Monday, September 1, 2008

We Can Live Without Boys... Can't We?,
part 4

LAST TIME: Hooker day came and went in a blaze of scantily clad glory. Maggie was sweatin' new-hottie-in-town Brian, but it turned out that he was IN THE LOVE with her friend and fellow boy-disdaining clubmate Kelly—which was, of course, revealed via an extremely realistic love note. Kelly returned Brian's affections and decided that, in spite of Maggie's feelings and the entire concept of the We Can Live Without Boys club, she had to follow her heart and "go with him." Maggie became sick to her stomach.

My stomach just got worse and worse. At home my dad gave me a quiz on the state capitals. I started barfing. Once I started I couldn't stop. How can love be so cruel? Maybe I'll die of a broken heart. I felt sick.

Broken heart? I'd say dehydration is more likely.

"How's that babe in your class?" Cassie asked.
"Dumb. He likes Kelly."
"I thought Kelly was your friend."
"Was. She's gonna go with Brian."
"Who's Brian?"
"The babe."
"Sorry, Magsums." said Cassie and she left.

I had the 24-hour-flu. Oh, barf. And barf I did. The 24-hour-flu is a dumb name for it. I mean it lasts a lot longer than 24 hours.

Er, probably not the 24-hour flu then. Just sayin'.

"Hi, Maggie." said Sherry, bringing in my homework. "Kelly is feeling really bad, you know."
"I'll bet Brian isn't." I said, sadly.
"Now Maggie, you can't jump to conclusions. Maybe he likes you."

What? Sherry, just stop. Please. For all of us.

"If he liked me he would have written me a note."
"Ok you have a point. Just try to be friends with Kelly."

Sherry left me feeling miserable. Should I be friends with Kelly or not? I was mad at Brian. Even madder at Kelly. She was there when I said he looked better than Kirk Cameron. Then she had to go with him. I thought we could live without boys, anyway.

You guys, she said he looked better than Kirk Cameron! Than KIRK CAMERON! Does this mean nothing to those bitches? Unbelievable! On the other hand, she has had, oh, ZERO interaction with Bri-Bri. She was in love with him and now she's mad at him, and by my count they have yet to exchange a single word.

Thursday was my first day back at school. We were eating blueberry muffins. I didn't eat any, remembering Halloween. Hilda didn't even ask why. She just eyed me suspiciously. Dad probably told her not to give me a hard time. That darn dad.

At the bus stop Sherry told me that Mitzi caught Emmy in the bathroom smoking a cigarette. I smiled and clapped appreciatively.

It's too bad the club wasn't there to serenade her!

Emmy was babbling away at Sherry who was staring into space. Some audience. Marsha was running back and forth from her desk to Daphne's. Daphne was staring at Brian but he was staring at Kelly. Kelly was glancing back and forth between me and Brian. I stared at my desk top.

"Welcome back, Maggie." said Mrs. Melnick "We missed you."
"Right." I mumbled.
"What did you say, Maggie?"
"I said 'Thanks."
"Oh." said Mrs. Melnick doubtfully.

At lunch Sam and Sherry were eating with Kelly still. I hesitated. Sherry spotted me. She pointed to the seat next to her. Darn, Trapped.

"Brian said he loved me yesterday over the phone. It was kind of embarassing because my stepmom was eavesdropping." Kelly blushed as Brian walked over.

Gee, Kelly, why don't you rub a gallon of salt in Maggie's wound? I mean, I know her anger is completely unjustified due to the whole never-having-actually-spoken-to-Brian factor, but still. Is it so difficult to refrain from talking about how much he luuuuurves you? Speaking of which, did anyone ever witness a 10-year-old boy profess his love over the phone? A show of hands, please.

"Hello, beautiful women." said Brian. "Maggie, glad to see you back."
"Brian do you mind. We're having a private discussion." said Sam, making her eyes wide.
"Sorry, ladies. Didn't mean to barge in." he apologized.
"Isn't he sweet?" said Kelly after Brian left.

Sweet? I'd say he's awfully smarmy for a fourth grader.

"Maggie we've decided to change the club name to, WE CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT BOYS. Are you in favor?" Sam told me, happy.
"Sure." I said.
"Maggie, can we still be friends?" Kelly asked me.
"I guess." I said.
"Oh, Maggie, that's great. Thanx a bunch." cried Kelly.

I don't think that "I guess" deserves such an enthusiastic response, Kel.

I was still a bit mad at Kelly. Brian was everything. Smart, sweet, cute, and charming. PERFECT. And Kelly got him. Kelly, who used to be such a tomboy until she met us. Now I wished we'd never met her. I still liked her some, though. A part of me would always like her and a part of me would always hate her.

Fourth grade is frigging rough, guys.

Maybe I should go back to Timmy.

Sherry liking Drake again. Maybe it would end up Me-Timmy, Sherry-Drake, Kelly-Brian, Sam. What about Sam? Oh well.

That was how I summed up page 12, and I remember I had a bit of writer's block after that. What would be the next twist of plot in my exciting tale? I took a break to get the ol' creative juices flowing again, and eventually returned with the following (now double-spaced!).

"I am really fed up." yelled Cassie at the top of her lungs. She stormed out of the room which was fine with me. She'd left her magazine in there anyway and that's what she'd been screaming about.

I sat down, satisfied, and opened the magazine. 'Modern Screen'. OK. Posters: Kirk Cameron...... oh, who am I kidding, I asked myself. I was just mad.... at Brian mostly. Brian, the Mummy Dummy, I thought.

The MUMMY DUMMY? What does that even mean? That might be up there with "report-on-Maine stealer."

Oh, forget it. I want to run away. Get away from all the confusion. Everyone says running away never helps. I didn't believe them.

It's like I had a Wheel o' Plot Devices, and once again the arrow landed on RUNNING AWAY.

I went upstairs and packed my bags. No one understands me, I thought sadly. They probably won't even notice I'm gone. A tear landed on my nightgown. This is painful.

I poked my head around the kitchen door. Good, no one was in there. I checked the cupboards carefully. My cup from the circus, an apple, some crackers, cookies, and the most important my Halloween candy.

Note to self: Most important survival food: Halloween candy.

I almost forgot. I'll need something to drink. I grabbed 5 Hi-C lemonade drink boxes. That should cover it.

I ran up the stairs with my bulging bag of food. I quickly pulled a blanket off my bed and snatched a pillow. Money. I'll need money. I shook the money out of my piggy bank and stuffed it into my purse. I bunched my food, clothes, sleeping stuff, pocket-sized photo album, cassette player radio, and some tapes into the biggest suitcase I could find. Old, gray with dirt, and ratty of course. It also smelled like my sister's shampoo. SICK. But, everything fit in it ok, so that was that.

I love that she brings a photo album and freaking cassette tapes.

On t.v. kids write their families a letter before they leave telling them why. I wanted to be original. I scribbled a short note to Sherry, though.

It said:

I am leaving because no one understands me, except for you. Life isn't fair and you know why. By the time you read this I hope to be out of the state. -Maggie (your pal)

Out of the state! I love it! Where's she planning on going? Pennsylvania?

I shoved the note into my pocket and picked up the large suitcase. Heavy. Too heavy. Nah. I tried again. Then I realized I forgot my purse. I ran back into my room and slung it over my shoulder. I made it down the stairs. Bump, step, bump, step. Thank god no one heard me.

I ran over to Sherry's and slid the note through the mailbox. Sherry ran out as I was trying to pick up the suitcase. She studied the note and squealed, "Can I come?"

I thought it over. "Yes." I finally answered. Sherry grinned.

"Great." she said. "Wait a second." Sherry dashed into the house and came out with a brown paper bag. "Clothes, food, money, flashlight, blanket, pillow, radio, tapes, batteries. You know."

I nodded. "Got an extra pair of shoes." I asked. I was amazed that Sherry could do that so quickly.

An extra pair of shoes! I had clearly given running away a LOT of thought.

Sherry clapped her hand over her mouth. "No. Wait just one more moment." I didn't have to wait. Sherry was back in a flash. "Where're we goin'?" she asked me.
I shrugged. How should I know, anyway.

Uh, maybe because you're the one running away! And what about the leaving-the-state plan? Get on the ball, Maggie!

"Let's go catch a bus. I know just the place." Sherry's eyes twinkled. She's got ideas, I thought. "On second thought, let's walk. It's not that far and busses cost money. Let me make a call inside. Hold on."

Sherry came out after a minute. She smiled. "Let's go." she cheerfully announced.

After a while we got there. I thought it was just a tree.

This is where the suspension of disbelief comes in. Are you guys ready? Take a few deep breaths. Here we go...

Sherry showed me the small hole. I got in first. Sherry gave me the suitcase and bag. She climbed in and shut a little door. She flipped on a light switch. We were on some stairs.

"Come on" said Sherry as she led me down them. Soon I saw a small door. Sherry fished a key out of her pocket and opened it. Inside I saw Sam and Kelly. They were sitting at a table in the middle of the room. Cards. Fish.

"This is what we've been doing after school when you never wanted to come." said Sam walking away from the table.

Uh, when was that? They rigged up a crazy inside-a-tree/underground hideout while she had the 24-hour flu?

When I first reread this I tried to reason that it could be a bomb shelter or other preexisting structure
that they've turned into clubhouse, but the more I read it the more I cannot deny that a) it is somehow or other inside a tree and b) we are led to believe that they MADE IT THEMSELVES.

This is probably the time to tell you that I was a wee bit obsessed with underground homes as an elementary schooler. I used to draw picture upon picture of imagined subterranean dwellings. Generally each room in the house was a separate hole, with ladders leading from room to room. The floors were lined with straw (there was usually a separate room designated for straw storage), and the bathroom contained plumbing that led to a nearby water source. Seriously, I drew that in. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I wrote an underground lair into one of my stories.

"Yep." said Kelly. "Lookit." She pulled up a string from the floor. It was a door. I climbed down a ladder. We were in a bedroom. There were four beds-mattresses. One was bare-mine. One was pink with a Kirk Cameron poster over it and an Apple. Also there was a pamphlet that said California on it-Sam's. One bed was messy. A blue blanket was thrown over it. A paper saying 'I hate my cousin' and a photograph of Brian-Kelly's. Sherry's had a Patrick Swayze poster over it. It was purple with a math packet laying on it. There was an open book on it, too. A stuffed dog lay on the pillow.

These bed descriptions really drive home the fact that each character only has one or two defining interests. (The "I hate my cousin" paper? Priceless!) Although who knew Sherry was crazy for Swayze?

Kelly pointed to the empty bed. "You can put your stuff there. Look." She pushed a white sheet out of the way and we walked in. "The bathroom." she said. There was a toilet and a small tub.

They can install a bathtub, but they can't be assed to put up a simple door?

Then we came back up. They showed me the stove, sink, emergency exit
[safety first!], phone, refridgerator, cupboards, and food.

"It's on my property." said Sam. She quickly added, "My folks don't know we did this, though."
"She rigged up the thing with the phone, heat, and running water." Kelly told me.
Sam shrugged. "I love electronics." she said.

What, you guys? She loves electronics! It's totally believable now.

"I thought you wanted to be a vet." I said.
"Nah. Just a cover up. I thought you wouldn't like me then."
"Are you kidding. I think it's cool."
"Really? Well, that's great. Welcome." Sam smiled warmly.

I made my bed. Mom and dad would never find me. They were away for the weekend anyway. Hilda wouldn't care, would she?

"Nope." said Kelly. She grinned. I blushed. I was thinking aloud again. Oooops.

No, I'm sure the housekeeper won't mind if one of the kids disappears on her watch. Whatever, there are four more at home.

Sam made coffee and doughnuts for dinner. Mmmmmmmm. Ahhhhhh. Ohhhhhhhh.

Pop 'n Fresh Dough? Or did she just have a doughnut-gasm?

Best dinner I ever had.

I fell asleep easily. The bed was so comfortable.

I had a weird dream. We all lived in this little house. Good.

When I woke up I was still in the little bedroom. It hadn't been a dream. I was the only one in the bedroom, though. Sleepily, I climbed up the ladder and opened the door.

Sherry was sprawled across the rug, obviously into the book she was reading. Kelly was sitting on the couch watching cartoons. Sam was cooking breakfast. Pancakes. Yummy.

"Good morning, sleepy head." Sam grinned at me before turning back to her food. "Want to help?" she asked.

After breakfast was served, Sherry and Kelly complimented us. I decided I loved making breakfast.

"I told Brian I'd call him last night." Kelly said suddenly.
"Well, go ahead. There aren't any rules about using the phone. If there are, please inform me." Sam answered.
"No. You got me. I was just feeling weird about sleeping under a tree." said Kelly, shrugging.
"Me too." Sherry called from the bathroom.
"These walls are like paper." cried Sam, shaking her head.
"Nope. They're like wood." I said.
Sam laughed. "Maggie," she shouted between giggles "You are such a te- so weird." Sam stopped herself just in time.

So are they under a tree or, like, IN a tree? Why do I bother trying to make sense of this?

"Shhh." said Kelly. "I'm on the phone. Hello. Is Brian there? Yes this is.... WHAT? He is.... 1879 Fairmount St. Luke's....
Yes... Ok... uh... tell him I called... if you can. All right. Ok. 'Bye." Kelly hung up and started to cry.

What in God's name happened to Brian? Give the Plot Device Roulette wheel a spin, and you might be able to figure it out!

NEXT TIME: The thrilling (okay, rushed) conclusion.


Linley Dolby said...

Holy genre shift! I love it!

zanne said...

The secret house in the tree is SO COOL! I love it! I always loved books with secret rooms or passageways. It's kinda crazy to think they somehow built it by themselves and it actually had electricity and running water, but that is awesome.

I can't wait to find out what happened to Brian!

Tracy Schooler said...

I'm so hooked on this, I can't believe we're left in a cliffhanger!

Kate McGuinnes Wright said...

Okay Sada, first question...did you drink coffee in 4th grade???Second, by Sam loving electronics does that mean she likes going to Sears and seeing them because that is retarded that she can hook all this stuff up...Tell Sam I need her to come over and hook some things up at my house...Holy handy girl!!!

Kate (retarded) Wright said...

I spelled my last name wrong, who's the retard now Sam...

Cory said...

I am re-reading this, and I just wanted to mention how the whole lunch room scene (where Kelly rubs her new love affair in Maggie's face) is very similar to the scene in Mean Girls where Regina George fawns over her boyfriend (I think his name was Aaron) in front of Katy. Man, I know way too much about that movie.

Cory said...

I am re-reading this, and I just wanted to mention how the whole lunch room scene (where Kelly rubs her new love affair in Maggie's face) is very similar to the scene in Mean Girls where Regina George fawns over her boyfriend (I think his name was Aaron) in front of Katy. Man, I know way too much about that movie.