Authors: Adele Griffin
For Tessa and Tanya
UNA AND CLAIRE BUNDKIN
were identical twins. Their hair was the color of maple syrup and their eyes were the color of warm chocolate chips. The only way to tell them apart was by the tiny chicken pox scar just beneath Luna’s chin, but not many people knew about that.
They both loved-loved-loved gymnastics; their teacher, Mrs. Sanchez; and all flavors of Schmidt’s ice cream (except vanilla bean, which was just okay). They both hated-hated-hated swimming parties, indoor recess, and avocados—although Claire hated avocados more than Luna did. She said she could start gagging at the very smell of them, although Luna insisted that avocados don’t really have a smell. Claire answered that if she got even a smidgen of slimy avocado taste on her salad it would make her throw up. But Claire could be very dramatic like that.
And, oh yes, they were witches. But more about that later.
They were both age ten (Luna was thirteen minutes older) and had lived in Philadelphia, at 22 Locust Street, for their entire lives. Over the years, their narrow sandstone townhouse had been through some changes. Some changes were big; other changes were small.
For example, four years ago, lightning had split the Bundkins’ only real-live locust tree, which used to stand handsome as a doorman in its cutout sidewalk rectangle at the bottom of their front steps. Their mother had cried almost a whole day about that, because the tree was more than one hundred years old and a monument. Now it was just a stump, slightly improved when Justin, their big brother, had carved BUNDKIN RULES! into the top of it with his fishing knife. (Well, he always said he didn’t do it, but it was such a Justin thing to do that everybody is still very suspicious.)
Then, three years ago, their parents had got divorced and their father had moved out of 22 Locust Street and bought a small house out in Rosewood, which was half an hour away in the suburbs. Their mother had cried longer than a day about that, and their father had cried, too, and so had Luna, Claire, and Justin, because the Bundkins had been married for fifteen years and besides, divorce is tough, go ask anyone.
But then, two years ago, their mother had met her boyfriend, Steve, who was a chef at The Aubergine, one of the fanciest restaurants in town, though Steve was more a jeans-and-sneakers kind of guy. And last year, their father had met his girlfriend, Fluffy.
Yes, she really was called Fluffy. But more about her later.
The most recent change to 22 Locust Street had been this past November, when their mother had bought new living room curtains. They went from blue stripes to red and green flowers. It was a small change, but it really spruced up the room.
This year, so far, nothing much had happened at 22 Locust Street. In fact, most of winter had been pretty boring. No surprises. No disasters, or surprising disasters. Not even a single snow day, Luna mentioned.
“Which is too bad,” she said. “Snow days are sooo romantic.”
“We still could have one. It’s only the middle of March,” Claire said. “Remember, March goes out like a lion!” She growled and made claws.
“No, March comes
like a lion and goes
like a lamb,” Luna corrected.
“Well, it feels like it came in like a turtle, and it’s staying a turtle,” Claire responded.
Luna looked up at the gray March sky. She and her sister were standing outside on their front steps waiting for their father, who was taking them (plus Justin) to his house in Rosewood for the weekend. If it didn’t rain, they would get to go horseback riding at Puddinhead Farms.
Only right now it looked like rain.
Claire looked up, too. “I should run inside and get my umbrella,” she said.
umbrella,” Luna corrected. “You lost yours two weeks ago on the field trip to the Art Museum, remember?”
“I did not,” said Claire, but she didn’t put any stomp in her words because Claire was always losing one thing or another.
“Did too, and you know it!”
“Did not, and you married it!”
Luna put her hands on her hips.
Claire put her hands on her hips.
“Stop copying me,” said Luna.
“Stop copying me,” mimicked Claire.
Luna frowned and turned away. Claire could be the world’s worst tease, and some times the best thing to do was to ignore her. She touched her finger to her chicken pox scar, which she’d had for almost half of her life. (“You shouldn’t have scratched,” their mother always said. Jill Bundkin was a doctor and knew a lot about things you shouldn’t scratch.) Luna liked to feel her scar, though, because it reminded her that she looked a teeny bit different from her sister.
On the outside, it was (almost) impossible to tell Claire from Luna.
On the inside, however, Claire and Luna were as different as the sun and moon, peaches and peanut butter, or long division and poetry. For example, right now, while Claire probably was thinking up other ways to tease her sister, Luna let her mind wander to imagining her favorite thing, her wedding.
Luna liked to imagine her wedding a lot. Obviously not the groom part, because she thought most boys were grubby and she would never choose to spend a lifetime with one, even a mature one with sideburns and a cleft chin. It was the other parts of the wedding she liked best, the spun-sugar cake and the rose-and-baby’s-breath bouquets and the bridesmaids in their bell-shaped, swoopy dresses, with the softest, swoopiest dress of all reserved for the bride, along with a handmade lace veil so beautiful it could break your heart.
No wonder everyone cried at weddings.
Luna squeezed her eyes shut to concentrate on the most important part of her wedding—the dress—and she got such a perfect picture of its swoopiness that butterflies fluttered in her stomach.
The sound of a car horn startled her from her thoughts. She opened her eyes to see her father’s car pull up to the curb.
“Hey gals!” Fluffy grinned and waved from the passenger seat. A big diamond ring flashed on her finger.
Luna’s wedding butterflies went from a warm flutter to a cold flop.
She knew what that ring meant.
“Waiting long? Where’s your brother? Does anyone have the correct time? Are you bringing just these two bags?” Their father, Louis Bundkin, was a newspaper reporter for the
and he liked to ask lots of questions all at once.
Fluffy waved again from the passenger seat. Neither twin waved back, because they did not especially like Fluffy. She was nice enough, but she was also big and loud and liked to wear bright clothes and she usually called them “sugar” or “gals.”
But Fluffy did not seem to notice any unfriendliness.
“We thought we’d take you all to Licks ’n’ Sticks for dinner!” she said as the girls climbed in. “It’s a celebration!”
“Licks ’n’ Sticks!” yelled Justin from the roof, where he was playing hacky sack. “I’ll be down in a jiff!”
“Can I get two Hawaiian sticks and no vegetable sticks?” asked Claire.
“Can I get three Chinese potsticker sticks and no vegetable sticks?” asked Justin, who had made it to the car in less than a jiff.
Luna said nothing, even though Licks ’n’ Sticks was her favorite restaurant. She nudged her sister and pointed to Fluffy and mouthed the word
but now Claire was too busy elbowing Justin for space to pay Luna any attention.
Why am I always the one to notice disasters? Luna fretted as she snapped on her seat belt. Fluffy’s ring was the worst thing to happen this year, and so far she was the only one to see it.
At the restaurant, Luna could not concentrate on enjoying her dinner. Not her skewered pineapple-, green pepper-, and lamb-on-a-stick, not her broiled potatoes-on-a-stick, not even her hot fudge sundae (which was not served on a stick, because Schmidt’s ice cream desserts were the “Lick” part of the menu).
Every time her eye caught sight of Fluffy’s flashing diamond, Luna felt completely sick.
“Fluffy and I have an announcement to make,” their father said after their sundaes were scraped to the bottom and he had ordered his usual after-dinner coffee. He reached across the table and took Fluffy’s hand. “Fluffy and I are getting married.”
“I knew it,” mumbled Luna.
“Congratulations! Can I have a dollar for the video games?” asked Justin.
“Congratulations,” said Claire.
said her eyes to Luna across the table. But it was only a small
because Claire did not know what trouble they were in for.
“Justin, we’d like you to be your dad’s best man, and I hope both of you gals would be my junior bridesmaids,” said Fluffy. “And of course, I’d looove your advice on everything—the dresses and food and flowers. Oh, a wedding takes so much darn planning!”
“We might be busy,” said Luna.
“I’ll be glad to work around your schedule, sugar,” said Fluffy not noticing Luna’s rudeness. “’Course, I’d been thinking about doing the whole shebang out in Texas. But that seemed kinda complicated.”
“Do whatever you want, Fluff,” said their father. “Just tell me where and when, and I’ll show up.”
His words froze Luna to her seat. She could hardly speak for the rest of the evening.
It was not until late that night, after all the good television was over and Fluffy had driven back to her home in Chestnut Condominiums and everyone else had gone to bed and all the lights were off and Justin had stopped bumping around in the next room playing hacky sack, that Luna spoke her fears out loud. She was very wide-awake, anyway, because it was hard to fall asleep without the soothing city noises of police sirens and garbage trucks around her.
“You know the worst thing about Fluff, don’t you, Clairsie?” she whispered across to the other bed.
“No, what?” Claire whispered back.
“She’s from Houston, Texas.”
“Oh, blech!” exclaimed Claire. Then she asked, “What’s wrong with Houston, Texas?”
“What’s wrong with Houston, Texas? It’s two thousand miles away, that’s what! Crumbs, Clairsie, you can be thick! Don’t you get it? You heard Dad. ‘Just tell me where and when, Fluff, and I’ll show up!’ He’s under her spell! He’ll do whatever she wants!”
“Like the zombietrons on
,” gulped Claire.
was the only television show that Justin and the twins agreed on. It came on Thursday nights at eight.)
“Except that this is real life.” Now Luna began to say out loud every single thing that she had been worrying over all night. “The way I see it is, after Dad and Fluff get married, she’ll probably want to have a baby. And when it’s born, she’ll give him some Texas name, like
Then, when he’s big enough, Fluffy’ll want Houston to rope dogies and wear spurs and a cowboy hat like all the other Texan boys and girls. Little by little, she’ll convince Dad that the only way Houston’ll be truly happy is if he’s living in the
Houston, with her family and friends and all. And—poof!—see, Clairsie? Dad is as good as gone.”
“Gizzards and grapes, Fluff is as good as stealing our dad,” said Claire, forgetting to whisper and sitting upright in her bed. “I might have to boycott her.” Claire had just learned the word
and in Luna’s opinion she was sort of overusing it. So far tonight, Claire had boycotted a broccoli-on-a-stick and all of Justin’s TV-show choices.
“Shhh.” Now Luna sat up in bed, too. “Claire, keep your voice down, or Dad will hear.”
“This is so unfair!” Claire punched her pillow. “You know, I never did like that sneaky old Fluff. She thinks she’s a real princess just because she works at a fashion magazine. But I was looking through her purse tonight, and she has lots of dis-
-ting habits. For one thing, there’s so much hair clogging up her brush you wouldn’t believe it, and I also found a bunch of candy wrappers, and a tissue with some smeary lipstick in it, and a gummy yucky Life Saver way down at the bottom of—”