Ellray Jakes the Dragon Slayer (3 page)

BOOK: Ellray Jakes the Dragon Slayer
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Once she came over to our house for a play date, and when it was snack time, she demanded McDonald’s. She didn’t get it, but she demanded it.

And that very same time, she and Alfie snuck into my room to snoop around, which Alfie would never dare to do on her own. And Suzette messed up my bookcase and put a tutu on one of my soldier action figures.

And another time, before the rabbit poop day, Suzette threw torn-up paper in Alfie’s hair at Kreative Learning, and Alfie didn’t know it for like half an hour. And some girls laughed at her, and Alfie cried when she got home, because she thought they were making fun of her hair.

And a few weeks ago, Suzette said Alfie couldn’t be the cutest girl in day care anymore, because
she
wanted to be the cutest from now on.

I don’t know what the teachers are doing at that day care, besides guarding the front door and the slide. At Oak Glen, my teacher Ms. Sanchez might miss a few things here and there, but not big things like that. Not dragon things.

Suzette even scratched Alfie once with her claws, to make her let go of a puzzle piece! I’m the only one Alfie told about that.

Mom sighs as she wipes her hands dry. “It’s usually better if kids can work out these things on their
own,” she informs me. “Unless there’s some major bullying going on, I mean.”

“What do you call this?” I ask. I can feel my face getting hot and my hands getting clenchy, which is a sure sign that I’m really mad.

See, I have to get mad
for
Alfie sometimes, because for some reason she doesn’t know how to get mad on her own. Except at
me
, when I won’t play dolls with her, which I have decided will be always.

Sometimes I even get mad at Alfie for not getting mad.

“It’s not quite bullying yet,” Mom says, like she knows this for a fact.

Of course, I have a little more information than she does. “Well, tell me when you think it
is
bullying,” I tell her. “Because then I’m gonna kick me some Suzette Monahan—”

“EllRay Jakes!”

“Bootie,” I finish, laughing.

By now, Mom is laughing too. “But you would never kick a girl,” she reminds me, not that I need any reminding.

“I know,” I say. But I narrow my eyes to look jokey-mean.

“Why don’t you go talk to your little sister right now?” Mom says, her voice getting soft. “I think she could use some cheering up, don’t you?”

“I guess,” I say, hiding my sigh, because cheering up Alfie usually involves a whole lotta listening to a whole lotta Alfie-talk.

But sometimes, like my dad says, you just have to “man up.”

And this is probably one of those times.

3
OVER THERE

Alfie’s bedroom door is open, but I pretend-knock anyway because I’m trying to train my little sister to knock before she barges into
my
room. Fat chance. “
KNOCK, KNOCK
,” I call out.

Alfie’s room is an explosion of pink and purple, her two favorite colors. I’m not against a person having favorite colors, even if they’re not sports team colors. But that doesn’t mean you have to decorate your whole life with them. That’s what Mom did, though, repainting Alfie’s baby room when she turned four. And Alfie’s got silver stars on her ceiling now, too.

I wouldn’t mind a few of those silver stars on
my
ceiling.

Alfie is sitting cross-legged next to a tangled heap of dolls in front of the long mirror on her
closet door. She’s watching herself play with one of the dolls. Alfie waves a pale, skinny doll arm in the air like it’s saying “Hi.”

“Come in, EllWay,” she tells me, not sounding very happy to see me. She can’t say my name right, but I know who she means. She goes back to watching herself play in the mirror.

“Watcha doin’?” I ask, collapsing next to her onto the shaggy rug. I can see Alfie’s new pink jacket stuffed way back under her bed. “Didn’t you like your tacos?”

“They were okay,” Alfie says, shrugging.

Alfie just puts cheese in her tacos. No meat, just cheese. But that’s her decision, and you should get to choose how boring you want to be in life.

“Look,” Alfie says, staring into the mirror as she waves her doll’s arm again. “It’s almost the same over there.”


Over there
” means in the mirror, I guess.

“It’s
exactly
the same,” I say. “Only it’s opposite, because you’re seeing a reflection in a mirror.”

“That’s not true. It’s not the same,” Alfie says, scowling. “Because this is my left hand, right?” she
asks, holding her left hand up in the air. “Mom put a red rubber band around my wrist once, so I’d always memember.”

That’s Alfie-speak for “remember.”

“Right. I mean,
correct
,” I tell her, so we don’t get mixed up.

“But over there, for the mirror girl, it’s her right hand,” Alfie says.

“Correct. It’s opposite,” I chime in, only now I’m trying to sound more sure of myself than I’m feeling. Because—how could left suddenly turn into right like that? “And the mirror girl is you, by the way,” I add.

“But that’s not the only thing that’s different,” Alfie informs me, ignoring what I just said about the mirror girl. “Sometimes things move a little over there, or they change, and you can barely notice. You have to look real hard.”

“Huh?”

“In the mirror,” Alfie explains, her voice patient.

“No. Things don’t change,” I tell her. “Everything there is exactly the same as here, in real life.”

“Nuh-uh. It’s better,” Alfie says, still staring at
herself in the mirror. “Because no one’s invisible over there.”

“Nobody’s invisible
here
,” I say, wishing again that I could kick Suzette Monahan—in the shins or something, only kicking is girly. And like I said before, boys don’t kick or hit girls. Not in my family. It’s wrong, and my dad would freak. He has very old-fashioned—and strict—manners. He likes everyone to behave.

If Dad knew Alfie was being picked on at day care, for example, he would go nuts. And then he’d start an official Oak Glen committee to investigate the matter. I’m sure my mom hasn’t told him yet. I’m positive.

“They’re invisible at day care, though,” Alfie says, not backing down. “
I’m
invisible at day care. Suzette says so.” She looks down at her golden brown arm like she’s making sure it’s still attached to the rest of her.

“Suzette Monahan’s not the boss of the world,” I tell Alfie. “You should tell those other girls she’s just
wrong
. Who else is your friend over at Kreative Learning?” I think my friend Corey’s little sister goes there, and Jared’s brother does, too.

“Mona is my friend, kind of,” Alfie says, giving her arm a couple of experimental pokes. “And Arletty. But Suzette is my
best
friend there.”

Mona and Arletty are probably those other two girls I saw that day. “Why do you keep saying Suzette’s a friend?” I ask. “She’s mean to you.”

“I wish Suzette would start picking on someone else,” Alfie says, ignoring my question. “Then we could
all
start picking on someone else.”

“No! That’s a terrible idea,” I tell her. “Why do you guys have to pick on
anyone
? I mean, how would Suzette like it if kids started picking on her?”

I wish they would! Just to teach her a lesson about leaving Alfie alone!

“Mona and Arletty would never do that, EllWay,” Alfie tells me, her eyes wide in the mirror as she meets my gaze. “They’re nice. Anyway, bullying’s not allowed at day care. There’s a poster next to the sink and everything.”

“What do you think
this
is?” I ask, trying not to shout. “Saying you’re invisible?”

“She’s not hitting me,” Alfie points out. “Or even calling me names. She’s just teasing me sometimes. And saying I’m not there.” She pokes herself again.

“You should tell her to stop,” I say. “Or I will. Want me to call her?”

What am I
saying
? How did I suddenly get so involved in this mess?

“What would you say?” Alfie asks, curious.

“That it’s mean for her to treat you like that. Or
you
could tell her,” I say, sounding eager, because it would be better coming from Alfie, wouldn’t it?
What does Suzette Monahan care what I think?

Anyway, Alfie should be the one who’s mad at Suzette, not me. Why doesn’t Alfie have the same getting-mad ingredient in her that I do? What’s
wrong
with her?

“I guess I could ask Suzette to make it stop,” Alfie says, like the idea just
POPPED
into her brain with no help from me. But whatever.

“Good idea. Why don’t you do it?” I say. “Tomorrow?”

“What day is tomorrow?” Alfie asks, picking up another doll and waggling it really close to the mirror, watching carefully for any random changes “over there,” I guess.

“Thursday,” I tell her, thinking about the now-banished pink jacket.

“Hmm,” Alfie says, like she’s really thinking. “Maybe I’ll do it Fwiday.”

Which is Alfie-speak for “Friday.”

“Promise?” I ask.

“I promise I
might
,” she says.

“You should at least hang up your new jacket,” I tell her.

“Maybe I don’t like it anymore,” she says, not looking at me.

“Huh,” I say. And that’s about as good as it’s gonna get, I tell myself, jumping to my feet and making a quick escape from Alfie’s extremely frilly, pink and purple room.

That’s enough Alfie Jakes for one night.

4
BOOK: Ellray Jakes the Dragon Slayer
4.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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