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Authors: P.J. Night

Is She for Real? (9 page)

BOOK: Is She for Real?
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“Totally,” Nate said.

Mr. Parmalee pointed out the dates and had the kids do the math. Lord Warwick had lived another forty-one years after Lady Warwick died. Since he was buried next to her stone and there was no one else buried on the other side, it was safe to conclude that he'd never remarried. Bethany listened with interest.
It's nice that he never remarried
, she thought, a warm feeling of happiness spreading over her.

The group dispersed to do their gravestone rubbings. Nate chose a grave from 1699.

“The first names on the graves are so interesting,” Bethany said, coming up next to him. “Obed. Josiah. Mercy. Amos. Ephraim.”

“Right?” Nate said. “And there are so many with the same last name. Pratt. Spencer. Lowell. Adams. Smith. Pretty different from our phone directory now, with plenty of Gionfriddos, Horowitzes, and McManuses. Guess things have gotten more diverse here in Old Warwick over the centuries.”

Soon it was time to go. Everyone rolled up their
rubbings carefully and got back on the bus to go to the historical society. Mr. Parmalee sat in front of Nate and Bethany on the way.

“Bethany, did you know that Lawrence Reiney, the last president of the Old Warwick Historical Society, used to live in your house?” he asked Bethany.

“Yes, I heard that,” she said.

“He was a wonderful man,” Mr. Parmalee said. Bethany nodded respectfully as the bus pulled up to an old colonial home with a plaque on it:
BUILT IN
1710.

“Math quiz!” Mr. Parmalee called out to the class. “How old is this building?”

Everyone did the math in their heads. Everyone except Bethany, who couldn't concentrate when she was sitting this close to Nate.

But she liked the exhibit inside. Besides the vial with a lock of Lady Warwick's straight black hair inside, which was a big hit with the group, it turned out that the exhibit had a lot to do with Bethany's research topic of women's role in colonial Old Warwick.

There was a lot of framed embroidery that Bethany learned were called samplers. Women were supposed to show off their sewing skills to potential husbands, and
the sampler was like their portfolio. Bethany was glad she didn't have to do a sampler for Nate, or knit any of the handmade lace that was on display.
I don't think I'd be very good at that
, she worried silently.

The last day of school finally arrived. Lissa had announced that it was the perfect occasion for a sleepover. She, Olivia, and Lily had celebrated the end of the school year last year with a last-day-of-school sleepover too, so this would be the second annual one. The girls, excited that it was almost time to initiate Bethany to the Sandy Lady club, were thrilled to add yet another tradition to their roster. But that morning Bethany texted Lissa to say she was staying home from school and wouldn't be able to come to the sleepover because she wasn't feeling well.

“What's wrong, honey?” Bethany's dad asked as he stuck his head into her room first thing in the morning. She should have been getting dressed for the last day of school, but she lay in bed, eyes open, staring at the ceiling.

“I really don't know where to begin,” Bethany said slowly and softly. Her dad looked concerned. “I just feel bad everywhere,” she added.

Her dad came over and felt her forehead. “You don't seem to have a fever. I wish your mom was still here, but she's left for work already. Maybe you ought to stay home. Do you really want to miss the last day of school, though?”

“I think I have to,” she said.

“Okay, then,” her dad said. “Go back to sleep. You haven't been sleeping very well lately, have you?”

“No,” Bethany admitted. She tried not to start crying.

“Well, Aunt Mimi will be here in case of an emergency. But call Mom or me at work around lunchtime and let us know how you're doing, okay?”

“Okay,” Bethany whispered, closing her eyes. She really did feel horrible, though it wasn't anything she could put her finger on, like a sore throat. It was just all-over horrible.

She fell back asleep and woke up at noon feeling exactly the same way. She reached for her cell phone and called her mom at work.

“Hi, Mom,” she said. She was surprised at how weak her voice sounded.

“Bethany, you sound terrible,” her mom said kindly. “Do you feel as bad as you sound?”

“Yes,” Bethany said. “I don't know what's the matter with me.”

“Can Aunt Mimi make you some lunch?”

“I don't think so,” Bethany said. Everything was so sad. Now she couldn't stop the tears from coming, and she sobbed into the phone.

“I'm so sorry you feel so bad,” her mom said. “I'm going to come home from work and take you to the doctor.”

Even though Bethany felt awful, she remembered to take her ring off before going to the doctor. Her mom still hadn't said anything about it, and Bethany wasn't sure if her mother had even seen her wearing it. She didn't want to run the risk of having the doctor ask her about it.

Bethany had never been to this doctor before, having moved to town so recently. Dr. Coppola was a nice guy, giving her a full checkup and asking lots of questions. Her mom sat in the room during the exam.

Finally Dr. Coppola took off his stethoscope and said, “Has anything been bothering you lately, Bethany? Are you stressed out in your new school, anything like that? Are you making new friends here in town?”

“Um, no,” she mumbled. “I mean yes, I'm making friends, and no, I'm not stressed out.” The doctor raised his eyebrows, and Bethany realized he thought she was faking being sick.

“She's awfully pale, isn't she, Doctor?” Bethany's mom asked. Bethany was pleased that her mom was sticking up for her.

“Probably nothing a little fresh air can't fix.” Dr. Coppola smiled at both of them. “I can't find anything wrong with her. But call me if she starts running a fever.”

In the car on the way home, Bethany's mom said, “You've been upset about Nate, haven't you, honey?”

Bethany felt trapped. Her mom always did this: started serious conversations in the car when she knew her daughter couldn't escape.

“Did something happen at the dance? Something that's been bothering you?” her mom continued.

“No, Mom.” Bethany tried to keep her voice level. The truth was, she felt like she was going crazy, and if
she started talking, her mother would know how crazy she was, and might even suggest she not see Nate anymore if he was upsetting her so much.

Now would be a good time to mention the sleepwalking
, Bethany thought. “There is one thing,” she said slowly, and her mom raised her eyebrows and nodded for her to continue.

“Something really weird has been happening. It's happened twice.” Bethany took a deep breath and continued. “I've been sleepwalking,” she said.

Her mom smiled gently. “That used to happen to me when I was your age too,” she said.

“Really?” Bethany said, flooded with relief.

“Yes. My parents took me to the doctor, and he said it was normal and I'd grow out of it. And I did. It can be scary, but you'll grow out of it too. Did this happen while Dad and I were out of town?”

Bethany nodded, and her mom looked at her with so much love and concern that Bethany wished she had told her weeks ago. “I'm so sorry. You must have been so scared! You didn't fall down or anything, did you?”

“No, nothing like that,” Bethany assured her mom.
She thinks I just walked around the house. I am definitely not telling her I woke up down the street!

She suddenly felt better than she had all day. When they got home, she accepted a Popsicle from her mom and went straight back to bed, where she slept till dinnertime. She heard her parents eating downstairs and went down to join them.

“There she is,” her dad said, putting his fork and knife down. “Let me feel your forehead.” The back of his hand felt cool on her face. “You're not warm,” he said, relieved.

“Honey, maybe Dr. Coppola's idea about fresh air is a good one,” her mom said. “Why don't you get dressed and take a little walk?”

“You're going to insist on this, aren't you?” Bethany sighed.

“I'm afraid so.” Her mom nodded. “Too much time in bed is bad for your mood.”

“Okay, maybe you're right,” Bethany said. Her parents seemed surprised and delighted by her new attitude. She went upstairs and put on comfy shorts and a T-shirt. And then she realized her finger was still bare, and she put her beloved ring back on.

As she walked down her front path, Bethany had to admit it was a beautiful evening. Maybe her parents and Dr. Coppola were right. Maybe all she needed was
some fresh air. She twirled the ring on her finger and breathed deeply.
He wouldn't have given me this ring if he didn't really like me
, she told herself as she started down the sidewalk to the Carlsons' house, which had a huge porch that spanned the front and sides of the house. A wraparound porch, her mother called it.

The Carlsons' place was all lit up from the inside, and Bethany had a great view from the sidewalk. It looked so cozy in there. First she noticed Lissa and Lily at the dining room table. They were eating, maybe, or playing a board game or something. And on the side porch …

On the side porch … on the side porch …

Bethany swallowed hard.

On the side porch stood Nate and Olivia, talking to each other. Nate was moving his hands and arms in a very animated way, and Olivia looked like she was laughing.

Bethany felt light-headed. What was going on between the two of them? Was
Olivia
Nate's new girlfriend? She ran home, got back into bed, and cried herself to sleep.

Well, it turned out the fresh air certainly hadn't helped.

As Bethany was sobbing herself to sleep, Lissa, Olivia, and Lily lay in the dark in their sleeping bags.

Soon they would be eighth graders!
Life is good
, Lissa thought as she listened to her friends chat softly. The only bummer was that Bethany couldn't be there, and they didn't really understand why. What exactly was she sick with? Her text message had been so vague:
SICK AT HOME, SORRY WILL MISS SLEEPOVER …

They had texted back:
WHAT'S THE MATTER?
But she had not responded.

“Seriously,” Lily was saying. “She's been acting even stranger lately.”

Olivia snorted. “It's because she's in
love
!” she crowed, a touch of disdain in her voice.

“No, really,” Lily said. “It seems like more than that. She used to be so energetic and happy, and now she's all dark and gloomy. And she seems so insecure about Nate. She wasn't like that when we first met her. Remember our first sleepover, when she talked about her last boyfriend, she was all, like ‘whatever' about him?”

“That's true,” Lissa chimed in. “Nate said something to me about it, actually.”

“He
did
?” Lily and Olivia said at the same time.

BOOK: Is She for Real?
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