"What happened to Brian?" Sam questioned.
"I can't talk about it."
"Come on, Kelly." I urged.
"No." she sobbed.
"KELLY." shouted Sherry.
"HE BROKE HIS LEG." screamed Kelly.
As you can see, the PlotMaker3000 had once again selected BROKEN LIMB. How many of you guessed that?
"Oh god." muttered Sam.
"Kelly," I said. "Sit down. He'll be ok."
"No he won't. He'll be surrounded by young, pretty, nurses. He'll marry one and be real happy and I'll be left out in the cold and and and..." Kelly burst into tears.
Okay, this is quite possibly more ludicrous than the underground clubhouse. He is 10! Unless his nurse is Mary Kay Letourneau, I'd say you're safe, Kelly.
"Go visit him. He'll be glad to see you. Real glad." Sherry suggested as she walked out of the bedroom.
"And bring him flowers or candy." Sam added.
"And a card. Everyone loves cards." I told her.
Just don't forget the flowers! 10-year-old boys love nothing more than a tasteful bouquet.
"No dice. You have to be twelve; we're ten." Kelly said sadly. Tears stained her cheeks. I needed to help her. It only took a split-second for my brain to start working.
My grandmother was hospitalized around this time, and I think her hospital had a no-kids-under-12 age stipulation. Or else I made that crap up.
"I've got it." I shouted, making Sherry jump. "He's in the children's ward, right?"
"And we're children, right?"
She nodded again.
"Well, children should be allowed in the children's ward, right? Shouldn't they?"
"Yea. IF they're hurt, WHICH I'M NOT." she yelled at me.
Way to get that brain working! But seriously, how long is he going to be there? It's a broken leg, for fuck's sake! He'll be home in a few hours.
"You could give him something when he gets home." Sam said.
"You could call him" said Sherry.
"Maybe." Kelly said doubtfully. "Look I gotta go home. My stepmom's gonna start looking for me if I'm not home soon. 'Bye."
"Don't we live here?" I asked Sam.
"Nah." she said, shaking her head. "Just me but, I live in the house up there."
"Can I move in?" I asked.
Sam sat down. "Let me think." she said.
I went to fix up my bed. I pulled my red teddy bear blanket over the bed. I stuck the pillow up at the top of the bed. I set my red teddy bear at the end of the bed. I taped a Michael J. Fox poster over the bed. I tossed a book onto it too.
Apparently Sam has dibs on all the Kirk-related paraphernalia. But I love that Maggie packed a Michael J. Fox poster in her suitcase of runaway essentials. I guess all you really need is Halloween candy, an extra pair of shoes, and a Michael J. Fox poster.
Kelly asked me to put up her George Michael poster, which I did without complaining. Poor Kelly. She really loves Brian. More than I do, I thought. A lot more.
There was one dresser in the bedroom. One dresser with 4 drawers. Everyone got a drawer.
Thanks for that useless bit of info.
Sam was still thinking when I finished. I decided to do something else.
I decided to write a letter to my favorite cousin, Corey.
Ooooh, yes! We have so much to discuss: the club, Hookoween, the Brian/Kelly drama, and of course the secret underground lair! This is going to be quite a letter.
March 19, 1988
This must be the date I was actually writing the story, because I think we can all agree that it is November in Can't-Live-Without-Boys Land.
How is everything in New York? It's ok here in Ohio. I can't wait for the snow even though I know you can't stand it. I can. I love sledding, snow ball fights, and snow men. Even though we don't have much in common, you are still my favorite Cousin.
Gotta go. Tell you more when I can.
P.S. See you at Thanksgiving. Write back soon.
...Or we could just write about the weather. Riveting, Maggie. I'm sure Corey is going to get RIGHT back to you about those snowmen.
"Sam," I asked her, "Do you know yet?"
"You can stay until Sunday night, ok?" Sam answered.
"Thanks." I smiled. "Are you going to?"
Sam shook her head. "Gotta go to a dinner party with my folks. Means a lot to 'em, ya know?" I nodded. "Do me a favor and call Kelly. See what she's doin', will ya?"
"Sure. I was going to anyway." I lied.
"'Bye." I called as Sam left.
Let's see about that Kelly. I'll call. I will. Right now I think. Will it disturb her? Will she be mad? No, I'll call her. I said I would and I will.
"Hello. Is Kelly there." I asked.
"Nope. No way, I mean, 'No she isn't.' She'll be back in an hour. Can I take a message." Obviously Liza, her older sister.
"Yeah. Tell her Maggie called. Do you know where she went?"
"Dud. I mean, 'No I don't but, I'll tell her you called.'"
"Ok. 'Bye." I said in an annoyed tone.
"Chow." said Liza as if she wasn't really sure.
"'Bye." I said again.
I stayed until Sunday. I even made dinner and breakfast all by myself. Sam helped me with lunch. I went home before dinner on Sunday.
Sam was working on putting a T.V. in the clubhouse. Or hide-out. Well whatever it is.
I didn't know what to call it even then! Also, Kelly was totally watching cartoons earlier. I definitely started getting sloppy toward the end here.
On Monday, everybody was talking about the new girl in Mr. Clark's room. Angela. Angie Brett. Angie.
I had already used my "secret hideout" plot device and my "broken limb" plot device, so what else was there... something that could really get the story moving again... Oh yes! Another new student!
"What about her?" I asked Sam inquisitively.
"Oh," gasped Sam, "She looks like a full-grown woman."
My eyes grew larger and I could tell Sherry's did to. "Maybe she thought we were having Halloween today." Sherry suggested anxiously.
"No," Sam shook her head. "The weird thing is that she's real short."
"Shorter than Tiffanie?" I asked. Tiffanie is the shortest girl in our class. She's also the shortest girl in the 4th grade.
Sam nodded. "much."
"Daaaag." Sherry was amazed. She must be 3 ft. tall, I thought. I was close. Angie was 3'5".
Sam was right. She looked like a miniature adult. Her dirty blond hair was slicked back into a bun. Her lips looked like they were painted on. They pressed together tightly as if she were mad but she wasn't. Her gray eyes stared blankly at the chalkboard. Her arms were crossed and she looked serious and business-like.
I cannot wrap my head around how a 3'5" 10-year-old could look remotely like an adult. Even if "looks like an adult" is, like, code for "already has boobs," she's 3-foot-freakin'-5!
She was in our Language Arts class-and Math too. Angie didn't talk. She squeaked and squealed.
"In the sentence, 'My wife and I miss the lovely mountains.', why didn't you use 'me' instead of 'I'? Angela?" said Mrs. Melnick.
"It wouldn't sound right if you said, 'Me miss the lovely mountains.'"squeaked Angie.
"Correct. What does sound right? Chris."
"I want to kiss Angie." Chris said dreamily. The class cracked up. Angie and Chris turned crimson.
"Do you believe that Chris?" Sam asked us. We had just started eating lunch when she bounded in, all smiles."
"At least Brian isn't falling head-over-heels like the rest of them." Kelly pointed to the boys' group. We called them 'The Bra Snappers' behind their backs!
Because soooo many fourth graders wear bras.
"He can't." Brian was at home. He'd be back tomorrow. Well he was supposed to be. He was still getting over the broken leg. Kelly went to see him. She gave Brian a dozen roses. Now those 2 are really in love.
If you were a 10-year-old boy, how embarrassed would you be to get a dozen roses? Wouldn't you prefer, say, a Transformer? Male readers, feel free to weigh in.
"Hi guys." Angie squealed. "I don't think we've met. I'm-"
"Angie. We know. I'm Sam."
"I'm Sherry." she said with a toss of her head. [The hell?]
"I'm Maggie." I said easily. Usually I'm nervous around new kids. Sam was an exception. I could tell Angie was too. She was so cheerful it was easy to feel comfortable around her.
I started considering having Angie join the club. I'd tell the others after school.
"Hi. My name's Kelly. Half the boys in school are crazy about you. You should watch out for her." Kelly gave a quick nod in Emmy's direction. We all nodded.
"She's trouble." Sherry added.
"Gotcha." said Angie, barely squeaking. Then she winked.
...And then I started to second-guess my "new character" plan.
Angie never did get into the club, though. She became a second Jenni. They worked night and day at Jenni's place, delivering gossip. Since Angie lived next door it was easy.
Summer vacation was approaching quickly.
I had finally come to terms with the fact that I was out of ideas. Plus, my own fourth grade school year was at an end. That meant I had to wrap this story up STAT!
Sam, Sherry, and I wanted to get asked to the end-of-the-year dance. It was being held at Brian's even though he couldn't dance. He was taking Kelly, naturally.
Yeah, Brian's leg has been in a cast for about seven months. What of it? It was a reeeeally bad break.
Angie got asked the next day. Chris. We never forgot that English lesson. She said yes.
After that, Sherry was asked. Mark Kramer. He walked up at lunch, so the rest of the club had the pleasure of watching.
"You wanna come to Bri's party with me, Sherry?"
"Sure, Mark." That was settled.
Sam went with- you know who- JAMES. He called her the same day Sherry was asked. Sam said yes. She took her time, making him survive, struggling, through 10 minutes of decision. Sam likes to give pain.
Pain + electronics = Sam's domain. Oh, and Kirk Cameron posters.
I almost went without a date. At the last minute I got a phone call. IT WAS TIMMY. Wait a second. No, it wasn't. It was Drake.
That's how interchangeable they are in this story.
"Maggie, you wanna come to the party with me?"
"Of course I would." I shrieked.
Way to play it cool.
Drake, Mark, James, and, yes, even Brian were pretty good dancers.
The year ended nicely, with the 8 of us lined up for a quadroople date.
That night I got my first kiss. The other 3 girls got theirs too.
I like how the smooching is glossed right over, since I had no idea what kissing a boy would be like in actuality.
It was a night we'd never forget. It'd been one heck of a year. We were all looking forward to an equally exciting summer.
Do you get the feeling I was setting things up for a sequel? Yeah, that's because I totally was! Though extremely short-lived, it's fantastically titled A Summer of Swimming, Fun, and Boys. Swimming? Fun? AND boys? Sounds like a recipe for awesome to me!
NEXT TIME: Some journal entries reflecting back on my literary career. Oh yes.