Authors: Julia DeVillers
But I'd wanted to start the school year looking trendy and cool. So I'd spent the summer in camp doing chores for this girl, Ashlynn, who would pay me in her designer clothes. I called them my “Summer Slave clothes.”
The designer clothes had impressed this popular girl Sydney and given me temporary access to popularity. But very temporary, because then I'd totally embarrassed myself. Emma had stepped in to save me and we'd switched places. She helped me redeem myself with Sydney and her friends.
It worked for a couple days and then? Twin Fail.
But one good thing? Emma had discovered that looking comfortable and cute wasn't such a bad thing. I waited as she opened her mouth to thank me for saving her from being seen in that T-shirt in public.
“Please tell me you're not concerned with what I'm wearing right now or how I look?” Emma hissed at me.
Well, I was. Kind of. Her hair was really disastrous, since taking off the sweatshirt had caused a static attack. I reached into my tote bag and scrounged around. Mirror, lip gloss, ouch! Sharp pencil. Yeesh. And then there it was, my brush.
“That is the least of our problems right now,” Emma said. “I can't believe you are even thinking about my appearance!”
I quickly dropped the brush back into the tote bag.
“Besides, this is the perfect shirt to wear,” Emma muttered. “It will remind Mrs. Case that I am the Spelling Bee Champion and not someone who gets in Big Trouble.”
Well, at least it would be harder to mix us up, with Emma's static-head and goofy T-shirt. My hair was still looking good even after a bad day. My brownish blond, shiny hair was my best feature. Emma also had brownish blond hair, but it was a teeny bit less shiny than mine.
And I was pleased with my outfit today. I'd spent a lot of time choosing it. Since it was our first day back after our horrible humiliation, I wanted to make sure that when people pointed and stared at me at least I looked cute.
I was wearing:
A blue long-sleeved shirt
(Summer Slave clothes)
A lighter blue tank
(From when Emma had gone on a shopping spree for me)
Bracelet with the
(Mine. I was done wearing Ashlynn's too-big shoes with their too-high heels.)
I noticed my sneaker was untied. Oh, shoot. That's all I would need, to embarrass myself by tripping over my shoelace. I bent down to tie it, and didn't notice someone rounding the corner until a white sneaker practically kicked me in the head.
“Hey!” I yelped. And looked up into the face of Sydney.
“Oh, it's just the twins,” Sydney said dismissively, looking down at me and then at Emma.
Ugh. It's The Sydney. She was wearing a green-and-yellow Geckos cheerleading uniform and holding pom-poms that were at my eye level. She obviously noticed that, too, and shook them so they swatted me in the face. I stood up quickly and stepped back.
“I can't believe you twins!” Following Sydney, as always, was her friend Cashmere. “You guys could have injured Sydney, and that would be a disaster. Sydney is going to
Sydney was cheerleading? Since when?
“Didn't you hear?” Cashmere asked after seeing the look on my face. “Sydney's on cheer squad! Daphne Yee broke her ankle, and Serra Potter moved to California. Sydney was the second alternate! Everyone knows she should have made it in the first place.”
“Oh, Cashmere.” Sydney giggled and faked a modest smile. “Let's go. Can't be late for cheerleading practice!”
Sydney did a
move with her arms. I could hear Cashmere's voice as they sauntered down the hall. “Did you see Twin #2's outfit? It was sooo cute. I
want those jeans.”
“Shut it, Cashmere,” Sydney growled, and they walked on down the hall.
appreciate being called Twin #2. Cashmere and Sydney obviously know my name is Payton,” I grumbled. Sydney and Cashmere had ignored me completely all day. Well, except for giggling and whispering about me.
“Of course they do, because they were your FBFs,” Emma said cheerfully.
“BFFs,” I said, glaring at her. “How come you can win spelling bees but you can't remember three letters in a row? And speaking of, can you please cover up that hideous shirt?”
Not that I cared what Sydney thought about Emma's style anymore. Of course I didn't. Not even a little bit.
“This shirt is more rare than one of your designer fashions,” Emma said pointedly. “Not everyone can win a spelling bee.”
And then she stopped walking. And pointed to a door that said
Emma started to hyperventilate. Loudly.
“I can't! I can't go in a detention room!” Emma gasped. “Won't somebody stop this madness!?”
She was totally having a panic attack!
“Emma!” I pushed her toward the door. “Chill out! Do your breathing thing!”
Emma always did some breathing relaxation thing before her big competitions. It helped calm her down. I'd see her
pacing the halls before the spelling bee or whatever we're-smarter-than-you genius contest she was in.
“Relaxing, cleansing breaths,” she muttered. “In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Slow, deep breaths.”
She closed her eyes and started breathing slowly and deeply. And loudly.
“Nose in, mouth out,” I coached her.
“There are those twins,” a girl's voice said. “Oh my gosh, are they talking to each other in a secret twin language?”
I looked in the detention room to see two girls staring at Emma and me in fascination.
“Yeah, I heard twins talk to each other in their own language, but I've never seen it before,” another girl's voice said. “Spooky.”
“We're breathing, okay?” I snapped. “Even twins breathe! Yeesh!”
The girls looked startled.
“We have to go in there,” I said to Emma gently. “Just take a little baby step andâ”
“Excuse me!” A boy was walking quickly down the hall toward us. “Are you Payton and Emma Mills?”
“Yes.” I sighed. “Yes, we're the identical embarrassing twins from TV. Yes, we switched places and it didn't go well. Yes, my hair is lighter and Emma's a little taller.”
“Uh . . .” The boy looked slightly confused. “I just have a message to give you from the guidance counselor.”
Oh. I took the note and read it aloud. “âYou are excused from detention today. Please go to the guidance office.' Signed, Counselor Case.”
“Follow me,” the boy said.
Emma's eyes lit up as she backed away from the detention room.
“Excuse me, you know what this is about?” I asked the boy.
“I don't know.” He shrugged. “All I know is that Counselor Case was complaining about troublemaker twins and they are going to be in So. Much. Trouble.”
Emma and I looked at each other and gulped. We walked in silence down the hall, not looking at each other the entire way, and into the guidance office.
A dark-haired woman was sitting behind a desk. When she saw us, she stood up and gestured for us to take a seat.
“I'm Counselor Case,” she said. “Please sit down.”
Emma and I sat down. We gave each other a worried look.
“I'm afraid this is a sticky situation,” the counselor said. “Twin issues are challenging. It must be hard to be identical twins and feel constantly compared to each other. You must feel like you have to stand out to have your own identity. And sometimes, that can lead to trouble. Big trouble.”
And then she got up suddenly and left the room.
Trouble: (noun or verb)
A source of difficulty.
Synonyms: concern, upset, suffering
I tried to soothe my panic with dictionary definitions I'd memorized last summer for fun. And so I wouldn't think about what was happening to me.
Up until last week, the words “trouble” and “Emma” were never remotely related to each other. I never got in trouble in school. I never even had trouble
school. School came very naturally to me. Unlike Payton, my not-as-smart twin.
“What do you think she meant?” Payton whispered to me.
I took a deep breath and let my intellect take over my emotions. Just like I did in final-round academic competitions where there was no room for nervousness.
“Well, she said that twin issues are challenging,” I said.
“And she is correct in that forming separate identities can sometimes lead to extreme behavior in order to prove there's a difference.”
“I meant, what do you think she means by âbig trouble'?” Payton interrupted me. “Do you think she means more trouble than detention? Like, suspension?”