Tall , thin and blonde

It was like overnight amy had become a completely different person. All of a sudden we were in high school and my buddy , my pal , was one of those girls who worry about what they eat and what they wear and who they're friends with. The problem was...I was still me.


3. yes and no

On tuesday night I had a dream. In the dream, I didn't go to the dance. Amy came over to show me how she looked in her blue mini and lacy blue top. She looked terrific. She was wearing big silver hoops in her ears and turquoise shadow on her eyes. She looked like a model. She looked grown-up. "I wish you'd change your mind," she said.

I was sitting on my old tricycle. My hair was in pigtails and I was wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. I rang the bell of the trike. "I'm not coming," I said. "I want to stay home and watch TV." I rang the bell again.

Amy disappeared. The next thing I knew, I was at the dance. I was standing on tiptoe at the window of the gym door. Inside it didn't look like the gym. It looked like a club. There were posters on all the walls and it was dark. There were purple spotlights everywhere and a real band. Everybody inside was smiling and laughing. It started to rain. I was in the hallway outside the gym, but I was getting wet. I tried the door. It was locked. Amy floated by in the arms of Dwayne Miller, Red Bay Highs big football star. I banged on the glass. "Amy!" I shouted. "Amy! I've changed my mind! You were right! We're not little kids anymore. I want to come to the dance after all. I want to be grown-up and popular too!" The storm increased. "Amy!" I screamed. "Amy! Let me in!" Everyone in the gym turned to look at me. They started laughing. Amy was laughing the loudest. "Amy!" I was practically crying. "Amy! Open the door!"

"I can't!" Amy laughed. The door disappeared. I was standing at the end of a dock. It was still pouring. The gym had turned into an enormous cruise ship. It was decorated with paper lanterns and coloured lights. The band were dressed like pirates. Amy was waving to me. "Goodbye, Jenny," she was calling. "Goodbye!"

"Wait!" I was yelling. "Wait for me! I don't want to be left behind! I want to come, too!"

Dwayne Miller suddenly appeared at her side. He put his arm around her. "Its too late, Jenny!" Amy laughed. "You've missed the boat!"

So that was why, on the way to school on Wednesday morning, I told Amy I'd decided to go to the dance.

"I knew you'd make the right decision," said Amy.

Mr Herrera, however, did not make the right decision.

Mr Herrera said, "No." Science was supposed to be about logic and reason, but for Mr Herrera it was about rules.

"I can't make exceptions, Miss Kaliski," he informed me. "You're in high school now. You'll do what the rest of the class does or you'll get an F."

I didn't see Amy after school on Wednesday, but I phoned her that night. I had to tell someone, I was so outraged, and Amy was the person I always told everything to.

"Can you believe it?" I asked. "He's making me dissect a frog even though I'm not going to learn anything I couldn't learn from a textbook. Even though I'm not going to contribute anything to scientific knowledge."

Amy was filing her nails, I could hear her sawing away while she spoke. "I don't know why you always make such a big deal out of everything," she said. "Just tell him you'll dissect the stupid frog, and then when he isn't looking let one of the boys do it for you. Its what all the other girls do."

I tried to explain. "But, Amy, that's not the point. Its not that I can't do it, its that I don't want to. Its a matter of principle."

"You can't fight city hall," said Amy. "And anyway, what choice do you have? You might as well just go with the flow."

"Its just that I feel very strongly about this sort of issue." I raised my voice. "As a future scientist I am concerned with-"

"What you should be concerned with is what you're wearing Saturday," said Amy. "Have you given any thought to that, or have you been too busy worrying about reptiles?"

"Amphibians," I corrected. The truth was that I hadn't yet given any thought to what I was wearing because my arguement with Mr Herrera had put the dance completely out of my mind.

Amy sighed. "Amphibians, reptiles... What's the difference? The dance is only three days away. Are you going to do anything to your hair?"

"To my hair?"

She sighed again. "And what about make-up?" she demanded. "Have you even thought about that?"

Why would I? The only time I paid attention to stuff like that was when I saw those posters about testing beauty products out on mice. "Well, no..." I said. "I-"

Amy huffed. "Really, Jenny," she said. "Sometimes I don't know what's going to happen to you. What would you do if I wasn't around?"

"I guess I'd stay home Saturday night," I joked.

Amy didn't laugh. "Why don't you come over after school tomorrow and we'll try out some make-up and hair styles and stuff."

We arranged to meet in front of the library after last period on Thursday. "Right after class?" said Amy. "Right after class," I said. So there I was, standing under my green umbrella outside the library, water beginning to seep through my sneakers, waiting for Amy. I looked at my watch again. Amy was late.

It was funny, but though I'd never thought much about my hair or make-up or anything like that before, as the afternoon went ton I'd started to feel a little excited. What if Amy managed some incredible transformation? All through history I kept imagining what I might look like when Amy was through. Taller. Thinner. Prettier. Like a Before and After make-over in a magazine. I'd go into Amys bedroom looking like one of those girls boys don't notice unless they want to borrow her maths homework; and I'd come out looking like one of those girls who never does her maths homework but whom every boy in her class wants to date. I wanted my watch again. I wished she'd hurry up.

My patience was beginning to wear out when the door opened behind me. I turned around, but it wasn't Amy. I caught a glimpse of a long, hooded black cape, a pale thin face and black-ringed purple eyes. It was a vampire. The vampires arms were filled with books. I turned back to the path.

The vampire stopped beside me. "Jen?" she asked, peering under my umbrella. "Jen, is that you?"

"Marva?" I should have known. Who else at Red Bay High would wear a cape instead of a raincoat? Especially one that was black on the outside and purple on the inside. Tanya, Joan, Maria and Sue might all be Martians, but Marva was the head Martian, there was no doubt about that.

"What are you doing out here in this deluge?" She laughed. "Waiting for the ark?"

"Not exactly," I said. "-m waiting for my friend Amy."

Marva tucked her books under her cape. "That's not the blonde, is it? The one with the perm I sometimes see you with in the mornings?"

I nodded. "Yeah," I said, "that's Amy."

"She's gone," said Marva.

"Who's gone?"

"Your friend Amy. She's in the same class as me last period. I saw her leave right after English."

"Are you sure?"

Marva nodded. "Sure I'm sure. There were a couple of girls waiting for her in the hall, and they were talking about not being late for something."

All of a sudden I felt as though I'd been waiting for my friend Amy for a very long time. My feet were soaking. The bottoms of my keans were wet. My arm hurt from holding the umbrella. How could she go off and leave me like this? I forced myself to smile. "I guess I must have mixed up the days," I said. "She must have meant tomorrow."

"You live past Burr, don't you?" asked Marva.

I nodded. Numbly.

"I go that way, too," she continued. "You want to walk together?"

For a second I just stared at her. I had this sudden image of the two of us on our way home, me looking like a green mushroom with feet, and Marva looked like Countess Dracula. What if someone saw us? Then I had another sudden image, this one of Amy going off with Amber and Kim. "Sure," I said. "You want to hold the umbrella?"

"So what'd Herrera decide?" asked Marva as we walked past the teachers parking lot. "Is he going to exempt you from the frog carving?"

I told her what he'd said.

"What did I tell you?" asked Marva. "When Herrera says he wants to think about something he means 'no way, not in a million years'. Its because he doesn't think, he just does what he's always done."

"I can't believe it," I said for about the hundredth time since the day before, I kicked a stone and it splashed into a puddle. There was a rumble of thunder in the distance. "No one else in the whole world makes this stuff mandatory anymore."

"Its because you're in advanced biology," said Marva.

"But its not like I want to be a doctor," I complained. "I want to be an astrophysicist. A first hand look at the intestines of a frog isn't really important to me."

"It doesn't matter," said Marva. "Its exactly what happened to Chris."


"My brother."

"Oh, right," I said. "Chris."

"He was the best student in the class, so there was no way Herrera was going to let Chris bend the rules. He said he would set a bad example. I've never seen Chris so mad. He hates inflexibility. And when Herrera tried to have him suspended..." She rolled her eyes. "Chris swore he'd get even before he graduated, or die in the attempt."

We turned a corner.

"So what are you going to do now?" Marva wanted to know as we walked up her block.

"Now?" What was she talking about? "What do you think I'm going to do now? I'm going home."

Marva made a face. "No." She moaned. "About Herrera."

"What can I do?" I asked. "I'm going to cut this poor little frog open and then I'm going to go home and feel guilty about it for the rest of my life."

We came to a stop in front of a big old house that looked like it might be haunted. Marva didn't have to say anything, I knew it must be hers. My family lived in a small ranch house. Our house was white with dark green trim. Marvas house was blue. Bright blue. The trim was pink. I'd never seen a house that shade of blue before. In fact, I'd never seen anything that shade of blue before. There seemed to be a lot of stuff on the front porch. I half expected to see Boris Karloff appear among the old furniture and refrigerators, laughing his evil laugh. If Marva was the head Martian, then this was Martian Control.

A sudden flash of lightning lit up the sky. I think I might have screamed, but my attention was caught by something on the roof. Right where the attic window should have been there was this odd-looking wooden box. "What is that, Marva?" I asked, pointing. "Is it some kind of bird house?"

Marva didn't even look up. "Its not a bird house, its my brothers bat roost." She said it as though everybody had a bat roost on their house. Maybe Marva really was Countess Dracula.

I squinted into the rain, looking to see if there was any bats circling the chimney.

Marva pur a hand on my shoulder. "You know, Jen," she went on, undaunted by the fact that I had changed the subject, "you don't have to dissect this frog, no matter what Mr Herrera says. You do have options."

Options? "I do?" I tore my attention away from the bat roost.

She nodded. "Sure you do. For instance, you could just miss the class."

"You mean cut it?"

She waved one hand dismissively, bracelets jangling. "No, of course not," said Marva. "Not cut it exactly. I mean wake up with a really bad headache that morning."

Oh, no, not cut the class, just wake up with a headache. "I couldn't do that," I said. "First of all, its going to take up at least two or three lab periods. I'd have to get more than a headache to miss it. Pneumonia, maybe. And second of all," I explained, "if I don't do the frog, Mr Herrera will give me an F."

Marva didn't blink. "So?"

"So?" I echoed. "So science is what I'm interested in. I can't afford not to do well in biology."

"Go to Mrs Loomis then," suggested Marva. "File a formal complaint."

Mrs Loomis was our principal. Everyone called her The Terminator. I'd rather dissect a live iguana than complain to her about Mr Herrera. Where did Marva get these ideas?

"That's what Chris did."

Oh, Chris. That was where Marva got those ideas, I should have known.

"And what happened?" I asked. "Did it help?"

Marva shrugged. "Not exactly. But Chris probably went a little over the top, as usual. He was very upset. I think he told Mrs Loomis that Mr Herrera would have made a good KGB agent. He may have even said Mr Herrera would have been better off working in the Spanish Inquisation that in a high school science department." She gave me an encouraging smile. "But you're not as temperamental as Chris. I'm sure she'd listen to you."

"I'll think about it," I promised. Meaning no. I looked at my watch. "Goos grief," I said, "is that the time? I'd better get going. I have to fix supper for my parents."

"I'll tell you what," Marva said as she handed me back the umbrella. "I'll ask my brother what he thinks you should do. He's always full of ideas."

I looked over at the bright blue house with the bat roost attached to it. "Terrific," I said. "I feel better already."

I let myself into the house through the kitchen. Neither of my parents was home from work yet. I kicked off my sneakers and left them by the door. I hung up my jacket so it would dry, put my umbrella in the sink and threw my things down. The sound of my boots hitting the table woke up Percy. He leapt off the couch (where he wasn't allowed to sleep) and came racing in to say hello. He jumped into my arms. He's not supposed to jump into my arms either, because he's too big really, but he does it anyway. I kissed the top of his head and told him he was a good boy, and then I put him down. I looked at the clock on the wall. I had at least an hour before I had to start supper. Time for a snack before Percys walk.

I had just sat down with a glass of juice, a bowl of corn chips and Percy when the phone rang. It was Amy. To tell you the truth, I'd competely forgotten about her during my walk home with Marva. But the second I heard her voice, I remembered. And I remembered how annoyed I was. "Oh, its you," I said. "I thought maybe you had amnesia."

Amy laughed. "I did. I had temporary amnesia."

I chewed on a couple of chips. Loudly. But I didn't say anything. I didn't want to give in too easily.

"I'm sorry, Jen," Amy apologized. "I really am." She did sound sorry.

"I stood in the rain for hours," I complained. "I couldn't believe you didn't come."

"Jen, I'm really and truly sorry. What more can I say? I didn't do it on purpose, you know."

I could feel myself weakening. "You were going to do something with my eyes," I reminded her. "And my hair. Now what am I going to do about the dance?"

"I'll make it up to you, Jen. You can come over early on Saturday and we'll do it then."

I weakened some more. "Well, I guess we could do it Saturday," I said slowly. "If I have the time." I tossed a few more chips into my mouth and crunched. She sounded sorry, but I didn't want to completely forgive her until I'd heard her excuse. "So where were you?"

She stopped sounding sorry. "It was the cheerleading try-outs today," she said quickly. She sounded excited. "And in all the rush and everything I forgot I was supposed to meet you."

I stopped chewing. I swallowed. This wasn't the excuse I'd expected. "I didn't know you were going out for the cheerleaders," I said. I knew how I sounded. I sounded amazed. When we were in third grade, Amy used to fool around playing football. I always wanted to be the referee and Amy always wanted to be fullback. Neither of us had ever wanted to be a cheerleader. "You're my best friend," I said. "I can't believe you went out for cheerleading and you didn't say one word to me." I sounded amazed and hurt.

"Well," she said slowly, "I wasn't going to. I mean, you know, I've never really been the cheerleader type, but everyone convinced me that I was a natural. So at the last minute I decided to give it a try." She laughed. "Nothing ventured nothing gained, right?"

I didn't need to ask who everybody was. Everybody must be Kim and Amber. "And are you a natural?" I asked.

The excitement came back in her voice, "Well, yes," she said, "I guess I am. I made the squad."

My best friend not only had curly hair and no hips, my best friend was a cheerleader. Things were changing a little fast for me. "Well, congratulations," I said. I had to say something. "That's great."

"Thanks," said Amy. "I knew you'd be pleased."

How had she known I'd be pleased? I looked at the bowl of corn chips. I smiled. I didn't feel pleased. I felt that if that bowl of corn chips had been a bug, I would have stepped on it. "Yeah," I said. "I'm thrilled."

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