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what to wear. And we’re even going to think about subjects I can bring up to talk about.

Maybe I’ll make a list.

I’ll lose at least three pounds by Saturday. I will.

I hope Justin isn’t too disappointed that I’m the only one who’s available to go to the film.

Saturday 7/17

6:24 P.M.

Weight: 100! Not perfect, but getting there.

I’m not going to write down what I eat anymore. It makes feed too important in

my life. I just won’t eat it.

Started the day by attending a meeting Mom had at our house for her committee.

Good news: Mom didn’t serve her famous Bloody Marys, and, as far as I can tell, she didn’t sneak drinks.

Curtis attended, and some of the committee members fed him nibble of smoked

salmon. We’ve decided he’s the mascot of the fund-raiser.

While Mom conducted the meeting, her committee and I started stuffing donation

requests into envelopes and putting on address labels and postage stamps. We sued stamps with pictures of cats and dogs. Mom’s idea. I thought that was a nice touch, Out goal was to get fifteen hundred envelopes ready and at the post office before it closed at one o’clock. Mom asked me to bring the mailings to the post office and see them safely on their way. There are times when I have to admit that it’s handy to have a car and driver.

Just before I left for the post office, one of the HCA shelters called to say they didn’t have mailings for their employees and volunteers to sent out. Mom asked me to swing by there to.

She gave me a big hug and my hair a little tug, the way she sued to when I was a kid. “Thank you, honey,” she said. “I couldn’t do this without you.”

It’s been a long time since she hugged me like that. It was just like the old Mom I can only vaguely remember.

I have never been to an HCA shelter. This one was in a concrete building in a ran-down neighbourhood. I think it used to be a garage. There was a sign on the front that read ANIMAL RESCUE.

I went inside. An elderly man was manning the front desk. He wore a name tag

that read VOLUNTEER. A woman in a pale blue lab coat was giving him directions on what to do if someone called reporting a stray cat or dog. She was very efficient and seemed a little stressed out.

Finally, the man looked up and asked if he could help me.

“I’m Maggie Blume,” I told him. I put the pack of mailings on the desk. “My

mother asked me to drop these off. Someone called and asked for them.”

The woman smiled at me. “That was me,” she said. “I’m Piper Klein. She shook

my hand and told me how lucky HCA was that Mom was willing to tale over the

chairperson’s job for the benefit. Io told her how much I admired the work of the HCA shelters and how a friend of mine had gotten his dog from one of them.

“Have you been here before?” she asked.

I told her I hadn’t and she asked me if I’d like a tour.

I followed her into the back.

A chorus of barks greeted us. “We have a dog run out the back,” Piper explained.

“But they have to take turns. Most of they day they’re here.”

I counted twelve dogs. Mutts, pedigrees, short-haired, long-haired, small, big.

There was one collie who’s eyes broke my heart. He pushed his nose through the bars of his crate and whispered. It was as if he were saying, “Take me. Love me.”

Piper saw me looking at him. “Isn’t he beautiful?” she said. “That’s Laddie’ he’s been here three months. Our problem is that we have more people bringing us animals then we have taking them home.” She went on to say that one of the things HCA wants to do with the money Mom raises is to have an adverting campaign. “A lot of people don’t even know we exist,” she told me.

I looked around at the other dogs. Each was cuter than the next.

“We should have photos of these dogs at the fund-raiser,” I said. “Cats too. Big poster-sized photos. People will see where their money is going. And maybe some of them will decide to adopt.”

“That’s a wonderful idea,” Piper said. She studied me for a second. “You really like animals, don’t you?”

“I might be a veterinarian,” I told her.

“Good for you.”

She showed me the cat room next. The cats were as wonderful as the dogs and

just as heartbreaking. All those animals living in crates. I wondered what kind of life Curtis would have it I hadn’t kept him. Would he have ended up in a shelter? Would anyone have adopted him?

Piper had a cramped office at the end of the hall. The window overlooks the dog run. “I have my office back here so I can keep an eye on things,” she said. Her desk was piled with papers. “My intern quit yesterday. She thought this would be a good summer job for meeting cute guys and all she met were cute dogs and cats.” She smiled at me. “I wish I could have had an intern like you. But you’re probably all booked up for the summer.”

I told her I was working for my father.

She was disappointed. She’d placed an ad in tomorrow’s paper. She said she

hoped someone as enthusiastic as me would see it and call her.

Basically, Piper needs me. Dad doesn’t.

I can’t get those animals out of my mind. I’d rather help them than work in

Schmoozeville.

Why can’t I do what I want?

It’s not fair.

I wish I had the courage to quit my job with Dad.

If only I could get Mom on my side.

9:30 P.M.

I feel awful. I’ve done something wrong.

Guilty as accused.

But what crime have I committed?

Tonight we had a “nice” five-course family dinner because it was Zeke’s last night before camp. Dad made a toast to Zeke and said he was sure Zeke would have a great time at tennis camp. Zeke mumbled he was sure he wouldn’t.

Pilar came around with the soup course. I told her that I would skip it.

She frowned.

Dad launched into his Why-This-Camp-Is-Good-for-You-Son speech for the

umpteenth time.

Mom took a gulp of wine.

We were off to a bad start.

During the salad course Mom told Dad what she was doing for the fund-raiser.

She said she was having trouble finding people willing to donate things to be auctioned off. Apparently, there’s another big benefit in Hollywood the same night. She told Dad she’s worried everyone will go tot hat benefit instead of hers.

Then she refilled her wine glass.

Pilar served cheese tortellini in a white cream sauce. I told her I didn’t want any.

Dad noticed and frowned.

Pilar glared at me.

I hate eating with my family.

No one said anything for a few minutes. Then Dad grumbled about problems he’s

having with the casting of
Never
.

Next Pilar served the main course—steak. I gave Zeke my steak after Pilar left the dining room.

“How was your day, Maggie?” Dad asked.

I told him about the shelter. Then I blurted out, “They need an intern for the rest of the summer. Piper—she’s the one in charge—asked me if I’d like to have the job. It’s a worthy cause.”

“It certainly is,” said Mom.

“You already have a job this summer,” Dad reminded me.

“But its no the job I want,” I replied. Then—without taking a breath so he

couldn’t interrupt me—I reminded him I wasn’t working with the computer the way he promised and that he didn’t really need me.

“It would be good for my benefit if my daughter works at an HCA shelter,” Mom

said. She tapped her wine glass. Sometimes she’s nervous around Dad. Especially if she’s contradicting him.

Pilar served dessert—ice cream and hot fudge. I knew that Zeke would polish

mine off for me. So I let Pilar put a serving at my pale.

When she left the room, Dad pointed his spoon at me. “Are you telling me you

would back out of your commitment to me because you found something that you liked better?”

“Well, you made a commitment to, Dad,” I said in a wavering voice.

Do not cry
, I warned myself.
Do not cry
.

I sat straighter and tried to look my father in the eye.

I couldn’t.

But I kept talking. “You said I’d be working with Flanders, but instead all I’m doing is pouring coffee and running the photocopy machine. You have plenty of people who could do those things. Piper doesn’t have anyone. Those dogs and cats need me. You don’t.”

“I certainly don’t need someone with an attitude like that!” Dad replied. “And

don’t raise your voice to me.”

“You’re the one who’s screaming,” I mumbled.

He glared at e again and took a deep breath. “This summer is stressful for me

already, Maggie,” he said in an even voice. “The last thing I need it to baby-sit for a grumpy teenager. So go ahead and quit.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice almost to a whisper. “Just know this: You’ve really disappointed me.”

End of speech.

End of meal.

WHOSE LIFE IS THIS?

Whose life is this?

Don’t you know

That I am not yours to mould

Like clay

I am

Not your dream child

Not your wish come true

How can I find my own way

If you always tell me what to do

Maggie Blume

Midnight

At eleven o’clock someone knocked on my bedroom door and asked, “Are you

okay, Maggie?”

It wasn’t my mother who was probably having a stiff drink because I ruined diner.

And it wasn’t my father, who was probably waiting for me to apologise and beg

for my job back at Blume Productions.

It was Zeke.

“I’m okay,” I called. “Come on in.”

I told him I hate it when Dad tries to control every move I make.

“I know what you mean,” Zeke said. He was carrying a turtle in each hand. “Will you cake care of Zeus and Jupiter while I’m gone?” he asked as he laid them on my desk.

I held Zeus in the palm of my hand. His shell reached all the way to my fingertips.

I stroked his shell and his head pulled out and snaked up to me. I told Zeke I’d be glad to take care of his turtles. He said he had emailed me directions for their care. “So you have to check your email,” he said.

Zeke loves to go online and exchange email with his friends. I don’t have anyone to email, except Zeke. Whenever I check my email, all I have are silly messages from my brother.

We moved Zeus and Jupiter’s box into my room. Curtis was thrilled. Whenever

the turtles are around he thinks it’s his job to watch them.

I told Zeke I was sorry that he had to go to camp. I added that he was probably better off there then at our house. It would be a lot more peaceful.

“I’d rather be here,” he said. “I don’t want to miss anything.”

“You mean, like another fight between me and Dad? Is that your idea of

entertainment?”

“Who’s going to be on your side if I’m not here?” he asked.

That was so sweet. I couldn’t believe it. Sometimes my brother surprises me.

He asked me if I wanted to see how he plays his internet adventure game. I agreed and he went back to his room for his laptop. We hooked it up to my phone line and sat together at my desk. Zeke said that no mater what, he was going to find time to go online at camp “between tennis lessons and dancing lessons.” I said they probably have had phone lines all over that camp. “You should call me while you’re at camp,” he added.

He said he would, and I had to promise to tell him EVERYTHING that was

happening at home. Even unhappy stuff. I think he meant about Mom’s drinking. I’m not really sure how much Zeke understands about that problem. I don’t know much about it myself, since no one ever talks about it.

After Zeke turned off his computer he went back to the kitchen and brought back a brownie and milk for himself and a diet soda for me. While he ate I told him more about the animals shelter and that I hoped Piper hadn’t already filled the position.

Zeke took a bite of his brownie.

“Hey, this is like one to those sleepover parties you have with your friends,” he said. “Does that mean I can sleep here?”

“Sure,” I said. “The extra bed is made up.”

I’m glad he’s sleeping in my room tonight. I guess I’ll try to sleep not too.

Zeke made me feel better.

I’m going to miss him. A lot.

Sunday 7/19

7:08 P.M.

Lost another pound.

I must keep telling myself: I am not hungry.

I am hot hungry.

I am not hungry.

What if Piper hired someone else to work in the shelter?

I left her a pone message at home and at the shelter this afternoon. I wonder how many people answered the ad in the paper. I’m not the only teenager in Palo City who loves animals and who love that job.

Why didn’t I think to call her at home last night?

I’m such a jerk.

Zeke is at camp. I hope he isn’t totally miserable.

Mom and Dad are at a dinner party. I hope Mom doesn’t drink too much.

I keep thinking about the fight I had with Dad last night and how I’ve

disappointed him. Whenever I remember out fight I feel like I’m crying inside. I wish I could talk to someone about it.

I would never tell Justin. He might think I’m a complaining spined rich brat. He’s probably be right.

Maybe I could talk to Amalia. No. it took her a long time to find a summer job, so she’d think I was ungrateful to quit a good job.

Some things you have to keep to yourself.

7:23 P.M.

Piper just called. She’s hiring me! I start tomorrow.

She said she hopes I’m not too afraid of hard work. I’m not! It’ll be easier to lose weight if I’m really busy.

I’m going to email Zeke right away and tell him the good news.

Monday 7/20

8:09 P.M.

Skipped lunch.

Supper: Salad, small can of tuna, ¼ bagel (no butter), apple.

I love my new job.

It is so wonderful to do something IMPORTANT.

Job Description: Feed dogs and cats. Organise and supervise dog run. Answer

phone during breaks and lunch breaks.

Piper says with more money they could redo the back of the building so every dog has it’s own run. She had lots of great ideas for improving the shelter.

BOOK: o 359b4f51a22759c4
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