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Authors: Stephanie Barden

The More the Merrier (3 page)

BOOK: The More the Merrier
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“C
an you take a picture of me and Tess jumping up and down and yelling?”

My mom's eyebrow went up, but only a little bit, which is just fine. It's the way she asks “Why?” without having to say it out loud.

“I want to include it in my letter to the dictionary people,” I said.

My mom put a few more things in her suitcase and tried to close the lid. “What word are you suggesting this time?”


Vexylent
,” I said. “I just came up with it yesterday during Table Book Talks. It's short for ‘very, extremely excellent,' and I think having a picture of how it feels will help.”

“I'm sure it wouldn't hurt,” said my mom. “Can you sit on this so I can zip it up?”

I climbed up on her bed and then on top of her suitcase. “You know, the
V
s have a very scrimpy section in the dictionary. It's full of good words, like
vicious
and
voracious
; but it could use some more.”

The zipper finally made it around just as Tess ran into the room.

“Woilà!” This time she remembered to put on her pants.

My mom held up the camera. “Say
cheese
.”

“No! Act like something vexylent happened!” I said.

I climbed off the bed, and we started jumping up and down and yelling like our team just made a touchdown.

One of Tess's green sneakers flew off, and that got me wondering if Tess was going to have a problem with shoes like me. I vowed right then and there to keep an eye on her feet as much as I could. I also vowed right then and there to name and address all her shoes like I always do to mine.

“Got it,” said my mom. “Do you want me to print it up?”

“Yes, please!” I ran off to finish my letter superquick before Aunt Flora came.

The place that I ran off to was my bedroom, which looks very different nowadays. Last weekend we moved my old bed into Tess's room. It was time for her to have a bed without a bar across to keep her from falling out. I didn't mind one little bit either, because I got a brand-new bunk bed out of the deal. Now I have a place for a friend to sleep when I have sleepovers, which I just love to have, especially with Erin.

“Ta-da!” Tess ran into my room waving the printed-up picture of us feeling vexylent.

“Thank you.” I sealed up the letter and followed her out to the living room.

My mom and dad were finishing getting ready, so Tess and I stood by our big front window and waited for Aunt Flora and her cat to arrive. I mean, WAITED FOR AUNT FLORA AND HER CAT TO ARRIVE! All in capitals! I have wanted a pet for my whole entire life, and now I got to have one for a whole entire week.

Aunt Flora's cat is named Miss Purvis. She's kind of an old-lady cat and is only a little bit friendly. When we go over to Aunt Flora's house, Miss Purvis will let us pet her for a few minutes, but then she gets up and leaves. If Tess follows after her and tries to pet her more, she hisses and swipes with her paw. I guess she might not be the greatest pet in the world; but she's still a pet, so who cares?

We are not allowed to have a pet for keeps at our house, and that is a great, big
Alas.
Alas
,
by the way,
is something I say when I'm a little bit frustrated or a little bit sad. If you say it with a big, huge sigh, it makes you feel better; and that makes the
Alas
thing easier to take. Tess pointed over to Charlie's driveway, where he was practicing basketball in the pouring-down rain.

I shook my head and did a big sigh, because no normal person would be outside on a day like today. Tess shook her head and did a big sigh too.

My dad carried his suitcase into the living room. “Don't worry, Flora will be here soon.”

I was about to tell him that we weren't sighing because of that when I heard the chugging, sputtery noise that the Flying Machine makes. That's what we call Aunt Flora's very old sports car since it kind of sounds like a helicopter. It's bright orange and has round, froggy headlights that sort of roll open and shut. It used to go very fast, but now it's pretty slow; and it burps when you turn it off.

“I hear Flora.” My mom set her suitcase down by my dad's.

As soon as the Flying Machine got quiet, we heard a big, loud, growly-meow coming all the way from my aunt's car. It kept going and going like it was never going to stop, and my mom's eyebrow went up and up like it was never going to stop either.

“Is that Miss Purvis?” asked my dad.

“I think so.” My mom's eyebrow was still way up. “Maybe you should give Flora a hand.”

My dad ran out the front door to help, but Tess and I stayed back in the doorway. Part of me wanted to help too, but part of me didn't want to get all soaking wet. Charlie stopped practicing basketball and stared at my aunt's car. “Hi, Tinder! Hi, Tess!”

“Hi, Tarlie!” Tess yelled, and waved like mad.

My dad ran back toward the house carrying two suitcases, and my aunt followed carrying a cat carrier.

“Do you need any help?” called Charlie.

“No thanks, Charlie,” my aunt called back. And FYI, she knew him because she cleans his teeth too, just like Erin's.

My aunt set down the cat carrier, and the millions of bracelets she wears jingled and jangled. She took off her black raincoat and was wearing all black underneath because that's her favorite color. Miss Purvis made a weird, yowly noise that sounded like Halloween.

My mom gave my aunt a big hug. “Thank you so much for watching the girls.”

“And ants.” Tess held out her new space-age ant farm all full of blue gel and ant tunnels.

My aunt kneeled down for a better look. “How cool is that!”

“It's vexylent,” I said.

“It is,” said my aunt. And that is one of the reasons I like her so much. She knew just what my new word meant without asking or anything.

“I like your bandanna,” I said.

Aunt Flora looked a little bit like a pirate with her hair that's the same color as mine hiding under a scarf.

“Thank you,” she said. “I like your shoes.”

I was wearing one pink Skecher and one white Skecher because I couldn't find their mates.

Miss Purvis's Halloween yowls got louder, and my mom's eyebrow started to go up again.

“Is this too much to ask?”

“No way,” said my aunt. “We are all going to have a ball.”

“Yep,” I said, “because the more the merrier!”

My aunt smiled and tapped her nose, which is our fancy way of saying “You got it.”

I tapped my nose back.

My mom's eyebrow was still up a little bit, but she and my dad gave us big hugs and kisses and headed out the door. Tess started to cry, and Aunt Flora picked Miss Purvis up out of her carrier and put her in Tess's arms. I think that cat was a little too heavy for Tess, though, because she sort of crumbled to the ground and Miss Purvis crumbled with her. Miss Purvis made the loudest Halloween yowl of all and raced out of the room. Then everything was quiet.

“Peace at last,” said Aunt Flora.

“Is Miss Purvis okay?” I asked.

“She's fine,” said my aunt. “She'll explore a little and then find a hiding place. Are you ready for lunch?”

“Yes!” Tess and I said at the same time.

“What are you in the mood for?” asked my aunt.

“How about breakfast?” I said. One of the very fun things about my aunt is that she likes to eat breakfast food any old time of the day and not just in the morning.

“Sure,” she said. “How about we make Pancake Surprise?”

“What's that?” I asked.

“It starts off like regular pancakes,” said Aunt Flora, “but then you add secret ingredients.”

“Like what kind of secret ingredients?”

“Whatever you feel like,” said my aunt. “That's what makes it a surprise.”

“I like surprises,” said Tess.

“Me too,” I said.

“Well, let's get to work.”

So we followed my aunt into the kitchen.

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