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Authors: Abby Cooper

Sticks & Stones

BOOK: Sticks & Stones
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Table of Contents

About the Author

Copyright Page

 

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Readers: sticks and stones may break your bones, but words don't have to hurt. This is for you.

 

1

WORDS

Some people don't think that one word can make a difference.

They're wrong.

Sure, some words need to be around other words to make sense. They need to hang out together in a book or a song or a text message, or else you're stuck wrinkling your nose like
HUH? That doesn't make any sense.

But some words don't need others. They have big-time serious meaning all by themselves.

I knew that better than anyone.

Like when it came to talking about me going to middle school this year. Mom said it would be
different
. Dr. Patel said it would be
challenging
. Dad said it would be
fine
.

They just needed one word each to sum up what they thought a whole year would be like … and, so far, they were right.

One word nobody used, though?
Mysterious.

And right now, that was the most important word of all.

I reached into my pocket and dug around until I found the folded blue paper again. Maybe it was a letter from a secret admirer or a gift certificate to Soup Palace, otherwise known as the Best Place on Earth.

Maybe it was nothing at all.

But it had to be
something
. It had my name on the front, after all, and was taped to my locker. I was dying to open it, but even if I found a way to read it sneakily, Ms. Sigafiss would probably see me and read it to everyone or rip it up or something. And that was if she was in a
good
mood.

I looked around the room, thinking about words.

Different.

Challenging.

Fine.

Mysterious.

They were just words, but they could change my whole life.

In fact, they already had.

 

2

LURCHES AND LETTERS

If there was one person who could make me forget about words and mysterious notes for a second, it was Liam. Dumb, beautiful, horrible, amazing Liam. I may have been a little confused about how I felt, but the one thing I knew for sure was that one quick look into his greenish-brownish eyeballs as he entered the classroom made me completely forget everything. It also made my heart get all lurchy and poundy, which I seriously did not appreciate. Was this feeling really necessary
every single time
I saw him? I pulled my pink polka-dot scarf up over my face before anyone could see the major redness that usually followed lurchy heart.
Not
a good look for school.

Like I had done the past few days, I tried my very hardest to think about something un-lurchworthy.
Sitting in Chicago traffic when we go to Dr. Patel's. Actually being at Dr. Patel's. This class. Boring, boring, boring.
Perfect.

But then Jeg shot me a sideways glance from the seat next to me and Liam started chatting with Snotty Ami and my heart lurched all over again, big-time, and not in the overly excited kind of way. More like in the I-really-don't-like-this-one-bit kind of way.

I returned Jeg's look. “This stinks,” I whispered.

“Totally,” she said.

“Quiet!” Ms. Sigafiss rapped on her desk with a ruler.

She usually scared the bejeebers out of me, but at this moment she was my hero.
Anyone
who could make Liam and Snotty Ami stop talking to each other was automatically an awesome person, even if that person always wore frilly clothes and was permanently cranky.

“For the last ten minutes of class, please take out the assignment you began yesterday and continue working,” she said.

I picked up my pencil and tried my hardest to concentrate on the paper in front of me, but it was way less blue and mysterious than the paper I really wanted to look at. And it was
much
less greenish-brownish than those awesome/evil eyeballs of Liam's that I wanted to look at but probably shouldn't look at.

Just write,
I told myself.
You have to. Just do it already.

So, finally, I did.

Hey, Future Self:

It's currently the first Thursday of sixth grade, and I'm sitting here in English class trying to write this, but I can't stop thinking about that folded paper. I wish I had noticed it sooner and had time to open it before class started because now there's nothing I can do and I might explode if I don't find out what it says soon. But no, I have to be patient and wait. And I will. (I'll definitely try my best to wait, at least. I think that should totally count for something.)

I'm supposed to write my goals for the year in this letter, and I think Ms. Sigafiss probably means English class goals, like read five thousand books and be a good listener and put all my commas in the right places, school stuff like that.

I definitely care about that stuff—reading and listening and commas—but it's not everything. So here are my actual goals:

1. Stop thinking about the folded paper until I can finally open it after class.

2. Stop obsessing over Liam, because he is done liking me.

3. Instead, obsess over boys like Nice Andy who
do
seem to like me.

4. Stop thinking about the folded blue paper until it's time to open it. (But for real this time, because I totally didn't stop the first time I told myself to stop. Have you stopped by now?)

Also, Future Me, I'm dying to know—is Jeg still your best friend? Has Dad spoken to you recently about anything that actually matters? Did Dr. Patel ever find a cure? Did you pass sixth grade? You better have. We are not going to be here two years in a row. We're just not. No pressure.

From,

September Self

P.S.: Sooo, what was that little blue paper all about??

*   *   *

The bell rang right as I finished my letter. Without wasting a second, I stuck my notebook in my purse, jumped out of my seat, scurried past Liam and his awesome/evil eyeballs, and sped right out into the hall.

Finally. I'd made it through class, and now it was finally,
finally
time. It felt like I had been waiting my whole twelve years of life for this, not just the past forty-five minutes, which was how long it had actually been since I'd first yanked the paper off my locker right as the you're-totally-going-to-be-late bell rang.

I took a ginormous deep breath, reached into my pocket, pulled out the blue paper, and opened it up.

Holy. High. Heels.

 

3

EXPLORER LEADER

Before I could read a word, someone came up behind me and snatched the paper right out of my hands.

“Excuse you,” Jeg said with a smile. “What happened to reading that with your BFF?”

Busted.

“I was waiting for you! I was just opening it so it would be ready by the time you finished talking to everybody and got out here.” Jeg was friends with everyone, but she was
best
friends with me. We had the necklaces to prove it and everything.

“Let's open it in the bathroom,” she said. “You never know who could be watching and listening out here. It could be dangerous.”

I rolled my eyes at her. “You're killing me,” I said. Actually, the hallway was killing me. It was jam-packed and everyone walked like they were
trying
to take forever. We'd never make it to the bathroom at this rate.

“Why is everyone walking so slowly?” I asked.

“Um, hello…” Jeg gestured toward the walls.

Oh.

OH.

The hallway walls, normally very plain and white and boring, had been covered from floor to ceiling with all kinds of banners and posters advertising the sixth-grade trip we'd take later in the year. It wasn't till February, but everybody knew that it was a
huge
deal. After lots of competitions, one Explorer Leader would be chosen out of everybody in the grade. That person would be the boss of the trip and basically be famous for the rest of forever.

Jeg and I kept walking. We passed posters with photos of past Explorer Leaders, and everyone was stopping to take a look. Last year was Cody, who was grinning widely, clutching his official Explorer Leader certificate. The year before was Jordan, wearing a crown made out of leaves and beaming like she was Miss America. People had written messages on the posters around their faces. There were tons and tons of them. Even if I had the whole day to stand around and read, I would never have time to finish.

Cody = best E.L. EVER!!!

Jord, you did amazing.
   

Best trip ever! Thanks Gabriela, you rule
   

BOOK: Sticks & Stones
6.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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