Fabulous Five 001 - Seventh-Grade Rumors

BOOK: Fabulous Five 001 - Seventh-Grade Rumors
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THE
FABULOUS FIVE #1

SEVENTH-GRADE RUMORS

BETSY HAYNES

BANTAM BOOKS

NEW YORK • TORONTO •
LONDON • SYDNEY • AUCKLAND

RL 5, 009-012

SEVENTH-GRADE RUMORS

A Bantam Skylark
Book / September 1988

Skylark Books is a
registered trademark of Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell
Publishing Group, Inc. Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and
elsewhere.

All rights
reserved.

Copyright
©
1988 by Betsy Haynes.

Cover art
copyright
© 1988 by Ralph Amatrudi.

No part of this
book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. For
information address: Bantam Books.

ISBN 0-553-15625-X

Published
simultaneously in the United States and Canada

Bantam Books are
published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing
Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words "Bantam Books" and
the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and
in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York,
New York 10103.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA

CW         19 18 17
16 15 14 13 12 11 10

CHAPTER 1

"Come on, Melanie. An iguana is a lizard. I mean, we're
talking MAJOR lizard here. Not your standard garden variety, and I'm telling
you, nobody has one of those things for a pet," said Katie Shannon,
rolling her eyes heavenward to show her disbelief.

Melanie Edwards was unperturbed. "Shane Arrington does,"
she insisted. "At least that's what I hear. They say his parents are
hippies, and that he has a pet iguana named Igor."

"Big deal," said Christie Winchell. "Did you
hear about Jon Smith?"

"What a boring name," sniffed Melanie.

"His name may be boring, but his parents aren't. They're
celebrities!" said Christie in a rush of excitement. "You know who
they are. Chip Smith, the sports director on the local television station. Mrs.
Smith goes by the name Marge Whitworth. She's the news anchorwoman who also has
her own afternoon talk show that's juicier than
The Oprah Winfrey Show.
"

"Wow! I know her," shouted Jana Morgan. "She's
the one who interviewed Taffy Sinclair and me on TV when we found baby Ashley.
I didn't know she had a
son!
"

"Can't you talk about anything but boys?" Katie
asked sourly. "I don't suppose any of you have heard about Whitney Larkin?
She has this mega-high IQ, somewhere around a zillion, and she's
supposed
to be in
sixth
grade this year, not seventh. She's skipping a grade
because she's so brilliant. Can you imagine what it would be like to have
her
in one of your classes?"

"That's nothing. Wait until you hear this!" Beth
Barry butted in. "Laura McCall is this really big deal girl from
Riverfield Elementary and
I heard
that she's as pretty as Taffy Sinclair
and maybe even prettier. But that's not all. Get this. She has all the girls
from her school eating out of her hand because her parents are divorced and she
lives with her father, who is hardly ever home, and she can do
anything she
wants.
What I hear is"—Beth paused for dramatic effect—"going to
her house is a real blast."

"Great." Jana groaned, giving her favorite stuffed
bear a big hug. It was Labor Day weekend, the last Saturday before school
started, and she and her four best friends would enter Wakeman Junior High, or
Wacko Junior High, as most kids called it. The girls were having a regular
meeting of their self-improvement club, The Fabulous Five, in Jana's bedroom.
Today the conversation kept drifting away from self-improvement and toward
rumors they had heard about the kids from Riverfield and Copper Beach
Elementary schools whom they would be meeting for the first time on Tuesday
morning.

The five friends had stuck together through thick and thin,
weathered every grade school crisis together, especially when that crisis
involved their arch-rival, Taffy Sinclair. Beautiful, snooty Taffy, who did
everything she could to make life miserable for The Fabulous Five.

"I heard a rumor about Laura McCall, too," Melanie
was saying. "I heard that she and her friends have a club called The
Fantastic Foursome and that Laura is the leader. What I heard is that to stay
in the club, you have to do whatever Laura tells you to do. If you won't do it,
you're out!"

"Wow," said Jana. "What does she make them
do?"

Melanie shrugged. "I don't know. I couldn't find out
any more."

"This probably sounds weird," said Christie, "but
sometimes I wish we were going back to Mark Twain Elementary this year instead
of on to junior high. I mean, we had things under control there. Everybody knew
us. Things like that."

"Right," said Melanie. "I know just how you
feel. I'm tired of being treated like a baby, especially by my parents, but I'm
not sure I'm ready for junior high. To be perfectly honest, I don't feel that
much older than I did when school was out in June."

Beth scowled. "Get serious, Edwards. Of course you're
older. We all are."

"Hey, do you think we
look
older?" asked
Jana. She jumped to her feet and swung open the closet door where her full-length
mirror hung. Giggles erupted behind her as her friends crowded forward to
strike poses and peer at their reflections.

Jana stepped aside and looked at the others. Beth had been
her best friend practically forever. They had started kindergarten together,
and Jana had liked her bright personality instantly. Beth the clown, Jana
thought with a smile, remembering how her dark-haired friend had kept everyone
in stitches with her antics. She hadn't changed much either, except that now,
instead of a clown, she was a dramatic actress, grabbing attention with her
wild clothes and her theatrical flourishes.

Naturally, Christie Winchell had been in that kindergarten
class, too, since her mother was principal of the school. Taller than any of
the others, thin, blond, and athletic, Christie was the smart one of the group,
practically a mathematical genius, but she was also a super friend—quiet but
caring.

Melanie Edwards, who had moved to their town in second
grade, was in love with love. That figured since everything about her was
romantic, from her huge blue eyes to her soft reddish-brown hair that lay in
wispy curls around her face, and especially her attitude about boys. She was
also a little gullible, believing practically anything, which made it fun sometimes
to tell her something bizarre.

In all the years they had been friends, thought Jana, Katie
Shannon was the only one who had really changed. She had been a shy little
red-haired girl when she entered Mark Twain Elementary in third grade. But then
in fourth, her mother had become active in the women's movement, and Katie had
blossomed into a pint-size feminist, announcing her views loudly to anyone who
would listen.

"I'll bet we look just as old as Laura McCall and her
friends." Melanie swept her hair on top of her head and tilted her chin. "They
may think that they're big deals, but we'll show
them.
Look out for The
Fabulous Five, Laura McCall!"

Everyone laughed.

"The thing I'm worried about is that Wakeman is so
huge," said Christie. "We won't know half the kids."

"Or where our classes are," added Katie.

"Or where the girls' bathrooms are!" Beth said,
giggling.

"What that really means is that we have to stick
together even more than before." Jana knew she sounded more confident than
she felt. "We can't let anyone know how nervous we are, and we definitely
can't let those other kids run over us."

Christie frowned. "Don't forget. To them, we're the
other
kids."

"Okay, gang. Let's get organized," said Katie. "When
we hit Wacko Junior High on Tuesday morning, we're going to do it with a
unified front."

Jana tried to swallow a giggle. Katie's front was as flat as
a pancake. "What did you have in mind?" she asked with a grin.

"To start with, we need to make a list of all the
essential things to remember," said Katie. "Like the gum tree."

"Right!" said Melanie. "We can't forget that."

Jana opened a brand-new spiral notebook lying on her desk
and wrote "1. Gum Tree" on the first page. The gum tree was
important. Mr. Bell, the Wakeman principal, was an absolute fanatic when it
came to the way he hated chewing gum, and the students had selected the oak
tree beside the front door and dubbed it the gum tree a few years before. Ever
since then, every morning when the first bell rang, all the kids who were
chewing gum stuck it to the tree before going in. Even Mr. Bell had liked the
idea, and it had become a school tradition.

"Put this down on the list," instructed Melanie. "Never,
NEVER ask a ninth-grader for directions to a classroom. My cousin Darcy did
that last year. She ended up at the opposite end of the building standing
outside the boys' bathroom. By the time she found the right room, she was ten
minutes late to class."

"And I can't forget to put down the movie on Friday
night and going to Bumpers afterwards," Jana added, writing as fast as she
could. Bumpers was a fast food restaurant that was also the exclusive hangout
of the kids from Wakeman Junior High after school and on Friday nights. She
could hardly wait to go there.

"I'm even going to miss Mama Mia's Pizzeria."
Christie sighed. "We had a lot of good times there."

Jana felt a little sad when she thought about not going to
Mama Mia's anymore. She and Randy Kirwan had had their first date there, and he
had kissed her later. She felt dreamy when she thought about him. She hoped he
would still be her boyfriend at Wakeman Junior High.

Nobody could think of anything else to put on the list. "I'm
still nervous," said Jana as she made copies for everybody on sheets of
notebook paper. "I mean, we're so
used
to Mark Twain Elementary,
and everybody there was used to us. The other kids looked up to us because we
were the oldest. We even had our own spot by the fence where we could talk
privately. Everybody knew it was our spot and nobody bothered us."

Beth jumped to her feet. "Wow! What a COLOSSAL idea!
Morgan, you're a genius."

"What are you talking about?" Jana asked.

"Come on, guys," said Beth. "Let's go over to
Wakeman right now. There won't be anybody there on Saturday afternoon, so we
can pick out our own private spot by the Wakeman fence. Don't you get it? It
will be just like Mark Twain Elementary."

The girls scrambled out of Jana's apartment and hurried the
six blocks to the junior high. It was a sprawling, rectangular, single-story
building with a courtyard in the center resembling a squared-off donut, and it
was made of cream-colored brick. The school ground was surrounded by a chain
link fence, just as Mark Twain Elementary had been, with a sign at the front
proudly proclaiming it to be "Wakeman Junior High, Home of the Wakeman
Warriors." Beth had been right about the place's being deserted, and soon
the five of them were darting from one end of the fence to the other looking
for the perfect spot.

"Hey, guys, come here," Jana called at last. "I
think I've found it." The place Jana referred to was in the front left
corner of the grounds. "This is perfect," she said as the others
hurried to her. "We can see everything that's going on at the front of the
school and also anybody who's heading this way from two different directions or
getting off the buses."

To Jana's relief, the others looked around and then agreed.

"So now we've got our list of critical things to
remember and our special spot by the fence," said Christie. "I think
we should meet somewhere on Tuesday morning and walk to school together. You
know, with a unified front, like Katie said."

"Do you mean meet somewhere away from school where
nobody will see us so we can get our act together before we face junior high?"
asked Jana.

Christie nodded. "I was thinking about the corner by
Nugent's grocery around eight-thirty."

"Great," said Melanie. "We'll come straight
to this spot and wait for the bell. It will be just the same as Mark Twain
Elementary."

The others nodded.

"Well, Fabulous Five," said Katie. "I think
we're ready."

"As ready as we'll ever be," said Jana. But later,
when she thought back on it, she realized that they hadn't been ready for
junior high at all.

CHAPTER 2

"Oh, my gosh!" shrieked Beth. "
Look!
They're
standing in our spot!"

Jana and her friends had just entered the gates of Wakeman
Junior High on Tuesday morning and were making their way across the crowded
school ground toward the front left corner of the fence, just as they had
planned. At Beth's outburst they stopped in their tracks and looked with
surprise in the direction she was pointing.

"Oh, no!" cried Jana. It was true. Four girls were
standing in the very spot that The Fabulous Five had picked for their own on
Saturday, looking as if the world belonged to them. One was a tall blonde whose
hair had been caught on top of her head and fell over one shoulder in a braid
that came almost to her waist. Beside her stood her exact opposite, a small
dark-haired girl who had a short haircut and enormous brown eyes. Next to her
was another blonde, and finally stood a wide-eyed brunette with long, wavy
hair. It was obvious who was in control—the tall blonde with the waist-length
braid. The moment she spoke the other three turned toward her with the
precision of a drill team and seemed to hang on every word.

"Laura McCall," Melanie muttered. "I know it's
her. It has to be."

"What are
they
doing in our place?" Beth
demanded. "Come on. Let's get them out of there."

"How?" asked Christie. "This is a public
school. They have as much right to be there as we do." Beth didn't seem to
hear. She was heading straight toward the other girls with a look of grim
determination on her face.

"Beth!" insisted Jana, running after her best
friend. The others hurried after her. When Jana caught up to Beth less than ten
feet from where the others stood, she grabbed her by the arm. "Wait. We
can't just go barreling up to them and tell them to get out of our private
spot. After all, Christie's right. This is a public school."

"Whatever we do, we have to stick together," said Melanie.

"Yeah," said Katie. "Remember that we're The
Fabulous Five." Then she paused, throwing an angry look toward Laura
McCall and her followers. "The Fantastic Foursome," she scoffed. "Big
deal."

By now it was obvious to Jana that The Fantastic Foursome
had noticed The Fabulous Five. They were gazing at them with scorn.

"I don't like this," said Melanie in a voice that
was almost a whimper. "Let's get out of here."

"Don't be ridiculous," barked Beth. "They're
not going to scare me off."

Katie moved up to stand beside Beth. "Me either,"
she said.

At the same instant, Laura McCall stepped forward. "What
do you want?" she challenged.

"Did you
lose
something?" asked the short
dark-haired girl beside her.

"Of course not," Beth threw back at her. "We
just wanted to look you over since we've heard so much about you."

Laura McCall froze instantly. Her eyes hardened as she
looked straight at Beth. "You'd better watch it!"

She spat out the words menacingly, and before Beth could
respond, the other blonde chimed in, "You must be Beth Barry. WE can TELL."

The three girls standing beside Laura giggled among
themselves. "You're the show-off," Laura assured her.

Jana felt a burst of anger at Laura for saying such a thing.
Beth was dressed in chartreuse stirrup pants and a chartreuse and electric-pink
shirt that hung past her knees. It was funny how you stopped really looking at
someone you knew so well, thought Jana. You stopped noticing things that were
pretty obvious to everyone else, such as Beth's wild taste in clothes. But that
didn't make her a show-off. She was just a little theatrical, that was all.
Jana opened her mouth to come to her friend's defense, but Beth was ready with
a challenge of her own.

"What do you mean by that?" she said.

"Figure it out," said Laura. Then she turned
abruptly and strode off in the direction of the school with the other three
marching along behind.

"Hey, don't pay any attention to them. It's all sour
grapes. Besides, we've got our spot back," called Katie as she rushed
toward the corner of the fence. "Way to go, Beth!"

Beth didn't answer. She was looking angrily over her
shoulder at Laura McCall and her friends.

"They think they know everything," Christie
mumbled. "Boy, are they in for a surprise."

Everybody nodded and eagerly followed Katie to the fence.
All except Jana. She ambled after the others, but her thoughts were on her best
friend again. She couldn't get over Beth's strange behavior. Jana frowned. Beth
was always loud and dramatic, but she never purposely picked a fight. Especially
with someone she didn't know and certainly had no quarrel with. That just wasn't
like her. She must really be nervous about junior high, thought Jana. Beth was
the one who was always laughing and making everyone else relax, but this
morning she was totally uptight.

Also, Jana couldn't help wondering if someone was spreading
rumors about Beth. If so, maybe those rumors extended to herself and the rest
of her friends. After all, Laura hadn't said
you're A show-off.
She had
said
you're THE show-off,
as if she had more labels that she was just
waiting to slap onto other kids whenever she felt like it. I wonder what my
label is?
The
what?

Jana leaned against the fence and tried to relax, but her
insides were quivering. In fact, she couldn't remember when she had felt so
insecure. Somehow, standing in their special corner now that the others were
gone didn't feel the same as it had at Mark Twain Elementary. The sea of
unfamiliar faces around her grew larger and larger as it got nearer to time for
the bell.

She glanced down at the denim skirt and layered top she was
wearing. Even deciding what to wear on the first day of school had been a
trauma because first impressions were so important. They affected what people
thought of you. Even what labels they stuck on you, she thought with a shudder.

An unexpected heat wave had made the new wool pants outfit
she had so carefully picked out for the first day of school out of the
question, and her mother had immediately vetoed jeans. Jana had pulled
practically everything she owned out of her closet and pitched it onto the bed.
Then she had tried on things in one combination after another until she had
finally settled on the denim skirt. Still, the moment she had stepped out the
front door and knew that it was too late to change again, she panicked. What if
she looked weird? What if nobody else in the entire junior high wore a denim
skirt today? Or even worse, what if all the
wrong
kids wore them and all
the neat kids had on wool pants outfits?

She had felt a little better when she got to the corner by
Nugent's and found that Melanie, too, was wearing a denim skirt. At least if
she was laughed at, she wouldn't be alone. Now, as she scanned the crowd of
kids streaming onto the school ground, her confidence plunged again. Hardly
anyone was wearing a denim skirt.

Students were milling around in front of the school and
standing in groups talking, but nobody seemed to notice The Fabulous Five or
pay any attention to them. It was as if they were invisible.

Christie must have felt it, too. "Maybe we ought to
walk around and see if we can find some other kids from Mark Twain Elementary,"
she suggested. "I don't know about you guys, but I feel sort of out of it
standing way over here."

"Me, too," said Jana. "Creepy, as a matter of
fact. I just saw Alexis Duvall and Lisa Snow heading toward the other side of
the school ground. Maybe we should go over and talk to them."

"I've got a better idea," said Katie. "Let's
go in and find our homerooms before the bell rings. That way, hopefully, we won't
get lost and have to ask a ninth-grader for directions."

"And maybe we'll see some cute boys," offered
Melanie. "I haven't seen Scott yet, and I'm
dying
to get a look at
Shane Arrington. Come on, guys. What are we waiting for?"

Everybody liked that idea, especially Jana. She had been
watching for Randy Kirwan ever since she got to school. What if they didn't
have any classes together this year? She would absolutely die.

The girls walked in the front door and stopped beside the
office, checking their schedule cards. The corridors were almost empty. It
would be easy to locate their homerooms before the bell rang.

"My homeroom is one oh seven," said Jana.

"So is mine," said Christie, "and according
to the sign, it should be down the hall to the left."

Jana and her friends studied the sign that was taped to the
outside of the office window. It had an arrow pointing left beside Rooms
100-115 and another arrow pointing right beside Rooms 116-130.

Melanie, Katie, and Beth all had homerooms in the opposite
direction. "We'll see you at lunch," called Melanie.

"If we last that long," joked Jana, relieved that
seventh-graders had the first of the three lunch periods.

Turning into the left corridor, Jana and Christie hurried
along, scanning the first few room numbers. Suddenly Christie stopped short and
reached out a hand to halt Jana.

Looking up, Jana saw that five or six boys, probably
ninth-graders, were lined up in the hall. They were watching the two approach
with amused smiles on their faces.

"Hey, guys, look what we have here," one of them
said. "Seventh-grade girls. What do you think?"

"Ignore them and just keep walking," Christie
whispered hoarsely. "Act natural."

Jana tried, but her legs felt instantly stiff. Her knees
didn't want to bend and her feet shuffled noisily across the floor.

"I'd say they're threes," called a boy from the
far end of the line. "Three and a half, tops."

"Naw, three is too generous."

Jana cringed. Suddenly she knew what was going on. The boys
were ninth-graders looking over the new crop of seventh-grade girls, and they
were stationed along the hallway to rate—probably on a scale of one to ten—any
seventh-grade girls unlucky enough to come by.

Three is too generous!
she thought angrily. Of all
the nerve. But then, who cared what a few ninth-grade boys thought, anyway? The
important thing was to get out of there and find the right room before the bell
rang.

Suddenly the boys started hooting and clapping. "Ten!
Ten!" someone shouted.

Surprised, Jana turned around to see Laura McCall sauntering
up the hall with her long blond braid bouncing over her shoulder and a
triumphant gleam in her eye.

BOOK: Fabulous Five 001 - Seventh-Grade Rumors
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