The Valentine's Day Project Disaster: Project Kids Adventure #4 by Gary M Nelson by Gary M Nelson - Read Online

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The Valentine's Day Project Disaster - Gary M Nelson

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What have I done? moaned Amanda as she sat in the ‘reading room’ of the tree house on Tuesday afternoon. Actually, it was just the lowest platform of the tree house, where they kept comic books in a plastic container. She leaned across the rope railing, her feet dangling in the air below. The other eight platforms disappeared high into the tree above her.

She sighed and leaned back on her elbows, brushing aside her long brown hair to study the maze of rope ladders and platforms suspended above her head. It was quite impressive really - she had built it all last summer with three of her best friends, Alice, Susan and Becky. Well, maybe not all on our own, she sighed. The boys helped after their own tree house got wrecked. All except for her brother Ben, of course, who broke his leg when he’d had a massive tantrum and fallen out of the boys’ tree house. Ben had brown hair like Amanda, but Amanda had piercing green eyes instead of brown.

Amanda tried to make out the top-most platform, which was just barely visible from her vantage point. Platform Nine - her platform, right at the top of the tree. She allowed herself a small smile before she sat up straight. She glanced at the piece of paper that sat on top of the plastic clip box that served as their comic library.

"It’s all your fault," she accused the piece of paper.

The paper ignored her.

"Or maybe it was your fault first, she said, looking around at the tree house. If we hadn’t done this first project, I wouldn’t be in this mess!"

She sighed and patted the wooden plank beside her right hand. Nah, I’m glad we built you. It was a lot of fun, and we’ve certainly enjoyed using the tree house. It even let me do something better than Ben for a change.

Who are you talking to? called a voice from below.

Who’s there? called Amanda, as she moved to stand up. She walked over to the railing and looked down. "Oh, it’s you, Tim. What are you doing here?"

Same as you, I wanted to spend some time in the tree house. I finished my homework for the day, so I decided to come read some comics, Tim replied. "Although I’m not sure I want to disturb your conversation with the tree," Tim shook his head.

Amanda ignored the comment. Where’s Tom?

Tom was Tim’s red-head identical twin brother, and they were almost always found together. They often finished each other’s sentences, which was a bit distracting until you got used to it. Tim and Tom were a year younger than Amanda, and still in primary school.

Tim shook his head. "He’s still doing his homework. He got in trouble for playing games before he finished his homework yesterday. Now he has to finish all of this week’s homework and wash the dishes after dinner, so it’s just me this time," said Tim as he began climbing the rope ladder.

Amanda waited for Tim to reach the top of the ladder and make his way over to the reading platform.

So how are you doing, anyway? How’s middle school? asked Tim.

Amanda shrugged. Middle school’s OK I guess. I’m getting used to it.

"Aaaand - how is Oliver?" he asked.

Amanda blushed. Um, well he’s fine, I guess. Like I’d really know.

Aw c’mon, you used to say you hated him, but from what I hear it’s not that way anymore, said Tim, grinning. "I don’t even go to the same school as you anymore, and that’s all I hear about these days!"

Amanda’s blush turned even redder. Umm, well, umm, it’s really none of your business, anyway.

"So you didn’t hold his hand?" asked Tim, eyebrows raised.

Umm, yes, well, maybe but, but…

"But what? So you like him now, big deal. Tim shrugged. People change their minds all the time. Even about people like Oliver."

"What’s wrong with Olly?" demanded Amanda.

"Whoah! I think all that hair pulling must have killed some of your brain cells. Or did you forget that part?" asked Tim, taking a careful step back.

Amanda waved her hands in the air. "Oh that, that was nothing. He said he did that because he wanted to get my attention, and he was nervous about talking to me. You do know boys can be real stupid sometimes, right?" said Amanda, left eyebrow raised.

Tim shrugged. "Sure, all kinds of people can act stupid. Not just boys," replied Tim.

Gahhh! muttered Amanda. I don’t know which is worse - arguing about how stupid people are, or that! she pointed to the piece of paper on the plastic container.

Tim bent over to pick it up.

"Don’t touch that!" yelled Amanda.

Too late, said Tim as he started to read the sheet of paper. Amanda’s shoulders slumped.

So what’s the problem? asked Tim after he finished reading the page and set it back down on the plastic container.

Amanda sat down heavily on the edge of the platform. Tim sat down beside her and swung his legs back and forth, unconsciously matching her rhythm.

Amanda sat quietly for nearly a minute before she replied. You remember the last project, the Science Fair thing with the maze? Amanda studied the laces on her shoes as her feet swung back and forth.

Yup, nodded Tim. I was part of the experiment. That was cool driving the robot around.

Amanda took a deep breath. "Uh-huh. Well, after Christmas break, our principal, Ms. Moldiva, came to my math class to see me. She asked me to come out into the hallway for a moment. At first I thought I was in trouble or something… she paused, studying her laces once more, …but I had no idea how much trouble!"

"I mean, why me? Just because we did a few good projects this year, she picked on me. Amanda sighed. First, she said she wanted to personally congratulate me on the Science Fair project, which felt pretty good, you know?"

"And then, then she pulled out this, Amanda picked up the piece of paper and shook it. She set me up, I swear! How could I say no after all the nice things she said?"

Tim patted Amanda on the shoulder. It won’t be that bad, he said. You’ll get help, and it’ll be fine. You’ll see.

Amanda looked sideways at Tim, unconvinced. "I’m going to need a lot of help. So - are you going to help me again this time?"

Tim patted her shoulder as he stood up, shaking his head. "Nah, I don’t know…that’s really a middle school thing, and like it or not, us boys are still in primary school. I don’t know how it could possibly work, especially with something like that."

Tim called out again as he climbed down the ladder. "But don’t worry; I’m sure you’ll get plenty of help. Good luck!"

"Thanks for nothing," muttered Amanda, crumpling up the piece of paper.

When the sound of Tim walking through the forest had faded away, Amanda slowly opened up the wad of paper and smoothed it out on the wooden planks.

Those awful words were still there, unchanged by the crumpling of the paper.

In large, bold print was printed:

Organizer needed for the Valentine’s Day school dance.

Amanda shuddered and stuffed the paper into her pocket. "This is going to be a disaster!"

2.I Could Have Said No

Why did I say yes to this? Amanda wondered the next morning in class.

The problem with success is that people expect more from you, she frowned. I must have been crazy! Run a couple of good projects, and now they want me to do this?

She stared hard at the crumpled piece of paper sitting face-down on the desk in front of her, hoping it would just go away.

She cautiously poked at it again with the end of her pencil, like it was a bomb about to go off. She flicked at the crumpled edge of the paper, those terrible words hidden just out of sight, taunting her.

Finally, she could take it no more. She put down the pencil and grasped the paper with shaking hands. Why did I agree to run this project? What do I know about any of this stuff, anyway? Yes, no problem, Ms. Moldiva. Sure! It’ll be fun!

What’s up? asked Becky as she slid into the seat next to Amanda.

Amanda dropped the pencil onto her desk and turned to face Becky. "I can’t believe I agreed to organize the Valentine’s Day Dance. I mean, we just got back from Christmas break, which was like, you know, really busy, and before that was the Science Fair and before that the Haunted House. It never seems to end, you know? What I really need is a break and…"

Becky shook her head, her long brown hair promptly falling over her face. She brushed it back behind her ears and stared at Amanda with deep brown eyes. "You’re just coming up with excuses. You know you’ll be great at it. That we will all be great at it, because of course Susan and I will help you."

Help with what? asked Susan, as she took a seat behind Amanda. Her blonde pigtails bobbed up and down as she slid her bag under her seat. She looked over Amanda’s shoulder at the crumpled paper. Oh, OK, right, of course…gee, thanks Becky for volunteering me. You know what I think about that mushy stuff…

Amanda twisted around in her seat, frowning. "So what, now you’re not going to help?"

"What? No, I mean yes, but it is always polite to be asked first, you know? said Susan, flustered. Of course we will help, we’re a team. I just don’t like being voluntold, you know? I would have offered to help anyway. Susan tugged at her hair. It’s what friends do."

Amanda turned halfway in her seat so she could see both Becky and Susan. So that’s the start of it then, the three amigas. But something this big is going to take a lot more help. I mean just blowing up the balloons alone - I am already getting out of breath thinking about it. And then there are all of the streamers and the decorations and the food and drinks and tables and chairs and the lights and… Amanda paused, face flushed and out of breath.

…And the music? suggested Becky.

"Right! And the music, and a hundred or so other things that I just don’t know about that will cause all of this to be one horrible, miserable, awful disaster, and when it all goes wrong, it will be my fault!" Amanda slumped back into her chair in despair. "How are we possibly going to do this - this thing?"

Becky and Susan exchanged glances. It wasn’t often that Amanda looked this uncertain about things. She was usually much more ‘in charge’.

"Aww, we’ll figure it out. Besides, it’s not always about what you know," said Becky.

"Right! Sometimes it’s about who you know, said Susan. We just have to ask someone who has done this before. They can just tell us what needs to be done, and then we’ll do it!"

Amanda looked up slowly and was greeted by two forced grins. I guess so… she