WRITE BACK SOON

by
1 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Angela Lusk
A 2010 NaNoWriMo Novel

2 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Dedicated to my high school pen pals – Mary, Carolyn, and Brett

The events depicted in this novel are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental. Any similarities to any event that may or may not have occurred in the author’s life are covered by the Fifth Amendment.

3 © 2010 Angela Lusk

“What if she is writing a pedophile?”

“Who is she and why is she writing a pedophile? Who’s the pedophile?”

“JOE!! THE PEN PAL! You know, the weird envelope that arrived in the mail yesterday with a mysterious address in it. The address that Lucy is upstairs staring at – contemplating what she will write to a perfect stranger! This person will have our address! I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“Julie – if it gets that girl to use language that does involved numbers or LOL or OMG or whatever – then I don’t care if it’s a mass murderer! Besides, you are addicted to that show to catch a predator so you know the dangers are much greater online. At least if the pedophile shows up here rather than luring her to some public park with conveniently poor lit bathrooms, we’ll have a fighting chance. ”

“Really, you don’t care if our daughter is writing letters to a mass murderer? Really? That’s real nice Joe.”

“You missed the fighting chance part. FIGHTING CHANCE JULIE! FIGHTING CHANCE!”

4 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Joe puts down the paper and walks around the kitchen counter to wrap his arms around Julie. She swats at him with the frozen waffle she was about to put in the toaster. He muzzles her neck. “Joe! Lucy should be down here any minute.”

“Heaven forbid she think I love her mother. You better be careful or I am going to talk to the Sheriff about charging you with assault with a deadly breakfast food!”

“Yep, you got talk to the Sheriff and while you are there – why don’t you have him run that pen pal address!.... LUCY! LET’S GO!”

“I’ll get right on that,” in a very serious voice, “Sheriff, we have here a very serious situation. Our daughter participated in a school sponsored program wherein she received that name and address of another teenaged girl with whom to correspond in real words on a real page that goes through the real mail in order to improve her English and give her a view of the world larger than herself. I think a crime may have been committed here. Could you please investigate?”

Very pleased with himself, Joe retreats to his perch at the edge of the counter and Julie tries to hide the smirk on her face by yelling one more time,

“LUCY! TIME TO GIT A GITTIN’”

5 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Upstairs, Lucy looks up from the piece of paper she has been staring at with her new pen pal’s address on it, in order to roll her eyes. She mumbles, “What goes a Git a Gittin’ even mean?” She looks back at the piece of paper: Mary Hodgeson 11685 County Road 7 Turtle Lake, WI 54880

Thoughts tripped over each other in her mind. A Lake? Wisconsin? It seemed an eternity away from her life here in Florida. A life of oceans and swimming pools instead of murky waters. Hearing her dad now join the chorus of “Get down here Lucy!” yell, she shoved the address in her pocket, gathers her backpack and goes through her morning ritual: Check the backpack to make sure she has all her homework, a pen, a notepad, her cross country gear, and the contraband lip gloss her mom says she can’t wear until she is sixteen. Head over to the mirror to check on her outfit that is hopelessly out of touch since her father feels that a young lady should be covered from head to toe - or a least from the shoulders to the end of her fingertips. Try to smooth her forever frizzy hair. Slip on her sensible shoes and head downstairs for a breakfast that started its day in the freezer.

6 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Down in the kitchen, Lucy grabs the waffle previously used as a husband swatter, pulls her backpack on and heads out the door. “Later – I’m taking the bus.”

Julies begins her helicopter mother goodbye, “Do you have everything? What about your cross country clothes? Your shoes? What about your book report? Did you finish it? You never showed it to me last night? You didn’t want me to read it? Remember Michael’s mom is giving you a ride home from cross country because I have a jewelry party at the Henderson’s house. Do you know the Henderson’s, honey? Doesn’t Amy go to your school? Anyway, if Michael is a gentleman, he should wait for you, but if he doesn’t – she drives a gray swagger wagon. Ha! Ha! I hear that’s what the kids are calling those minivans these days – get it swagger wagon. Do you need lunch money? Are you sure?”

Since Lucy knows the whole routine by heart, she tuned out at “Do you…” Nodding her head ever so slightly every two to four words until finally she has had enough:

“MOM! I got it!!! Sheesh!!”

“Well, I just want to make sure you have everything you need because I love you.”

“Tomorrow, maybe you can try loving me a little less.” Lucy walks out the kitchen door, shutting out her mother’s hurt face. Since this is the routine has been played out every single morning since Lucy was five years old, Lucy is always surprised that her mother

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doesn’t predict the ending and is newly hurt every single day when Lucy reacts negatively to the constant barrage of questions before she leaves the house.

She shrugs her shoulders and scrunches up her nose as she replaces the trash can lid that has fallen off the trash can at the end of the driveway. The last thing she needs is her trash blowing all over the neighborhood – especially since so many upperclassman live on her street. Being a freshman is hard enough.

At the end of the corner, Lucy meets up with Allison.

“Hey Alli! How’s it going?”

“Good. Did you hear about that stupid assignment we have in English – we actually have to write to a pen pal – like in the mail.”

Lucy begins to play nervously with the ties hanging down from her back pack. “Yes, I heard. I already have mine.”

Allison laughs, “You aren’t going to do it, are you? We are in high school! That is baby stuff. ”

Lucy’s face tightens, “Why not? It might be fun. It’s better than writing a book report.”

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Allison looks confused. It’s clear she expected Lucy to join her in scoffing at the assignment. “Oh.. Well, I just don’t think it sounds like fun. I mean, who uses the post office anymore anyway, right?”

Lucy just nods and stares off into the distance to see if the bus is coming. Allison realizes that Lucy is going to take her side on this one and resorts to gossip as a tactic to reel Lucy back in.

“We’d better get going. I see the bus coming and we don’t want to miss it. Can’t be late for homeroom. I hear Mrs. Rogers has a big announcement to make. ”

Lucy checks to make sure the address is still in her pocket and heads off after Allison, one or two steps behind. She climbs on the bus and takes her seat right in front. The hierarchy of the bus is clear – the lower your status – the closer to the front of the bus you sit. As a cross country runner who takes honors classes, Lucy is above the real nerds but far below the long-legged freshman volleyball player who just made varsity. She gets to claim some prime territory in the middle of the bus. She pulls out her notebook and beings to write:

9 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Tuesday September 13th Dear Mary, Hi! My name is Lucy Brennan. I am a freshman in Tampa, Florida. I got your address as part of our class assignment. I guess our teachers were friends in college. It seems weird to think of Mrs. Gross as ever being young, but I guess it is possible. Anyway, I guess the point is for us to practice our writing or something like that. Are you a freshman too? I am 14 so I am one of the youngest people in my class? How old are you?

I saw from your address that you live in Turtle Lake. Is there really a lake there or is that just the name of the town? Tampa is pretty boring. The only cool thing here is the ocean and we live pretty far away from it – like 45 minutes. We hardly ever go because my mom doesn’t like when the house gets all sandy. I guess she is a little OCD. LOL! The other good thing about living here is the weather. How do you like winter? I have lived here all my life so I have never had winter. Though I did see snow once when we went to Boston to visit my dad’s great aunt.

My school is basically a normal high school. It’s pretty big. The freshmen have our own wing so we don’t have to worry about being stuffed in a locker or trash can. LOL! As far as school activities, I run cross country and I am thinking about trying out for the basketball team this winter. I am also thinking about joining the newspaper. I don’t know though because I heard the freshmen get the worst assignments. Do you play any sports? What is your school like?

What about your family? I am an only child. Do you have any brothers or sisters?

10 © 2010 Angela Lusk

What are some of your favorites? My favorite movie is Miracle on 34th Street. I know that sounds a little crazy because it is a Christmas movie and no one picks a Christmas movie as their favorite, but it’s mine. I love the courtroom scene where they use the mail to prove that Kris Kringle is really Santa Claus. Oh! I hope you have already seen it because I think I may have ruined it a little for you there. Oops!

Well, I better go! We are almost to school and I still have to do a little studying for a French quiz. Do you take a foreign language? Hope you are having a good day. Write back soon! Sincerely, Lucy

Lucy closes her notebook, pulls out her French flash cards, and turns around to practice with Allison. This is the signal that she is no longer mad and Allison’s resistance to the pen pal project has been forgiven.

About a week later, Lucy jumps out of Michael’s mom’s car and rushes over the mailbox to check the mail. Her face breaks out into a huge grin when she sees a letter addressed to her with a return address in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. She rips open the envelope.

11 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Friday September 17th Dear Lucy, I was so excited to get your letter. I know it is crazy to think that our teachers were once normal people! I am pretty excited about this project though because I LOVE getting mail and I hardly ever get it since everything is online these days. I am 15 years and a freshman too. It’s been so weird leaving middle school and then going to high school! My high school is pretty far from my house. Where I live it is really rural so we have to drive far to get anywhere. Yes, there really is a lake called Turtle Lake. There are actually a ton of lakes up here in Wisconsin. Most of them are fishing lakes, not swimming lakes. I guess the big draw is the outdoors. I think I have been fishing more times than I could count. I know what you mean about your mom being OCD. My grandma is like that. If we don’t take off our shoes when we go to her house – she has a fit!

12 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Turtle Lake is an interesting place because where we live is on an Indian Reservation – the St. Croix tribe. My mom works for Tribal Social Services. She helps families and sometimes even has to take away people’s kids because they aren’t treating them right. I have an older brother. He’s 19 and I don’t see him much. He works over at the casino. My dad works in the environmental division of the tribe trying to protect the woods and lakes on the reservation. We currently have two foster kids living with us. Noah is seven and Sara is four. They have been living here for a few months. It’s weird to go from living like an only child to having a couple kids to look after. They are pretty fun sometimes though.

I don’t mind the weather too much. I like the snow because last year I learned out to snow shoe. It’s really cool, but really hard. It also looks fantastic in the fall with all the changing leaves. I just love the smell of burning leaves – though I don’t like raking them. I tried to get Noah and Sara to do it, but they just want to jump into them. Not helpful.

13 © 2010 Angela Lusk

My school is okay. It’s hard to make friends because we all live so far away! I played volleyball in middle school, but I am not going to play any sports in high school because it’s too hard for mom and dad to get me to and from the practices. Plus they need my help with Noah and Sara after work. I will miss it for sure. I can’t wait until I can drive by myself so I can join the team again. I am going to start drivers ed in the spring. I drove around a parking lot once and that wasn’t too hard so hopefully I can learn quickly.

My favorite movie is Cinderella. I know that makes me sound like a baby, but I have loved it ever since I was a little kid. I love the songs and the idea that someday my prince will come. I have a feeling my someday is a long way off because the boys at my school are so immature! Especially the freshman ones!! I can’t even believe it. I can’t wait for them to grow up! Do you have a boyfriend? Or a boy you have a crush on? I was hoping once I got to high school there

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would be better boys to choose from. Oh well, I guess it is just the beginning of the school year.

Are you on Facebook? My mom won’t let me have my own page until I am 17! Isn’t that crazy! I feel like I miss out on so much because my friends are always on it. Luckily my best friend Marisa always fills me in on what is happening. I would be totally lost with her. We have been friends since third grade. What about you – do you have a best friend?

Well, I better go. This letter is getting long and Noah and Sara are fighting about something stupid. I better go break it up. WRITE BACK SOON!

Sincerely,

Mary

15 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Lucy re-folded the letter and put it into her backpack. She enters the kitchen to find her dad pouring two root beer floats. Lucy smiles. Root beer floats had long been a secret between her and her dad. It meant that her mom had left them on their own for dinner. The no sweets rule would evaporate as well as many other rules such as no eating on the couch, no TV before homework is done and most importantly – dinner would not include at least two servings of fruit and vegetables.

“Hey Dad! Nice float!” Lucy can barely contain her excitement, “I guess mom has a late jewelry party tonight?”

“Yep!” Joes looks up and smiles, “Back to backs across town. It’s just you and me tonight pudding pop! Do you have a lot of homework?”

“No, just have to finish up a problem set for alegebra. It should only take me an hour.” Lucy conveniently forgets to mention the 40 pages she needs to read for English. She figures she can wake up early and make it up.

“Great! Let’s go eat this and watch some TV.” Cups in hand, they head off toward the living room.

The evening progresses nicely. Lucy finishes up her problem set while Joe goes to pick up a pizza covered in meats, cheeses and absolutely, positively no vegetables. Though Joes feels a rush of remorse and forces Lucy to eat an apple ah hour after dinner. He’s

16 © 2010 Angela Lusk

hoping to mitigate the damage the floats and pizza may have caused. They rush to clean up all evidence of their transgressions before her mom gets home at 9:30 pm. Lucy has to sprint up the stairs to make it to bed in time. When her mom opens the door, she has to hold her breath. Otherwise, her heavy breathing and a few giggles may have given her away. Lucy drifts off to sleep after worrying slightly about how the grease and sugar will impact her performance at the track meet tomorrow. She concludes that it will have all been worth it – even if it means finishing toward the back of the pack.

In the morning, Lucy wakes up an hour early to finish her reading. As she pulls out her English textbook, Mary’s letter falls on the floor. SHe picks it up and decides writing Mary back is a far better use of her time. Besides, she can speed read on the bus and her good grades ensure that her teacher rarely calls on her. He opts instead to put some of the lower performing students on the spot.

17 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Wednesday September 22nd Dear Mary, I was so excited to get your letter! Wow! Where you live sounds really interesting. I have never been fishing. My family is not into the outdoors at all. I remember when I was younger, I was in Brownies. One of the big activities was a camp out at a local park. They really needed chaperones. Both my parents said that if they had to sleep in a tent then they could not chaperone – at all. It was pretty funny. My mom did not have a clue about how camping works and packed all kinds of crazy things in my backpack that I would never need. Most of the stuff I couldn’t even use because it needed electricity. An electric blanket is not very helpful in the middle of the woods! She even packed a nightlight instead of a flashlight! Thanks goodness one of the other girls had an extra. From then on, my troop leader made sure to send a list home with me of what you need on a campout or for any outdoor activity. So I can’t imagine either of them fishing!

That is so interesting that you live on a reservation. We have Indian reservations here in Florida too – the Seminole tribe. They own a series of casinos and control a lot of the land down in the Everglades. The only time I have ever been down there was when we took my cousins on an airboat ride. It was pretty fun. The boat goes really fast and the boat is right on the water so it looks like the alligators are going to climb right into your boat. I am not a big fan of alligators. Sometimes I see one near a pond in our subdivision when I am out walking. It totally freaks me out! Do you have any weird or scary animals near you?

I can’t imagine how weird it would be if a seven year old and a four year old came to live with us. That must have been a big change. I think for a while I would be happy because it would give my mom something to focus on other than me! LOL! 18 © 2010 Angela Lusk

I’m sorry you won’t be able to play volleyball this year. That would really suck. Hopefully you’ll get your license and be able to play next year. I would hate it if I had to quit cross country. I really like the practices and the rest of the team. In fact, I have a meet tonight. I am a little worried because my dad and I pigged out on root beer floats and pizza last night. Hopefully it doesn’t slow me down too much.

I don’t have a boyfriend. There are a couple boys I like. There’s one guy- Michael. He actually goes by Michael. People try to call him Mike and he corrects them. It’s pretty funny. He is on the cross country team with me and his mom drives me home from practice a lot when my mom has parties. Did I tell you my mom sells jewelry at parties? Yep, she does. She goes to other ladies’ houses and shows them all the jewelry and convinces them to buy a lot. Sometimes I have to go with to help show the jewelry or convince the moms that their daughters will love it. I always feel like the daughters are going to be so mad at me when they open their birthday gift and it’s one of my mom’ s necklaces and they hate it! I hope the moms keep it a secret that I was the one who recommended it. My dad works for the Sheriff’s Department as the Assistant Sheriff. It basically means he is the Sheriff’s right hand man. We were really glad when he got the job because it basically is just paperwork. I think he misses the excitement of being a Detective, but now he has better hours, we don’t have to worry as much about him being shot, and it is nice having him home – even if he is feeding me ice cream and pizza the night before a meet.

Anyway, where was I? Oh! Yeah! Michael! He is soooooooooo cute and funny. He is a really good runner too. He is a freshman too. We have been running together since middle school. I don’t know if he likes me. Sometimes I think he does because he’ll wait for me after practice to walk together 19 © 2010 Angela Lusk

to his mom’s car. I mean, he could just go ahead and get out of the car without me, right? That’s got to mean something. But during school, he barely even says hello to me when he sees me in class or in the hall so that really makes me wonder.

The other boy I have a HUGE crush on is Austin. He is a junior. I know, an older man. LOL! He is on the newspaper and so hot! He is one of the reasons I want to join the newspaper. He sits next to me in Art class and he is so nice. He always says hi Lucy! I cannot even believe that he knows my name. He even tells me good luck on meet days and then asks how I did the day after. The only problem is that I think my friend Jessica likes him too. We haven’t really talked about it, but I can see her making googly eyes at him. She is in our art class too. I don’t know why she likes him. She could get any freshman boy that she wants. She is one of the most popular girls in our class. Oh well.. I guess we’ll have to see who he likes. He plays football and the first game is this weekend so I am hoping my parents will let me go the game. My parents are SO strict – who knows if they will even let me go! I have a really cute new shirt I can wear. We’ll see what happens. What about you? I know you said the boys were immature but is there anyone you have a crush on?

I am not on Facebook either. My mom is obsessed with that show To Catch a Predator and she is sure that if I get a Facebook page I will start chatting with a really creepy guy, decide to go meet him, and then have sex with him. Hello? Crazy Town, it’s my mom!” I mean really? I am fourteen years old. I think I know better than to go meet strange people at their HOUSE! She gives me no credit!

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I have three best friends: Allison – I have known her since kindergarten and she lives just down the street. We ride the bus together every day. She is really nice and funny. She is in the band. My other best friend is Jessica. She is the one I talked about earlier. She made the cheerleading team this year. It was so weird because in middle school she had no interest in being a cheerleader and even made fun of them! Now she has to wear a cheerleading uniform to school at least once week. She used to run cross country too but she had to quit for cheerleading. My third best friend is Jacob. He is so awesome and funny. He is in most of my classes. His last name is one letter off from mine so we always sit next to each other so we had to become best friends. I only like him as a friend.

Wow! This letter is getting really long! I still have to read 40 pages before school and I can’t be late. If we are late for school, we can’t run in the cross country meet so I better go! Write back soon!!!

Sincerely,

Lucy

Lucy folds the letter and affixes the stamp. She’ll leave it in the mailbox at the corner. She packs up her cross country uniform and heads out the door. She and her mother go through the normal helicopter routine. This Lucy does not insult her mother this time because both parents are coming to watch the cross country meet after school day. And even though she pretends she is too cool to care, it actually means a lot to her that both parents will be there cheering her on.

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She inspects herself in the mirror and smiles. She likes the way she looks today. Having to dress up for the cross country meets gives her an excuse to wear a skirts and cute flats. Most of the kids at her school would make fun of her if she wore that every day, but being “forced” to do it by your coach suddenly makes it okay. What is even better is that her mom is driving her to school so that she doesn’t have to worry about getting on or off the bus. One of her biggest fears is that a strong breeze will catch her skirt as she is taking that huge step down off the bus and the whole school will see her underwear. She hasn’t consider that it is much more likely she will flash her underwear getting out of the car a la Britney Spears circa 2008.

Lucy and Julie climb into the car. Julie resists the urge to fling all the questions in her head at her daughter: How is school going? Is it hard being a freshman? Is she being bullied in any way? What is happening with her pen pal? Is she nice? Where is she from? Is she even a she? What does she write about? What were she and her father doing that necessitated running up the stairs and pretending to be asleep? The front of the house does have windows, you know! Was she nervous about the meet today?

But Julie held strong. Well, mostly strong. The struggle manifested itself in an annoying tap-tap-tap on the steering wheel that was driving Lucy absolutely bananas. If Lucy had known the tapping was preventing a barrage of questions, she would have been more understanding. However, she did not.

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“Mom, seriously! Enough with the tapping okay! You are driving me insane.”

“What? Oh! I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Sorry.”

“What are you thinking about so hard that you aren’t even paying attention? Your next jewelry party?”

“No, I was just…” Julie pause. Weakened by Lucy’s questions, the questions are trying to push through, but Julie knows it will only annoy her daughter more. “I guess I just spaced out. Sorry.”

They pull up to the school and Lucy jumps out.

“Have a great day Lucy! Love you! See you at the meet.” “See you at the meet, mom.” Lucy slams the door and ends toward the front entrance of the school.

Julie leans her head back and mimics her daughter, “Love you too mom”. She wonders how old children have to be before they revert to telling their parents that they love them. Julie is startled by a honking horn and quickly realizes that her foray into her own thoughts has created quite a little traffic jam in the front of the school. She pulls out and heads home to finish processing some orders.

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The school day goes quickly for Lucy. Meet days usually do. She usually gets nervous about third period and the rest of the day is spent trying to manage those nerves. After school, she meets the rest of the team in the gym so they can catch the bus to a local golf course. Golf courses make the best cross country courses. The trouble is that with the great weather in Florida, people want to play on them year round. It is really hard to find courses willing to close at 4:00 pm so a bunch of high school kids in tank tops and embarrassingly short short shorts can come and run through sand traps and across greens. Luckily, one of the golf courses near Lucy’s home has been pretty accommodating so they don’t often have to travel too far for a meet and get the home course advantage more than most.

Lucy climbs on the bus and is surprised when Michael takes the seat right behind her. Usually he sits in the back with the guys. They chat about their classes, the upcoming meet and before Lucy realizes it, they arrive at the golf course. Lucy gets off the bus and spots her parents and Michael’s parents. Then her heart starts hammering in her chest as she sees Austin from art class. She thinks, “What in the world is he doing here?” Her nervousness about today’s meet greatly increases.

She heads over the starting line and Austin gives her a wave. She looks around and the walks toward him. This movement is not lost on her mother or father as they quickly look at each other to see if the other knows who this boy talking to a princess of a daughter is. Julie starts to walk towards them, but Joe holds her back.

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“Hi!” Lucy stops about five feet from Austin, unsure about how close is too close.

“Hi!” Austin closes the gap to about three feet. Lucy blushes just a little bit.

“So, you like to watch cross country?” Lucy immediately mentally kicks herself. Of all the things to say, that could not have been the best option.

“Yeah, my cousin runs for the other team and we are pretty close so I thought I’d come check it out and see him run. How do you really watch cross country anyway? I mean, aren’t I just waiting for you all to run by?”

“Well, there’s a couple different spots on the course. Once the runner you are watching passes that spot, you move to the next one. There’s usually enough time to watch all the runners go by before moving to the next spot.” Lucy hopes Austin takes that as a clue to wait for her to run by as there is no way she is keeping pace with the boys today.

“Okay, cool. Well, it looks like that kid is trying to get your attention. See you out there.”

Lucy turns to see Michael waving in her direction. She silently curses him, but then remembers she kind of likes him so this could be a good thing. She turns and jogs toward him, then looks back at Austin and shouts “See you later.”

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The race starts as usual. Lucy hits a good stride and is feeling good about her chances. Around the fourth turn, the terrain is suddenly a lot more slippery. It looks like the groundskeeper did not get the message to turn off the sprinklers. The ground is saturated. Lucy feels herself falling. Her ankle twists and she lands in the mud. The spectator section is about 10 yards ahead of her. She hears her mother yell and sees her dad start running toward her. She tries to quickly hop back up to show them she is okay and try to salvage some of her pride, but she can’t. Her ankle is not cooperating. Tears she cannot suppress spring to her eyes. It isn’t that painful, but the tears come anyway. She gingerly stands up. Her dad reaches her just as she reaches the upright position.

“Lucy – are you okay? Stay still! Stay still! You don’t want to do more damage.”

“I’m okay Dad. I think I just twisted my ankle.” The tears really start to flow now. Lucy curses the sky. Her father sees the tears, but knows his daughter well enough to ignore them – for now. It will only make things worse.

“Okay, here lean on me, let’s get you off the course and get some ice on it, okay?”

“Okay.”

Lucy leans on her father and they hobble together off the course and up to the parking lot where Lucy’s mom meets them. She had run inside the clubhouse to get a bag of ice.

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“You okay kid?”

“Yep coach, go back to the race, we can talk about it later.”

“Okay.”

The throbbing in Lucy’s ankle is soon matched by the throbbing in her head as Joe and Julie debate going to the hospital or going home.

“We should really go to the hospital Joe. What if it is broken?”

“Going to the ER is really expensive Julie. I have an old set of crutches at home. Let’s see what happens when the swelling goes down. It could just be a sprain.”

“What if it’s not? What if we do more damage by not having it set right away?”

Lucy has heard enough.

“Mom! Dad! I am right here!! It’s my ankle! Why don’t you ask me what I want?”

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Both Julie and Joe grow silent and turn to look at their daughter covered in mud propping up a bag of dripping country club ice.

Joe speaks first, “Okay Lucy, what do you want?”

“Gee thanks, Dad. I want to see my team finish. We can talk to the coach after the meet and see when the trainer is available to check me out. If the trainer says hospital, then hospital it is.”

Joe and Julie look a little sheepish as they realize Lucy had come up with the most sensible plan of attack and they realized they have to agree with her.

“Well that sounds like a great plan Lucy. Do you want to keep waiting here in the car or we could set up the camping chairs we brought near the finish line?”

Lucy sighs with relief. She is really glad her parents have listened to her. The idea of going to the hospital really scares her so hopefully the trainer will say it is just a strain and she needs rest and ice for the next couple days. She looks down and notices she is covered in mud and smiles. At least her teammates won’t think she is a total wimp. Somehow being dirty gives a girl a little bit of credibility.

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“That’s a great idea, Mom. I would really like to watch everyone finish. I think I can hobble over there. You don’t have anything in your purse that would help clean up a little bit do you?”

Julie felt instantly better. Lucy had stopped crying and seemed much calmer and Julie had a way to be helpful. The hardest part of watching her grow up was the helpless feeling that she couldn’t protect Lucy anymore, that there were injuries out there that could no longer be cured with a kiss. But she could definitely pull a wet nap from her Mary Poppins’ purse of all things you could ever possibly need.

Julie hands Lucy the wet nap as Joe goes to set up the chairs at the finish line.

“Mom, I am really glad you and Dad were here today. Thanks for helping me.”

Now it is Julie’s turn for tears that she can’t control. Her eyes well up.

“You are welcome.”

“Sheesh Mom – don’t cry. It’s not that serious.”

Julie starts to laugh and Lucy joins in. Joe walks up and asks, “What’s so funny?”

They answer in unison, “Nothing!” and continue to laugh.

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The whole family hobbles over to the chairs. Just as Lucy gets settled in, Allison, Jacob and Jessica come rushing over. These three musketeers find cross country to be very very boring, but they still want to support Lucy so they usually time their arrival for just before Lucy would be finishing so she thinks they were there the whole time. Lucy figured this out a long time ago and is touched that they still show up even though they hate watching cross country. One time she even went so far as to finish a second time since they weren’t there when she crossed the finish line the first time. Her coach thought she was crazy so she lied and said she had dropped something on the course. This time, she is very glad to see her friends. They will provide a good barrier between her and her parents who are still freaking out a little.

The group bursts into so many questions that it is hard to tell who is saying what. “OMG!! What happened? Are you okay? Oh no! Your ankle! Why are you so dirty?” Except for the dirty comment – that is one hundred percent Jacob.

“Hey guys!! Thanks for coming. I am okay, I just slipped in the wet grass. I am just going to hang out and watch the rest of team finish. You don’t have to stay.”

Jessica says, “Okay” and whips out her cell phone to see if her mom is still in the parking lot and could give them all a ride home. At the same time, both Jacob and Allison say, “We’ll stay with you.”

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Jessica, Allison and Jacob all glare at each other. It’s a freshman best friends forever stand off.

As usual, Lucy plays peacemaker, “Really, it is okay. It’s going to be really boring plus afterward I might have to go see the trainer. Really don’t worry about it.”

Jessica confirms her mom is still in the parking lot. Allison and Jacob give Lucy the “are you really really sure?” look. Lucy nods. They head out to the parking lot with shouts of “Call me later.”

Lucy settled back into her chair. She was still very worried about the state of her ankle, but the adrenaline from the shock of it was starting to lessen. She suddenly felt very tired. She began to nod off, but was awakened by the sound of cheers coming from the finish line. Her team was beginning to come in. She was relieved when she saw her teammates cross the finish line in the front of the opposing team.

She cheered loudly for each one and then pumped up the volume even more when she saw Michael come around the turn. As he sprinted to the finish, he caught sight of her and a worried look crossed his face. He did not slow after crossing the finish line and sprinted straight over to her.

In between breaths, he panted, “What happened? Are you okay? Does it hurt?”

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“It’s okay Michael. I just slipped in the wet grass at the fourth turn. I think I just tweaked it. Great job though! You totally left that guy in the dust.”

“Thanks! Are you sure you are okay?”

Michael’s parents joined the group.

“Yes, I am sure. Thanks!”

“Well, I guess you won’t be needing a ride home from practice tomorrow.” Michael’s mom has always been very practical.

Michael is mortified, “Mom!”

“Actually, I might if it is still okay with you. I may have to see the trainer.”

Realizing how much she had embarrassed her son, Michael’s mom tries to recover, “Of course, dear. It is no trouble at all. Is there anything you need?”

Julie steps in, “No, we are fine. Thanks again for all your help with rides.”

“Well, then Michael we need to be going.”

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Michael is still glaring at his mother. “Okay, Lucy – I’ll see tomorrow.”

Michael and his family run into Coach as they are leaving. The coach congratulates Michael on a great finish and offers a few other observations. He heads toward Lucy.

“How we doing Lucy?” Coach removes the ice pack and gingerly touches her ankle, trying to bend it. Lucy tries not to cry out in pain.

“I was wondering if I should go see the trainer or go to the hospital?”

“Well, it doesn’t look broken. I am guessing it is just a twist. The trainer should be able to fix you up. He should be in tomorrow after school. I’ll him know you are coming. Tonight, elevate and ice on for twenty minutes, off for twenty minutes and stay off of it until we can confirm if it is broken. Do you have crutches?”

Joe steps in, “Yes we have a pair at home.”

“Well, use those until you see trainer. I’d still like you to come to practice tomorrow for the debrief of today’s race if that is okay.”

“That works for me Coach. See you tomorrow.”

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“See you tomorrow.” Coach shakes hands with Joe and Julie and pats Lucy on the head and heads off to check in on the other runners and sign the race documents.

“Lucy, was there anyone else you wanted to see?”

Lucy suddenly remembers that Austin was here and cranes her neck to see if she can spot him. She is first embarrassed by her appearance and injury, but then annoyed that he didn’t even come to check on her. She doesn’t see him. Most of the runners have finished by now and waved her way to check on her.

“No, Mom. I am good. Let’s go home.”

“How about we stop for a milkshake on the way?”

Even with the strict no sweets rule, milkshakes have been a long standing tradition. It started when Lucy was very young. She would always freak out when it was time for her to get her shots so Julie started promising her a milkshake if she remained calm. Over the years, the milkshake stuck as the reward of choice for surviving something traumatic or an excellent performance.

“That sounds great, Mom.”

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They all hobbled back to the car and headed off to McDonald’s for a round of milkshakes. Lucy fell asleep in the back seat on the ride home. The day’s events finally wore her out.

The next day at school, all the attention for her ankle helped offset the annoyance and pain associated with trying to navigate the decades old school. Going up and down stairs was tiresome. At one point, Lucy considered just sitting on her butt and trying to scoot up and down, but the embarrassment factor associated with that was far too much. People seemed genuinely considered with her well-being and the other members of her cross country went out of their way to carry her books, open doors and make sure she got to her classes. Michael took a special interest in helping her out. He would often sprint from his class to hers to make sure he was right there to help her when she got out of class. Lucy didn’t seem to notice this extra effort on his part.

After school, Lucy wove her way through the hallways to get down to the training room to have her ankle checked out. The training room was crowded with all the football players preparing for practice. Her face turned pink and her pulse picked up when she saw Austin sitting on the table waiting to get his ankle taped. She noticed that the table next to his was empty and began to feverishly hope that the trainer would assign her that one.

“Can I help you?” A pretty girl wearing a fanny pack filled with first aid supplies, scissors and tape asked Lucy.

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“Umm… yes. My name’s Lucy. I am a cross country runner. I injured my ankle during yesterday’s meet. My coach wanted me to come and see if the trainer could check it out.”

“Sure! Just let us get all these guys off to practice. Why don’t you have a seat at the table over there.” The girl with the fanny pack points over to the empty table next to Austin. Lucy can’t help but grin. She hobbles over to the table and hops up. Austin looks surprised to see her.

“Hey Lucy! What happened to you?”

“Hey Austin! I fell yesterday during the cross country meet and injured my ankle.”

“Yikes! Sorry I missed it. I had to hurry back to catch practice. Even though I hurt my foot, I still had to be there when we reviewed the tapes.”

“What happened to your foot?”

“I fell. I guess we are a matched set. Today’s the first day the doctor will let me practice on it. I am just waiting for Jenny to tape it.”

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Lucy’s mind is too stuck on the term “matched set” to even process the rest of Austin’s statement. The training room is beginning to clear out. Jenny and the trainer walk over to their set of tables.

“Hey Jenny! It’s turn with my smelly feet!” Jenny smiles at Austin’s joke. Lucy starts to feel a surge of jealousy bubble up, but it stops because she needs to focus on what the trainer is saying.

“Lucy? Hi. I’m John the trainer. Let’s just take a look at what is going on here.”

John the trainer begins to look, prode and move around Lucy’s foot to determine the damage done to it. Jenny finished up Austin’s taping and Austin sends out to practice with a shout of “See you later!” Lucy is not clear if the “See You Later” was directed toward her or Jenny. She looks to Jenny for insight, but Jenny has already moved on to another athlete in need of some help. Lucy turns back to John hoping for good news about her ankle.

John asks, “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

Lucy always picks the good news first. Her theory is that it lessens the pain of the bad news. She doesn’t understand why people would pick bad news first, even though Allison insists that it is because you end on a high note.

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“The good news is that it is not broken. The bad news is that you need to stay off of it for at least a week to let it heal. Starting Monday, I’d like you to come to the training room every day during your practice time. We can start to do some limited physical therapy, get you to rotate between heat and ice and keep an eye on it. Sound good?”

“Yes it does.” Lucy is suddenly worried about what this will mean for her stamina. She trained hard over the summer and doesn’t want to lose that. “Is there anything I can do to keep my stamina up?” John recommends the hand bike and in couple days trying to some workouts in the water. Lucy gets her things together and heads toward the track in order to meet up with her coach and let him know the news. Her coach is very relieved that it is not broken and that she will be back in action in a week. Lucy is one of the best runners on the team and the upcoming meets will greatly influence the team’s chances to win Sectionals this year. Lucy calls her parents to tell them the good news and her mom comes to pick her up from practice.

“Hey sweetheart! Great news about your foot.”

“Yep.” Lucy is happy it’s not broken, but the thought of another week navigating the school on crutches does not sound all that appealing.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

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“Luuuuccccyy” Julie uses the mom tone that shows that she knows something is wrong. Lucy knows her mom is like a dog with a bone and now that she knows something is wrong with Lucy – she will not give up until Lucy tells her.

“It is just that it is really hard to get around school. Everyone has been really helpful, but….” Lucy trails off as tears start to pool. She is surprised she is crying. “But this just really sucks.” And now is full on crying.

Julie is heartbroken. It is so hard for her to see Lucy so upset, know there is nothing she can do about it and know that most likely whatever she says next will not be helpful so she just decides to agree.

“Yes. Yes – it does suck!”

Lucy is genuinely surprised at her mom’s reaction and starts to laugh, “What? No pep talk? No ‘The sun will come out tomorrow’?”

Julie starts to laugh as well, “Nope, not this time. It just kinda sucks and it will keeping sucking until your ankle is better.”

“Well, thanks a lot mom!” Lucy feels for the first time in a long time that her mom actually gets her.

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Friday September 24th Dear Lucy – Wow! OMG! That was one long letter! I loved it! I can’t believe how quickly it got here. Your mailman must be working overtime!! Things here are good. I feel like I am finally getting the hang of this high school thing. That is so funny about how your mom had one idea about camping! We don’t really camp a lot, but for one week during the summer we go up to a lake house and just hang out. The house comes with a pontoon boat so we take it out and go fishing. It’s really fun. It’s not too far from where we live so my mom takes off the first two days and my dad takes off the last three days of the week. It’s really fun.

I got chosen at school to be on a special committee about diversity. We are supposed to meet and talk about how to support diversity in our school. They mean racial diversity. It’s a little weird because pretty much all the students in our school are White and there are just a few of us Indians so basically they just put

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a bunch of the Indian students on a committee. It doesn’t make much sense to me. We’ll see what happens. Do you have any issues with diversity at your school? I am wondering how other schools handle it. I want to take the committee seriously because it has been a real problem in the past. My brother got in fights all throughout high school and had to drop out because people were always messing with him because he was Indian. It’s really annoying!

As for boys – I totally have a crush on my biology lab partner Jason. He is so nice and funny. He is cute to me. I don’t know if you would think he is cute. He is a little shorter than me. Usually I like boys that are taller, but he is just so funny. This week we had to do a lot of work on the microscope and he kept moving the slide so I kept saying I couldn’t see it and thinking I was doing something wrong. If he teases me – that means he likes me – right? It’s so hard to tell!!!! He said he is thinking about going out for swimming. I know for the swim team they have this program called Guardian Angels where girls pick a guy and then before every

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meet they fill up a shoebox with food and candy and give it to them. It’s totally anonymous until the end. I was thinking I would sign up to be his Guardian Angel. What a surprise it would be when he found out it is me!!

Wow! I can’t believe you have three best friends! They must keep you busy. I only have one: Marisa. This weekend is going to be really busy for us. We are dancing in a Pow-Wow out of town. We learn traditional dances and then perform them. This is one of the last Pow-Wows of the season. They usually only take place through the summer and early fall. This is one of the biggest ones. It takes place on the University of Minnesota campus as part of their Arts Festival conference. I heard that Indian dancers from all over the Midwest are coming. The competition will be very tight, but we have been practicing really hard. I am really excited because we get to spend the night in Minneapolis and my parents aren’t going – just Marisa, her brother and her parents. It will be SOOOOO good to have a break from Noah and Sara! I’ll tell you how it goes.

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Good luck at your meet! I can’t wait to hear how you did. Are you going to join the newspaper? How did the football game go? Did your parents let you go? My parents are strict too. Since we live on the reservation, they are pretty good about letting me go places because the chances are high that wherever I go – someone they know is going to be there and will report back on me. It’s like a security system that is EVERY WHERE! They know when I go to the store, what I buy and even when I try to be sneaky, I always get busted! Well, I better get to bed! Write back soon!!

Sincerely,

Mary

43 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Lucy folds up the letter and thinks about how much has changed since she wrote to Mary last and gets ready to settle down and write.

Thursday September 30th Dear Mary, I feel like so much has happened since I wrote you last!! I can’t wait to tell you all about it. But first, all the news in your letter. The summer at the lake house sounds like so much fun. It would be good to get away. During the summer, we usually go to visit my Dad’s family on the east coast. I really like visiting Boston. My grandparents live near the downtown so we go to Fenway Park and the waterfront. We usually stay for three or four days.

That diversity committee at your school sounds really interesting. I can’t believe how cruel people can be – especially to your brother. That really sucks. No one even cares about diversity at our school. People just segregate and no one does anything about it. We had an assembly about respect and communication after a kid at another school was attacked, but no one followed up on it. It’s kind of cool that your school is starting to take it seriously. Hopefully, your school will actually do something about it. Maybe you can use your role on the committee to add some more members or find other people who also take it seriously. Good luck!

Your crush Jason sounds so cool. I think it is a great idea to be his Guardian Angel. You’ll definitely be able to tell by his reaction when he finds out it is you if he likes you or not. I totally think it is a good sign that he teases you! It sounds like he likes you. When does the swim season start? Did you decide to sign up? Let me know what is happening!!

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How did the Pow-Wow go? What was Minneapolis like? Do you have pictures? Send them! I cannot dance at all. I think I have two left feet. In fact, I went to ballet classes when I was little. Every year we would put on a Christmas Pageant. Depending on which year you were in, you played a different role. The beginner dancers were always the Hebrew children. The Hebrew children basically just sat on the stage and waved their arms. After three years of dance classes, I was still a Hebrew child! LOL! Then a few years later, someone videotaped one of my dance recitals and I was counting out loud! Ridiculous! If that doesn’t tell you what a bad dancer I am – I don’t know what does!

My meet went terrible! I slipped in a mud puddle and totally wiped out. It was so embarrassing! I really hurt my ankle and I was covered with mud. Everyone’s reaction to it was a little crazy. My parents, of course, freaked out. My friends Allison, Jessica and Jacob were there. Jessica could not get out of there fast enough. Allison and Jacob wanted to stay, but Jessica was their ride. She can be so selfish sometimes. She didn’t even call later that night to check on me. Allison and Jacob were great. My ankle’s okay now, but it was a real pain in the ass to have to use crutches for a week having to go up and down the stairs at my school. Michael, the guy that I am on cross country with was a total sweetheart. He carried my books to almost all my classes and even got his mom to give me a ride in the morning so I wouldn’t have to worry about riding the bus. But now that I am off the crutches, he is back to ignoring me at school. He is SO weird! Allison and Jacob think that he likes me, but just doesn’t know how to act.

The one bright spot from hurting my ankle was that I had to go to the trainer. Why is the trainer such a good thing, well, guess who was at the trainer at the same time? AUSTIN!! OMG!! I was so excited. We really didn’t have time to talk on Thursday, and I thought that he kinda liked the trainer 45 © 2010 Angela Lusk

girl Jenny, but I was totally wrong. When I was in the training room Monday, Tuesday and yesterday, we really started talking while he was waiting to get taped for practice and I was doing my physical therapy. He is such a great guy. We just talked and talked. He has a great sense of humor. I love a guy with a good sense of humor. But before all this was the football game.

As you know from my last letter, I really wanted to go the football game. I asked my mom and dad if I could go and they said no! Can you believe it? They said I was too young to be out by myself at night. I begged and begged. Finally, my dad said he would bring me and he would stay. Yep, that’s right. My hot date for the football game Friday night was MY DAD! I made him promise to sit on the other side of the field and wait for me by car. It was so embarrassing. Anyway, we went to the game. I sat with Jacob and Allison joined us during the third quarter when she was on break for the band. Of course, Jessica was cheering. The biggest excitement was when Austin waved to ME!!! Yes, yes he waved to me. I was so excited. The football game was so good. Our team actually won. After the game, everyone was headed off to different parties and I was headed home with my dad. I wanted to wait around to see Austin come out, but I didn’t want him to know that I was there with my dad so I just left. I can’t believe how strict they are! It totally ruins my social life.

The rest of the weekend was good. Jacob even came over on Saturday for a marathon of cheesy movies while I iced my ankle. Allison and Jessica came over Sunday afternoon to do pedicures and read all the latest magazines. I just love Us Weekly. I know it is total trash, but I just can’t help it. I think it is so interesting.

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This Saturday is our next meet. It is the city-wide meet. I am pretty nervous. My ankle still isn’t all the way back, but the way the scoring works – it’s better for the team if I run even if I don’t win. I definitely don’t want to let the team down!

Well, I better sign off. I think I have used up all my words for today. LOL! Good luck with Jason. WRITE SOON!!!

Sincerely,

Lucy

Tuesday October 5th Dear Lucy – You have been very busy. It was so great to get your letter. The diversity committee has been going okay. We had our first meeting. The advisor is my English teacher, Mr. Berg, who I actually like a lot. I told him my concerns about it just being Indian students and he said he would talk to the other teachers about recruiting more students. I really hope that happens. The first meeting was basically just a lot of complaining. I mean, people have real things to complain

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about, but I don’t understand how we are going to make any changes if everyone just complains all the time. I tried to ask people what they wanted to see changed, but they just got defensive and said I wasn’t listening to them. Then, I just kinda shut down because I was just tired from all the complaining. The second committee meeting went a lot better. A couple White students came and we had a good conversation about people’s perceptions. It was a start so I am feeling better about it. We are going to have a longer retreat later on this year. I asked about inviting the student government officers because I think that would really help. Mr. Berg said he would talk to their advisor about it so I am keeping my figures crossed.

The Pow-Wow was fantastic. Marisa and I had so much fun and we danced really well too. (And I am sure you are a better dancer than you think you are!!) The best part of the weekend was that I met this great guy named Adam. He is from about an hour away. He also dances. He is really really good. Marisa and I

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had just finished dancing . I had noticed him watching and I thought he had smiled at me once, but I wasn’t sure. We headed over to Marisa’s uncle’s food stand to get some food and he walked up and introduced himself and said he really liked our dancing. I was shocked! We invited him to eat with us. He called over his cousin and the four of us had lunch and from then on we were pretty much inseparable. We walked around together and watched all the dancing. At night there was a rodeo. We sat right next to each other. When I got cold, Adam offered me his jacket. He helped me put it on and then kept his arm around me. It was so sweet. He is such a gentleman! I was excited but worried he would try to kiss me. I have never kissed a boy before. At one point, he looked like he was going to try, but then his cousin said something and it was time to go back to the hotel. We exchanged numbers and emails and talked about meeting up the next day at the Pow Wow. I didn’t see him the next day, but he texted me and emailed. Since then we have been texting and emailing. He is so nice. We have so much in common. He has a younger brother and sister that he has to take

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care of so he knows what I go through. I am not sure how I am going to see him again, but for now it is really fun. The really crazy part is that when I got back to school on Monday, Jason, my lab partner, asked me out!! One minute we were talking about our lab assignment, the next minute he asked if I wanted to go to a movie this weekend. Can you believe it? I said I had to check with my mom. My mom was surprisingly really cool about it. She said she would give us a ride there and one of his parents could bring us home. I asked him the next day if that was okay and he said yes! I am so excited we are supposed to go this weekend. I am just not sure if I should tell Adam about it or not. I guess I don’t technically need to because Adam and I are really just friends since we didn’t kiss or anything and we haven’t talked about dating, but I still feel kind of weird about it. I think if he asks what I am doing this weekend, I’ll tell him the truth, but if he doesn’t ask – then no need to tell. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him, right? ☺ I’ll let you know how it goes.

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How is your ankle doing? How was the city meet? I am so sorry you hurt your ankle! It sounds like you made the best of it and got to spend some time with Austin. Just what you needed! I can’t believe that he waved at you during the football game! That is so cool! How exciting!! I can’t wait to hear what else has happened! That is also really good how cool your friends were after you hurt ankle. Well, I better sign off. It’s getting pretty late.

Good luck at the City Meet! Write back soon!!

Sincerely,

Mary

Friday October 8th

Dear Mary, 51 © 2010 Angela Lusk

OMG!!! You have two boyfriends!! That is so awesome!!! I can’t wait to hear how the movies with Jason went! What did you go see? Did he kiss you? I have never been kissed either – well, except for a very aggressive fourth grader who kissed me when I was in in third grade. What did you decide to do about Adam? Did he ask about the weekend? What did you tell him? You are like soap opera over there!!

I am glad to hear you are making progress on your diversity committee. It sounds like your English teacher is willing to help you make it work. I hope the student government will agree to attend your retreat. Since we last wrote I have been noticing a lot of problems around my school as well. I think I am going to talk to our guidance counselor about starting a group here too. You inspired me!! ☺

The city meet went really well. I was slower than usual, but overall our team placed second. I guess that is a huge improvement from last year. Our coach and the upperclassmen were really excited. After the meet, we went to Olive Garden as a team to celebrate. It was so much fun! The weirdest thing happened. Michael rushed ahead to sit next to me. We talked through the whole dinner. I was thinking that he was even flirting! I couldn’t believe it. After dinner, we walked me out to the parking lot where my dad was picking me up. He asked me if I wanted to go to a concert in the park on Sunday. The park near us has all kinds of concerts during the fall. This one was a local rock band. I had heard good things about them so I said I asked my dad and he said yes. Since the park was walking distance from our houses and the concert was during the day, no chaperone!!! I was so excited. I wasn’t sure if it was a date or Michael was just being friendly. I immediately went home and called Allison, Jessica and Jacob. They all thought it was a date, but since they weren’t totally sure either, they agreed to go to the concert and watch us. I figured that was the best way to 52 © 2010 Angela Lusk

On to my other boy crush- Austin. I haven’t seen much of him since we both stopped having to go the trainer as often. He still always hello to me in the hallway and we chat as much as we can during class. We’ll see.

Otherwise things are pretty good. I am doing well in all my classes except for French. I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. My teacher conducts the whole class in French – No English. I have a headache when it is over! It’s so hard to keep up! Thank goodness Jessica is in the class and helps me out! Jessica and I have been getting along a lot better. I found it is much better just to hang out with her one on one. She and Allison aren’t really getting along these days. I don’t really know what the story is there and I don’t want to know. I just don’t want to get involved. It just makes things a little tense when we all get together. Hopefully they will figure it out soon! Can you believe how much time I spend talking about boys and friends? I guess that is the biggest thing going on here in these parts! At least things are drama free with Jacob and my parents these days. My mom 53 © 2010 Angela Lusk

has really chilled. I am not sure what caused it but I am definitely enjoying it and trying not to rock the boat. She’s been really understanding ever since I hurt my ankle. Maybe she is finally remembering what it is like to be a teenaged girl!

Well, I better get ready for bed. Got a big test tomorrow! I can’t wait to hear about your date with Jason!! Write back soon!!

Sincerely,

Lucy

Tuesday October 12th

Dear Lucy,

Well, I wouldn’t say I have two boyfriends!! LOL! You are so funny! Movies with Jason was so much fun! I was wearing a cute pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I can’t tell you how many t-shirts I tried on before I picked that one. Finding the right outfit takes FOREVER!! Noah thought I was playing dress up so whenever I
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would put on a new outfit – he would go and put one on too. It was really funny. I think he was a little disappointment when it ended and I had to leave. My mom picked him up and we headed to the movies. Jason was so sweet. He jumped out and opened my car door for me. When we got to the ticket booth, he paid! I insisted on paying for the snacks. I wanted him to know that I was an independent woman! LOL! We decided to go see CrossHatch. It was a action movie, but it was actually good. The best part was that we were sharing the popcorn so sometimes our hands would touch when we both went to get some more. It was a little awkward at first, but then we just laughed about it and would say, “You first.” “No, You first.” It sounds kinda dumb, but it was pretty funny. During one part I totally jumped and I was so embarrassed. Jason just laughed and said, “Don’t worry I’ll protect you.” It was so cute. When the movie was over, we just sat there watching the credits and then he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek! I was so surprised. I am sure I turned bright red. I was so happy. After that we walked out of the movie and Jason held my hand!! His dad come and

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picked us up. I think he wanted to kiss me again, but he couldn’t with his dad standing there. When I got home, I got a text message from him asking if I wanted to hang out on Sunday. I asked my mom and she said no because I had to watch Noah and Sara while my mom and dad went shopping. I was SO mad!! I finally found a nice guy that wants to hang out with me and I am stuck at home watching Noah and Sara! It is SO annoying!! What made it worse was that they were total brats on Sunday – whining and crying. I was so mad when my parents finally came home, I stomped upstairs and slammed the door. That made my dad mad so he grounded me for a week! Now I can’t even go out with Jason if I want to!!

Monday at school was a little awkward. It was good to see Jason but he was acting weird around me in class. I think it is a little weird when you go on a date with someone. We both aren’t sure if we want everyone at school to know. I obviously told Marisa and she is super excited about it, but everyone at school

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just talks so much garbage. I definitely don’t want to be part of the gossip circle. I did tell Jason I was grounded and he thought that was a bummer. After school on Monday, I was pretty upset because I thought Jason was being weird, but he did text me a couple times so that was good. He also had a good idea to see if my parents would let him come over to work on our lab report together. It wouldn’t be a date – it would be homework so maybe they would lift the grounding for that. He was right. They did say he could come over on Wednesday after school so that is good. Hopefully it will be less weird.

I did end up telling Adam about Jason. I felt I should be honest. He asked what I was doing over the weekend. I told him that my lab partner had asked me to go to a movie. I think he was a little upset about it because he didn’t really say much after that and he has stopped calling me and texts me a lot less. I don’t know what he expected. We never kissed or talked about being boyfriend and girlfriend. He lives an hour away and neither of us can drive. I just don’t know. I

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think he is a really great guy and I like him a little more than I like Jason, but if he is going to act like that, then he is not worth it. We’ll see what happens.

The diversity committee is going really well. The student government agreed to attend our retreat. It is going to be next Monday. I am really excited about it. The school even agreed to pay for someone to come to facilitate it. I am so glad they are finally taking this seriously. I am a little nervous about what we are going to talk about and what is going to happen if people get upset. I just hope I don’t cry or anything. I get pretty emotional about this stuff, especially because of what happened with my brother. The good thing is that I don’t really know most of these people so hopefully that will make it all less weird. I can’t believe you are going to try to have a diversity committee at your school too. That is so cool!!! Good luck and you have to keep me posted on how it is going!

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Well, that’s enough about me. That is so weird about Michael. It’s like he changed his mind after he asked you out. Maybe Allison, Jacob and Jessica are right and he was just nervous. Has he said anything else to you? Maybe he is trying to figure things out. Do you like him? I know you said you kind of liked him, but now that you have spent more time with him – what do you think? Is Michael “Lucy-worthy”? What about Austin? Have you heard anything else from him? How has he been acting in class?

I am sorry to hear that Jessica and Allison are fighting. That really sucks. It is so good that you are not putting yourself in the middle. Do you even know what they are fighting about? Hopefully they can work it out so you all can go back to being friends again!!

Well, I better sign off. Hang in there! WRITE BACK SOON!!!

59 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Your long distance BFF ☺

Mary

Saturday October 16th

Dear Mary aka my long distance BFF ☺ -

Your first kiss!!! That is so exciting!!!! Jason sounds like such a great guy. I am so excited for you!!!! I really hope things have gotten less weird. I can’t imagine how hard that would be! Having a great first date, then finding out you can’t hang out with him because you have to babysit and then it being weird on Monday. Maybe he thought you were lying about having to babysit and that you didn’t really want to hang out with him and that’s why he was acting weird. Hopefully things went well when he came over to do homework and your parents stopped grounding you!!

I am surprised Adam reacted so badly. It definitely shows he liked you a lot, but you are right! What did he expect? You are a fabulous girl and you can’t hold yourself back for someone who lives so far away and hasn’t even asked you to be his girlfriend!!! His loss!

That is great news about diversity committee! I can’t wait to hear how your retreat went. I would be nervous too if I were you about people getting upset. I haven’t had the best luck with my diversity 60 © 2010 Angela Lusk

committee. I approached my guidance counselor about it and thought we were going to do it, but nobody was interested. It was really upsetting. A lot of the girls at my school thought it was weird that a white girl wanted to start a diversity committee like I was trying to act like I wasn’t white. That was not it at all! I just wanted to talk about it since I am sick and tired of everyone being separate all the time! You can see it in the halls, in sports – everywhere! Cross country is the perfect example. All of the kids on my cross country team are white, but only half the track team is white. So why don’t more of the Black and Latino students run cross country? They definitely run those distances in track practice. No one wants to talk about it. It is so annoying. We would be a much stronger cross country team if more people ran with us. I tried to talk to my coach about reaching out to some of the track athletes, but he didn’t think it would work. After people heard that I wanted to start a diversity committee, a few of the girls were really mean to me. One girl even pulled my hair in the locker room. They all thought I was trying to “act Black”. I don’t even know what that means!! It is really frustrating. I guess I am just going to abandon the whole effort!

It didn’t help that while all this was happens Michael was still acting weird. It’s like he never asked me out. He basically ignores me at school and is only nice to me at cross country practice. It is so frustrating! I wish he would just figure out what he wants! I loved how you said “Lucy worthy”. LOL!! You are absolutely right. I should be figuring out if I even like him and not worrying about whether or not he likes me. But it’s hard to figure out if I like him when he is so hot and cold! I guess if I had to say right now – I would say that I don’t like him because he is acting so weird.

Things with Austin haven’t been much better. He is still super nice to me in the halls and we talk a lot during class, but I can’t tell if he is just nice to everyone or really likes me. He did wave to me

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Allison and Jessica are fighting because Allison is mad that Jessica is changing. Jessica is hanging out with the cheerleading girls and acting like she is too cool for us. Well, that is what Allison thinks. I don’t think Jessica thinks she is too cool for us. I just think she found a new group of friends. That is cool with me. I still have fun with her when we hang out. Sure, we don’t all talk like we used to, but honestly, it was a little hard having three people be best friends. I usually felt left out of something because Allison and Jessica were super best friends. Just like they sometimes felt left out of things between Jacob and I because we were super best friends. I guess that is what makes it hard for Allison – she feels like she is losing her best friend. But Jessica isn’t going to hang around if all Allison does is complain about the cheerleaders. I guess there is some rivalry between the cheerleaders and the band. I really don’t care. I just hope they figure it out. I am so tired of Allison interrogating me every time Jessica and I hang out.

This weekend is going to be pretty boring. Last night Jacob and I went to the football game with my Dad. It was a pretty good game. It was an away game so I think Austin was pretty excited I was there. Not a lot of kids from the school went. I wanted to support Allison and Jessica and Austin so I was really glad my dad was willing to drive us over there. Today, Allison, Jacob and I are going to the park to hang out and then will probably just stay in and watch movies at Allison’s. Jessica is going to some party. She invited me, but I knew my parents would not agree and I didn’t want to deal with the crap from Allison so I just said I couldn’t go. She understood. She knows my parents are super strict.

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The big news is that next weekend is Homecoming. I don’t have a date for the Dance so I am not sure what I am going to do. My dad is chaperoning. I am really nervous about that. I hope he doesn’t embarrass me. I am hoping that Austin asks me or at least Michael. The good thing is that Homecoming here is pretty casual. It is just a dance after the football game. I know some schools where it is a formal dance so you definitely need a date. What is Homecoming like at your school?

Well, I better sign off. Allison and Jacob will be here soon and I want to get this in the mail today!! WRITE BACK SOON!!!

Your Florida-based BFF ☺

Lucy

Friday, October 22nd

Dear Lucy –

How are you? Things here have been so busy this week! Our diversity retreat was on Monday. It was so great!! I can’t believe how well it went. The outside

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facilitator did an incredible job. We started just talking about our expectations from the day and people were really honest. Then we did an exercise where the facilitator would read a statement and then you had to step forward if the statement applied to you. Things like:
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I have felt discriminated against. I feel like people judge me by the way I look. I feel like people judge me because of how much money my parents have. I feel like people judge me because of the way I dress. I feel like people judge me because of the color of my skin.

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-

-

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I was shocked by how many people would step forward. I really expected that only the Indian students would be the ones who felt discriminated against, but a lot of the other students stepped forward too. By the end of the exercise a lot of people were crying – including me! The next exercise was a real tear jerker too. We broke up into small groups and everyone had to tell a particular instance

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where they felt discrimination. Wow! It was incredible listening to everyone’s stories. I had always thought I was alone, but every single person had experienced some type of discrimination. It was so incredible. A lot of tears were shed. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. The best part was that when we came back to school on Tuesday, we were still bonded as a group. People who had never spoke to me before were now saying hi to me in the hall. I even started sitting at lunch with a couple of girls – Anna and Maria - from student government. It is pretty amazing. We have so much in common and we would have never gotten to know each other if it hadn’t been for this retreat. We decided coming out of the retreat that we would all meet together at least once a month to talk about ways to improve the school. We are even going to work on including a section on diversity for the freshman orientation. I am really excited about this. I can’t believe I was such a doubter in the beginning.

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The other big thing that happened since I wrote to you last was that Jason asked me to be his girlfriend!!!!! I am so excited!! Let me back up. He came over on Wednesday to do homework. I was so nervous about him meeting my parents. Fortunately my dad was on his best behavior and Noah and Sara weren’t being total brats. We did our homework and just started chatting. We had so much to talk about. I just feel so comfortable with him. I feel like I can talk to him about anything. After we finished everything, he leaned in and kissed me again – this time for real. I was so excited. I definitely felt a little spark. I was nervous the next day at school because last time we went out, he was so weird the next day. But Thursday at school, he was totally cool. He was super nice to me during class, walked me to the next class and even asked if I wanted to sit with him at lunch. I said no to lunch because I was really liking sitting with Anna and Maria and didn’t want to ditch them for a boy. That’s lame. He also asked me to go fishing on Saturday. I was really surprised that my parents said yes. I think they are excited

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to see me hang out with new people. They haven’t asked me if we are dating or anything and I really hope that they won’t!! That would be so weird!

Saturday we went fishing. We actually didn’t do much fishing. We just took the boat out to the middle of the lake and hung out. It was a beautiful day. He was so sweet. He kept holding my hand. Then all of a sudden, he got really nervous. He kept wiping his hands on his jeans and looking away. Finally, I said “What is your problem?” He laughed and then said, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” I was shocked! I said,”Really?” He said, “Well, if you don’t want to…” I said, “YES! YES! YES!” Then he kissed me again. So now we are boyfriend and girlfriend. I have to admit I don’t really even know what that means. So far it has meant holding hands in the hallways. Marisa, Anna and Maria are all pretty excited for me. I think it is going to be hard for us to get a lot of time alone because I have to take care of Noah and Sara so much, but it’s just so nice to find a nice guy.

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I am so sorry to hear about your diversity committee experience. That is terrible!!! I can’t believe how harsh some people can be. You were just trying to do a good thing. I hope those girls stop bothering you, but I also hope you don’t give up. This is a really important issue and you can make a difference if you find other people willing to do the work with you. It’s too bad that people at your school can’t see that!

That also really sucks that Allison and Jessica aren’t getting along. I think you have a great attitude about it. Sure, people change when they get to high school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with them. Don’t the girl scouts say – one is silver, the other gold! I think you are handling this in a very mature way. Hopefully Allison will see that Jessica isn’t abandoning her by just making new friends. It is so hard to be in the middle.

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I can’t wait to hear about what happens at Homecoming!! I am so sure that Austin will ask you to dance. And if Michael gets his head out of his ass – he should too!! LOL!!! I can’t wait to hear all about it!! Well, I better go! Noah and Sara are screaming.. Grrrrr…. WRITE BACK SOON!

Your Wisconsin BFF!!!

Mary

Wednesday October 22nd

Well hello my Wisconsin pen pal!

How are you? I am so impressed with your diversity retreat. It sounds amazing. I wish the teachers and principal would support something like that at my school! I am sorry to say that I have given up. I just don’t see how I can get something like that started here if no one is willing to work with me. It can’t be about diversity if it is just me! I am so happy that it is working well for you at your school. That is incredible. I can’t wait to see how your friendship with Anna and Maria develops. I

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think it is so cool that even though Jason if your boyfriend that you didn’t stop sitting with them at lunch. So many girls start dating a guy and just forget about everyone else. That is so dumb.

By the way, HUGE NEWS ABOUT YOU AND JASON!!! That is so awesome. I am so glad that you found what sounds like a really nice guy. I hope things are continuing to go well. I have a kind of personal question so don’t feel like you have to answer, but are you worried about sex? I am so freaked out about sex. It seems like everyone has been talking about it at my school for years. I am a virgin and definitely want to stay one until I am married, but I obviously don’t think everyone else should be. What about you? Have you and Jason talked about it? If that is too personal, just ignore it. But I don’t feel like I can talk to Allison and Jessica about it. They both had boyfriends in middle school and honestly I don’t want to know if they have had sex and I don’t think they would tell me the truth anyway. But with you Mary, I feel like I can be honest. Sometimes it is just so much easier to say things in writing than in person. Well, anyway, enough about that. Definitely keep me posted as your relationship develops!

The big news here was the Homecoming Dance. So, last Wednesday, as we were leaving class, Austin asked me if I was going to dance. I said that I was. He said well, I hope you save me dance. I said, well, you know my dance card if filling up, but I’ll see what I can do. He said, thanks, thanks a lot. It was so funny. I was really proud of myself for that line. It would have worked a lot better if I could have wiped the huge smile off my face, but oh well. Mary, I cannot tell you how excited I was that Austin wanted to dance with me!! I think I skipped down the hall right after that and of course, had to run right over to Jacob and tell him. Then I had to BEG Jacob to go with me. Allison and Jessica were going to be there, but they weren’t sure what time they were going to get there because they both had to go home to change and they take FOREVER to get ready. I wanted to 70 © 2010 Angela Lusk

get there pretty close to right after the game so I didn’t miss Austin. After a lot of begging and promises of Red Robin burgers (Jacob’s idea – not mine), Jacob finally agreed. Thank goodness! The next big obstacle was asking my parents if I could go. I hadn’t really asked them because I wasn’t sure if I was going to go. So I got home from cross country practice. My mom and dad were in the kitchen. I walked in. I was so nervous. Finally a guy that I liked had shown some interest in me and now I just had to get my parents to agree. They asked how my day was and how practice went and I just blurted out “Mom, Dad, there’s a homecoming dance Friday night after the game and I really really want to go. Jacob, Allison and Jessica are all going. Please! Please! Please!” Well, then my dad started smiling and I couldn’t figure out what was happening. He said, “of course you can go”. I started jumping up and down and saying thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Then he said, “It would be silly for me to chaperone a dance that my daughter wasn’t attending.” WHAT??? Yes, that’s right. My DAD was chaperoning the dance. It seems that one of the parents from the Freshman Class Booster Club had called to see if my mom could chaperone. Since she had a jewelry party, my dad said he would do it. I think my jaw fell open and hit the floor when he told me. I took a big gulp. I obviously couldn’t say anything negative about him chaperoning since he had already said yes to me going. So I just smiled a little bit and said that’s great! My Dad laughed and said, “Don’t worry I won’t embarrass you. If you are in one room, I’ll go chaperone the other room. Just don’t get into trouble.” That actually made me feel a lot better. My dad is pretty good about not embarrassing me. I ran upstairs and started trying to figure out what to wear. That was quite a drama.

Friday night came along . Jacob and I headed over to the dance after the football game. We were some of the first people there, of course. People started filtering in. The music was pretty good. There were groups of us dancing and it was pretty fun. Of course, I was on the lookout for Austin 71 © 2010 Angela Lusk

every second. I kept getting really nervous. Jacob just kept yelling at me to chill out! It was pretty funny. My dad and I kept orbiting each other. I would go into one room and he would leave. The dance was set up with a DJ in the cafeteria and refreshments in the gym so it worked out well. Finally, the football players started coming in. Austin came up behind me and grabbed my hand and led me out onto the dance floor. My heart was beating SO FAST! As we got to the dance floor, a slow dance started. He put his arms around me and we danced. It was so sweet. I felt like everyone was looking at us – though I am sure they probably weren’t. I wanted that dance to LAST FOREVER! I know whenever I hear that song - I will think of that dance forever. I was so lucky that the next song was slow too so we just kept dancing. At the end of that song, the DJ took a break so we walked over to the refreshments. I realized that my dad had seen me dancing with Austin. Then I was super nervous because my dad had been really clear about me not dating until I was 16. I was pretty sure I was going to get into trouble. We got some refreshments and then a bunch of people walked over. Austin and I got separated. Allison and Jessica came and then before I could find Austin again, it was my curfew. I had to leave the dance while it was still going strong. GRRRR! I was too nervous about getting into trouble for dancing with a boy than to be too mad at having to leave. My dad drove Jacob and I home. He dropped off Jacob and then turned to me and said, “Do I need to be worried about that boy?” I said, “No Dad.” He said, “Then I think you would agree that your mother doesn’t need to know about it” I was so relieved!! I agreed right away. I couldn’t believe he was being so cool! We got home and had some ice cream and went to bed. I fell asleep that night reliving that dance!

The weekend went pretty fast. This week at school has been really good. Austin has been really nice. It’s a little confusing because I know he likes me, but it is not clear if he likes me enough to

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want to go out on a real date. I am just trying to be cool about it. He is a couple years older so I think that makes the most sense. What do you think? What should I do? It is so hard to be cool.

Cross country is going really well. My ankle has finally healed. I am starting to pick up more of my old speed. We have sectionals coming up in two weeks. I really hope we do well. The cross country team at my high school has never won sectionals so this could be the year. The upperclassmen and coach think that we have a good shot if we all continue to run strong. I am pretty excited. We are going to be featured at the pep rally right before Sectionals too so that will be really fun. We’ll get to sit on the floor with the football team and get introduced. I hope people clap for me. Everyone usually boos for freshman. We’ll see. I have my outfit all picked out – just in case we get to dress up instead of wearing our track suits. It’s pretty hard to look cute in a track suit!! LOL!

Well, I better get going I still have a lot of homework to do. Keep me posted on you and Jason!! WRITE BACK SOON!!!

Your sunshine state BFF

Lucy

Monday November 1st

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What’s up Lucy – pen pal south of the Mason Dixon line –

You have had a very exciting week!!! Wow! That is so awesome that Austin danced with you. How exciting!!! I am so happy that your dad was so cool. Dads can really come through sometimes! I can’t wait to hear if anything else has happened. He is very confusing. Maybe he just wants to take it slow. Who knows what boys are thinking??

Speaking of boys – I was not offended at all about your sex question. I totally agree that it is easier to write about things than actually talk about it. I have not had sex and I know exactly what you mean about how it seems like everyone is talking about it. I am not going to have sex until I am at least eighteen. I just don’t think high school boys are worth it. I really like Jason but I am just too young. I think part of the reason is that my mom sees all these fourteen, fifteen, sixteen

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year old girls who have sex and get pregnant and then have so much trouble trying to raise their babies. Some are able to do it, but other have to quit school, their boyfriends don’t help at all or the boyfriend’s parents try to get custody of the baby. I could go on and on. I don’t want to deal with that. Jason and I have not talked about it yet. We just kiss every once in a while. If he starts to want to do more, I am just going to have to tell him that I am not that kind of girl and if that is the kind of girl that he wants – then we should just break up. What is the saying? There are a lot of fish in the sea. ☺

Yesterday was Halloween –did you do anything special? Our student government put on a haunted trail for charity. Anna and Maria asked if I wanted to help. It was so much fun. We went up to the woods and set up a trail with all types of scary things. We had two trails – one for younger kids and one for older kids. The young kids’ trail had arts and crafts stations, funny things for them to touch and a couple of the guys dressed up as monsters. It was so much fun. The older kids’

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trail scared the crap out of me. We had all these areas that people had to walk through and people dressed up all in black and jumped out. In one part, a couple people were dressed in black and had a bowl of dry ice so they would blow the ice at the people walking through. The worst part was the end. Everyone walked into an old shed where there was a scene of an empty room with a girl chained up. I swear it looked just like the previews for that scary movie the Saw. While the kids were watching the scene, a couple of the senior guys snuck up behind them with chainsaws. Then at a scary moment in the scene, they turned on the saws and chased everyone out. I volunteered to be a guide and lead everyone through. The first time that happened I screamed and took over running too. After that, everytime I went through there the guys came after me as well. I was so scared. I almost wanted to cry. Luckily, Anna agreed to switch with me so I could just do the little kids’ trail. We held the trail on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. It was so much fun. Saturday night after we were done, we had a big bonfire to celebrate. I had invited Jason to come, but he said he and a group of

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his friends always did something together on Halloween. The bonfire was really cool. Everyone who had volunteered on the trail was there. TJ, one of the seniors who had held the chainsaw, came over. He totally made fun of me for switching to the little kids’ trail. I tried to act like I didn’t know what he was talking about. Finally I just said, okay! Okay! You scared the crap out of me!!! I was sure you were going to burn me with the chainsaw. You were really really scary. I think then he felt bad because he put his arm around me and said, don’t worry Mary, I wouldn’t hurt you! I couldn’t believe he knew my name!! He is a senior!!! He said, come on – let’s get you a marshmallow, scaredy cat. We went over and got a couple marshmallows and joined his friends at the fire. Everyone was so nice. He introduced me to everyone and we sat around making s’mores. It was really fun. I couldn’t believe how comfortable I felt with everyone. Just think at the beginning of the school year, I was too nervous to even say hi to these people and here I was at a bonfire making s’mores. Anna’s mom came to pick us up and walked me to the car and gave me a hug goodbye. He asked for my number so he could

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make sure the boogeyman didn’t get me on the way home. I gave it to him. I hopped into the car and we drove away. As soon as we got out of sight of the bonfire, Anna, Maria and I all squealed like a couple school girls!! They couldn’t believe that TJ had been so nice to me and asked for my number! Maria said “What about Jason?” MARY! I had completely forgotten all about Jason! What a terrible girlfriend I am! I started to feel really guilty, but then realized the only thing I had really done wrong was to give my number to TJ. I could fix that. Besides, who is to say that guys and girls can’t be friends? If I am able to give my number so easily to TJ maybe that means that Jason just isn’t the guy for me. Maria and I spent the night at Anna’s house. The next day I went to meet up with Marisa to tell her everything that had happened. I think Marisa is getting jealous that I am spending more time with Anna and Maria. I am really trying to spend an equal amount of time with her. I wish we could all just hang out together, but Marisa and Maria don’t really get along. We have tried to do things all together and it just doesn’t work. Anyway, I told Marisa about everything and she was

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really upset that I had given my number to TJ. She thought it was cheating on Jason. What do you think? I don’t think it was that big of deal, but maybe I am in denial because I don’t want to think of myself as a cheater. All I know is that TJ called me before Jason did yesterday. Jason asked me about the bonfire. I told him everything. He really didn’t seem to mind that I had given my number to TJ. He was glad that someone was there to look out for me. What does that mean? Shouldn’t Jason be a little bit jealous? BOYS ARE SO CONFUSING!

Well, this week I don’t have time to worry about all these boys because my English teacher asked me to make a presentation about our diversity program to the local Chamber of Commerce! They are thinking about doing a leadership program for high school students and they want to use the work we have been doing on Diversity as part of the program. This means we have to finish the diversity portion of the orientation and I have to write a speech. The speech is on

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Thursday. I am really nervous, but excited. I can’t believe he asked me – the freshman. So that will definitely keep me very busy this week!

How are you? How was your Halloween? Good luck at the Sectionals this weekend! RUN LUCY RUN!!! LOL! Have a great week!

Your cheese lovin’, Indian dancing pen pal

Mary

Sunday November th

Well, hello pen pal!

You cracked me up with your cheese lovin’, Indian dancing sign off!! Too funny! Your Halloween was very exciting!!! Those chainsaws sound really scary! I don’t blame you for freaking out! I didn’t do anything too special On Saturday night, Jacob came over for a scary movie marathon. It was really fun. I have been hanging out with him a lot more as Allison and Jessica have been really

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busy with the band and cheerleading crowds. He’s seemed a little down lately so I have been trying to cheer him up. The best part was we were about halfway through the third movie. We started hearing weird noises outside. After watching all those movies, you can imagine we were pretty jumpy! We were so nervous. We paused the movie and walked around the house to make sure all the doors and windows were locked. Jacob grabbed a spatula. A SPATULA! I don’t know what he thought he was going to do with that – stir someone to death? LOL! Anyway we were walking around the house and we got to the dining room window and looked out and saw someone in a hockey mask!!! We screamed and screamed and ran around like chickens with our heads cut off! I think I ran into him like ten times. We ended up in the hall closet. We were so scared. Then someone came and opened the door. I just closed my eyes and screamed. Then it got really quiet and all I heard was someone laughing. I opened one eye and saw my mom and dad doubled over laughing. My dad was the one in the mask!! They got us good. Jacob was so mad. He just turned bright red and was cussing under his breath. I think I peed my pants. After I recovered from the shock, it was so funny. We had to admit that they did a good job. I don’t know what it happening with my parents – but they have been a lot more fun lately. They still don’t let Jacob upstairs to hang out in my room, but they did scare us pretty good! I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep that night. I felt really bad that Jacob had to sleep downstairs all by himself. I am surprised he didn’t just try to go home. I think Jacob is still mad.

As for your Halloween – I don’t think you cheated on Jason. You didn’t do anything, but it is interesting that you totally forgot about Jason when you were with TJ. I think you are right that that is the more important part. I also think it was weird that Jason wasn’t even a little big jealous. I mean that is pretty mature and a little odd. I would at least be a little jealous if the guy I was dating was at a party without me, had a great time and gave another girl his number – even if nothing 81 © 2010 Angela Lusk

How did your speech go? I am sure you knocked it out of the park. That is so cool that they recognized all your hard work and want to base another program off your ideas!! That is fantastic! I can’t wait to hear how it all turned out.

Things here are really good. Austin and I are still talking. He came to Sectionals since his cousin was running, but he hung out and waited for me to finish so that was cool, but that’s not the headline from Sectionals. The two big things from Sectionals are that: WE WON! and I met a cute boy! Okay – first the winning part. We were all really nervous going into Sectionals. I think I told you that our school hasn’t won a Sectional in decades, but we had been doing really well in practice and everyone was finally healthy. We got to the meet. It was a course we had never run on before because it had been flooded when we were supposed to run it during the regular season so our coach took a golf cart out to check it out. Surprisingly, it was a lot less hilly than the course we normally train on so we were pretty excited. Plus there were a couple of good straight aways where we could really pick up some speed. We had been doing intervals so we were ready. We started running. I started out a little too fast, but quickly adjusted and ran really well. For a race, we usually try to pair up with people from the other team who we think are about as fast as us and then each runner just focuses on beating those people. The idea is that if we all beat our own people then we will win. Well, coming into the last mile, I was a little bit behind the people I was supposed to beat so I turned on the speed and I ended up passing those girls AND the girls in front of them. Everyone was so stoked! I couldn’t believe it!! It was really exciting. After the race, everyone was congratulating me. I ran a personal best. It was so awesome. Austin came up and 82 © 2010 Angela Lusk

congratulated me. Then a guy from another school walked over and introduced himself. His name is Eric. He wanted to congratulate me on a great race. Isn’t that cool? We chatted for a little while and then he gave me his number and said that if I ever needed anyone to run with – I should call him! I kind of didn’t know what to do. A guy has never given me his number before. I said thanks and quickly sent him a text so he had my number. I felt like such a dork texting him – “It’s Lucy” – especially since after he saw the text he laughed and said, “I know your name.” LOL! That’s when my parents came over to say it was time to go if I wanted to meet the team for lunch. We headed off to lunch. Michael was full of questions about why I was talking to that guy, what was his name, etc. I basically just said, why do you care? He got mad and said I shouldn’t be talking to people from other teams going into Regionals. He could be a spy. I said that this isn’t Russia and I didn’t tell him anything about our team. He was just being nice and congratulating me on a good race and that I didn’t remember him congratulating me. Michael mumbled something about how my ego was big enough and walked away. He is so annoying! First, he is nice to me, then he ignores me, then he asks me on a date, then he ignores me and now he gets mad when he sees me talking to another guy!! MAKE UP YOUR MIND MICHAEL! That’s what I want to tell him, but I won’t give him the satisfaction.

Well, that’s all the news that is fit to print here. Oh!!! I just a text from Eric. It says, “nice meeting you today” – isn’t that sweet!! We’ll see if he ends up ignoring me like Michael! I guess I am really good at meeting guys and then getting them to act confusing! LOL! Hope you have a great week. WRITE BACK SOON!

Your weird guy attracting pen pal,

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Lucy

Thursday November 11th

Dear my pen pal who is trying to juggle three very confusing boys! Happy Veteran’s Day! Are you supposed to say Happy Veteran’s Day? That doesn’t seem quite right since the act of being a veteran is very serious. And I don’t think many people are “happy” to be veterans – they are probably proud, but doubtful they are “happy”. Maybe we should say something like “remembering you on Veteran’s Day”, but I am not really remembering you – I am giving thanks for the Veterans so maybe it should be “Giving Thanks on this Veterans’ Day” – yep – that’s it. That is what I am going to say for now on. Sorry for this tangent, but this is serious business. ☺ A lot of people from here end up going into the military because they can’t find other jobs or don’t want to go to college. It’s pretty sad that that is the only option. I mean, I am fine if people want to serve our country, if they feel called to serve our country, but to risk your life
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because it is the best job available seems pretty sad to me. I don’t know what I would do if I had a kid that wanted to go into the military. We have ROTC at school. I always wondered if any of the kids in have really thought about what they are signing up for. Sorry to be so serious, but it is just the stuff I think about sometimes – especially since we have the day off school. What about you? What do you think of all this?

Anyway – Congratulations on Sectionals!!! That is great!!! You must feel so good! That is so cool that Eric came over to congratulate you! It sounds really nice. Have you heard anything more from him? Is he a freshman too? I can’t wait to get the update! Hook a girl up! I agree with you that Michael needs to make up his mind. He seems like he wants his cake and to eat it too. He doesn’t want to be your boyfriend, but he doesn’t want anyone else to be your boyfriend either! Crazy!! He needs to get it together.

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Things here have been crazy! My speech went really well. I was so surprised. I loved giving it. I was so nervous, but once I started my nerves just went away. I was in the zone and it was great. I just spoke from my heart like I had practiced. Everyone afterward said I did a great job. They even asked me to serve on the planning committee for the Youth Leadership program! I am the only teenager! I go to meetings with all these adults and they all want to know my opinion of what the program should be like. It’s so cool!

Things with Jason have been a little tough lately. Last weekend, he invited me to a party with some of his friends. He has his license so he picked me up and we went to the party. Mary, we walked into that party and it was so gross. There was smoke everywhere! Some people were smoking cigarettes and some were smoking POT! I couldn’t believe. Then there were all these people drinking. We went back into the kitchen were the keg was and Jason went to get a drink. I asked him what he was doing. He said he was getting a beer. I said no you are

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not – you are driving. He said, “Baby don’t worry – it’s all good.” I looked and him and said Number one – I do NOT like to be called “Baby” and number two – it is not all good! Then he got mad and said that I just needed to chill out and get the stick out of my ass. I could not believe that he would speak to me that way!! I was SO mad. The problem is that when I get mad I tend to cry. I could feel the tears starting and I did not want him to see me cry so I turned around and got out of there. I walked to the front of the house and out to the corner. I didn’t know what to do. All I could think of was to call TJ. So I texted him that I was in trouble, that Jason had taken me to a party where everyone was drinking, including him, and I didn’t know what to do. TJ texted me back right away and said he would come get me. I was so happy when he pulled up thirty minutes later. I have to tell you that that was the longest thirty minutes in my life. Jason didn’t even come looking for me or call me! Can you believe that? He just let me walk about the house in a strange neighborhood without a ride home!! What a jerk! It is so over! TJ came and picked me up. He was so nice. I had been crying so he took me to a

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restaurant so I could wash my face before he took me home. He asked me if I wanted him to come inside with me. I said no. When he dropped me off, he said “It is going to be okay. Call me tomorrow.” I said, “Thank you so much for coming to get me.” He said, ”Don’t worry about it. I am here if you need me.” I just said thanks again. I couldn’t believe how nice he was being. I was so nervous walking into my house. I didn’t want my parents to be disappointed in me. I walked into the house. My mom was in the kitchen. She was surprised to see me. She took one look at my face and asked what was wrong. I immediately started crying. I was so embarrassed. I told her everything. I told her about the party, how Jason went to get a drink, how I left and called TJ, that TJ brought me home. I told her I was so sorry. She was really cool about it. She said she was proud of me for saying no to the party and for finding a safe ride home. She said that if I was ever in that situation again I should call her or dad. I told her that I didn’t want her to have to bring Noah and Sara to the party. She said not to worry about that and that I was important to her and she would make sure I was safe. I felt so good

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after that chat. Then she told me to go change into my pjs, she was going to make hot chocolate and we would watch a movie. It reminded me of when I was a kid and I wasn’t feeling well. I felt so much better. I went to bed and Jason still hadn’t called. I texted him that we were over and I never wanted to talk to him again. Well, never talking to him was going to be a real problem because we are lab partners, but I didn’t really care about that at the time. I was too mad. The next day I woke up to seven texts from him about how sorry he was and how he really needed to talk to me. I was still too mad to talk to him so I told him that we would talk at school on Monday. I felt sick about having to talk to him. I went to lab on Monday. Jason looked so sad. I told him that I wasn’t mad anymore but that I didn’t think we should be continue to go out and that I hoped we could still be friends. He said he was really sorry and he would do anything to make it up to me. I told him that I didn’t want a bunch of drama – especially since we are lab partners. I just kept saying – Jason, it’s over. Let’s just be friends.” Finally, I think he understood, though he has spent most of this week texting me about how

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sorry he is and how he wants to get back together. It is so hard to see him everyday in Lab.

TJ has been great though. He called on Sunday to see how everything went with my parents. Wednesday, he invited me to sit with him at lunch. Since Anna and Maria had a meeting, I sat with him. His group of friends are so nice. Jason saw us sitting together and got really mad. I was just really glad that Lab was before lunch! He texted me that I was a slut and a cheater. What a jerk!! I told him to cut it out or I was going to ask for a new lab partner. He said to go ahead so I talked to another one of the girls in class and she said she would switch with me. It was so nice of her so I went to talk to the Lab instructor. He said it was not problem, but I should be more careful. In the real world, you can’t just switch lab partners. I thought that was a weird thing to say to a freshman. Either way, I have a new lab partner and hopefully Jason is out of my life. Boys are crazy! Now I totally

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understand what my mom said about not becoming boy crazy – she was right – boys can drive you crazy! Well, anyway I better sign off. I have homework to do and a Youth Leadership meeting tomorrow. Hope things are good with you. WRITE BACK SOON!

Your driven crazy by stupid boys who drink pen pal –

Mary

Wednesday November 17th

Hey Mary!!

Have you returned from Crazy Town yet? I cannot believe that Jason acted that way. What a jerk!!! You were smart to just get out of there!! What was he thinking?? Unbelievable! Then I can’t believe you had to switch your lab partner because he was being so immature. I am so glad you got to see his true colors before you really fell for him! I am so glad that TJ was there for you! What would you have done without him? Well, at least now you know you can always call your parents. I am so

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glad they were so cool about it. I think my parents would be pretty cool too as long as I told them the truth.

Congratulations on your speech going so well!! I knew you could do it. That is so great that they want you to be on the board. What an interesting experience. I think that would be so awesome to have all those adults just listening to your opinion! How cool!! I hope you really tell them like it is.

Things here have been crazy too! Regionals are coming up this Saturday. Michael hasn’t really spoken to me since we had that fight on Saturday after Sectionals. He is such a pain. Since his mom is my ride home from practice most days – it has gotten to be a little awkward! I can’t believe she hasn’t commented on the tension yet. I mean he really will not speak to me. It’s unbelievable. I actually kind of miss him, but I am not sure what to do about it. I am not going to apologize because I did nothing wrong by talking to Eric. He was wrong to yell at me about it. I wish we could just hit reset. Maybe I will try to kill him with kindness and just pretend like nothing is wrong. It would look pretty silly if I was being super nice to him and he wasn’t talking to me. Yep, that is what I am going to do starting tomorrow. I am going to be the nicest, sweetest person you could ever imagine to him starting today! Watch out Michael! A whole ton of niceness is headed your way! LOL!

As for Eric – he texts me every couple days. Nothing serious. He is really nice and has been really encouraging. He said he is coming to Regionals on Saturday to see me run so that will be really cool. A couple members on his team qualified as individuals so his whole team will there cheering them on. Hopefully no one gives either of us crap for talking to each other because I am planning on talking to him and everyone else is just going to have to deal with it. 92 © 2010 Angela Lusk

I saved the best of the craziness for last and it has to do with Austin – and Jessica. It is not good. Last week, Austin and I were walking to our next class and he asked me if I wanted to go to the play with him on Saturday night. I was so excited, but really nervous because my parents don’t let me date. I said I would think about it and let him know. At lunch, I told Allison, Jacob and Jessica what happened and how I was worried because I wasn’t allowed to date. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Jacob suggested that I just tell my parents that I am going to the play with him and then tell Austin I will meet him at the play and that I can’t go out after the play because of my curfew and I’ll get a ride home. I thought that sounded pretty lame but I definitely thought it would work. I texted my mom the plan and she said it was okay and she would drop us off if Jacob’s mom could pick us up. Jacob texted his mom and she agreed so we were all set. I told everyone I was going to look for Austin after school to tell him. Well, now, looking back I recognize that Jessica was really really quiet during that discussion. Later that afternoon, I walked back the computer lab and saw Jessica and Austin together. It was pretty obvious they were flirting and when Austin saw me – he got this really weird look on his face. I just kept walking.

After school, I found Austin in the training room getting taped for practice. I said that I would really like to go to the play with him. He said that he talked to Jessica and he understood about my parents not wanting me to date and that we should just be friends and that he was going to go to the play with Jessica instead. I could not believe it. I was so shocked and so mad! Tears immediately came to my eyes because I have the same problem as you that when I get mad, I start to cry. I backed out of the training room and took off running to practice. I was glad that I could just run. After running, I felt better but I was still so mad at Jessica. I texted Allison and Jacob and told them we needed to have an emergency meeting at my house NOW! They came over after dinner. I 93 © 2010 Angela Lusk

told them everything that happened and they were just as shocked. Allison said that she totally could see that coming since Jessica had changed so much since middle school. She had become so selfish and into being popular. I felt bad about talking about Jessica so badly behind her back, and said that there might be an explanation. That’s when Jacob spoke up. He was really angry – more angry than the situation probably warranted and said that she was a jerk and we should all stop being friends with her. I agreed. She knew that I liked him. She took advantage of my trust and used the information that I had confided in her to get a date with the guy I liked!! It really is unbelievable. After I hearing him say it that way I realized how hurt I really was. Allison, Jacob and I debated whether or not I should call her out on it or if we should just ignore her. I decided I needed to talk to her. I wanted her to know how terrible what she did was and that her actions have consequences. Allison and Jacob sat by when I called her. Here’s basically how the conversation went:

Me: Hey Jessica. It’s Lucy. J: Hey Me: I spoke to Austin. I know what you did and I just want you to know that we are no longer friends. What you did was disgusting. That you would take information I gave to you in confidence and use it to get a date with the guy I like is gross. I have always stood up for you, and now I think everyone was right about you. I never want to talk to you again. J: It’s not my fault that Austin likes me better. Me: That is not what this is about and you know it. Good bye.

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Then I just hung up. Jessica tried to call back, but I didn’t answer and then she texted me that I was a bitch. Really? Really? I am the bitch! After what she did! I am so glad that Alison and Jacob were there because they really helped call me down and let me know what real friends are like.

The next day at school was awkward. I wanted to show Austin there was no hard feelings with him and I tried to talk to him during class, but he seemed distant. I decided to just follow his lead. I didn’t want to make a big dramatic issue over it.

Jacob and I decided that we were going to keep our plan to go to the play. I didn’t want Jessica and Austin to think that they could control what I was going to do or where I was going to go. I made sure I looked extra cute when we left and to smile and really enjoy myself. We got there pretty early so that we could make sure that Jessica and Austin were sitting behind us. I did want to enjoy the play and knew that I couldn’t if I had to look at the back of their heads the whole time. The play was pretty good. At the end when we got up to leave, I did see Austin and Jessica behind us. Austin looked pretty uncomfortable when he saw me notice them, but not Jessica. Jessica mouthed “bitch” and put her arm Austin! I thought Jacob was going to rush over all those seats and hit her. I think I had to have made a face like I had just been slapped because Austin looked at Jessica and then back at me. I just put my head down and tried to get out of there as quickly as I could. Luckily, Jacob’s mom was right outside so we could just get right into her car. Jacob was such a good friend to me. I am so glad he was there.

This week at school hasn’t been bad. Things with Austin have settled down. He has gone back to being nice to me and we are talking in class. Jessica usually meets him after class so I just barely look at her and walk right by. I really don’t have time for people like her in my life. Jacob says she’ll 95 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Oh! I meant to ask you – what happened with the guardian angel thing? Are you still stuck being Jason’s guardian angel even though you broke up? Can you switch out of that too? I hope so!

Well, I better get going. WRITE BACK SOON!!!

Your stabbed in the back by a cheerleader pen pal –

Lucy

Monday November 22nd

OMG!!!! I cannot believe that Jessica did that to you!! What a jerk!!! You are right I hope she gets what is coming to her. Plus if Jacob likes someone like her then you are definitely not the girl for him! I cannot believe he doesn’t see right through what she is trying to do! How low down and dirty!! Looks like Allison was

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right not to get along with her! I am so mad! I want to call her myself and tell her what a jerk I think she is! You are definitely doing the right thing and I am so glad that you had Allison and Jacob there to support you! Keep away from her!

Good luck at Regionals!! I know you are going to do great! Hopefully Eric is there to cheer you on! He sounds like he might be a nice guy. Definitely keep me posted.

Things here are good. TJ and I have been talking a lot more. He really is a nice guy. We have a lot in common and I just really enjoy talking to him. The total opposite of Jason! As for guardian angels – thankfully it hasn’t started yet so I don’t have to worry about that! I was still going to do it because I think it is a cool program but I decided that would just be too weird. I don’t want anything to do with him. I am really glad that Jason has been cool lately. He basically just ignores me. And that is okay with me! Being ignored is much better than being

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called a slut all the time! You know that makes me mad when boys call girls a slut! He knows I am not a slut! Why do they get away with that? Plus if a guy has a lot of girlfriends – then he is a player, but a girl is a slut!! You would think in this day and age that people would be a little more inventive when thinking up names to call people. Oh well!

The challenge here has been that I have to spend so much time watching Noah and Sara! It is such a pain! I feel like I am not really enjoying being a teenager because I spend so much time a free babysitter. My parents just assume that I will always be available to watch him. They don’t even ask anymore! They just say – Mary – Tuesday afternoon you need to pick up Noah and Sara at school on your way home. It is such a pain! I don’t know why my mom agreed to let them stay with us when she wasn’t available to take care of them. I don’t remember asking me if I wanted to become a mom! It really makes me so mad!!! I can’t wait until I am old enough to move out or at least get a car. Then they won’t be able to

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just boss me around like that. I fantasize about just saying NO! NO! I won’t pick up Noah and Sara – you decided to have them live here – you take care of them! But I am too chicken. I do like them both – I just don’t like having to be their mom!

OMG!!! You are not going to believe this. I was writing this letter and I got called downstairs to help with dinner. I left the writing pad on my bed. My mom came up to put some laundry on my bed and saw this letter and READ IT!! What a total invasion of my privacy!! I couldn’t believe it! Not only did she read it. She got mad at what she said. She came storming downstairs and started yelling at me about saying that she couldn’t take care of Noah and Sara. I had no idea what she was talking about when she began yelling. My dad actually had to intervene because she was so mad and not making any sense. Finally, it came out that she read the letter. I was so pissed. I stomped upstairs and slammed the door. My dad came up after me and knocked on the door. I tried to tell him I was too mad to talk but he came in anyway. He asked what was going on. I told him about the letter, how

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I feel like I am a mom to Noah and Sara, how I hate that they don’t ask me to babysit – they just tell me and that I am mad that mom invaded my privacy to read the letter. To his credit, he just listened and listened. After I had said everything, he was really quiet and then said you have to speak with your mother about this. I said that I didn’t want to. That he saw how she reacted and that she wouldn’t listen. She was only going to get defensive. He said he would talk to her first. Then we would talk to her together. He did say she said something about someone calling a slut. He asked if they should be worried about that and I told him that was nothing and he had no reason to worry. I am so glad he listened to me!

So he went back downstairs and talked to her. I could hear her yelling every now and then. It took about an hour and he came back up. He said that she had calmed down and was ready to talk. I really didn’t want to go downstairs, but my dad said I had to. I went back downstairs. My mom started by saying she was

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sorry for invading my privacy, that she was sorry she got so angry and was there anything I wanted to discuss with her. I basically just told her everything that the letter said. She started to cry and so did I. She said she didn’t know that I felt that way, that I was right that they had been taking me for granted and that babysitting was interfering with my ability to do “teenage” things. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe she was being so understanding. She went on to say that we are a family and they do need my help if we are going to keep taking care of Noah and Sara. My mom said that if it was a real problem she could talk to people at work about finding a new placement for Noah and Sara. Then I felt terrible!! I didn’t want to send Noah and Sara away – I just didn’t want to take care of them all the time. I told we absolutely should keep Noah and Sara and I just wanted them to ask me first rather than just assuming I was always going to be available. They agreed to ask me first. They asked me if I could commit to two days a week after school watching them. I agreed that I could and I agreed to watch them on Mondays and Tuesdays since my board meetings are on Wednesday and

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Thursday and Friday a lot of people get together after school. I felt so much better after talking to them. I know I was so mad that my mom read the letter, but I think, in the end, it was a good thing. We really cleared the air.

Now we are just getting ready to drive up to Duluth for Thanksgiving. We are going to visit my Dad’s family. They live in the woods and have a huge house. Thanksgiving is so fun because all my cousins are there and there is no fighting over presents. The guys always get up early and go hunting while all the women start getting the food ready. Strangely, the men never shoot anything. (I don’t think they really go hunting. I think they just get up early and go hang out in the woods.) By the time they get home, all the work is done! We eat and then everyone grabs a spot to take a nap! It’s really fun. What do you do for Thanksgiving?

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Well, I better sign off. I want to get this in the mail before my mom reads it again. LOL! Good luck at Regionals and WRITE BACK SOON!!!

Your no longer an underappreciated baby sitter pen pal,

Mary

Monday November 29th

Hello pen pal who will never leave her letters out again!

How are you? Wow!! That was really intense what happened with your parents. I can’t believe your mom read your letter. I would have just died!! It’s not like I do anything bad, but I still don’t want my parents reading all my unfiltered, uncensored thoughts. I am really impressed with the way your dad handled it. It seemed like he really listened and was very thoughtful about how to handle the situation. Plus it sounds like he really calmed down your mom! Well done! I am so glad that you finally got everything out on the table. I know from your letters that having to babysit all the time was getting to be too much. I am so happy you were able to find a compromise with your parents!! YAY! You may be able to have a social life after all. ☺ How is it going? Are they holding to their promise? I hope so!

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Things here have been pretty good. I am still not speaking to Jessica. I get sad about it sometimes because we were just good friends and I did stand up for her a lot. I wonder how I missed her true colors and I am having trouble trusting my judgment with some of my other friends, but I am sure I will get over it. I just really can’t believe that she can turn our friendship on and off like that – like it’s a switch! It is really disturbing, but I try not to let it get me down. I do see her and Austin around school a lot together. I guess they are dating now. Good luck to them! Austin is still polite when I see him in class, but I’ll be glad when this semester is over and I don’t have to see him every day. It is just a reminder that I don’t need. But that’s all old news!

The new exciting news is that we won Regionals!!!! We are going to State!!! It is unbelievable! Our high school team has never won regionals before. It’s so exciting. The meet went really really well. We all came together as a team and everyone stepped up. Half of the team had personal bests – including me! Even better was that Allison, Jacob and my parents were all there to cheer me on! Allison and Jacob even made signs. It was so fun to come around the turns and see them all there. It really made the day even more exciting. Eric was also there cheering on the members of his team. He smiled at me. It was pretty cute. He did come over after the race to congratulate me and give me a HUG!! Michael gave me the dirtiest look, but I didn’t care. I was too excited from winning, having everyone there and then Eric coming over. I think I really like Eric. He is a really nice guy. He makes me laugh and he has been really good about texting me and sending me good wishes for all my practices and Regionals. He even asked if I wanted to go out to lunch with him and some of his teammates after Regionals, but I already had plans with Allison, Jacob and my parents. Allison and Jacob totally think he likes me. They said that he was looking at me when I was talking to my coach and he had a little smile on his face! So cute! We’ll see what happens. I just wish he 104 © 2010 Angela Lusk

went to my school! Since I am not allowed to ride with teenagers and I don’t have a car, it makes it a little hard for us to get together. Plus since my parents do not let me date at all we would have to get a whole group together and not going to the same school makes that even harder!! Though, he hasn’t officially asked me out on a date yet so we’ll see. I know I can ask him out, but I just don’t want to. I must be super old-fashioned, but I think a guy should ask a girl out. Both Allison and Jacob think that is the stupidest thing ever and I should ask him, but I can’t. I am such a chicken. I think I would have fit in much better in the 1890s – I watch all those old movies like Little Women and Sense and Sensibility and it sounds good to me. Well, expect for the dying from a simple cold stuff, that would kind of suck. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah – I am waiting for him to ask me out and it looks like I am going to be waiting for a very long time. ☺

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you have a good time with all your cousins? I don’t have very many cousins. My mom’s family lives in Indiana. She just has one sister and her sister has a son who is about five years older than me and that it is it. We usually visit them at Christmas since we see my dad’s family in the summer. Thanksgiving is the holiday where it is just us. Usually we head to a cabin or my dad finally wears my mom down enough that we can rent a place on the ocean, but this year we decided to just stay home. We volunteered at the Holiday Tent for Metropolitan Ministries in downtown Tampa. They put up this big tent during the holidays and needy families can come in and get food and toys for their kids. We volunteered on Wednesday for the whole day. It was pretty interesting. I hadn’t volunteered there before. We went into the tent and they had a bunch of different areas. There was a place for people to register, a place to drop off donations, and then a huge area for sorting food. There was another area that had shelves like a grocery store where people could go and pick out the food they wanted. They got a list of what they could have like: 1 potato, 2 vegetables, etc. I helped sort the food and restock the shelves. Some of the 105 © 2010 Angela Lusk

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Thanksgiving?” We went back to the house, had dinner and then everyone just went to their own rooms. Thankfully, everyone seemed to have cooled off by the next morning.

My dad woke me up with cinnamon rolls – another holiday tradition and we set out preparing the meal. We ate really well and then all fell asleep in front of the TV. I love a good nap after a big meal. On Friday, Allison, Jacob and I went to the mall. We go together every year to check out the sales. It was a little weird to go without Jessica since she is the one who usually organizes the whole thing, but we still had a good time. I didn’t really buy anything. The rest of the weekend went pretty quickly and here we are on Monday. I can’t wait to hear all about your Thanksgiving! I can’t imagine what it is like to have such a big family and such a fun Thanksgiving! What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Mine is definitely green bean casserole! I could eat the whole dish. I am not a big fan of pie though. I would much rather have ice cream or cake! That reminds me – when is your birthday? Mine is March 8th. I can’t wait to finally turn fifteen!! Sometimes being the youngest one in the class is so annoying. It’s especially annoying now because some of the kids in the freshman class are turning fifteen and getting their drivers’ permits! I’ll be a whole year behind!! Oh well!!

Well, I better get going. WRITE BACK SOON!!

Your spoiled brat pen pal who helps the homeless,

Lucy

Friday December 3rd

107 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Hello Regional winning very fast runner friend!

Congrats on winning Regionals!! That is AWESOME! What an accomplishment!! You must be so excited. Good luck at the state championships! I am really glad you are so excited about Eric! He does sound like a really nice guy. I know what you mean about it being hard to hang out – even if your parents would let you. I don’t see why you wouldn’t ask him out. It’s 2010 girl!! We ladies can have it our way too! Though, the thought of asking a guy out is pretty nerve-wracking so it must be really hard for them too! I think I would do it if I really liked a guy and it seemed like he wasn’t going to ask me out anytime soon. I say that now, but we’ll see.

Your Thanksgiving volunteering sounded really intense. That is so cool that your family does that. What a great way to give back. I’ll have to see if there are any

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opportunities like that around here. That sounds like something I would like to do. As for whether or not you did the right thing when you saw your classmate. I can’t really say. I mean, you did what felt right at the time and your heart was in the right place so can it really be all that bad? I get your Dad’s point about how you reacting that way makes it seem like something was wrong with going to the food pantry. But I totally get your point that if it was you, you would be embarrassed. It sucks that it is seen as embarrassing to ask for help. I wish it was different. Actually, I wish all families had the food, shelter and health care that they needed. That would make things a lot better. I just don’t get why it has to be that hard. Maybe that is what I should ask Santa for! LOL!! Seriously, I don’t think you did anything wrong. I have no idea how I would have reacted if I was in your shoes or the other girl’s shoes so I can’t really judge. I am glad that you and your Dad ended up working it out. Do you think you’ll volunteer there again next year?

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My Thanksgiving was a little less drama-free, but not much. We headed up to Duluth. The car ride was a nightmare! Noah and Sara just screamed and fought the whole time! Even my headphones couldn’t block it out. It was a total disaster! We finally got there. The good news was that I could just escape and go hang out with my cousins. I have about three other cousins who are the same age so we usually grab a deck of cards and find a place to hide out. We spent a couple hours playing cards until someone finally found us and made us go help with the food. Those were a good couple of hours.

The dinner went really well. There was a lot of tension but I could’t really figure out why until I overheard two of my aunts talking in the kitchen about how they are mad at my uncle for something he did. I couldn’t really figure out what it was he did, but they really seemed mad. It really put a damper on the whole weekend. Everyone was trying to pretend like everything was okay, but we figured it out pretty easily. Adults are so stupid. I love how they think they can

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trick us. We may be “kids”, but we aren’t idiots. What ended up happening was my cousins and I spent the weekend trying to figure out what was going on. We were sneaking around and trying to overhear what was happening. The best part was when we almost got caught. My aunt yelled at us “Why are you sneaking around?” We quickly said we were playing a game - -a game called the Sneaking Around game. LOL!!! So then for the rest of the weekend we had to keep sneaking around since we said that was our game. It was so ridiculous. We found out no new information, but had to keep pretending. The good part was that if we kept moving, we didn’t have to take care of the little kids. It was nice to have a break from Noah and Sara!

Friday, all the women went shopping. My family has this tradition to get up at four o’clock in the morning to go stand in line for all the early morning sales. The weirdest part is that no one usually buys the special that you have to be there at four a.m. I think everyone just likes to get up early and escape after being in the

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kitchen all day on Thursday. Anyway, this year we got up even earlier because the news said the lines were going to be really long because of the economy. So we got up at 3:00 am!! It was insane. I slept in my clothes so I could sleep five extra minutes. We got in line and just stood there for two hours in the freezing cold! People were really intense. I went to the car once to get an extra pair of gloves and a blanket. When I came back to the line, people were yelling at me because they thought I was cutting. I told them I had been here, but they just kept yelling at me. Finally, my mom had to say something. I was so afraid she was going to get into a fight. She just went over and said that I was her daughter and I had gone to get another blanket because I was freezing. If she had a problem with that, then I would just wait in the car, by myself, freezing if that would get the lady who was yelling to shut up. The lady then felt really bad. My mom’s power of making everyone feel bad and guilty were finally put to good use! LOL! After we were all done, we stopped for hot chocoloate. I have never been so thankful for a thermos of hot chocolate.

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After we go shopping, we all head out to breakfast at a local diner. They have the BEST pancakes and bacon!! I do not understand how anyone could be a vegetarian. Bacon is soooo good!! Oops –I guess I had a little tangent there! We have breakfast and then head home to take long naps in front of the tv or the fire. I complained a lot, but secretly I kind of like it and I would be sad if we stopped doing it. I like having traditions – even silly ones that include getting up at three o’clock in the morning. I would happy if we all just went to breakfast – at a reasonable time. LOL!

Luckily, the ride home was a lot less eventful. Noah and Sara slept the whole time. I totally fell asleep as well. That was one good nap! LOL! When I woke up, I saw I had a text message from TJ. He was checking to see how my Thanksgiving was. His parents are divorced so he had to go back and forth between his mom and his dad. He said that kind of sucked because they just

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want to talk about each other. I am so glad that I don’t have to deal with that. Things aren’t always perfect at home, but having my parents together is something I do not take for granted, especially since so many of my friends have divorced parents. I called TJ as soon as we got home. He was doing pretty good. He said the sweetest thing – he said that with all the stress of having to deal with his parents, I was the first person he wanted to talk to. Then he asked me out!!!! YAY!!! He asked me out on an official date for Wednesday night. I am so excited!!! My parents were a little nervous about letting me ride in his car, but since we were only going to a local restaurant it would be okay. Plus he got me home safely from that terrible party – so that earns him a lot of points. Part of the reason is that you can’t do anything in this town without someone noticing! It is like my parents had a million spies all reporting back to them.

But before the big date, I had to deal with some friend drama. Lately, Ann and Maria have been really distant. I am not sure what the deal is. I sat down with

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them at lunch on Monday to see how their Thanksgiving went and they basically just ignored. I would say something and it was like I wasn’t even there! I even told them about TJ asking me out and they didn’t care! I was so hurt. I left and went to study hall. Later, I called Ann and asked what was up. She totally denied ignoring me at lunch and then said something like “we can’t just talk about you all the time.” I don’t even know what that means or what I could have possibly done to make them mad!! This is so frustrating!!! I thought we were really becoming friends. The worst part is that we still have to work together to finish the diversity component of orientation. I don’t know what I am going to do!

The worst part was when I tried to talk to Marisa about it and she basically ignored me too!! She said that she was pissed that I ditched her for Ann and Maria and now that things weren’t working out with them, I wanted to be her friend again. I think she was partly right, but if she really wanted to hang out with me, should could have called – right? Why is it on me to carry the friendship? I

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am so annoyed! I tried to tell her that I didn’t ditch her. It was just that I was super busy with Youth Leadership program, the diversity committee, and taking care of Noah and Sara. She was not having it. We had a full on fight on Tuesday. I was crying. She was crying. I had to finally hang up and tell her I would talk to her about it tomorrow because I just couldn’t take it anymore. How am I suddenly the bad guy? I went from having three really good friends to none in two days. WTF?? I woke up Wednesday morning – all puffy and gross and I had to get ready for my big date with TJ. What perfect timing! Unbelievable!

TJ was definitely the highlight of this week from hell. He came and picked me up about six. He was so sweet. He came up to the door and even held open the car door for me. We got to the restaurant. It was so awkward because everyone looked up when we walked in. Damn small town! I was definitely nervous when I sat down. I was surprised because things with TJ are usually so fun and comfortable. I think he was a little nervous because we both just kept giggling. It

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was so weird. Finally we just settle down and starting talking like normal. It was really good. At one point, he kind of held my hand over the table. I am sure I turned bright red because it felt like electricity just shot up my arm. We just looked at each other. We finished up. He went to drive me home. On the way, he pulled off on one of the side roads and stopped the car. I was like what is going on.? I felt so nervous!! It was like when you go on a roller coaster and right before the big drop where you can feel your stomach in your throat. That is how I felt. He just looked at me and said, I really want to kiss you, but I don’t want to do it in front of your house. Would it be alright if I kissed you? I just nodded and we kissed. I couldn’t believe he asked permission!! That was kind of weird and kind of sweet all at the same time. It was a GREAT kiss. I definitely want to kiss him again. I was so relieved he didn’t push things. I was not ready to start making out on side roads in his car. I was still pretty nervous about the whole thing. He started the car back up. He drove me home and walked me to the door and gave me a big hug. He said he would see me at school tomorrow and left. I think I

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floated in the house. My parents asked how it went and I told them it was great and TJ was a perfect gentleman. That seemed to make my parents very happy.

The next day at school, TJ made my day! He showed up at my locker in the morning with a rose!! I couldn’t believe it. Then he asked if I wanted him to skip class so he could sit with me at lunch. I had told him all about what happened with Ann, Maria and Marisa and he wanted to make sure I had someone to sit with. It was so sweet of him. I told him I had arranged to have lunch in the library and help out with re-shelving so he didn’t have to worry about me. That was so nice of him. Thursday was a much better day. I am still not ready to talk to Marisa again and Ann and Maria are still giving me the cold shoulder, but I have to stay strong. I have TJ and I am sure I will make new friends. I am looking into what clubs I could join to help with that. Taking care of Noah and Sara adds a wrinkle to that, but some of them only meet once a week after school so that could work.

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I am still pretty upset about the whole thing, but there is not much I can do about it.

Well, I better go! Good luck at State! I know you are going to do AWESOME!! Run Lucy Run! LOL! WRITE BACK SOON!

Your library lovin’ loser pen pal

Mary

PS My birthday is June 18th ☺

Thursday December 9th

HEY LADY!

119 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Quit talking about my pen pal that way! You are not a loser!! Ann, Marie and Marisa suck!! You are awesome. Don’t sweat it. I think Ann and Marie have to jealous that you got the recognition for your hard work on the Diversity Committee or that TJ asked you out. Why else would they act so weird all of a sudden? You are right – it just doesn’t make any sense. Hopefully they will come to their sense and apologize. Even if they do – you should figure out if you even want to be friends with girls like that. That better be a good apology!! ☺

As for Marisa, she definitely misses you. I kind of understand how she could feel that way, but you are right friendship is a two way street. If she really missed you, she could have called you. I really hope you are able to work things out with her. There is something to be said for people who have known you since you were little. Hopefully she realizes she is being shortsighted. Keep me posted!!

As for TJ – WOW!!! That is really exciting! It sounds like a fantastic first date!! I would have been so nervous too. I can’t believe he even offered to skip class so you wouldn’t have to eat lunch alone. That is so sweet. Not great for his academic future, but still very sweet. Have you gone out again? Has he called you his girlfriend? I must know!! I am so happy for you!

Things here have been really busy. Last weekend was the State Championships. We drove up to Tallahassee. Since it is about five hours away, we left on Friday and spent the night at hotel before the meet on Saturday. I roomed with one of the seniors. She is really cool. When we got there on Friday, we all went out to dinner. Michael sat next to me and was being really nice – like suspiciously nice. He even patted me on the arm a couple times and laughed at all my jokes. After dinner, we were all walking back to the hotel and he tried to hold my hand. Finally, I was like, “What are you doing?” He acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about. I said, “What is the deal? 120 © 2010 Angela Lusk

You all of a sudden are super nice and flirting and trying to hold my hand after basically ignoring me for weeks.” He was totally shocked that I called him out on his crazy ass behavior and just started stuttering. Then he just looked at me. I was like, What? And he kissed me. Yes, he kissed me. In front of the whole team, walking down a street in the middle of Madison, Wisconsin. Now I was the one who was shocked. Thankfully it was short kiss or I may have died of embarrassment! The kiss was okay. I couldn’t even concentrate because I was so worried about what everyone would say. I had no idea what to do. We stopped kissing and just stood there. I think I said something like, “Well, okay, we should get back to the hotel.” But this time when Michael tried to grab my hand, I let him. I have no idea why. This guy asked me on a date, then me ignored and now all of a sudden wants to hold my hand and kiss me. And I let him. It is all so confusing. I don’t even know if I really like him.

Obviously this was not want I needed the night before state championships! I tried to get some sleep, but I was totally out of it in the morning. I just felt off. I ran well, but I really needed a personal best to win. The coach was happy with my performance. It was good experience for next year. Next year – I will definitely not kiss a boy on a city street as preparation for the biggest meet of my athletic career. LOL! I was so glad my parents and Michael’s parents came to watch so that I didn’t have to ride back with Michael. On Sunday, Michael just showed up at my house. He looked so nervous. He just stood there in the doorway. I finally said, “Do you want to take a walk?” He said yes. And again, I asked, “What is the deal?” He said that he likes me and he has liked me for a while, but he knew I liked Austin. Once he found out that Jessica and Austin were dating, it took me a while to work up the courage to make a move. I said that making a move the night before the state championships may not have been the best idea. He laughed and said, yeah, but if he didn’t do it then – he wasn’t going to do it. I understood that. Then I asked, “what now?” He said 121 © 2010 Angela Lusk

that maybe we should try that date again. I told him that I wasn’t allowed to date until I was sixteen, but as long as we acted like we were just friends when other people were around then my parents probably won’t care. Plus my parents have been totally preoccupied lately so it would be pretty easy. He agreed to keep it cool in front of my family. Then he kissed me again. This time was WAY better. He is actually a pretty good kisser. I am so glad. I guess he wasn’t as nervous or something. We walked back to the house and he said he would see me tomorrow at school.

I immediately ran home and called Allison and Jacob. They came right over. They totally do not understand what I see in him. They are right in that the last time he did this, he just ignored me afterwards so I should be careful, but I am definitely going to take it slow. He’s a nice guy. I think he is cute and that is all that matters. I am deciding to marry him right now. I am just decided that I like kissing him and holding his hand. LOL!! If it gets more serious than that – we will have to reevaluate. It does raise a question what I am going to do about Eric. He has still be texting me, but he hasn’t asked me out. I think that makes us just friends. What do you think? If he liked me, it would have definitely asked me out by now. Allison and Jacob think I should hold out for Eric since he is older and from a different school, but I really don’t care. I like Michael for now. What’s that crazy old saying? A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush? Love the one you’re with? LOL! I am so corny!! Anyway, they left and I had a nice dinner with my parents.

This week at school so far has been great! Michael and I ride the bus together in the morning, he sits by me at lunch and then we ride the bus home together. We have been hanging out after school doing homework together. I have to be careful though and not abandon Jacob and Allison so I told him we can only hang on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and that Jacob and Allison get

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Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and I get Sunday all to myself! A girl needs her alone time! I think everyone is happy with this arrangement, but it keeps my parents from getting too suspicious.

I am not sure what to do with all this free time now that Cross Country is done. I am thinking about volunteering in the training room for the winter and spring sports. I though the whole thing was so interesting when I hurt my ankle. However, I am not too excited about taping up some of the baseball players’ smelly feet so I better think about this some more! LOL! I have also been considering joining the Drama Club to help with the Spring Production. I wouldn’t act or anything – they need stage managers and people to help build sets and sew costumes. It sounds like it might be fun. I did sign up for drama class next semester to fulfill my arts requirement so we’ll have to see.

Well, I better get going. I still have to finish some reading for English before school. Hope this week is better than the week from hell!! Hang in there and don’t let Ann, Marie and Marisa get you down. You are awesome and they don’t deserve you have a friend like you. (Unless you make up with them – then they totally deserve to have a friend like you. ☺ ) WRITE BACK SOON!

Your boyfriend-havin’, non-State winning, pen pal in Florida

Lucy

Tuesday, December 14th

123 © 2010 Angela Lusk

What’s up my kissing in public pen pal!! You are too funny!! I loved your story about how Michael kissed you. I was cringing when he kissed you right there in front of everyone!! I would have died! DIED! I am glad you were able to work it out. I love your attitude – you are right you are not marrying me so why is everyone so serious! Allison and Jacob just had their heart set on Austin, but they have to see that is not happening. I love that you had to work out a schedule to accommodate everyone. That is so awesome!! Is there a chart or is everyone able to remember? LOL!! I agree with you that you and Eric are just friends. He should have asked you out by now. You are a hot commodity. He can’t expect you to be sitting around waiting for him forever. ☺

I am so sorry you were so distracted for State. That is still pretty impressive that as a freshman you made it. You’ll totally rock it next year!! I think you should join drama club. It sounds like it would be fun to do all the backstage stuff. Stay away from those boys’ dirty sweaty feet!! What did you decide to do?

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Things here are pretty much the same, but thanks for all your words of encouragement. Ann and Marie are still generally ignoring me. We have made a little progress in that they are at least polite when we are working together on the Diversity Committee so that is sooo big of them. (Can you hear the sarcasm?) Things with Marisa continue to be a hot mess. We have a couple more talks, but they didn’t really resolve anything. I see now that I really hurt her feelings, but I have no idea how to make it up to her or get her to trust me again. I think it is just going to be baby steps, baby steps. My mom keeps asking why I am not hanging with Marisa as much. She thinks it is because I am dating TJ so she keeps harping on how I shouldn’t abandon my friends when I have a boyfriend. I don’t want to tell her the truth because I know she will try to get into the middle of it so I just let her keep lecturing me. It’s getting really annoying so I am snapping on her. That makes my dad pissed off so then he yells at me. Yeah, it’s just a party here at home these days!

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TJ is perfect so that makes things a lot easier. We are definitely boyfriend and girlfriend now and everyone at school knows. I have started hanging out a lot more with his group of friend since my friends suck. Most of them are really nice, but I do feel out of place a lot. I have been catching dirty looks from some of the Indian kids at school since TJ is white. I could be imagining it, but I don’t think so. TJ really tries to make sure I feel comfortable and that I know everyone. One of the girls – Emily – has been really really nice. She is the girlfriend of TJ’s best friend Trace. Isn’t Trace a crazy name? And it is his real name!! I thought it was a nickname – nope – his parents really named him that! The four of us hang out a lot and Emily is always really chill. She is no drama so we have a really good time together. This Christmas Break I think we will all be hanging out a lot. The boys want to go snowshoeing and cross country skiing so that should be fun. Those are definitely my favorite activities to do during the winter. I start to go

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crazy if I have to stay inside too much! It’s such a bummer that it gets dark so early!

What are your plans for Christmas break? I don’t think we are going to drive back up to Duluth since Thanksgiving was so tense. I think my mom said something about having Christmas here with us all together. It’ll be nice not having to endure another nightmare car ride, but I will miss seeing my cousins. My parents have been really stressed lately – and not just because of me. I wonder what’s going on. I asked my mom and my dad and they both told me not to worry about it so that definitely means there is something to worry about. Because if there wasn’t something to worry about, they would have just told me what it was. I wish parents would just tell the truth! I am not a child- I can handle it! Hopefully whatever it is, they will figure it out before Christmas so everyone can just relax.

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Well, I better go. Sorry this one is so short, but not much to report. WRITE BACK SOON!

Your dirty look gettin’ pen pal,

Mary

Monday, December 20th

Hey winter lovin’, snow shoe wearin’ pen pal!

I AM FREE!! I am on Christmas break right now and I am loving it!! No school! Yippee!! Plus the weather here has been fantastic! Not to rub it in, though I think you seem to like winter. Crazy!! I can’t imagine living where it is so cold. It hits fifty degrees here and I think my nose if going to freeze right off my face!! LOL!

I don’t have a lot of plans for Christmas break besides hanging out with my friends according to the schedule (and no, we don’t need a chart! LOL!) Luckily, Allison, Jacob and Michael all get along really well so the four of us have been able to hang out a lot. 128 © 2010 Angela Lusk

We leave really early Thursday morning to drive up to Indianapolis to see my family. It’s a sixteen hour drive. I may die of boredom. I am loading up my iPod with entire series of TV Shows and I am still only at 12 hours of entertainment. Hopefully I will be able to sleep for some of it. We come home on Sunday. My parents take turns driving and like to go straight through. They both get so tired that they spend the last two hours arguing, but it seems to work for them. Thank God for headphones and a car charger!

The big question is what we are going to do for New Year’s Eve. One of the juniors on the cross country team is having a party and invited Michael and I. Of course, my parents want to call her parents to make sure they are going to be there. I feel like such a dork having to ask her about that so I haven’t decided if it is worth it or if I should just convince a New Year’s Eve with the four of us would be good. Though again my parents would make the girls sleep upstairs and the guys sleep downstairs. They are SO STRICT! I am still thinking about. I don’t even know if the girl’s parents are going to be home. Michael just told me about yesterday so we’ll have to discuss!

I also have to figure out my New Year’s Resolutions – do you make resolutions? I make them every year. I don’t think I have followed them yet. LOL! It is going to take some hard work to figure ones I could actually accomplish this year. Maybe I’ll resolve to stop smoking or to brush my teeth everyday. I am already done. Yippeee!! LOL!

Well, I better go. Michael and I are headed for a run this afternoon. Have a fantastic Christmas!! WRITE BACK SOON!

129 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Your stuck in a prison car for 16 hours pen pal,

Lucy

Wednesday December 29th

Hello from the frigid north, my friend schedulin’, sunshine lovin’ pen pal –

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I hope you had an awesome holiday!

IT IS COLD! It is so cold here – even snow shoeing and cross country skiing can only be done for very short periods of time! We are spending a lot of time with hot chocolate in front of the fire!

Christmas was good. We had a lot of fun. Noah and Sara were so fun to watch. Everything was so exciting for them!! It turned out to be really smart that we didn’t go anywhere because we had a big snowstorm so we all just snuggled up
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together in the house. I thought I would get cabin fever but it was actually fun. My dad, mom and I would play games and cards or watch movies after the kids went to bed. I know it sounds lame but I really had fun. TJ was out of town with his family but he texted me a lot. It was so sweet. I got some good present – new clothes, a new journal and a Kindle. I am pretty excited about the Kindle. I think I’ve read five books already – I know, I know, I am such a nerd! Did you get everything you wanted?

TJ and I decided to exchange gifts after Christmas. I was so nervous. I had no idea what to get him!! Boys are so hard to shop for! I had my mom take me to the mall. I found a great watch at Macy’s and decided that would be it. My mom thought it was “A bit much”, but I did not care. Of course after I bought it – I totally stressed that it was the wrong thing and he would hate it. I even considered getting something else – but I ran out of time. I even looked up “what to buy your sophomore boyfriend of two months” online but google was not very helpful!

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Anyway – he came over. He had a small box too so I felt much better when I saw that. I gave him his present and we agreed to open it at the same time. He got me an awesome necklace!! It’s silver chain that has a square pendant with a blue stone in the middle. I love it!! He loved his watch too! He said he had wanted a new one but wasn’t sure which one to get. I am so glad!!!

The big issue was what I was going to do for New Year’s Eve. Usually, Marisa and I go to a movie and then she comes over here to spend the night and we play games with my parents until midnight and have a sparkling cider toast. I guess we aren’t doing that considering we aren’t ten anymore and we aren’t speaking to each other. TJ asked what I wanted to do. His family usually goes out for Chinese food and then his aunt and uncle come over and they all hang out and play games. He invited them to join me. I don’t know why but I thought I should just hang with my parents, Noah and Sara instead. I am not quite ready to give up on at least the family part of New Year’s Eve. I think I am going to text

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Marisa to see if she still wants to go to a movie – just to see what she says. I keep hoping she will come around. If she says no, then I’ll just hang with my family. It will be fun.

I have been thinking about my resolutions even since you mentioned it. I haven’t really made resolutions before, but it seems like a fun idea so here we go: 1. Eat more healthy foods 2. Be a great girlfriend to TJ 3. Be more patient – especially with Noah and Sara 4. Make some new friends 5. Get a better grade in Spanish 6. Learn to knit

I heard that a lot of stars knit to help pass the time and that sounds like a good way to help pass the time while Noah and Sara are watching their cartoons. I

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can’t use the computer or my cell phone because as soon as they see it, they want to use it. What about you? What did your resolutions end up being? How was the long drive to Indianapolis? Did you have a good time with your family? Did you get to go to the New Year’s Eve party? I HAVE TO KNOW!! ☺

Well, TJ is coming over soon to help me shovel out the driveway. My parents said if I shoveled I wouldn’t have to watch Noah and Sara this afternoon so I am all over that. Luckily, TJ agreed to help me! Hopefully it will warm up enough today we can do something outside. WRITE BACK SOON!!

Your first time resolution makin’ , freezing my butt off pen pal

Mary

Wednesday January 5th

Well hello my game playin’ hot chocolate drinkin’ pen pal – 134 © 2010 Angela Lusk

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! ?How are you? How was your New Year’s? Did Marisa get her head out of her ass and call you back? I hope so!! Is this new year treating you well? Things here are good.

The drive to Indianapolis was SO LONG!! I thought I might die of boredom at least ten times. We had a nice visit though. My aunt and uncle and cousin were there as well as my grandma. We had a very nice visit. Lots of card playing. I may have been a little too competitive and thrown a temper tantrum once or twice. LOL!!! I tried to blame it on teenage girl hormones, but my dad said it was just bad manner. Oops. Luckily they didn’t stay mad for too long. I got a lot of nice gifts – mostly clothes and a new iPod Touch. I was pretty excited. I spent the whole drive home just playing with it. It’s pretty cool!

The whole New Year’s Eve thing was such a disaster!! So much drama for such little fun! Michael and I talked about it. Allison, Jacob and I talked about it. Allison and Jacob were pissed that I didn’t automatically say no when Michael invited me to the party since we always spend New Year’s Eve together. Michael was pissed that if I was going to go, I had to get the junior girl’s parents involved since my parents were so strict. I was pissed at all of them for being pissed at me. I was so mad that I didn’t even want to talk to anyone so I just didn’t answer my phone or texts the whole time I was in Indianapolis. They were too busy being pissed to even wish me a Merry Christmas!! I was also really annoyed at Michael because I got him a present and he didn’t get me one!! I bought him this really cool computer program we had seen to help track your runs and chart courses and everything. He was so excited when I gave it to him, but he had NOTHING for me. Not even a card. So that plus all the crap I was getting over New Year’s Eve - I was OVER it!

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Then, my parents asked what I was doing for New Year’s and I snapped at them because the whole thing was very annoying. Then they got pissed at me for snapping at them and grounded me for New Year’s. Awesome. Guess I didn’t have to make any choices. It actually turned out to be a good thing. The junior girl’s party got busted by the cops because she had a ton of people there drinking and making all kinds of noise. Luckily Michael snuck out the back and ran all the way home. Guess being on the cross country team can come in handy once in a while. LOL!! Allison and Jacob didn’t really do anything because they both rely on me to come up with all the fun idea. I ended up just hanging out with my mom and dad watching movies and eating tons of food. I guess gorging is the new way to ring in the new year! The extra time did help me figure out my new year’s resolutions. Here were my first ones: 1. Find a new boyfriend 2. Find new friends 3. Find new parents

LOL!!! I don’t think I’ll be implementing any of those any time soon! After I cooled off, I came up with some better ones: 1. Join a new club or activity 2. Volunteer more 3. Run at least four times per week in the offseason 4. Learn to drive 5. Eat less. 6. Do not abandon my friends for a boy – even Michael

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These should be a little easier to fill!! We have been back at school for a couple days. I love my new schedule. I don’t have to see Austin anymore, but Jessica is in my Biology class so that should be interesting. She totally ignored me the first day so if that is how she is going to play it that is fine. I can play it that way too. I think she is still dating Austin. Good for her. (Did you hear the sarcasm there? I hope so.) The rest of classes seem to be pretty good. I like the drama class. It’s a little weird. The teacher is really informal. He talks to us like we are friends or something and the assignments so far have been about feelings. Like – think about a time when you were sad: how did you feel – both physically and mentally? What did your face look like? What did your body look like? Then you have to perform it in front of the class. They also are talking about the auditions for the Spring Play. They wanted to do Spring Awakenings, but the PTA protested and said it was too racy for a high school production. I think those parents are in denial. If they only knew what their kids were doing and talking about every day, Spring Awakenings would be a G rated cartoon compared to that. Instead we are going to do Wicked. I think I am going to sign up for drama club and for a stage manager position. I told Jacob and Allison about it – but they are not interested at all. Allison is really busy with band and Jacob is really busy with our Math team. I think it will be good for him to find something of my own to do. Michael just shrugged when I told him about it. I really wish I could figure out what he is thinking!!! I ask him but he just shrugs. Oh well.

It’s been cold here – a whole fifty degrees. LOL!! I am sure you are jealous! ☺ I wish you could come visit. That would be so fun!! Well, I better go. I still have to figure how “surprised” feels. LOL!! WRITE BACK SOON!!

Your very dramatic pen pal

137 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Lucy

Tuesday January 11th

Do you have to be wicked to work on Wicked? LOL!!! I can’t believe what a disaster your New Year’s Eve was!! That is crazy. At least it all worked out in the end!! That party definitely sounds like trouble. I love your resolutions – both sets. LOL!! Finding new parents may be very difficult! I am glad your new classes are going well. Jessica is so crazy, but you are right that if she is going to play it that way, then the only choice you have is to play it that way too. Hopefully it doesn’t become a problem.

New Year’s Eve here was pretty interesting. TJ and I decided to spend it apart so he could hang out with his family. Plus I did want to spend some time with my family. As I told you, I sent Marisa a text to invite her to a movie and over to my house after. She did not respond at all so I went ahead and made plans with my

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parents. We rented a couple movies that Noah and Sara could watch with us and bought a lot of fun snack foods. About 7:00 pm, there was a knock at the door. We all looked at each other because we weren’t expecting anyone. My dad went to see who it was. He came back in with a weird look on his face and Marisa right behind him. I swear my jaw hit the floor and I turned bright red. I was shocked. I mean, I know I invited her but when I didn’t hear from her, I just figured that she was still mad at me. I said hi really quietly. My mom and dad said they had to go check on Noah and Sara and left us alone. We just kind of looked at each other for a while. Then Marisa said, “Is it okay that I came?” I said, “Yeah, but I am little surprised since you didn’t text me back.” Marisa said, “Yeah, I didn’t know what to say, but I was thinking about it today and I got sad that we weren’t going to be together. After all, we have done this like every year since third grade.” I said, “Yeah. I know what you mean.” Then it was quiet, like, forever and I finally said, “Do you want to watch a movie or something?” She said sure and we headed into the family room. We started watching a movie and my parents came down to

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watch with us. After the movie, we made some food and played a couple board games. At midnight we had our sparkling cider toast. At first, it was really awkward having Marisa there, but after a while it was just like old times. We were laughing and giggling. My parents went to bed and we stayed up, catching up on everything. She had heard about TJ, but I hadn’t heard that she had a new boyfriend, Kurt. He goes to another school. She really likes him. We talked a little bit about Ann and Marie, but it seemed a little too much too soon. I think we are going to have to avoid that subject for a while or maybe forever. I am just really glad that she wanted to come over and hang out.

We slept in super late in the morning. Then TJ called to see what I was doing. I told him Marisa was over and he was just as surprised as I had been. He invited both of us over to his house since her parents were having an open house. Marisa called her parents and my parents said it was okay. We went over there. It was so much fun. His house was packed with his parents, his parents’ friends,

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and some of our friends from school. We had a blast just hanging out, watching tv, and we even went outside and made a snowman and snow angels. It was a fantastic way to start the new year. I think this year is going to be amazing. Things are really good with Marisa again. TJ is awesome. I finally reached a good place with my parents and our arrangement for taking care of Sara and Noah. The Youth Leadership program is really coming together. I just feel so good and so happy about how everything is working out.

Being back at school has been pretty good. Ann and Maria still have their heads up their butt – but I honestly don’t even notice anymore. The big news is that we got the teachers to agree to do special programs for Reverend Martin Luther King Jr Day. Each class is going to incorporate something about Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. during that week. It’s going to be really cool. I am not really sure how it is going to work in Math and Biology, but I am sure they will figure out something. This is the first year that that school has actually done anything real

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for Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I am really excited. It feels like all my hard work on the Diversity Committee is finally starting to show results. I am still trying to convince the principal to do a special assembly, but I don’t think he is going to go for it. Just getting him to agree to ask the teachers to include Martin Luther King Jr. in the curriculum was a huge headache. I had to go around and get a bunch of teachers to agree to do it before I could even ask him. Adults can be a real pain! Anyway it’s done now so hopefully we can pull it off.

Other than that – nothing else has really been going on. My classes this semester are good so far. I never really know until I get the first assignment back how tough they are going to be so we’ll have to see. Hope things are still good with you! I can’t wait to hear about what happens with the Drama Club so WRITE BACK SOON!!

Your snow angel makin’ super happy pen pal,

142 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Mary

Monday January 17th

Well hello my walkin’ on sunshine pen pal! That is one of my favorite songs!! An oldie but a goodie!! I am listening to it over and over again on my new iPod Touch. Did I tell you I got an iPod touch? Love it! ☺

I am so happy to hear that everything is going so well. I am totally shocked that Marisa just showed up at your house. Wow!! I don’t really know what to say. I can see how you were stunned. I would have been too. I am glad you were able to work things out. Hopefully you guys can put this behind you.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at your school sounds incredible. Way to go!! You have made such a difference on your diversity committee. That is really really cool. I can’t believe you had to do all that just to get your principal to agree. Wait, actually I can. Old people just don’t like change. At our school – we don’t do anything for Martin Luther King Jr. day. We have the day off, but there aren’t any programs – just a couple bulletin boards and our homeroom teacher hands out the “I have a dream” speech and that is it. It is actually kind of sad. I wish we did more, but we know how well things worked out when I tried to start a diversity committee. No sense in beating my head against the wall some more. 143 © 2010 Angela Lusk

I finally did it. I joined the drama club. I am helping backstage with the production of Wicked. It is a ton of work!! First, everyone has to learn the music, then the script, then the choreography and how the show is going to look. Right now, I basically just write down everything the Director, my drama teacher, says. I guess it is called “blocking.” We mark out where everyone is supposed to stand at each part. I get totally confused on which is stage left, stage right, upstage, downstage because it’s from the actor’s perspective, but I am always sitting in the audience! Plus the director will say something like move left – meaning his left – but I am supposed to right down stage right. I’m glad that we go over it a couple times so I can check my work! The Director is quite a yeller and I don’t want him yelling at me!

The whole process is pretty funny because no one can remember anything- not where they are supposed to be, the lyrics to their songs and definitely not their lines. It’s amazing to think this will eventually become a whole show! So far, I really like it, but I am still getting used to it. Everyone is really nice, but they aren’t too interested in being good friends. They all have their own cliques and I am definitely on the outside of that. They will say hi to me and everything, but when they are all chatting they break up when I approach. Hopefully it will get better as I am around them more. I am clearly an outsider. I don’t dress like they do. I don’t talk about the things they like to talk about and they all know each other so well since they did shows together in middle school. I feel bad now that I didn’t go see any of the shows. I just didn’t even think of it. If your school puts on plays and musicals, you should go! Consider this a public service announcement. LOL!

The only real problem is with Michael. He thinks all the people in the drama club are huge nerds and totally makes fun of them – even when they can hear us! It is so annoying. I just tell him over 144 © 2010 Angela Lusk

and over to shut up but it doesn’t always work. No wonder they don’t want to be friends!! I just can’t believe how rude he is being!! Sure, some of the kids are kind of weird – dark cloaks, trench coats, weird hair, weird makeup, lots of piercings, but they are really nice. Who cares what they look like if they are nice?? They are way nicer than some of HIS friend. I don’t make fun of his friends and he shouldn’t make fun of mine. I have talked to him about it, but I don’t think he got how serious I was. I am going to have to say something again. I just wish he would keep his mouth shut. GRRRR!!!!! BOYS!! I mean if he likes me – wouldn’t he care about this type of thing? I guess not!

Even worse, I made the mistake of telling Allison and Jacob about this and now they think I should break up with him. They haven’t liked him since I started dating him and this just adds fuel to the fire. They would be so happy if I dumped him. That is not helpful! It’s really frustrating. I can’t talk to them about him because they will use and turn whatever I say to try to get me to break up with him. I obviously can’t talk to my parents since I am not supposed to be dating. That doesn’t really leave anyone else. Thank goodness for you!! I would go crazy if I couldn’t write to you about all this! You are responsible to saving my sanity! LOL! It’s a big job! LOL! Well, I am going to say something to him again and I’ll keep you posted on what happens. Hopefully he will say he is sorry and never ever do it again. Yeah…. A girl can dream!

Anyway, I better get going – homework calls. I have a ton of work to do since drama club has been taking up so much of my time. French is kicking my ass! I have to do really well though because there is a rumor that the French teacher is leading a trip to France this summer, but you have to have at least a B to be able to go. I think that would be so amazing so off to parlez francois I go! WRITE BACK SOON!

145 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Your pen pal with a boyfriend that just won’t shut up!!

Lucy

Saturday January 22nd

Well, I hope your boyfriend has learned to shut up by now!! LOL!! You are so funny! The situation isn’t funny though. I can’t believe how insensitive Michael is being. These are your new friends and he should be more accepting of that. I really hope he listens to you and starts to act better. You are totally right that just because they look different doesn’t mean they aren’t nice. No one deserves to be made fun of. I know it must be hard for you since Allison and Jacob aren’t his biggest fans, but maybe they have a point? If Michael isn’t take into account your feelings, then maybe he just isn’t the guy for you. I hope by the time you get this letter that things are better, that he listened to you and stop acting like such a jerk.

146 © 2010 Angela Lusk

I am super busy this semester. The Martin Luther King Jr program went really well. Most of the teachers participated and it got a very good reaction. In a couple of my classes, people said that they learned things they never knew about Martin Luther King Jr so that was a huge success. A couple of teachers even thanked me for working so hard to make this happen. I felt really good. I can’t believe that your school does nothing. That is a real shame. I wish more people would use it as an opportunity to learn more or at least open their mind. I guess there is always next year.

The Youth Leadership program is really coming together. I really like being on the board. The other board members are really supportive and open to my ideas. They have even asked me to go to other schools and talk about the program to try to get students to apply. My principal agreed that I could miss a couple days of school to do it as long as I kept up on my homework. So starting next week, one of the board members and I are going to go to the local schools and I’ll give

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a presentation. I am super nervous about it, but I think it is a great opportunity! My parents are really excited and impressed about it too. I actually heard my dad bragging about it on the phone the other night. That was pretty cool. I can’t wait to go and see the other schools. Hopefully I can get more people to participate.

Well, I better go. I have a ton of work to do so I can take a couple days off next week for my “tour”. LOL!!

Just call me rock star! ☺

Mary

Saturday January 29th

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What’s up Rock Star!! I hope your schools visits were awesome! I am sure you did a great job and recruited a lot of people to apply to the program. That is so exciting!! I am glad they are recognizing all your hard work.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend has not learned to shut up. Things with Michael have been very very tense. I have been spending a lot of time with the drama club working on the production. I think he is jealous because it is taking so much of my time. He is still making snide comments when I talk about people from the drama club. It is driving me insane. Now I just shut down whenever he starts to do it. It makes for a real good time. I have tried to talk to him, but it is like I am invisible. I don’t even want to spend time with him. I think we have reached the point where I just need to break up with him. I know I have to do it, but I really don’t want to. I get to the point where I am ready to do it, but then he will do something really sweet and just reel me back in. I feel like a yo-yo! We are supposed to hang out later today so we’ll see how it goes. This is just so frustrating.

Things with Allison have approved since I acknowledged that I need to break up with Michael. I have no idea what is going with Jacob. He has been so distant. He doesn’t want to hang out. He doesn’t want to talk. He just seems so down. I think he might be depressed so I am not sure what to do about it. I have tried to talk to him about it, but he just shrugs and says he is fine. I talked to my parents about it and they said I was doing the best that I could. I guess that is all I can do. Things are just rough here right now. I am very grateful that I have the drama club to escape all of this. And you of course! I am so grateful for your friendship! Who would have thought that a pen pal assignment would have turned out so well!

Well, I better go. WRITE BACK SOON!!! 149 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Off to break up with my boyfriend THIS SUCKS!

Lucy

Thursday February 3rd

Lucy!!! I wish I could just fly down to Florida and give you a big hug!! I am so sorry things are so rough for you right now. Hang in there! You and I both know that you are doing the right thing by breaking up with Michael. You deserve so much more. If he can’t respect what you are doing or the people you want to be friends with – then he will never respect you. My mom said that when you are looking for a boyfriend, you should follow these rules: 1. He needs to respect you 2. You need to respect him 3. You need to have things you like to do in common 4. You should have similar values

150 © 2010 Angela Lusk

It really sounds like while you have a lot of things in common, you definitely don’t respect him or have similar values. He needs his butt kicked right out of the door!! I hope you were able to work up the nerve to do it. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it must have been. It does totally suck!! You are strong girl!! I hope he will be mature about things and not make your life a total hell during cross country. Actually, I am pretty sure you could make his life hell right back. LOL!

How are things with Jacob? I really hope he came around. It is so hard when one of your friends is going through a hard time and there is nothing you can do to help. I guess all you can do it just try to be there for them. But I agree it is really frustrating. What do think is wrong with him? Is something wrong at home? At school? I hope you were able to figure out the mystery.

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The Youth Leadership visits went pretty well. Of course, I was freaked out every morning about what to wear. I think I tried on ten different outfits each morning!! I didn’t want the other schools’ students to think that I was a total nerd!! The first one I was super nervous and messed up a little bit. The board member was really nice. She totally stepped in and helped saved me when I lost my train of thought. In the car on the way to the next school, she helped me with my speech and had me practice it a couple times. I was so much better at the next school. We got a ton of applications. At one of the schools, a couple people even came up to me afterward and wanted to talk more about the program. It was really cool.

Things with TJ have been really good – a little too good. The last couple times we hung out he has been trying to hook up more and more. I had to finally say something. I thought I was going to throw up. I just said that I really liked him, but I wasn’t going to have sex until I was eighteen and that if sex was that important to him, we should probably just break up. Then it was quiet. He did not say one

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word. I was totally freaking out! I looked at him and he was smiling. All he said was okay. I was like – okay WHAT?? Are we breaking up? Are you okay with no sex? WHAT?? He laughed and told me to breathe! I tried to breathe, but it was a little hard to breath not knowing if we were going to break up or not. LOL! He said that he didn’t want to break up with me and that it was fine if I wanted to wait. I was so relieved! I was totally stressing about it. I am so lucky to have found him. I hope you can dump Michael and get out there and find your own TJ!! Go Lucy Go!

Well, I better get going. WRITE BACK SOON!!! I really hope things are going better for you!

Lots of hugs!!!

Mary

153 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Thursday February 10th

Wow Mary! I needed those hugs!! Keep them coming. Things have just gotten more intense around here. I can’t believe I was even worried about what I what I wrote you about last week. Michael and I broke up. I finally worked up the nerve and just told him that I didn’t think it was working out and we should go back to just being friends. He was fine with it. Like really really fine with it. Almost too fine with it. It didn’t even phase him. He just said, okay – see you at school on Monday. I was shocked. I guess I was expecting some showing of emotion- anything to let me know that this relationship actually mattered. I was so stupid to think he might be a little upset about it. I had prepared myself for him to say things to try to get me to give him one chance. I had prepared myself for if he was really upset. I was not prepared when he did not really care at all. I know that only demonstrates that I did the right thing, but I was so upset. I can’t believe I put all that time into worrying about what to say or what to do when he actually didn’t care AT ALL! Unbelievable! I am so pissed. I can’t believe I was so stupid. Boys suck!!! I am so glad we broke up before cross country started because riding in a car with him every day would have been too much. I let myself be sad for a day and then decided I just needed to get my act together. Life is too short to worry about boys who are not worrying about me

Things seem to be going really well with you and TJ. That gives me some hope that there are some decent guys out there! I am so happy that he was so cool about the sex talk. I can’t even imagine how nervous you were. I am so proud of you for bringing it up and just taking care of it. TJ

154 © 2010 Angela Lusk

I knew your Youth Leadership speeches would rock! It sounds like the board member was super nice and supportive. That is so great when you find a mentor that can help you. I bet you will have more applications that you know what to do with after you visit all those schools! I am so happy things are going so great for you!

The past few days here have been really intense. Jacob has been really worrying me. He was dressing in black every day. He wasn’t talking to anyone. I didn’t know what to do. Finally, on Monday night after school, I confronted him. I just yelled at him, “What is wrong? You have to tell me! This can’t go on! If you don’t tell me, I am going to tell my parents and your parents and we are going to get you help. I am not going to be on CNN talking about how I knew you were depressed and didn’t do anything. I am not going to be that girl! So tell me! Tell me what is wrong.”

He just sat there for a while and didn’t say anything. All of a sudden he just started to cry. I mean really cry. I said, “Tell me! You can tell me anything!” He said, “I am not sure I can tell you this.” I just nodded and waited. After forever, he finally said – I think I am gay. Whoa! I had no idea what to say to that. I knew I wanted to be supportive, but it was such a shock. All I could do was just hug him. I didn’t know what else to do or what else to say. I didn’t trust my own words. I am still shocked. I don’t have a problem with it, but having someone come out to you is a little weird. After a little while, I finally got myself together and said, “So what?” Jacob smiled. I think that was the right thing to say – if there is even a right thing to say. We spent the rest of the night just hanging out – watching movies and eating popcorn. He seemed so much more relaxed. I was so relieved to 155 © 2010 Angela Lusk

finally know what was wrong. I was hopeful that this was the other side of the tunnel and that Jacob would get back to normal.

The next day at school was a nightmare. The rumor that Jacob was gay was everywhere. People were looking at him funny. One asshole even moved his desk over so he wouldn’t be as close to Jacob. It was unbelievable. I always knew that people had a problem with other people being gay, but I had no idea the type of hate and hysteria it would cause. People are so cruel. Nothing changed about Jacob overnight. The only thing that changed was now everyone knew that he likes boys. I was so pissed. I just wanted to shake everyone and tell them to get it together. I lost count of how many times someone would come up to me and say, “Did you hear about Jacob?” and I would say, “yeah, so what?” They would ask, “Don’t you care?” I said, “Care about what?” and they would just turn and walk away. Clearly they were looking for a more dramatic response. I just wish everyone would mind their own business.

I have no idea how everyone found out since I did not tell anyone. Jacob was so mad at me because he thought that I had something. He would not talk to me all day. I kept trying to talk to him, but he would just stare at me and say “I have nothing to say to you.” Finally, after school, I cornered him – like physically blocked his way out of our class so he couldn’t leave without talking to me. HE STILL WOULDN’T TALK TO ME. I just stood there and said, “I didn’t say anything to anyone and I am going to stand here until you believe me.” He said that he hadn’t told anyone so how could people know. I asked if he was sure that he didn’t say anything or hint to anyone else that something was going on. He just kept saying – no, no, no. Finally, he got this terrible look on his face and said, oh no. I asked what was wrong. He said that he had said something to someone else. He had said something to Allison. He hadn’t come out and told her that he was gay, but he 156 © 2010 Angela Lusk

The next day, I asked my mom if she would drive Jacob and I to school. I am pretty sure she knew that something was going on, but thankfully she didn’t say anything. I didn’t want Jacob to have to ride the bus or face Allison before he was ready. We decided that the best thing to do would be to invite Allison over to my house after school and confront her. I talked to Allison and she agreed to come over. I didn’t say that Jacob was going to be there. After school, we all went to my house. Allison asked why Jacob was there. I tried to play if off and say that Jacob is always here – it’s nothing new. Then the three of us sat down. It was really tense and awkward at first. I didn’t know how to start the conversation. Finally I just blurted out – Allison, did you tell everyone that Jacob is gay? Jacob and Allison looked shocked. Jacob was shocked that I was so blunt about it. And I think Allison was too. She just looked me right in the eye and said, “Yes, I did. I believe people have a right to know. Being gay is a sin and I don’t want people to go to hell for hanging out with you because they didn’t know.” I was shocked. I couldn’t speak. I felt tears well up in my eyes. I looked over and Jacob was so hurt and angry. Tears were just streaming down his face. I did not expect this. I expected her to say that it slipped out and that she is sorry. I had no idea she was so against homosexuality. I think I said umm like a hundred times then I finally got my act together and got really angry and said, “Get out of my house. We are no longer friends. I am sorry you feel that way. You have the right to your opinion, but you have no right to be cruel to my best friend. 157 © 2010 Angela Lusk

You didn’t tell people because you were worried about their souls. You told people because you wanted them to punish Jacob and that is wrong. Get out!” Then I just totally lost. I started crying really hard and just yelling GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT! Allison started yelling that I was going to hell. Jacob was crying. It was a hot mess.

My dad came running in from the garage to see what was going on. He took one look at me and Jacob and realized that I was yelling for Allison to get out. He looked at Allison and said, “You’d better leave” and walked her to the door. Then he came back and put his arm around me. When I finally stopped crying, he asked what happened. I looked at Jacob and Jacob nodded so I told him everything. I lost it again when my dad started to have tears in his eyes after hearing about what happened. He asked Jacob is his parents knew. Jacob said no. He hadn’t told them yet. My dad said he might want to think about doing it – even though it would be hard because if kids at school know then their parents probably know too and they may say something to Jacob’s parents. Jacob just turned white. He looked so scared. My dad then said that no matter what happens Jacob always has a place at our house and that my dad would go with him if he wanted when he told his parents. I have never been so proud of my dad and that just made me cry harder. Jacob started crying again too. Jacob decided that he should tell them himself. We were all quiet for a while and then my dad asked if we wanted to get milkshakes to celebrate. I looked at him like he was crazy and asked what in the world are we celebrating? My dad we were celebrating seeing everyone’s true colors. We laughed and headed out for milkshakes.

After that, Jacob decided to go home and tell his parents. I was so nervous for him. I had no idea how they were going to react. My dad and I just sat together on the couch watching TV waiting for him to text me about what happened. Finally, a text came though saying that it went okay. His mom 158 © 2010 Angela Lusk

cried and his dad got mad. When everyone calmed down from the shock, they said that it wasn’t the life they would choose for him, but they would support him. After hearing about what happened at school, his dad thought it would be best to go meet with the principal to make sure the school enforces its zero tolerance for bullying policy. I think his dad is even going to threaten to sue if they don’t. They also decided it would be best if Jacob got a ride to school in the morning to avoid any problems on the bus. My mom and dad agreed to help with the carpool. It’s crazy to me that we have to take all these precautions just because Jacob is gay. It’s not like he tortures animals or hurt anyone. I am really proud of my parents for how they have handled this! We’ll see how school goes tomorrow and if the principal will enforce the no bullying rule.

For myself, I have no idea whether I think being gay is “right” or “wrong”. I don’t think it is my place to judge. People can use the Bible to say a lot of things. They used the Bible to hold back women and I definitely think men and women are equal. I just don’t know. I think if you had asked me a few months ago what I thought – I would have said that being gay is choice and it is just not natural. But after seeing what Jacob is going through – I know in my heart that no one would choose this. He can’t help who he is attracted to anymore than I can. I never chose to be heterosexual so how could he have chosen to be gay. I don’t know. I just wish people would leave him alone. I think we are going to have a rough few weeks coming up. All I know is that I will be there for him and do whatever it takes to protect him from the assholes at my school.

Well, that’s the big news from here. I am drained. I have cried more in the last three days than I think I have in the last three years. I lost my best friend from third grade, but I am now even more grateful for Jacob and my parents. It’s going to be hard for the rest of the semester, but not as hard as it will be for Jacob. Hope things are going well for you. WRITE BACK SOON!! 159 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Your puffy eyed, red nosed pen pal,

Lucy

Wednesday February 16th

To my strong, loyal awesome pen pal –

Lucy, I don’t know what to say. Your letter made me cry! I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. Finding out that it was Allison, losing her as a friend and being there for Jacob. You are one strong lady!! I am so proud to have you as my friend. I am not sure I would have responded as well. I am so impressed that you kicked Allison out. You didn’t even hesitate. That is so awesome. Way to stand up for Jacob!

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Your dad is pretty awesome too. He really stepped up! Wow! I don’t know what to think about homosexuality either. We really don’t talk about it here at all. After reading your letter, I was thinking about how hard it would be for someone here to come out. I am thinking about trying to add sexuality to our diversity committee and the best way to do it. It would be great if we could find some folks who were willing to be out and to start the discussion, but I am not sure that is going to happen because again, this would definitely not be the easiest place to be out and proud. I just feel like I should do more. Your letter really inspired me. I agree with you – I have no idea if it is right or wrong and it is not my place to judge. All I know is that people are being treated differently because of it and that is something I can fight against. I really hope that things are getting easier for both of you.

I am really interested in your school’s zero tolerance anti-bullying policy. How does that work? I think that would be a great thing to try to get introduced here.

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Maybe I could talk to the board of Youth Leadership and even try to make it a project for our first year. All the Youth Leadership participants could try to get it implemented at their school. I think that would go a long way in helping people feel safe. It is crazy that people are still treating this way! You would think that we could all someday reach a point where we could get along!

Speaking of Youth Leadership – it is going really well. You predicted correctly. We have already gotten a ton of applications and the deadline isn’t for another couple weeks. The applicants so far are really diverse. I think this first year is going to be really exciting. I am so proud of the work we have done so far. I think it is going to be hard to choose who should be in the program. The board is still debating whether or not I should be included in the first class or serve as a facilitator. I am not sure what I want to do. Being in the class would be really fun I think. The downside is I know the entire curriculum and what you are supposed to get out of each exercise so there really would not be any surprises for me.

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Being a facilitator would be really cool because I could help people get the most out of the program, but I think I would miss out on the opportunity to make friends. Either way the decision is really out of my hands so we’ll see what they say.

Otherwise things around here are pretty calm. My parents are sticking to the schedule for Noah and Sara. It turns out that when I am not forced to watch them every second, I actually like hanging out with the little snots. They are pretty fun and they both say the funniest things. It’s pretty cool to watch their little brains try to put things together. I am happy that I am at a point where I actually like hanging out with them now instead of seeing it as a chore.

Things with Marisa have gotten a lot better. We have been hanging out more and more. Sometimes things are still a little tense, but I think if we keep hanging out we’ll be back to normal. I really want to talk about it and sincerely apologize for

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abandoning her but every time I try to bring it up, she just changes the subject. I guess she deals with things but avoiding talking about it. It’s so frustrating for me because I like to talk things to death! Ask TJ!! I am always talking, talking, talking! TJ has been really understanding about me wanting to spend more time with Marisa. I think the only way to really get back her trust is to show her that I am not going to abandon her again. That’s all I can do. So I am really trying to make an effort – it’s hard balancing Youth Leadership, school, TJ, my family and Marisa. I need a schedule like you had!! I think I am doing a pretty good job, but sometimes I just want to lock the door and crawl into bed with a good book and forget that the rest of the world exists! Maybe I’ll try that this weekend!

Things with TJ are great. We celebrated Valentine’s Day over the weekend. I was SO against Valentine’s Day. I think it is an annoying holiday. Every year, they have some stupid sale at school where people send each other flowers or candy and it turns into some crazy popularity contest with girls walking down the

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hall with armloads of these cheap carnations. I swear some of the girls send them to themselves just so they look like they have a lot of friends!!

Anyway, I was really nervous because yet another holiday where you have to buy gifts for each other!! I tried to get TJ to agree that we wouldn’t buy each other anything, but he had already bought me something so I was stuck. I decided to just go the ridiculous route and I bought him a huge stuffed bear. I figured if he wanted to celebrate his crazy holiday then he was going to celebrate BIG! LOL!! This bear was totally over-the-top. It looked like something you would win at the state fair after you threw a baseball at a tower of milk bottles. Luckily, he thought it was really funny. He bought me a really cute shirt. I was so surprised that he bought me clothes and that he even knew my size. Definitely not what I was expecting. I felt a little bad about getting him the bear – but he seemed to like it so I decided not to worry about it too much.

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He did agree that instead of spending the money on some crazy dinner, we would go cross country skiing. It was really cold, but really beautiful. It’s so awesome when you are the only people out there and it’s just white snow everywhere under a big blue sky. We had a great day and TJ was so thoughtful and brought a thermos filled with hot chocolate and some Valentine’s chocolates. The funniest part was that the chocolates froze in his backpack so we both tried to eat them and almost broke our teeth!! Carmel filled chocolates are not a good idea if you are going to try to eat them outside. LOL!! I guess you would have the opposite problem and have to worry about them freezing. Overall, it was a really great day.

Then on Monday at school, I got a whole armload of those cheap carnations- yep TJ thought it would be cute. I was mortified! Even worse, he set it up so they would come during each class. So first period, the guy walks in and hands me one carnations and I thought how sweet. Then second period, some girl walks in

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and hands me two carnations. I started to get nervous. By sixth period, I had twenty one carnations. It was ridiculous. I could tell some of the other girls were jealous, but I was just tired of carrying them around. I didn’t want to hurt TJ’s feelings, but it was definitely not my thing. The worse part was that I didn’t send him any. I tried after first period to see if they would let me order some, but they were all sold out! I think he was a little annoyed that I didn’t send him any, but he didn’t say anything. At least now I know that he is really into these crazy holidays. I hope we don’t have to celebrate Fourth of July or President’s Day. I am all out of gift ideas!! LOL! I really am grateful for how sweet he is, but those carnations were just too much!! Does your school do anything like that? I think it should be banned!

Other than that, not too much else is going on. Winter is really in full swing so we all spend most of time just trying to stay warm. Luckily we haven’t had too much snow this year, but I am hoping for a snow day. Those are so fun. There is just

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something about having a day off that you weren’t supposed to have off that just makes it so much better!

Well, I better sign off. I really hope things have gotten easier for you and Jacob! WRITE BACK SOON!!

Your non-sentimental, big bear buying pen pal,

Mary

Tuesday February 22nd

Well, my carnation hating pen pal it sounds like you had a lovely romantic Valentine’s Day!! If cheap carnations delivered every hour don’t shout romance, I don’t know what does!! LOL!! Actually, your cross country date did sound pretty fun minus the tooth breaking part of course. I didn’t do anything for Valentine’s Day. Our school does do the candy gram thing. I got a couple and sent a couple, but since most people just throw them into their backpacks, you can’t really tell how many people got so there isn’t the popularity contest that you talked about – thank goodness!

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Jacob and I just hung out watching old movies and eating heart shaped red hots. That’s a good Valentine’s Day for me! ☺

Things with Jacob have calmed down. Thank heavens! His dad did go talk to the principal and the principal was really cool about everything. After his dad went to the school, we had a special session of homeroom where we reviewed the policy and teachers again talked about how no bullying would be tolerated at all. Basically the policy says that no one can intimidate, harass, threaten, or verbally abuse anyone else. It sounds really subjective because it is. I think it is really hard to enforce because there is a fine line between teasing and verbal abuse. It is really up to the person reporting it. I think if you were going to try to get it implemented then you should include something where people who witness have to report it. I read about an honor code once where you would also be punished if you witnessed or knew about someone breaking the honor code and didn’t report it. I wish our bullying policy was like that because then it wouldn’t just be up to the person being bullied to report it – all of us would have a responsibility to report it. The good news is that it is zero tolerance so if someone does report being bullied than the person is suspended immediately while there is an investigation and then expelled if the principal reasonably believes that the student is a bully. This is the first year the school has had the policy and it was in reaction to something that happened at another school. I am not sure if it works one hundred percent, but I will say that both Jacob and I feel better knowing that if the things being said about Jacob cross over into actions or more direct threats, then there is a way to respond.

The rumors have died down a little. Jacob was really smart not to respond. Some people were just trying to get a reaction of him and since they didn’t then they got bored and moved on to some other rumor to spread. We still hear comments here or there. He had trouble in gym class. A 169 © 2010 Angela Lusk

couple of guys complained that they didn’t want to shower with him since he was gay, but the gym teacher said – fine, don’t take a shower. After a couple days of walking around smelling pretty gross, the guys were back to showering. I think that was really cool of the teacher. I think that is the best way to handle it – treat the people who are complaining like they are the ones with a problem, not Jacob. Overall, I think the school has handled it as well as can be expected.

Neither of us has spoken to Allison since the big fight at my house and I don’t see us talking to her anytime soon. She was pretty clear about how she felt and I don’t see changing her mind and I don’t want to be around her. I do miss her sometimes – especially since I am not friends with Jessica either. I miss my girl time. I think Jacob misses her too. But there’s not much we can do about it. I can’t believe that I went from three best friends and a boyfriend just a few months ago to just Jacob. Jacob is great – but that is a pretty big change.

The good news is that drama club is going really well. People finally seem to be starting to accept me. One girl, Melissa, has been really nice. She goes out of her way to say hello and we have started hanging out during rehearsals. She is in charge of costumes so we both have down time while people are practicing. The Director just wants to me to help backstage now that the blocking and choreography is all done. So we just sit back stage and talk about anything and everything until someone yells at us to do something. It is turning out to be really fun. Yesterday, she asked if I wanted to come over to her house this weekend and hang out. It’s okay with my parents so I am pretty excited to go. I feel bad about not inviting Jacob, but I can’t do everything with me. Besides, he joined the Math Team and I think he is starting to make some new friends with those nerds. He has the math nerds and I have the drama nerds. At least we found our groups! LOL! I really hope that Melissa and I can become better friends. It’ll be fun to have a girl friend again!! 170 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Well, I better go! Hope you had a great week!! I am glad to hear that things are getting better with Marisa. I think you are right. It just takes time – especially since she is someone who doesn’t like to discuss things. I think she’ll come around. You two have been friends for too long just to give up. Keep showing up and hopefully you’ll get back to the way you were! WRITE BACK SOON!!

Your drama club lovin’ pen pal,

Lucy

Monday February 28th

Well, pen pal, I am the one in need of hugs now. Noah and Sara are gone. Taken. Sent back. I don’t even have the words to describe this, but I’ll try. When Noah and Sara came to live with us, my mom was clear that we were taking them in as foster children and that at some point, they may be cleared to go back to live with their biological parents. This all made sense. But sometime between that day two years ago and now, I kind of forgot. Not kind of forgot – totally and completely forgot. Noah and Sara became my family. I feel so bad now about
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ever complaining about having to watch them because now that they are gone, I just feel empty.

It all happened last Friday. I got home from school and both my parents were waiting for me so I knew something was very very wrong. I looked them and asked what was wrong. They just told me to sit down. I didn’t want to sit down, I wanted them to tell me what was wrong. I started to get really scared and tears filled my eyes. I started yelling, Just tell me! Just tell me!! Finally my dad got up and grabbed me by the shoulders and put me into the chair. My mom and dad looked each other and my mom started talking. I don’t remember exactly what she said. I was having a really hard time understanding what she was saying. Basically she said that Noah and Sara weren’t going to be staying with us anymore. Their parents had completed their court-order rehabilitation and passed a home inspection and Noah and Sara were going to be allowed to go back to live with them. In fact, my mom had dropped them off this morning. It all

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happened faster than my mom had anticipated because the judge signed off on it right away. My mom thought we would have the weekend with them and that’s why she didn’t tell me. And she’s sorry, but the judge order their return immediately. So she had to come home and pack up everything and then take them over to their parents. At this point, both my mom and dad are crying. I just lost it. I just starting crying and yelling at them about how could they let this happen? Why did we take them in the first place when they were just going to be taken away? Is it even safe for them with their parents? Will I ever get to see them again? I promised Noah I would teach him to ski – how will I teach him to ski? I just yelled question after question. Finally, I was all out of questions and I just laid my head down on the table and cried. My mom rubbed my back and my dad walked out because he just couldn’t take all the tears anymore. I just sobbed and sobbed for what seemed like hours. Just when I thought I was calming down, it was like I was hit by another wave as I remembered something else about Noah and Sara. My mom just kept rubbing my back and saying over and over

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again – I’m so sorry you didn’t get to say goodbye. Finally, all the tears were replaced by anger. I sat up looked my mom in the eye and said you should be sorry that you ever brought them here, made me love them and then took them away. I ran to my room and slammed the door. I just laid on my bed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. My dad tried to come talk to me. My mom tried to come talk to me. But I just laid there – numb. I couldn’t believe they were really gone. I expected that any minute Noah would start pounding on the door wanted to come in or Sara would start wailing because she couldn’t find some stupid toy. But none of that happened. I didn’t come out of my room all Friday or Saturday morning. My parents must have been really worried because they called Marisa to see if she could get me to come out.

Marisa came over. I let her in my room and we just sat there for a while. I asked if my parents had told her. She said they did. Then she just looked at me and said this really really sucks. And that was exactly what I needed to hear – not some

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apology about saying goodbye – an acknowledgement that this was really screwed up and not fair and that it really sucked because all those things were true. She asked if I was hungry and I said yes but that I didn’t want to come out yet. She went to the kitchen and got us a couple sandwiches. We piled into my bed like we did when we were kids and turned on the tv. It was so nice to have her there. She didn’t expect me to say anything. Just lay there and watch tv. She got up to call her mom to see if she could spend the night and get us more food. I texted TJ to let him know what happened. He asked if I wanted him to come over and I said not tonight – maybe tomorrow. He said he was really sorry and if there was anything he could do, let him know. But there wasn’t anything he could do. Marisa has known me long enough to know exactly what to do and she was doing it. I can’t believe I ever abandoned her for those stupid snotty girls. When she came back in, I was crying. She just hugged me and said it was going to be alright. I told her I wasn’t crying about Noah and Sara. I was crying because I had abandoned her. She was the one person in the world who knew exactly what to

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do when everything fell apart and I had abandoned her. I was a terrible person and I was so sorry and I didn’t deserve her friendship, but I didn’t know what I would do without it. She just hugged my some more and said, “I forgave you a long time because I don’t know what I would do without you. Now eat some Cheetos.” I couldn’t help but laugh. She smiled and we climbed back into bed and turned on the tv.

The morning – Sunday – I was feeling a lot better. I actually left my room and took a shower. Marisa left to go to church and I went out to talk to my parents. I apologized for my behavior. They said they understood, that they were sad too and that they should have told me when they knew there was a chance that Noah and Sara would have to leave. They were trying to protect me, but they see now that it only hurt worse not having any warning. I asked if I would ever get to see them again. My mom said that they usually recommend no contact with the foster family for at least six months to help the kids adjust to being back home

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with their parents, but we’ll have to see. Sometimes, it helps with the adjustment to see the foster families, but that it was likely that Noah and Sara would never come to live with us again. My mom said that it was our job to make sure they were safe until their parents could prove they had the skills to take care of them. But once the parents have the skills, it is better for the kids to be with their parents. My mom she couldn’t imagine life without me. So even though it is really hard, it is better for Noah and Sara to be with their parents.

I don’t believe that. I believe those kids should be with people who love them and know how to take care of them without going to a class or rehab. If their parents couldn’t take of them once – who’s to say that it won’t happen again? They shouldn’t get a second chance! I know that is selfish, but I do feel that way. Noah and Sara are amazing, smart, funny kids that deserve amazing parents and if the parents they were born to don’t fit the bill, then they should be able to live with us! It breaks my heart to imagine them living somewhere not as nice as our

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houses or having parents who aren’t as awesome as my parents. It just breaks my heart. I told my mom that I don’t want to have any more foster kids. They can think about doing it again after I move out, but it is just too hard to love these kids and then have them taken away. She asked me to think more about it. She said, “Which is better? For these kids, they have been through a terrible time. Their parents did something so bad to them that a judge ordered the kids to be taken out of their house and put with a complete stranger or a relative. How scary would that be? Which is better: to have them come here and live with us where we can love them and take really good care of them or for them to go to a group home or be separated from their brothers and sisters? It is hard on us, but imagine what it is like for them.” I just shrugged my shoulders and said that I didn’t care and that I didn’t want any more foster kids. I know that is the wrong attitude. I know that is far worse for kids than it is for us when the kids go back to their homes, but in that moment, I really did not care about anyone else. All I could think about what how I was feeling and how I wanted all the sadness and

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anger to go away. And to me, the way to make that go away was to make sure I never felt that way again. I know my parents are disappointed in my reaction, but I really can’t help it. It is how I feel. I never want to go through this again. NEVER!

I was so glad when I got your letter today. It was like a ray of sunshine in the mailbox. It gave me something to think about besides all this crap. I am so glad that things are getting better at school for you and Jacob. Your anti-bullying policy sounds great and I am definitely going to talk to the Youth Leadership board about implementing something like that. Just look at the difference it made for you and Jacob. I also like your idea about making everyone responsible for implementing it – not just the person being bullied. That is really important.

I hope you had a good time with Melissa. That is really cool that she reached out to you and you guys have become friends through drama club. It’s always good

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to make new friends. You never when you are going to need them. WRITE BACK SOON!!

Your heartbroken pen pal,

Mary

Saturday March 5th

Mary!! I am heart broken for you. I do not know what to say. I am so so sorry. I wish I could just give you a hug!! I cried when I read your letter. I cannot imagine what you must be feeling. I wish there was more I could do. You are right – it sucks, it is unfair, and totally screwed up. I can’t believe your parents didn’t prepare you! What a shock!! How are you doing now? Are you feeling any better? I hope the pain is getting to be a little less every day. I am just so sorry!! I wish I could make it all better somehow! I am so glad that Marisa was there for you. What an awesome friend!! You two are lucky to have each other. I really hope you are starting to feel a little better.

It seems so shallow to write about my life with all that you are going through, but you said that my letters were good to get your mind off things so here we go. Things here are good. I went over to Melissa’s last weekend to hang out. OMG! Her house is HUGE! I mean HUGE!! It had a big gate 180 © 2010 Angela Lusk

and a long circular driveway. I think even my dad was a little shocked when he was dropping me off. I had no idea she lived in such a big house! He just kind of looked at me funny and said have a good time. I swear, it was something out of Cribs! I walked up to the door and rang the bell. Melissa opened the door and invited me in. She asked if I had brought my swimsuit. I hadn’t because our pool isn’t heated so I wouldn’t think that hers would be. She said that was okay and I could borrow one of hers. We headed back to the pool. When you walk in – it is open right to the backyard so you can see the pool through the floor to ceiling windows. It was amazing. They had all these rocks and waterfalls around the pool. They even have a pool house with a bathroom to change clothes in. I borrowed one of her suits and we got in. The water was so warm. It was so nice. We just swam around, chatting like we do at drama club. She challenged me to a hand stand contest and then kicked my butt. That girl can hold her breath!! Her mom came out with some sandwiches and lemonade so we got out and dried off. Her mom was so nice. She kept asking if there was anything else I wanted. I was tempted to say a side of fries and a milkshake! LOL! But I do have some manners.

After lunch, we laid out and read magazines for a while. They have the greatest lounge chairs – just like at a hotel! We were just chillaxing when two boys ran and cannon-balled into the pool and totally splashed us. I was surprised so I looked at Melissa and she was pissed! It was her brother Aaron and his friend Travis. I didn’t even know she had a brother. I recognized Aaron from the football team and the time I spent in the training room at the beginning of the year. I didn’t recognize Travis though. It was pretty interesting that Melissa never mentioned Aaron and they hang out in totally different social circles. It probably would hurt her cred in drama club if she was always mentioning her brother on the football team.

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Anyway, we figured we might as well jump in since we were all wet. We jumped and then we were all goofing around trying to dunk each other and stuff like that. Then we had chicken fights where got on Aaron’s shoulders and Melissa got on Travis’s shoulders and we fought. We did best of five and I am proud to say that Aaron and I were victorious! It was really fun. When we were done, Melissa and I decided to go shower and change since my dad was coming in an hour. We went back to her room – which is the size of my living room! We showered and changed just chilled in front of the tv. It was so much fun to hang out with her. I did ask her why she doesn’t mention her brother. She said that when they are at home he is really cool and they get along really well, but he turns into a total jerk at school. It’s like he buys all the hype that being on the football team makes him better than the people in the drama club. So instead of always fighting with him about it, she just decided to ignore him at school and it has worked really well. Their parents totally do not get why she doesn’t get all excited about his football games or why he never goes to see the school plays, but otherwise it works. I thought it was kind of a bummer. I have always dreamed about what having a brother or a sister would be like and that was not it. What about you? You never mention your brother. Is that what it was like between the two of you?

My dad came to pick me up. The next week at school was really fun. Melissa and I started hanging out a lot more and even sitting together during lunch. She and Jacob get along really well so that is cool. I think Allison was a little jealous because I caught her giving us some weird looks. Too bad. As my grandma says, “She make her bed. She can lie in it!” I am pretty sure that means it’s her fault that we aren’t sitting with her at lunch. If that is not what it means, then that is what I meant! LOL!

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The only weird thing was that even though Melissa and her brother don’t talk at school, Aaron started saying hi to me. It was totally weird – especially when I was walking with Melissa. I even turned to Melissa after he said hey and said to her, “That was weird, right?” And she totally agreed. We’ll just put another check in the “boys are weird” column! I hope he stops because I really like Melissa and want to keep hanging out with her!

Well, I better get going! Melissa, Jacob and I are going to the basketball game tonight - with my dad, of course. I have to get ready. I’ll be thinking of you all this next week and sending lots of hugs and good thoughts!! WRITE BACK SOON!

Your friend-makin’, chicken fight winnin’, thinking of you often pen pal,

Lucy

Thursday March 10th

Hey pen pal! Thanks for all the hugs and good thoughts. I could definitely feel them coming through the universe! I am so excited that you and Melissa are getting along so well. Her house sounds amazing!! I agree it is super weird that her brother all of a sudden was super friendly to you at school. Maybe he likes
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you, maybe he wants to kiss you, maybe he wants to marry you. Sorry – I think I may have watched Miss Congeniality one too many times this weekend!

As for my brother, we don’t really talk. Mostly it is because he wasn’t around much when I was growing up. He’s five years older than me so we never went to the same school. He got into a lot of trouble when he was fourteen so my mom sent him to live with my grandparents in Duluth because she didn’t want him to be a bad influence on me. He moved back here last year to work at the casino, but we never see him. When I get my license, I am going to try to see him more because he is my brother and I would like to get to know him. It’s just hard right now. I tried to call him when Noah and Sara first came to live with us because I was upset about it, but he never called me back. Either I had the wrong number or he didn’t know what to say. But with all this stuff with Noah and Sara, I have learned that family is really important and we should try to keep it together.

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I have been having a rough time the last couple weeks. I am really not dealing well with Noah and Sara being gone. I am having trouble sleeping and I just seem to get into fights with everyone. TJ and I have been fighting over stupid stuff. He got mad that I wasn’t spending as much time with him and that I was talking to Marisa more than him. That made me mad because I thought he was being selfish. He should want me to do whatever makes me feel better – even if that means less time with him. I have been getting in huge fights with my parents. I just don’t want to listen to anything they say. I find myself doing things that I know will piss them off just to see them get pissed off. They even grounded me last week and I couldn’t go to an important diversity committee meeting. I was so pissed, but it really was my own fault. Every day I wake up and say I am going to get through the day without fighting with my parents or TJ, but that day hasn’t happened yet. Maybe tomorrow. I am just so mad still. I think that anger is one of the phases of grief and in this case, it is definitely the phase that has come to

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stay! Hopefully it will fade and SOON! If not, I am going to be spending a lot of time grounded and TJ will probably break up with me.

Marisa has been awesome. She is there for me no matter what. She was pretty funny yesterday. I was telling her about the fights I got into with TJ and my parents. She just looked at me and said, “All this fighting with TJ and your parents – how’s that working out for you?” All I could was laugh and answer – Not very well! She said that I might want to think about biting my tongue a whole lot more! ☺ If that is the case, I think my tongue is going to be pretty beat up by the end of this week. I know it will get better, I just need to think before I speak. I am going to ask my parents if I can join a kickboxing class they have in the gym after school. It’s part of this new fitness program. I think having a place where I can physically let out all my anger will really help. We’ll see.

186 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Other than that, I have just been getting through. Classes are okay. I am really looking forward to Spring Break. I signed up to go on a trip for Habitat for Humanity to Kentucky. Hopefully my parents will still let me go! WRITE BACK SOON!! And watch out for those weird boys!!

Your inappropriately angry pen pal,

Mary

Wednesday March 16th

Well, I hope you were able to get into that kick boxing class, but I really hope you didn’t hurt anyone! I wouldn’t know what to do with all that anger either. I think you are right that is has to come out somehow and hopefully the kick boxing class is the best way to do it. Sometimes when my mom and I are fighting a lot, she’ll just look at me and say, “I wish you would treat me like a stranger. You treat strangers nicer than you do your own mother.” I think some of that is true. Sometimes I can be so rude to my parents or friends because I know they will take it. I know that’s not the best idea or path to go down, but it is the truth. I am glad that Marisa is there for you. You

187 © 2010 Angela Lusk

cracked me up with how she called you out for the picking all the fights!! It’s good to have a friend who tells you the truth. I hope things have gotten a little bit better!

Things here are very strange. First the good – Melissa and I have become really close friends and it is great. I like her a lot. She is really fun. We have a lot in common and she can make me laugh until I am pretty sure I am going to pee my pants. All very good qualities!! The play was last weekend and it was GREAT! Everyone loved it. It was so stressful backstage. I am so glad we only had two performances – one on Saturday and one on Sunday afternoon. We got standing ovations both nights. Even being backstage, I am totally hooked. I can’t wait for the next play. Sunday night we all went out to dinner to celebrate. I finally felt like one of the crowd. It was a great night of laughing and celebrating.

Now to the very strange – On Monday, we got to school and everyone was whispering about a text message that was going around. Supposedly it was a topless shot that one of the cheerleaders had sent to her boyfriend and he forwarded it to a couple people and then they forwarded it and you get the idea. No one I know had seen it but everyone was talking about it. I decided not to pay any attention to it because you know how rumors are. Well, yesterday at school, Jacob walks up to my locker with a very serious look on his face. I asked him what was wrong? I immediately thought something had happened to him and my adrenaline was already pumping about who I was going to have to get into a fight with. He noticed the look on my face and said that it wasn’t anything about him – it was Jessica. I was shocked – Jessica? You mean, behind my back Austin-stealing Jessica? What about her? (Yes, I was very snotty about it.) Then he said, “The text – it’s her.” Apparently, Jacob was talking to someone in homeroom and he had a copy of the text and he said it was definitely her even though he couldn’t see her face. I was shocked!! I have been friends with 188 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Jessica for three years and I definitely know she is smarter than that. I couldn’t believe it. Something must have happened. I couldn’t believe that she would send it or that Austin would forward it. It just didn’t make sense! I looked at Jacob and said, “What are we going to do?” He looked at me and said, “I don’t know.” And I knew exactly what he meant.

We haven’t been friends with her since she stabbed me in the back over Austin. Now that seemed like a silly reason to be mad since Austin had stabbed her in the back, but I don’t know if I want to see her or talk to her. I don’t know if she would even want to talk to me or what I would say. I just feel really bad that this happened to her. I know the right thing to do would be to reach out to her to see if she is okay, but then again we haven’t talked in months – it might seem weird. I do know this is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I asked Jacob if he had seen her at school and he said no one had seen her since Monday. She definitely hadn’t been in the class that I share with her. I wonder where she is hiding out. Her parents would definitely not let her skip school. That could mean that her parents know!! I would just die if that was me. Jacob and I decided just to lay low. We figured she has our number if she needs us. She didn’t come rushing to Jacob’s side when he was caught in the rumor mill. Hopefully this blows over quickly – for her sake.

Well, I better go. I got really behind in schoolwork during the play and now it is time to catch up!! I really hope you are feeling better and some of the fighting has stopped. WRITE BACK SOON!!

Your very confused about what to do pen pal,

Lucy

189 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Tuesday March 22nd

Wow!! That is terrible about Jessica. I know you are not really friends with her anymore, but I can’t believe someone would do that – especially Austin! He seemed like such a nice guy when you would write about him. I just can’t believe he would text the whole school the half-naked pictures of his girlfriend! Wow!! What did you decide to do? Did you end up talking to her? I know it seems really weird, but I would think she definitely needs someone to talk to. Hopefully some of her cheerleading friends are there for her. That really sucks!

Things here have been good and strange as well. The good news is that my parents agreed to let me go the kick boxing class. I sat them down and told them truth – I am really angry that Noah and Sara went back to their families. I was trying to bottle it up, but it kept coming out through fights with them and TJ and

190 © 2010 Angela Lusk

that I thought that kickboxing might help me deal with the anger in a more productive way. They agreed that made sense and I think they were relieved that I told them the truth about what was going on with me. The kick boxing class has been helping so much!! I am too tired and sore to be mad at anyone! LOL! Seriously, it’s good because I can just go crazy in there and it is actually good for me. The other good news is that my parents are still going to let me go on the Habitat for Humanity trip to Kentucky! I am so excited. I was worried that they would punish me.

Now to the strange: TJ and I decided to take break. We aren’t officially breaking up or anything like that. We just need to take a break. He was so mad that I chose Marisa over him to talk to about the Noah and Sara stuff. Plus he originally signed up to go on the Habitat for Humanity trip with me, but then he bailed at the last minute to go on some stupid trip with his friends. I thought that was super lame! I also realized that maybe it was a sign that I chose Marisa over him to talk

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to – like if I can’t talk to him about the bad stuff, then how are we going to make a relationship work in the long term? You know what I mean? Plus it just wasn’t fun hanging out with him anymore. All he ever wanted to do was go somewhere and make out. Now, I like to make out, but really? All the time? The reason I liked him so much when we first got together was that we liked to do so many of the same things: Snow shoe, fish, cross country ski, etc. I could date any boy if the only thing we had in common was wanting to make out with each other. I think it will be really good for the both of us. We decided to take a break until after spring break and see where we are. If we really miss each other, maybe we’ll get back together. I already miss talking to him and eating lunch with him.

Now to the really strange part, once Ann and Marie heard that we broke up, they all of a sudden wanted to be best friends with me again. I was so shocked. They came up to me and lunch and were all up in my face. I was like what are you doing? You haven’t spoken to me in months and now you want to be best

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friends? They said that they stopped talking to me because I was dating TJ and that TJ had been really mean to them and I hadn’t said anything or apologized about it. I had NO IDEA what they were talking about. I really didn’t. I told them that and they just looked at each other. Then the truth came out. It seems that around Thanksgiving – somehow TJ, Ann, and Marie were talking in the hall together and TJ made some comment about how Ann and Marie were going to have to go find some other cool girl to latch onto because I was going to be spending a lot more time with him and they weren’t going to be able to ride on my bandwagon anymore. I am not even sure I know what that means and I told Ann and Marie that I definitely didn’t know that he said that. They both insisted that sometime after he said that to just the two of them, I was with him when he made some joke about spending more time with me and I laughed. WTF!!! How in the world was I supposed to know that was in reference to something he said when I wasn’t even with him and that I would need to apologize for it!! The two of them created all this drama in their own head!! Then they had the nerve to say that

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since TJ and I weren’t together anymore, I had clearly come to my senses and we could hang out again. I was like, whoa! Wait a minute! I said that I was glad that we cleared the air and that I did not know that TJ had said that, but they were at fault here too. If they really had been hurt by what TJ said and if they were really my friends, they should have come and talked to me about it instead of just ignoring me for months. They really hurt my feelings and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be friends with them. Then I got up and walked out of the cafeteria. I think I will eating my lunch in the library from now to avoid all this crap. When I told Marisa what happened, she was shocked. That says a lot because she already thinks the worst of Ann and Marie. I am glad I finally know what really happened, but I am also glad that I don’t have those two drama queens to worry about anymore. Unbelievable!

Then, things got stranger. My brother called me. It was so weird that you asked about him in the last letter, I wrote you back saying that I hadn’t talked to him in a

194 © 2010 Angela Lusk

while and then he calls a day after I mail the letter. He had gotten my number from my grandma. He had heard about what happened with Noah and Sara and wanted to check in and make sure I was okay. I was so happy that he called. I started crying on the phone and told him everything that happened. I told him how I wanted us to talk more because I really want my brother back. He told me some things about how my parents had treated him that were really upsetting. I want to find the truth before I even share them because if they are true, it is pretty bad. They basically just threw him out at the first sign of trouble. I am glad they didn’t take that attitude with me because I would be living with my grandma right now after all the fights we have been having. It’s unfair that they did that to my brother. He said that he would really make an effort to call more and that my uncle even volunteered to help get us together.

Based on how my parents talk about him, I don’t think my parents would be too excited about the two of us getting together, but I really want to try. He also said

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that he has the address to where Noah and Sara are living and that if I want he will drive me over there to see them – at least see them playing the yard. This one I am really torn about. I would LOVE to see them and tell them how much I love them, but I know my mom said that sometimes it is best for the kids if they don’t see members of their foster family right away. I am really torn on what to do. I told him I needed to think about that one.

He also said that if things get really hard between our parents and I, then I can always come live with him. I was like WHAT? I got a little defensive on that one. First, things are not bad between me and our parents – things are bad between him and our parents and I don’t know the whole story. Second, living with him is not an option even if things were bad. He is a stranger to me. I know the cashier at the gas station better than I know him. I don’t see how he thinks he can call up out of the blue and expect us to act like we are family. I basically told him as much and he got really mad. He said that he was trying, that I didn’t understand

196 © 2010 Angela Lusk

what he had been through with my parents, that someday I would see the truth. I said all those things are true, but I am not going to let you poison me against our parents. I have had a good life and I am very sorry that wasn’t his experience. I do want to get to know him and spend time with him, but my loyalty has to be to our parents. He hung up pretty quickly after that.

I felt bad that the conversation ended that way, but I think I did the right thing. I feel like I really need to talk to my uncle to get the whole story and see what I should do. I am going to try to call him this weekend when I can get some privacy. I wonder if he will really tell me what happened. We’ll see. So that was my super strange week: TJ and I basically break up, Ann and Marie want to be friends again and my long lost brother calls and tries to turn me against my parents. I feel like I am in a soap opera! I need a break!! ☺

Your pen pal with a very dramatic life,

197 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Mary

Sunday March 27th

It must be a full moon because my life has been pretty dramatic too!! It’s just been crazy around here. Your week definitely takes the cake for being strange though! I can’t believe you and TJ broke up. It sounds like it was definitely for the right reasons! You can’t just make out all the time. Plus you are right – he should have been happy you had someone to confide in, not freaking out that it wasn’t him!

All the stuff about your brother is super strange! Wow! Talk about out of the blue! He just randomly calls you with Noah’s and Sara’s address, some bad stories about your parents and an offer to live with him. Wow! That is a lot to process. I think you were totally right to say slow down I need to think about this and to protect your parents. Clearly, you are not getting the whole story here! That is really intense! Have you spoken to him again? Do you think you will? As for Noah and Sara, I think it might be best to listen to your mom and stay away for a while to let them get settled. Otherwise, they will probably just want to come back and live with you and that would make things really hard on their parents.

And.. WAY TO GO on Ann and Marie. What a couple of idiots! I can’t believe that they stopped talking to you after a comment that TJ made that they didn’t even ask you about. They definitely do 198 © 2010 Angela Lusk

not deserve your friendship in any way shape or form! I am glad you finally found out the truth though!

Well, this have been crazy here too. A couple days ago, guess who showed up at my door?? Yep, Jessica! I couldn’t believe it! I opened the door and there she was. She looked terrible. It looked like she had been crying for days. I couldn’t even get her in the house before she started crying again. I took her up to my room and got her some Kleenex and braced myself. First, she said she was really sorry for everything that happened with Austin. She said that he had asked her out first, before he ever talked to me, but she had said no that she couldn’t go out with him because her friend liked him. He quickly figured out that the friend was me and that’s when he started being really nice to me, coming to the meets, and then he asked me out to the play. When he saw my reaction to him asking me out, he thought I was freaking out because I didn’t like him, not because I couldn’t date so he kind of shut down. Then he went to Jessica and said that he really really liked her, that he had respected her wishes about me, but that I didn’t want to or couldn’t date him so why were they punishing each other. That’s when she just said yes. She had listened to me all lunch hour talk about I couldn’t date him due to my parents. She got really mad, because she really like Austin but had said no all this time because she knew I liked him, but when it came down to it I couldn’t even date him so she decided to say yes. She didn’t even mind when Allison, Jacob and I stopped talking to her because she liked him so much. She realizes now that she should have just talked to me about it when Austin first asked her out and we all would have avoided a lot of problems.

I told her that I could see how it would have been frustrating for her and that I forgave her for all that. I asked how she was holding up and if she had broken up with Austin yet. She looked 199 © 2010 Angela Lusk

surprised at the question. She asked, “Why would I break up with Austin?” I said, “Because he forwarded that text with your photo.” She looked at me and said, “no one knows?” I said, “No one knows what?” She said that it wasn’t Austin who sent around the picture. It was another one of the cheerleaders – Jordyn. Jordyn had taken the picture while they were changing after a game because her boyfriend dared her. She sent it to her boyfriend and he sent it around. I was shocked, but relieved. I knew that Jessica was too smart to send out a topless picture of herself. I told her that no one at school knew that – everyone had assumed that she had sent the picture to Austin and that he had forwarded. Since neither of them had been to school since the text message, there was no one there to tell a different story. That’s when she really started to cry. She talked about how terrible this is and how she doesn’t know what to do. The whole school had seen her topless. I tried to tell her it really wasn’t that bad. She looked at me and said, “You’ve seen it?” I said, “Yes You can’t really see anything but skin. You know you aren’t wearing a shirt, but you can’t see anything.” Then she asked, “Do you have it?” I didn’t, but Jacob did and I could call him if she really wanted to see it. Thankfully, she didn’t.

I asked her what she was going to do now. She said that she didn’t really have any options. Her mom had agreed to home school her through the end of the semester and then she was going to transfer. I got really mad. I couldn’t believe she was going to let Jordyn get away with this! Jessica didn’t do anything wrong – Jordyn did! If anyone had to change schools - it should have been Jordyn! Jessica was just too upset to see clearly. I told her that both she and Austin need to get their butts back to school and tell the truth. Plus, I think they should call the police or at least tell the principal because I think what Jordyn did is crime. I told that she needs to stop crying and start standing up for herself. I am pretty sure I lectured her for about half an hour. She just sort of sat there – stunned. 200 © 2010 Angela Lusk

Finally, she started to come out of it and get some of her old spark back. She said that I was right. Jordyn was the one who did something wrong and she should be punished. She hadn’t realized that Austin wasn’t going to school because they had broken up about two weeks before the text hit. Things just weren’t working out. As Jessica said, “he was kind of boring.” I thought that was pretty funny and sad all at the same time. We broke off a three year friendship over a guy who was kind of boring. Not a good decision. Anyway, she had figured that he would have set the record straight. She texted him to see why he hadn’t been at school and if he knew what was going on. He said that he had to go to a funeral and all he knew what someone sent him the picture. I left the room and went downstairs for a snack so Jessica could call him and set the record straight.

When I came back up, she looked so much better! She looked like her old self again. She asked if I would go with her the next day to the principal’s office to report what happened and I agreed that I would. She also asked if I could call Jacob and see if he could come over. She really wanted to apologize for not being there for him when all the rumors were about him. I called Jacob. He came over and they talked and made up. My mom ordered pizza and we all hung out just like old times. Well, except Allison. Jessica asked what happened with Allison and Jacob told her what Allison had said. Jessica had heard that Allison was really sorry but didn’t know what to do. Both Jacob and I were pretty clear that Allison had our numbers if anything had changed. Then I laughed and said, I never thought I would see the day when you were defending Allison! Jessica laughed too! I think it is going to take some time, but I think Jessica and I will be able to get back to where we were before Austin in time – just like you and Marisa.

201 © 2010 Angela Lusk

The next day in the principal’s office went well. Jessica explained everything that had happened. The principal was outraged and immediately called the police. I think that freaked Jessica out because she wasn’t sure if she wanted the police involved. Technically it is child pornography and Jordyn is in really serious trouble – especially since she took the picture without Jessica’s permission. The police came and arrested her and her boyfriend – since he was the one who “distributed” the picture. Jessica isn’t going to transfer so I am really happy about that.

I am really looking forward to Spring Break just to chill. This semester has had a lot of drama and I will be very glad to just have a few days off. How was your Habitat for Humanity trip? I hope you had a great time. WRITE BACK SOON!!!

Your friends-again-with Jessica pen pal,

Lucy

Wednesday April 13th

Hey Mary!

I am not sure if you got my last letter or not. It is not like you to take so long to write back. I hope everything is okay. Maybe you were away on your Habitat for Humanity trip. I can’t wait to hear all about it. How did things end up with your brother?

202 © 2010 Angela Lusk

In case you didn’t get my last letter, the big update is that Jacob and I are friends again with Jessica. The girl who sent the text is serious trouble. Otherwise things here are good.

I spent most of Spring Break at Melissa’s house since Jacob and Jessica went on vacation with their families. Allison called me on Tuesday, but I didn’t call her back. My guess is that she was bored over Spring Break and though I would forget we aren’t friends anymore. Well, I didn’t.

I really hope everything is okay with you. I miss your letters!! I got used to seeing them in the mail every other week. WRITE BACK SOON!

Your slightly worried pen pal,

Lucy

To find out why Mary didn’t write back right away, the truth about Mary’s brother and how Jacob, Jessica, Melissa, and Lucy get through the rest of the semester - pick up Write Back Soon: Spring Break Surprise in Winter 2011.

203 © 2010 Angela Lusk

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