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Authors: P.J. Night

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BOOK: Is She for Real?
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After snapping tons of pictures on the front lawn in front of the magnolia tree, which was now in full bloom, Mr. and Mrs. Carlson each loaded up their car with kids to drive to the dance.

Everyone was arriving at the same time, and it was fun to see kids all dressed up. Nate had to stand at the entrance with the other newly elected class officers to greet everyone. Once most kids had arrived, everyone gathered around the stage, where Mr. Parmalee, the student council adviser, welcomed everyone and congratulated the new officers: Nate, class president; Joseph, vice
president; Michelle, treasurer; and Zoe, secretary.

Then Mr. Parmalee made an announcement that caused Bethany's stomach to lurch.

“I now invite all the four elected officials to begin their term in office with a special inaugural dance.” That meant that Nate would be dancing with either Michelle or Zoe.
How could this be happening?
Bethany thought.
He's my date, and he's dancing the first dance with another girl!
She bit her lip to keep from crying.

The music started, and Joseph looked at Michelle and offered his hand, which meant that Nate would be dancing with Zoe.
Zoe is really pretty
, Bethany thought. She watched as Nate placed his hands on Zoe's waist and the two danced together. Everyone made a big circle around them and watched.

It's just one song, it's just one song
, Bethany thought over and over.
It'll be over soon.
She concentrated on keeping her expression neutral, not wanting anyone to see how upset she was. She thought about all the politicians' wives throughout history and the sacrifices they had to make for their husbands' jobs.
I'm going to be supportive
, she thought,
because that's my job
.

That first dance ended quickly, and the rest of the
night was great. Bethany and Nate danced plenty, as did Lissa and Teddy. Olivia and Lily danced with guy friends, and everyone took breaks at the cookies-and-punch table.

At the end of the evening, after the Carlsons had driven them home, Nate walked Bethany to her door.

“It was a great night, right?” Nate asked Bethany.

“Totally!” Bethany said, and she meant it. She couldn't believe how upset she'd felt earlier when Nate had danced with Zoe.

Then Nate leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. And Bethany felt sure this had been the best night ever.

But the good feeling didn't last long. Once in bed, trying to sleep, Bethany replayed the evening over and over. The happy memories were gradually replaced with mental images of Zoe and Nate dancing, and Bethany became convinced that Nate had really enjoyed his dance with Zoe. She imagined their conversation, which she was positive had gone something like this:

 

Zoe: So you're here with Bethany?

Nate: Yeah, Lissa made me ask her because she has a huge crush on me.

Zoe: That was nice of you.

Nate: I know, well, what can I say, I'm a nice guy. So do you want to go to the movies with me next weekend?

Zoe: Oh, Nate, I'd love to.

 

She finally fell asleep, fading into a haze of paranoia and heartbreak.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEEEEP! BEEP, BEEP, BEEEEEP!

A car horn was blaring at Bethany—the headlights blinding her as she opened her eyes—and she was standing in the middle of the road.

She had sleepwalked again.

Again, again, again, it happened again
, she thought.

This time she'd passed Nate and Lissa's by about a block and was standing in front of a mailbox, which she leaned against after the car had passed. Her heart was throbbing in her ears, in her throat, and in her toes.

Bethany wanted her mom. Badly. She hadn't felt this way since she was little and woke up with nightmares in the middle of the night. But both of her
parents were spending the night in Manhattan. She knew she could go to Aunt Mimi if she wanted to, but she didn't want to.

She wiped her sweaty palms on her pajama pants and walked home. And then didn't sleep at all.

Bethany felt terrible in the morning. The combination of the stress from sleepwalking and the overall lack of sleep made her feel absolutely awful.

She twisted her ring around her finger, obsessing over the idea that Nate was going to break up with her and start going out with Zoe. She couldn't take her eyes off the ring.

Enough
, she thought.
I have to snap myself out of this. Maybe if I take the ring off, it will take my mind off Nate.
She did, and put it in her night-table drawer. Finally she went downstairs for breakfast. Her parents were due home tonight, and she realized how much she was looking forward to seeing them.
I'll tell Mom all about the sleepwalking, and she'll know what to do
, Bethany thought.

She chose a banana to cut up into her cereal. She realized that her mood was definitely lifting.
I was being totally paranoid. Nate really likes me
, she thought.
I don't know what my problem is sometimes.

She spent the day reading a novel and downloading photos from the night before. There were some great ones in there, including some of Nate looking happily at Bethany—aha! Photographic evidence! She even made a few scrapbook collages with her online photo program, writing funny captions and featuring each of her new friends: Lissa, Olivia, and Lily. Nate got his own page.

At four o'clock, she was due to go over to Lissa's so they could work on some homework together. She fixed her hair and put on lip gloss, and after a moment's hesitation, put the ring back on, since she knew she was going to see Nate.

But when she got to Lissa's house, Nate wasn't there. Suddenly the good feeling disappeared, and she felt the terrible heaviness again.

“Where's Nate?” Bethany asked Lissa, trying to sound nonchalant.

“I'm not sure, actually,” Lissa said, just as casually. “Let me know when you're ready to start those math
problems … they are really confusing!” As Lissa talked about math, Bethany's mind wandered.

Now that I think about it, Nate hasn't been here the last couple of times I dropped by on the weekend. Where has he been? Is he out with someone? Does Zoe live around here? Is he out with her?
She could barely concentrate on her homework.

“I'm not feeling so well. I'm going to go home and rest, okay?” Bethany said suddenly to Lissa. Without waiting for a response, she began gathering up her books and papers.

“Um … okay, but do you need anything? Do you want me to get my mom?” Lissa could see that her friend looked shaky and pale, and she certainly looked like something was bothering her.

But Bethany just shook her head no, and not trusting herself to speak anymore, she walked quickly from the room and then ran all the way home.

When she got home, Bethany barely even noticed her parents, who had gotten back early. She ran right by them and straight into her room. Her mom was at her door in seconds.

“What's the matter, honey?” she asked, obviously concerned.

“I'm just having a bad day,” Bethany said. But her voice cracked as she said it, and tears filled her eyes.

“Oh, Bethany, come here.” Her mom came over and gave her a warm hug. That helped, a little. Bethany sat in comfortable silence with her mom for a few moments and then pulled herself together and managed a brave smile.

“Welcome home!” she said, laughing. Her mom smiled and hugged her again. As her mom patted her back, she wound a strand of Bethany's hair around her finger absently.

“Your hair's getting darker,” she said. Seeing Bethany's horrified expression, she quickly added, “But it's still as pretty as ever. And that's a normal part of adolescence, having your hair get darker.”

“But it's also losing some of its curl,” Bethany said mournfully. “And it's getting harder to part on the side. All of a sudden it has a mind of its own and wants to part itself down the middle. Lissa and Olivia and Lily said it looks 1970s.”

“Well, aren't the 1970s very chic again?” her mom said with a grin. Then her voice grew more serious. “Listen, honey, is there anything you want to talk about?”

Bethany suddenly didn't feel like talking to her mom
anymore.
I'll talk to her about the sleepwalking and my problems with Nate later
, she promised herself.

“Nope, everything is great. I think I'm just tired. You know how I get when I'm tired.”

Her mother looked unconvinced but let the matter drop.

The day of the history class field trip to the graveyard and historical society arrived. Nate had texted Bethany the night before:

 

MILADY, TOO BAD WE CAN'T JUST MEET THE CLASS AT THE GRAVEYARD. WE COULD HAVE BREAKFAST AT MY HOUSE FIRST AND JUST WAIT FOR THEM TO ARRIVE.

 

Bethany's heart skipped a beat. She wrote back:

 

I KNOW, RIGHT?

 

Nate wrote back:

 

MR. PARMALEE LOVES THIS FIELD TRIP. IT'S LEGENDARY! SEE U TOMORROW, MILADY!

 

Again, her heart skipped a beat. She tried to wait a few minutes before she texted back:

 

TILL TOMORROW, THEN, MILORD.

 

And now it was tomorrow. Bethany and Nate sat together on the bus on the way to the graveyard and listened to Mr. Parmalee.

“First stop is the old town graveyard, where we'll do gravestone rubbings,” he said. “I know Nate and Bethany are probably familiar with it, given that they live next door, but most of you haven't had a close look. I've got the paper and charcoal here and will distribute them and do a demonstration when we arrive. You can do as many rubbings as you want, but be sure to capture the names and dates on the gravestone you're recording. The student who finds the earliest date will get a prize.” He really did seem excited.

“Afterward, we'll go to the historical society, where there's something I know you're all waiting to see: a
lock of Lady Warwick's hair in a glass vial.”

The kids reacted to this bit of information with a combination of intrigue and disgust. Centuries-old hair!

When they arrived at the graveyard, Mr. Parmalee passed out paper and charcoal sticks. As promised, he demonstrated how to do a gravestone rubbing: You placed the paper on the gravestone, then rubbed the charcoal over the whole paper until you saw the words on the stone “appear” on the paper. He chose Lady Warwick's gravestone, which, he explained, didn't mark an actual grave but was just a memorial site, because Lord Warwick had requested that her stone be moved next to his when he was buried.

“Also, there was no body to bury,” Nate added with a grin.

Mr. Parmalee smiled. “Right, Mr. Local Legend,” he said. “The story goes that she wasn't in her coffin when it was dug up. And let's not forget about the scratch marks inside the coffin. But there's no historical evidence of either of those ‘facts' anywhere. All we know is that Lord Warwick moved Lady Warwick's gravestone when he moved. Then when he died, he was buried here,
and her gravestone was moved here. Too bad he's not here to explain, right?”

BOOK: Is She for Real?
6.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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