somebody else, but no, it was me.
I don’t waste my time keeping up to the minute on who is in and out, but everybody in our grade knows that Morgan is always at the center of things. She tends to be very angry at somebody at least once a week and to have intense opinions about what is and isn’t acceptable—clothes, behavior, all the details of life. I care a lot about moral issues like free speech and homeless people, but not so much about what an acquaintance wears. Morgan scares me a little.
So when she stared at me like that, I said something like, “You coming into school?” We’ve always been friendly, though distantly, and she looked particularly fierce right then. I don’t care who likes me or doesn’t, but it’s not good to be the one Morgan is angry at.
She sprinted over to me, latched onto my arm, and dragged me by the elbow into school, whispering, “Some people think they are so great.” She stormed off to her own homeroom when I asked her who.
In homeroom, permission slips for next week’s seventh-grade apple-picking trip were handed out. Zoe Grandon, who sits next to me, opened her big blue eyes wide and smiled at me. I guess she was excited about the trip, which I was dreading because last year, as everybody in Boggs Middle School knows, two seventh-grade couples got caught kissing behind a haystack on the apple-picking trip. For weeks after they came back all the boys in the whole school were talking about it, pretending to cough, but really saying “hay-stacking” and meaning
. It’s what made me dislike boys last year, all that talk of
, like all they thought girls were good for, all of us who’ve been their buddies and first basemen and lab partners, all they thought of when they saw us was
. My brother, Dex, told me I needed to relax. He thought it was funny four of his friends got suspended. I thought the whole thing was insulting and annoying. But that’s just my opinion.
All through the announcements, Zoe fiddled with a silver ring on her finger. When the bell rang and Zoe and I were walking out of the room, I complimented her on the ring.
“Thanks,” she said with a huge smile. “I got it this weekend.” She held her hand out for me to get a better look.
“Pretty,” I said. “I like the knot.”
Zoe nodded. “It’s a friendship ring. CJ has the same one.”
“Oh,” I said. “That’s nice.” CJ Hurley’s mother and mine are very tight; we go on family vacations together, but CJ and I aren’t especially close. She is nervous and timid, and not too interested in anything but ballet, which is her life. She’s very talented. Ballet and, lately, boys. And always Morgan. As far as I knew, CJ’s best friend was Morgan, not Zoe.
Zoe was adjusting the ring on her finger as we got to the door of her French classroom. I decided it was none of my business who got friendship rings with whom. Zoe asked me, “Did you have fun putting together the project for English class over the weekend?”
“It was harder than it seemed, I thought.”
“I agree,” I said. The assignment was to fill a brown paper bag with ten objects that, taken together, would give a complete picture of who you are. I’d worked all weekend on it and felt pretty confident about the ten things I’d chosen. “I can’t wait to present it,” I told Zoe.
CJ approached us, rubbing her right hip. I asked her if it was hurting.
She shook her head very quickly and said, “Um, a little. But, I mean, no.”
“That’s good,” I told her as encouragingly as I could. She always seems to be in the midst of an anxiety attack.
“Thanks,” she said, clasping her hands tightly behind her back. Tommy Levit walked past us. He’s the boy CJ had decided she liked last week. CJ covered her face with her hands. I resisted groaning.
CJ lifted her face and announced, “Tommy asked me out.”
“Oh,” I said. “When?”
“Friday,” CJ said.
“Congratulations.” I had no more to say about that subject. I don’t know what everybody sees in Tommy Levit. He’s a twin with Jonas Levit, which is inherently interesting, I guess. And he is nice-looking in a generic American way, with dimples and a sarcastic look on his face, but I really don’t see why so many of the girls in our grade act stupid around him, especially after last year, when Morgan went out with him and he kissed her so hard and so unexpectedly that she dumped him and hasn’t really spoken to him much since. He’s the kind of boy who likes to tease—and CJ is someone who can’t easily withstand teasing. But since it wasn’t my business, I didn’t say a thing. I opened a folder holder and put away my permission slip.