♫ Amy ♫
The sun is peeping over the mountains all around us. The members of the Landry High School Band fill in the last of the holes where we placed our planned revenge to go off tonight. None of us has had any sleep since we woke up yesterday, yet we’re charged up and ready for the rest of today and well into tonight.
“Where are your friends?” I ask.
Jane Preston, my bestie, the true mastermind of this prank, smirks at me.
Her light brown hair flies around her face in the early morning breeze. She swipes a few strands away from her pinched mouth and grimaces. Jane is always angry, always ready to take revenge for what she sees as a slight against her. Her slender body hunches forward, what she calls a protection method against all of her enemies. A lot of people don’t like her. I’m her only real friend. That’s because I feel sorry for her. Honesty turned on… a trait I value not only in myself but everyone close to me… I sometimes wish that Jane will stop being so weird and mean, and learn to be part of the group.
And she won’t let me alone whenever I try to get away from her. Jane would make more friends if she tried a little harder. It’s like she enjoys scaring people, so they don’t get close to her. But she’s always complaining about how everyone hates her.
I stare at her, willing Jane to answer my question instead of ignoring me. She drops her chin toward her chest and stares back at me. Her expression, the creepiest thing about her, is the usual no emotion flat look she always has. That pisses me off.
“Where are your friends?” I repeat.
Those guys are far older than most of us. She brought them with her but refused to introduce them or explain why they came.
“At home already,” she says. “They can’t be caught in Landry.”
That makes no sense to me, nor does her reason why everyone has to think that I’m the one behind this prank. No matter how many times I’ve tried to get her to explain everything, she always changes the subject or gives mysterious answers. Try as I might, I cannot get her to explain fully why we have to do this tonight, except that after the game today, band will no longer exist.
“Come on.” Jane waves me in the direction of the softball parking lot, where everyone parked. “We have to get out of here before someone shows up and catches us.”
That area is isolated from the rest of the school, an unlikely spot for the local cops to check out. All of the kids she had me talk into participating are following us away from what will throw out a lot of smoke and stink at the football team and cheerleaders during tonight’s game.
Now that I think about it, they deserve this. It’s not like they’re any great shakes. The football team hasn’t won a single game all season. Those cheerleaders are pretty lousy too, taking our band away.
The more I think about the injustice of it all, the angrier I get. It takes a lot to make me mad, but this situation is doing it very well. I have counted on a scholarship for college next year. Losing band will kill any chance of that.
Still, what we’ve done bothers me on a very deep level. The whole plan stinks of major problems in the making. I check out the goal post where we set up the prank, hoping to see a reason to call everyone back to disable it. Despite the darkness, I can see that no one will notice how we dug up the field and buried those caldrons filled with chemicals. There is little chance of discovery at all. Yet, I can’t help but feel that we’ll probably ruin our lives unless we stop this before it really starts.
Is this worth the trouble we’ll have if we actually go through with it? Do I really want to mess up my future to get even with the football team and cheerleaders?
“Amy.” Jane glares at me. “Stop looking around. We have to get out of here.”
Car engines crank up. Vehicles are being driven away. This forces me to walk faster. I keep checking over my shoulder, certain that we’re about to be caught and probably expelled for breaking a ton of school rules, not to mention the law.
“About time,” Jane says when I finally get to her Ford Escape. “Let’s get out of here. We’re last. As usual.”
Gee, can she be any bossier? So what if I want to make sure this is worth messing up the rest of my life? Jane might find things easier if she thinks about stuff before she goes through with her revenge games.
One foot in the small SUV, I contemplate how many times I’ve heard her talk about getting even with people. Lately, that seems to happen a couple of times a day. The closer we get to graduation, the uglier Jane gets about any perceived slight.
I settle in the passenger seat and fasten the seat belt, earning a disgusted snort from Jane. Another car is taking off beside us. Pam Miller, the driver, rolls her eyes at Jane. They’re cousins and look a lot alike, so much so that people often mistake them for each other, which earns them a real tongue lashing from Pam. That makes her presence here today very weird. She usually won’t go along with anything that Jane wants.
Jane flips Pam the middle digit and takes off. I hang onto the handle above the door when she turns onto the road.
Once we cross the highway and are in town, I relax. I’ll be home and in my bedroom in less than five minutes. Then, hopefully, I can maintain the fiction that I spent the night in my bed.
Damn. I hate lying. This whole thing has been a lie from when I first heard about it until now. Why did I go along with Jane?
Three minutes later, Jane is at the corner across from my house. I reach for the door handle.
“Thanks for the ride,” I say. “Don’t go past the house. Turn left here. My mom might be up already.”
“Screw that.” Jane blasts past the stop sign and screeches to a stop in front of my house. “Your mom needs to get over being an entitled princess.”
You need to stop being a bitch. I can’t believe I actually thought that.
Jane has so many problems. Her worst one is that her dad disappeared when she was six. That’s when she started acting weird, after a couple of boys teased her that her daddy hated her so much he couldn’t stand to be around her.
A memory rises, from our kindergarten days. I shudder.
That’s when she started getting even with people. I can’t believe that she shoved both of them in front of a car a couple of days later. Thankfully, the driver stopped in time.
As is usual after Janes does something really stupid, her mama showed up to trash talk the boys and scream about her baby being bullied.
The memory fades. I swallow hard and get out, easing the door closed. Jane takes off with a screech of tires and blowing the horn. Mortified, scared that my parents will catch me, I run around the house to my bedroom window. I have to lift it up and crawl through, a feat managed only by using the wooden box I left hidden behind a thick shrub last night.
“Made it.” I close the window and change into my nightclothes. “Now to figure out how to get to the shower before Bryce gets in there. I stink.”
I grab clean clothes and sneak into the hallway. Coughing from my two years’ younger brother reminds me that he’s been home with a cold since Wednesday. He’ll probably miss school today too.
Missing school means that he’ll also miss the stink and smoke show when the team runs onto the field tonight. That’s good in a way. Bryce might be a jerk sometimes, but I would never be so mean to him.
◊ Bryce ◊
I hear Amy coming home. She doesn’t know that I’ve been awake all night, waiting on her. Not that she sneaks out much—she never does stuff like this, unless it’s a Jane plan. I pretty much figured that from what I caught of the muffled phone conversations going on until eight last night. That’s when I heard the window going up, a box being hidden behind the bush, and Amy sneaking away.
She’s lucky that Mom and Dad didn’t catch her. Thanks to me. If I hadn’t gone into the kitchen, faking that cough, Amy would have been in major trouble.
That fake coughing will have earned me another day off school, once Mom sees me this morning. She’s a total overprotective mom when it comes to our health. Big deal that I had asthma as a kid, even had to carry an inhaler that I lost whenever I could. I’m way past that now. The cough is what’s left of the cold I got doing sprints in a driving cold rain last Friday night, after we once again lost a football game.
At least I won’t have to do that tonight. Someone has to deal with Coach Williams. He’s totally out of control lately.
Landry High School has lived under a curse on the gridiron since the eighties. We just can’t get a winning season. Sure, we’ve come close a couple of times, but the team always falls apart after four or five wins and can’t get it back together. Our current coach has taken our team spirit to a new all-time low. We haven’t won a game all season and tonight probably won’t be any different.
Sucks that I can’t be at the game, but I will hear about it from Amy. She’s pretty good at describing stuff. I might even enjoy hearing about Southeast Whitfield’s playing. Sure wish we had a coach who would make us into a team like the school had so long ago.
This too long day looms in front of me, with very little to do. The assignments my teachers sent home so I don’t get behind are already done. There are a couple of tests once school resumes after the long holiday break next week, but that studying can wait until the weekend.
“Guess I can watch some more NCIS today.”
That’s all my life has been since I had to leave school on Wednesday. Coach Williams isn’t any too happy with me. He’s down a gunner on the Special Teams, but it’s his fault. He should have chewed us out in the locker room instead of forcing us to run in the rain.
A door open and closes near me. I grin. Either Mom is up to make Dad’s coffee, or Amy is sneaking into the shower. I ease my door open and smile. I’m about to have the most fun I’ve had all week.
“Boo!” I whisper.
Amy jumps almost to the ceiling. Once she lands, she shoots me an infuriated look and stalks into the bathroom. Her glare, designed to melt steel, makes me laugh, almost giving both of us away.
That’s about how much fun I’ll have today. I schlep back to my computer, log into Netflix, and start on another episode of NCIS. I’m almost finished with season three. By the time sis gets back from the game tonight, I should be on season eight.
Ah… such is the life of a great football player when he’s stuck at home.