Entries in Soap Opera Sunday (8)

Sunday
Aug192007

Clever Trevor, Part Three

Oh, how I love Soap Opera Sunday, that bloggy brainchild of Brillig and Kate! See their sites for other soapy fun. If you need to refresh yourself on earlier installments of Clever Trevor, click here and here.Laura woke up at the crack of dawn on Friday. Normally if she woke up that early, she’d roll over, doze, and wait for her alarm clock, but today was different. She was going to see Colin again! She got up and started packing.
Twee had made a nest for himself in the covers of her unmade bed. He lay like a statue watching her, only the very tip of his tail twitching. “You know I can’t go with you.”
Laura nodded. “I know,” she said with a cheerfulness she did not feel. “We’ll be alright.’
“You also know that if Marie asks me anything, I can’t lie for you.”
“She won’t ask. We’ve got the perfect cover story. She works this weekend; she’s so tired, she won’t even miss me. Twee, I couldn’t pass an adventure like this up; I’d regret it forever if I did.”
Twee stood and stretched, arching his back and sinking his claws into her bedspread. “I’ll try to keep an eye on you from here. Just don’t do anything stupider than your current plan, okay?”
“Okay,” Laura sighed. “But it’s going to be fine. You’ll see.”

Jill and Laura met at the deserted Speech & Debate Room after school. “Are you ready for the party of your life?” Jill asked, bouncing up and down.
“I haven’t been able to concentrate all day; I can’t wait to see Colin! Get your briefcase and let’s get out of here.” Her own briefcase was just for show; she’d unloaded all of their competition files into her locker at lunchtime.
Jill paused in the middle of putting on her backpack. “My briefcase? I left it at home,” she said.
Laura couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Jill, are you out of your mind? We’re supposed to be going to a debate tournament! What is your mother going to think if she sees your briefcase? At the very least, she’ll do something heroic like drive it down to Fresno; you know how ‘supportive’ she is. She’ll ruin everything!”
Jill thought for a moment.
“I’m pretty sure I left it in my closet.”
“How sure is pretty sure? Maybe we should go by your house before we go downtown.”
“No way. If we do that, we’ll miss the bus.” Jill frowned. “It’s definitely in my closet; I remember now,” she announced. “Let’s just go.”
Laura looked at her friend for a long moment. “Alright,” she said finally. “If you’re sure.”
“I’m sure. Come on!”

Marie was nursing a diet cola while she paid the bills; she had to leave for work soon, and she’d discovered for herself why they called her shift ‘graveyard.’ Intellectually, she knew she wasn’t anywhere near death, but she sure felt like it. The cola helped take the edge off of her enormous fatigue.
The phone rang; she ignored it, betting that it was someone calling for Laura. But whoever it was persistent, refusing to hang up even after ten rings. Finally, Marie got up with a groan from the kitchen table to answer it.
“Hello?”
“Hello, Marie, it’s Joan Westphal. Jill’s mother?”
“Oh, of course, Joan. How are you? Is everything okay?
“Fine, fine. But I just realized that Jill’s debate briefcase is sitting here by the garage door, so I thought I’d swing by and drop it off.”
“I don’t understand. Why would you bring it here?”
There was a pause. “I’m fairly certain the girls will need it for the tournament tomorrow. You know, they’re really on a roll; I think they could go all the way to State.”
Marie rubbed her forehead. She must be more tired than she had previously thought; clearly she was missing something. “I’m sure you’re right, but Laura said that the girls were sleeping over at your house tonight. I was relieved, because I knew I wouldn’t be off my shift tomorrow morning in time to drive Laura to meet the school bus for the trip to Fresno.”
Another pause. “I—I’m not sure what to say, Marie. Jill told me that you didn’t have to work this weekend, and that the girls were sleeping at your house tonight.”
Anger woke Marie up fully, a feat that the diet cola had been unable to accomplish. “No, they aren’t here.” She thought for a moment. “Listen, give me a couple minutes. I’ll see whether I can track the girls down. In the meantime, why don’t you call Mr. Jack and get the details on tomorrow’s tournament? I don’t know what’s going on, but this doesn’t seem right.”
“Okay. I’ll call you back soon.” Joan Westphal hung up.
Marie placed the receiver back on its base with extra care, because what she really felt like doing was throwing it across the room. She stalked down the hall and into Laura’s bedroom.
“Twee!” she yelled, looking around. “Twee, where are you?”
Twee detached himself from the shadows under the window. He arched his back and yawned.
“Looking for Laura?” he inquired in a bored voice.
“Where are they, Twee? And why did you let her leave you home?”
“You know I can only stay with her when she listens to me. She went against my counsel; I had to withdraw.”
Marie had to restrain herself from wringing the cat’s neck. “Where did they go?” she demanded with false patience.
“They took a Greyhound Bus to San Francisco to see those British boys play rugby. They’re planning to stay at the Fairmont Hotel. That’s where the team is staying.”
Marie sank to the carpet. “I don’t believe it,” she whispered.
Twee bristled. “You know I’m not allowed to prevaricate.”
“Of course, Twee; this is not about you,” Marie snapped. “I just can’t believe she would do something so stupid.”
Twee jumped down off of Laura’s desk, sauntered to Marie, and wound himself around her legs. She petted him absently.
“She’s lonely,” the cat said. “And she’s fifteen; it’s her job to do stupid things. She’s just trying to find her way.”
“I know, Twee, but she’s in over her head this time. And how will this look to Jill’s parents? I’m sure they won’t see this the same way we do. It’s so embarrassing. The single mother who can’t control her teenager; it’s such a cliché.”
“I’ve never known you to care what other people think,” Twee said.
“And look where it’s gotten me. I’ve been trying a different tack since we moved here; I’m going for respectability. But Laura may have just blown that to Hades.”
“Mrs. Westphal is calling.”
“Thanks, Twee.” Marie got up off the floor and got to the bedroom door just as the phone rang. “I’ll see what I can do to minimize this,” she said. “Let me know if anything changes.”

Tune in next week for Clever Trevor, Part Four!

Sunday
Aug122007

Clever Trevor, Part Two

This is part of Brillig and Kate's fabulous Soap Opera Sunday program. See their blogs for a list of other gripping stories! (Most of the others are not fictionalized, like this one is.) To read Part One of this story, click here.

After Jill left, Laura cleaned up the wreckage on her bed so she could finish her homework. Twee hopped out of Laura’s shirt pocket, unfolded himself from thumb size to cat size, and settled down on Laura’s pillow for a protracted grooming session. Laura grabbed her Norton Anthology and gave the cat a nudge. “Move over, Twee. I’ve got to do my English.”
Twee licked his left hind foot, ignoring her ostentatiously. Laura sighed and pulled the pillow out from under him, landing him in an undignified sprawl on the bedspread. Swishing his tail, he righted himself and waited until she settled herself on the bed with her pillow behind her back, then climbed on her lap and started kneading her stomach.
“How long are you going to let Jill believe that she’s actually doing anything with that stupid fake grimoire?” he growled.
“Oh, Twee. You’re being an awfully good sport.” Laura stroked Twee’s fog gray fur until he purred in spite of himself. “I don’t know. We’ve lived here five months, but I still feel like I don’t really know anybody. Everyone in this excuse for a town has known each other since kindergarten. Why should they let someone into their perfect little social circle all of a sudden at the beginning of junior year?”
“Because you’re the prettiest, kindest, smartest girl ever.” Twee’s imitation of Laura’s mother was uncanny. Laura laughed hard and scratched under Twee’s chin.
“Seriously. The reason Jill is friends with me is exactly because I’m an outsider. There’s no way she could have gotten any of those preppy girlfriends of hers to try doing magic; they’d think she was bonkers. And she knows I won’t be running off to spill her secret. Whom would I tell?”
“But why do you need a friend when you have me?” Twee blinked his glass green eyes at her petulantly. Laura set her anthology aside and hugged him close.
“Don’t be jealous, you big goof. I don’t know why. I just do. And it’s worth it to lend her a little of our power for a while. Hopefully she’ll lose interest in the magic thing soon anyway. Please?”
Twee purred in her ear. “You know I can’t refuse you anything—not that you should push your luck.”

Jill sidled up to Laura in gym the next morning. “I have a plan,” she announced under her breath. “Cut third period and meet me in the Debate Room.”
Laura made a face. “I can’t cut Orchestra. I’m challenging for first chair today. What about lunch?”
“No, I’ve got a Girl’s League meeting. The Asilomar trip is coming up.”
“So let’s just talk in History.”
Jill rolled her eyes. “Fine. This is obviously not as important to you as it is to me.”
Laura looked over at Ms. Gormley, who was demonstrating the correct technique for a volleyball serve to the rest of the class. “Go to the locker room right now,” she whispered. “I’ll make sure Goreface doesn’t notice. I’ll meet you there in a sec.”
“How will you do that?”
“Just trust me. Go!”
Jill backed out of the gym, picking up her pace as she got closer to the door.
“Twee, don’t get mad,” Laura muttered. Flea-sized and shut in the locket around Laura’s neck, Twee grumbled. Laura could tell it was really just for form’s sake, though.
She grabbed a fistful of reality from behind her back and wove it into an airy screen that would let the class forget for a while that Jill and Laura existed. She tossed it over the group of girls. As it settled, she ran into the locker room to find her friend.
“Okay, spill it,” Laura commanded. Jill had hidden in the equipment closet; they were both perched atop of a pile of gymnastics mats.
Jill’s eyes gleamed. “Remember that debate tournament down in Fresno that Mr. Jack decided we shouldn’t do?” Laura nodded. Jill went on. “I never told my parents that it had been taken off the schedule. They still think we’re going.”
“Fresno and San Francisco are in opposite directions from here,” Laura pointed out.
“Oh, really?” Jill was too excited to maintain her sarcasm for long. “Just let me finish. All we have to do is what we always do for tournaments—with a twist. You tell your mom you’re sleeping over at my house Friday night; I’ll tell my parents I’m sleeping over at yours. After school on Friday, we take a Greyhound Bus to San Francisco and check into the guys’ hotel. We can hang out late Friday night, watch their game against Golden Gate on Saturday morning, then take the bus home. Then we’ll walk back to the school, and my mom will come pick us up, just like usual. It’s perfect.”
Laura could feel Twee vibrating with irritation; she grasped the locket to hide it while she thought. “It is perfect,” she admitted with a grin. “I told my mom the Fresno tournament was cancelled, but she’ll never remember. Have you ever taken the bus before?”
“No, but Ruth Tamson’s sister does it all the time to visit her boyfriend at Hastings. I’ll cut third period and walk downtown and get a schedule. We can look at it in Speech.”
“How much do you think the hotel will cost?”
“Don’t worry about it. If you can cover your bus ticket and food, I’ll spring for our room.”
Laura hated being dependent on her friend’s charity, but knew she couldn’t afford the trip otherwise. “I’ll pay you back,” she offered.
Jill waved her hand. “Whatever. Now, praise me for being a genius,” she ordered.
Laura’s enthusiasm was wholehearted. “You’re a total genius. Let’s call the guys after school and tell them!”
“For sure. We’ll use Mr. Jack’s office phone so it doesn’t show up on my parents’ bill.”

Tune in next week for Clever Trevor, Part Three!

Sunday
Aug052007

Clever Trevor, Part One

Author's note: I'm very excited to be participating in that blogging genius Brillig's worldwide launch of Soap Opera Sunday. My entries will be fictionalized to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

Updated: Oh, ooops! How could I forget to link to the fantabulous Kate? Sorry, dear! You get full genius credit on this co-adventure of yours.

“I’ve got them,” Jill crowed as she burst into Laura’s bedroom. She pushed all the Laura’s textbooks on the floor, dumped her shopping bags on the bed, and pulled out the Fotomat envelopes. Laura sat up, closed her binder, and squealed in anticipation.
“Let me see, let me see!” She lunged forward, but her best friend stepped back with a sly smile on her face.
“Wait a sec. Do you have everything?” Laura nodded. “Marigold leaves? Nail clippers? Matches?”
“Yes, yes! I got all the stuff on your list. Come on!”
“Well, but do you want a cookie first? ‘Cause I got Chips Ahoy.” Jill stepped back as Laura bared her teeth. “Okay, okay!” She jumped on the bed and tore open the envelope. “I got doubles.”
“You’re the best.” Laura sorted through the photos. She stopped when she came to one of herself and a tall, red-haired boy who had his arm draped across her shoulders. “Look!” She held out the picture. Jill looked at it.
“You guys are so cute together. You look like you’ve known each other all your lives. I can’t believe the team was only here for a week.”
Laura took the photo back and gazed down at it. “I know. Colin is such a fox. How will I live once he’s back in England?”
“Hey, here’s one of Colin and Simon both on the field! I swear, Simon looks just like Anthony Andrews.”
Laura grabbed it and gasped. Colin, his cheek bloodied, ran next to a mud-covered Simon, who cradled the ball in his left arm. “Holy cow. Rugby is the sexiest game ever. I know it’s disloyal, but I’m glad North Yorkshire beat our team. And their colors are way better. Do you totally miss Simon already?”
“So totally. Why else would I pay extra to get these pictures back so fast?” Jill got out the cookies and started munching. “Fuel up, girla,” she mumbled, her mouth full. “I want to try that spell.”
Laura shoved a cookie in her mouth, then leaned over and pulled her mother’s Lalique ashtray out from under her bed. “Here’s all the stuff.”
Jill dusted the Chips Ahoy crumbs off her hands. “I’ll read, you do. That way, we’ll get it just right.” She rummaged through her bags until she found a tattered library book. She opened it to a dog-eared page and scanned it. “Open the window,” she directed.
“Wait—which picture are you going to use?”
“The one on the field. That way, if the spell works, we can talk to both of them.”
Laura opened the window. “Now what?”
“Crush the marigold petals into the ashtray. Now snip a little bit of the guys’ hair in with the nail clippers. Okay, now after I read the incantation, light a match and drop it in. Make sure it stays lit when you drop it!”
Laura held the match and the box down next to the ashtray and waited.
“Konupuyor, yabanci, unuttur,” Jill intoned. “Konupuyor, yabanci, unuttur!” She nodded at Laura, who lit the match and dropped it in the ashtray. The mixture flamed up, then exuded thick, black smoke.
“Oh, gag me,” Laura moaned, fanning the fumes away. “I hope this doesn’t set off the smoke alarm. My mom will kill me if we wake her up.”
“It’ll be fine. Okay, pass me the cookies. We have to wait for the ashes to cool.”
A minute later, Laura took the ashes and sprinkled them on the faces of the boys in the photo. “Now what?” she whispered.
Jill rotated her left wrist over the ashes. “Uyanik, dil baraji,” she said. She leaned down and softly blew the ashes away. Laura leaned over next to her and watched intently. Both girls held their breath for several seconds. Finally, Laura leaned back with a crash against the plastic bags littering the bed. “It didn’t work.”
“Wait! Oh, my gosh!” Jill grabbed Laura’s leg. “Get over here!”
Laura sat up and looked at the photo. Simon’s mouth was moving. “Say that ooyanni thing again,” she hissed. Jill looked at the book again.
“Uyanik, dil baraji!”
“…Jillyflower, I miss you…” Simon’s voice was faint, but his Oxbridge accent was unmistakable.
“Not even,” Laura breathed. Colin turned his battered, gorgeous face toward the sound of her voice.
“Laura, love!” He panted as he ran perpetually in place on the rainy field. “Can’t you get away and come see us in Frisco?”
“San Francisco,” Laura corrected automatically. “No one actually calls it Frisco. Ugh!” She grunted as Jill elbowed her.
“Don’t waste magic on correcting him, you idiot!” her best friend whispered.
“Do come, Jill,” Simon urged. “We’d have a little more time together before we go home.” He reached out with the hand not holding the ball. “Say you’ll be there.”
Colin waved, then resumed the pose he’d originally held in the photo. “Laura!” his voice sounded like it was coming all the way over the Livermore hills to the valley.
The two best friends looked at each other and screamed. Then Laura put her hand over Jill’s mouth. “We can’t wake up my mom.”
“Sorry, sorry,” Jill whispered. “I can’t believe the spell worked!” She hugged Laura, and they bounced up and down on the bed.
“Laura, we have to go to San Francisco this weekend.”
“Yeah, right. How? We don’t even drive yet.”
“I don’t know. But we have to see them again! They are only 90 miles away. Next week they’ll be back at school in Barkston Ash, on the other side of the world!”
Laura looked into Jill’s hazel eyes. “You’re serious.”
“Deadly. Come on,” Jill pleaded. “It’ll be amazing.”
Laura lay back on the bed and grabbed the cookie bag. “All right. But if we get caught, I’m blaming you.”
Check here next Sunday for Clever Trevor, Part Two!

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