By Molly <MPSL27@aol.com>
Submitted November 1999
Summary: A fun story giving us a look into the life of Kaylie Kent, Lois and Clark's teenaged daughter, as she learns to deal with the idea of having superpowers, having her friends think her dad is "hot," and struggling with the usual boy trouble and teenage angst.
[Author's Note: This is a sequel to "Perfectly Not Normal." You may want to read that fanfic first. But in case you don't want to, here's a quick summary: Kaylie Kent is Lois and Clark's teenage daughter. In the last story, she discovered her mom is pregnant, her dad is Superman, and that she's starting to get Superpowers. "My Almost Perfect Life" takes place a little over four months after "Perfectly Not Normal" ends. All familiar characters are the property of DC Comics and the unfamiliar ones are mine. Please send me comments!]
"Kaylie got a new Superpower today," my mom told my Grandma over the phone one Friday evening in February.
I was sitting in the living room, fast-forwarding through the commercials on a tape of my favorite soap opera, "Hanna & Company", when I heard my name mentioned. I hit the pause button on the VCR, got up, and ran into the kitchen just in time to hear Mom say, "You should have seen her. She was so proud of herself!"
"Mo-om!" I moaned. "You don't need to tell everyone in the world every little detail of my personal life."
"Oh, Kaylie," Mom said, putting her hand over the telephone mouthpiece and giving me one of those "don't be silly!" looks. "It's *Grandma Kent*!"
As if that made *all* the difference.
Grandma Kent. Seventy-something, married, nice hair, unusual spunk. She's a good listener, too, which may be why my mom is often compelled to spill each and every bean into Grandma's open ears. They can go on and on for hours, racking up huge phone bills… which is actually not a problem because I think they have some sort of frequent caller discount plan.
"What, Martha?" Mom went on, putting the phone back up to her ear. "What? Oh, well, why don't I let *her* tell you? Oh, sure. She's right here!"
"No, Mom," I whispered frantically. It's not that I don't like Grandma. I love her! I mean, she's Grandma! I just really wasn't in the mood for a conversation about Superpowers right then.
Mom handed me the phone, despite my glares in her direction. "Hi, Grandma," I said.
"Hello, Sweetie! Your mom told me something special happened to you today."
Oh, brother. "Yeah, well…"
"What Superpower did you get? Was it exciting?"
"X-ray vision. And not really."
"No? You mean you haven't made any plans to spy on the boys' locker room yet?"
"Martha!" I heard Grandpa say in the background. He sounded shocked that his wife could say such a thing.
"I was kidding," Grandma said.
I laughed. "No, Grandma. I'm not going to waste my X-ray vision on junior high boys."
"I was kidding," she said again, probably to make sure that if I *did* do such a perverted thing, she would not be held responsible for putting the idea in my head.
"Do you want to talk to Mom again?" I asked.
"Sure, Honey. Put her back on."
My mom. Lois. Forty-something, pregnant with child number four, and beautiful. She's an investigative reporter for the Daily Planet. She loves the job, and the best part about it (according to her) is that she gets to be partners with Dad.
My dad. Clark Kent. Superman. Wears the boots, the spandex, the cape, and saves the world on an daily basis. Thoughtful, funny, and a little bit not normal. He's also forty-something, but he still looks thirty-five, and my friends think he's hot. I can not tell you how embarrassing that is. It's the main reason why I rarely invite anybody over.
Now, wait, maybe I should back up a little. A paragraph or two ago, I told you that Mom is having her fourth child. This is a major event in any family, but especially in mine. I'm not even really sure why, except that this will probably be the last Kent kid… which is fine with me, because we're out of bedrooms!
I'm Kaylie M. Kent, the oldest kid. I turned fourteen on October 24th of last year, and I have great hair. I'm in eighth grade at Metro Junior High. I have two passions in life. One is writing (I guess I take after my parents). The other is watching TV. I used to go to the Daily Planet Daycare, but now that I'm fourteen, I've passed the age limit and must come home *every* day after school. Gee… darn. I'm not home alone though because Mom just started her maternity leave, and so she's always home. She's also usually finding chores for me to do around the house… what fun.
Then there are my siblings. Jenna's nine and Michael's six. There's really not much I can say about my sister and brother. They exist, they annoy me, end of story. Michael and Jenna don't know that Dad is Superman. I think Mom and Dad are afraid that if Michael and Jenna found out, they would blab to Tattletale Weekly or something. I, personally, know the big secret… but I found out by accident. I wonder when my parents were going to tell me? When I started flying around the house? But for now, I can't fly and my Superpowers are pretty not-powerful. I didn't even realize I had them until right around the time I found out Dad was Superman. Since then, I get a new power every month, it seems. It's nuts! Now I have heat vision, X-ray vision, Superhearing, and I'm kind of strong and pretty-fast, but it's really nothing to brag about.
After I handed the phone back to Mom, I went up to my room, shut the door, and fell back onto my bed. I looked around for something to X-ray. Okay, I thought, I'll X-ray through the door of my closet… wow, it's a mess in there! All right… I'll X-ray my walls. Next to my room is Jenna's room. Jenna, who was supposed to be doing homework, was clipping her fingernails. Ew!
I got X-ray vision today. It *seems* like a really cool thing to have. But now I'm thinking maybe people deserve their privacy. I wonder if Dad's ever looked through walls at anyone? Geez, I hope not. That's disgusting! Besides, he's too good for that. I, on the other hand, have a new power and I want to use it! So there! Sheesh, this is hard. No one I know is going through what I'm going through right now. Not one other teenage girl in the whole world has Superpowers. Superpowers are potentially cool, but I have to keep them a secret, and I hate secrets. I hate being different. I wish I could be normal, like everybody else.
Love, Kaylie M. Kent
Mom really didn't want a baby shower this time around, but her mother, Grandma Lane, just *loves* baby showers. Grandma Lane loves organizing and throwing parties. It's insane, really. So I wasn't surprised when Grandma came over on Sunday afternoon and started taking measurements of our living room.
"The presents can go over here," I heard her mumbling to herself. "And the cake. What about the cake? Lo-is!"
My mom poked her head out of the kitchen. "What now, Mother?"
"Lois, would it be such a terrible crime if I put in an order for carrot cake this time? I know you just *insisted* on chocolate cake with the other three children, but carrot cake is so practical…"
Grandma threw up her hands. "Ha! Well, if she doesn't care about her own baby shower… well…"
"Who all is coming to this baby shower?" I asked, flattening myself against the wall as Grandma hurried by.
"Oh, your mother was supposed to make up a guest list, but did she? No. I called your Aunt Lucy, and she is definitely coming. And it's a good thing, too, because—"
"Aunt *Lucy* is coming?" I moaned. It's not so much that I don't like Aunt Lucy—she's okay—I just can't stand her daughter, Crissy. Crissy's my age. I haven't seen her since Aunt Lucy's second wedding. Crissy started a cake fight out in the parking lot and I got blamed for it when Grandma Lane got hit by a piece of flying cake.
"Yes," said Grandma. "Lucy is coming. Perhaps your mother didn't tell you, but since Lucy's *divorce* last year, she has made a few life changes… one of them being her move to Metropolis."
"When did this happen?" I asked. No one ever tells me anything! Last thing I knew, Lucy and Crissy were living in California!
"Three weeks ago. They found an apartment in *North* Metropolis, God help them." Grandma shuddered, as if North Metropolis was the absolute *worst* place one could live.
"Is Crissy coming to the shower, too?" I asked.
"Yes. And you better not start any cake fights, young lady…"
There was no point in arguing. She's brought up the cake thing a hundred times since that fateful day. She's never going to believe that I didn't start it.
I've decided that the main difference between Grandma Kent and Grandma Lane is that one of them is sane and the other is not. I love them both, but while Grandma Kent is a good listener, Grandma Lane listens to no one. Grandma Kent loves to compliment me. Grandma Lane loves to put me (and everybody else) down. You may wonder why I can even stand to be around Grandma Lane, since I'm making her sound like such a wombat. Well, it's really simple: She's family. I have no other reason.
Kaylie M. Kent
On the day of the baby shower, Grandma Lane arrived at the crack of dawn. "Up and at 'em!" she said, opening my curtains and snapping on my light.
"But I was having a dream about Duncan Bradley," I moaned, burying my face in my pillow.
"I don't know who that is, but dreaming of boys?! At your age! Why, when I was your age, I never even looked at boys. Now get up, Dear, we must get you dressed! Don't you want to look beautiful for your mother's baby shower?"
"No," I said, getting out of bed. I stood in the middle of the room, looking like an idiot, while Grandma rummaged through my closet. She pulled out a blue skirt and a white blouse. "Here you go, Dear, this will do nicely."
"Why don't I just put on a sun bonnet, so I can complete the whole 'prairie girl' look?" I said, glaring at the outfit she had chosen.
"Put on the clothes."
"Not in front of you!"
"Fine. I'll turn around." A minute later, she turned around to face me. "Well?"
"I knew it," I said. "I look like a prairie girl."
"Oh, Kaylie, don't be silly." Grandma sniffed and squinted her eyes at me. "Your hair is a fright."
"I just got out of bed," I pointed out.
Grandma picked up a brush and took it upon herself to comb my hair. She combed and yanked her way through the tangles, all the while muttering, "If your mother can't keep you looking presentable, I supposed *I'll* have to do it!"
Thanks, Grandma, but I'm fourteen. I know how to comb my own hair.
When Grandma finally left me alone and went off to torment somebody else, I took that awful outfit off and put on a pair of jeans and a sweater. I knew Grandma would freak when she saw what I was wearing, but part of me wanted to see her do just that. It had all the potential of being a very entertaining event!
After lunch, guests started arriving and the living room was quickly filling up with people. I began to worry about the amount of people that were in the room. Couldn't this be some sort of fire hazard? My dad would know. But he had mysteriously disappeared after breakfast. I wondered if he was out saving someone or if he had just wanted to escape the madness that is Grandma Lane. If that was true, I wish he'd taken me with him! Michael was at a friends' house and I had no idea where Jenna was.
The doorbell rang for the zillionth time and I just knew it was going to be Aunt Lucy… because, well, she was the only guest not there yet. And that tricky Grandma! She knew it was Lucy, too, and she said, "Kaylie, answer the door!"
I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. But there was no escaping my duty. I went to the front door, took a deep breath, seized the doorknob, and pulled open the door.
"Hi, Kaylie!" Aunt Lucy cried, pulling me into a big hug.
"Mmmphantucy," I said, my voice muffled against her shoulder.
"Hi, Kaylie," said another voice.
I pulled away from Lucy and looked behind her. Crissy smiled at me.
"Come on in," I said. Lucy took off her coat, handed it to me, and went off to look for my mom.
Crissy looked at me. "You probably don't remember me, do you?" she asked.
Was this some sort of trick question? "I remember you," I said stiffly, as I found a place for Lucy's coat in the closet.
"Good. I hate baby showers, don't you? All they are is a bunch of adults, sitting around watching some pregnant woman opening presents, and going 'oooh, ahhhh' every time something even halfway cute is unwrapped."
This was going to be a long day.
Crissy went on. "But you must be used to it now. I mean, this is the fourth kid in your family, counting you. Right?" When I didn't answer, she sighed. "My mom dragged me here," she told me. "I was supposed to go ice skating. I bet you don't want to be here either, do you?"
I finally looked at her. "Not really," I admitted.
"Then let's get out of here!" she said, her eyes lighting up. "Let's go to the mall!"
That idea actually sounded good! "Okay, but we're really going to have to sneak out. If Grandma catches us…"
"Trust me, I can handle *Grandma,*" Crissy said. "Give me a few minutes to think of something. Go mingle. And whatever you do, act natural."
How do you act natural, I wondered? I wandered into the kitchen and helped myself to some punch before starting toward the living room to find a place to sit.
Suddenly, Crissy grabbed my arm and pulled me around a corner. "Quiet!" she ordered. "I've developed an escape plan for us. We'll go out the back door. Come on, we have to do it *now.* Grandma's in the bathroom."
"I really didn't need to know that…" I said as I followed Crissy out the back door. We sneaked around the side of the house and started walking down the street. "You know, Grandma still thinks *I'm* the one who started that cake fight at your mom's second wedding," I said.
Crissy giggled. "I can't believe she remembers that!"
"You have no idea…"
The mall is only a few blocks and a short bus ride from my house. When we got there, we went right to the food court and bought ourselves blue Icees.
We sat down at a table. "Why did you decide to move to Metropolis?" I asked, trying to make conversation.
"Life changes," said Crissy. "My mom's, like, nuts. We moved here three weeks ago, bought a house—it's small, but cozy—and my mom got a job at Metropolis General. So how's the whole Superpowers thing going?"
A weird thing happens when you cough while slurping a blue Icee. Half of the stuff goes in your throat and gets stuck, one fourth dribbles down your chin, and the final fourth shoots out your nose and lands on the table.
"I beg er ardon?" I said through my coughing fit.
Crissy stared at me with wide eyes, looking as if she didn't know whether to laugh or hand me a napkin. In the end, she handed me a napkin and backed away a bit.
When I'd calmed down, she repeated her question. "How's the Superpowers thing going?"
"How do you know about that?" I whispered.
"What? I wasn't supposed to know?" she asked.
"Duh! It's a highly sensitive secret! Only a few people know."
"Well," said Crissy. "Apparently your mom told my mom about your dad being Superman and all, and my mom told me. Don't worry… I'm very good at keeping secrets. I've only told my cat so far."
"How long have you known?"
"A long time. Maybe three years."
"Three years!? I've only known for four months!"
Crissy shook her head sadly. "Your mom tells my mom everything over the phone, and then my mom tells me. So I know that you're getting Superpowers. Apparently it took your parents a long time to know they could trust you with the secret. My mom and I tell each other everything."
"They never *told* me!" I said. "I figured it out on my own!"
"They never told you? Wow. Your own parents don't trust you. You poor thing."
"I am a poor, pathetic thing," I agreed, sighing. "But don't you think it's weird?"
"Me! I'm like… bizarre-o-rama! Face it… how many people do you know who are only half human?"
Crissy studied me. "You look normal to me."
"But I'm not."
"No one's normal," said Crissy. "Especially not me. Did you know I can pick up things with my toes?"
"Um, no, I didn't know that."
"Well, I can. I can write with them, paint with them… I can even play the piano with them."
I stared at her.
"Now who's not normal?" she said, grinning.
"You really can do that stuff?"
She shrugged. "Sure. But, hey, don't ask me to do it right now. We're in public! Maybe some other time."
I finished my Icee, making obnoxious noises with the straw as I cleaned out the last bits of blue ice in the cup. "Okay, you're right," I said. "You're about as normal as I am!"
The baby shower was supposed to end around four. Crissy and I came back around three, thinking we'd still have time to show our faces at the party and make it look like we'd been there the whole time. We should have known, however, that we couldn't out-smart Grandma.
"Where were you naughty girls?!" she cried when she saw us come in the back door. "You have ruined my baby shower. *Ruined* it!"
"*Your* baby shower?" Crissy said, giggling. "Gee, Grandma. I had no idea. Congratulations!"
"Don't you get smart with me! I'm going to tell both of your mothers what bad, bad girls you are!"
"Okay," we said.
Grandma glared at us and stormed off.
Crissy and I went into the living room, where Mom was opening the last of the presents. The room was cluttered with people, crumpled-up napkins, half-empty cups, and enough wrapping paper to make any environmentalist very upset. We were just in time to hear a choir of women exclaim, "Why, isn't that the *cutest* thing you've ever *seen*?"
After all the guests (except for Lucy, Crissy, and Grandma) left, guess who got stuck cleaning up? Crissy and me, that's who. We got the fun and exciting job of cleaning up other people's napkins while Grandma bustled about, making sure *we* were doing our jobs.
"Girls, work faster! Wait until I tell your mothers about your little missing-in-action stunt this afternoon."
"What stunt?" Mom asked, coming into the room. She started to bend over to pick up a napkin off a chair, but Grandma stopped her.
"Don't you *dare* do any lifting and bending! Not while you're carrying *my* grandchild! However, I'll have you know that Kaylie and Crissy *left* the baby shower before it had even begun and did *not* return until just one hour ago! I don't know where they went, but judging by their blue tongues and teeth, I would bet they went to the mall to get an Icee!"
"Did you, Kaylie?" Mom asked.
I nodded sheepishly. "Mom, don't be mad, we just wanted to—"
"I'm not mad," Mom said. "I'm glad you two are friends now. And besides, if I *hadn't* been the guest of honor, *I* probably would have escaped right along with you. Baby showers aren't really my thing."
"Why, I never!" Grandma cried.
A few minutes later, Mom hugged Grandma and she left. Then she hugged Lucy and I said good-bye to Crissy and they left. After she closed the door, Mom collapsed on the couch and let out a sigh of relief.
"How come you never told me Lucy and Crissy were moving to Metropolis?" I asked her.
"Didn't I? I could have sworn I did."
"You never tell me anything!"
Mom looked at me. "What do you mean by that?"
"You didn't tell me Dad was Superman, yet you told Aunt Lucy. Lucy told Crissy! Crissy's known for years, and I've known for four months. What's up with that?"
"I didn't know Lucy told Crissy," Mom said. "I wish she hadn't."
Jenna came into the living room, looking zonked. "Is the baby shower over?" she asked, rubbing her eyes.
"Yes," said Mom. "Where were you?"
"Asleep!" Jenna said. "Is there any cake left?" She skipped into the kitchen, in search of cake.
Dad came in the front door just then and said, "Hey."
"Hey, where were you?" Mom asked. "Mother kept saying, 'Where is that husband of yours?'"
I giggled. "Nice Grandma impression, Mom."
Dad gave Mom an apologetic look. "Sorry, Honey," he said in a low voice. "There was a major accident on the Interstate." Mom moved over and made room for Dad on the couch.
"You look exhausted," she said, cuddling up to him and resting her head just underneath his chin.
Dad smiled. "I'm glad to be home," he admitted. "How was the shower?"
"Oh, it was… weird," Mom said, lacing her fingers through his and closing her eyes.
A moment later, her eyes fluttered open and she jumped a little.
"Did you feel a kick?" Dad asked her. She nodded. Dad put his hand across Mom's stomach and showed a faint smile a moment later when he obviously felt something. "Hey, there, little guy… or girl," he said quietly to the baby.
I listened from across the room, my Superhearing picking up a mixture of heartbeats. It was a very cool sound.
Late one afternoon in early March, the phone rang. I answered it.
"Crissy? What's up?" .
"Not much. Your mom still pregnant?"
"Unfortunately," I muttered. "She's going through these mood swings…"
My mom passed through the room at that precise moment and glared at me. "I heard that!"
"But otherwise she's just the same old Mom," I added. "Except she's even more enormous than she was on the day of the baby shower, if you can believe it!"
"I heard that, too!" Mom called from the kitchen. Geez, sometimes I think my *mom's* the one with the Superhearing!
Crissy laughed. "Oh, shoot, I just heard my mom's car pull up. She's going out with some moron tonight. His name's Truce Kipley. Is that weird a weird name or what?"
"Totally weird," I agreed, and then we said good-bye and hung up.
Poor Crissy. Aunt Lucy has been dating a lot lately. Ever since she got divorced from her second husband last year, she's been "fishing" for new men. So far (according to Crissy) the only thing she's managed to catch is a netful of jerks and fingernail biters.
That night, Dad missed dinner completely. Mom told Jenna and Michael that Dad was working late, but in fact, there had been an earthquake in Los Angeles and he was helping with the rescue efforts. He didn't get home until after midnight, and the next day, I decided there was only one thing for me to do.
"Dad, I want to help," I said, taking a seat at the kitchen table across from Dad. He was drinking coffee and reading the morning edition of The Daily Planet.
"Help?" he said, taking a sip of coffee from his *Word's Best Dad* mug.
"With the Superhero stuff."
"Oh, Kaylie," he said, sighing. "I wish you could, but I just don't think you're ready for that. It's dangerous out there. Maybe someday…"
"But Dad, you need me *now.* I hardly ever see you anymore because you're always saving people from some disaster. I can help take some of the load off. True, I don't have a whole lot of Superpowers, but I'm pretty fast and pretty strong. Plus, I'm practically invulnerable, so you wouldn't have to worry about me getting hurt."
"Honey, I worry about you no matter *how* strong and fast and invulnerable you are. But you have priorities, Sweetie. You have school…"
"You have *work,*" I said, and I wondered how much work he'd missed recently. Probably a lot.
"Look," Dad said, smiling. "When we *both* think you're ready, then we'll see. Until then… be a kid for a long as you can and don't worry about taking over the family business just yet."
I giggled. "Okay."
That evening, at the dinner table of all places, Mom asked if any of us kids would like to be in the delivery room when she had her baby. "The doctor says anyone is welcome, as long as we don't turn it into a three-ring circus," she said.
"Kaylie better not," Jenna said, giggling as she glanced sideways at me. "Icky things make her faint."
"Hey," I said. "I'm not the one who ate three cheese dogs at the Waterfront Carnival and then rode the Tilt-a-Whirl and—"
"I'm eating, here!" Michael cried.
"Maybe you kids should all just wait in the waiting room," Mom said, looking a little green.
"Dad!" cried Jenna. "Michael's looking at me!"
"Jenna's breathing is too loud!" Michael said.
"Well Michael's feet are bumping mine under the table."
"Jenna's chewing with her mouth open!"
"I like the way Kaylie is sitting quietly," Mom said tiredly, as if she'd had it just about up to *here* with her unruly children. "Kaylie will get dessert tonight. I'm not so sure about the rest of you."
Jenna and Michael stopped looking, chewing and kicking, and smiled like the little angelic children that the rest of us knew they weren't. "We love you, Mommy," Jenna said in a syrupy-sweet voice.
"Yeah, sure you do," Mom said, getting up from the table.
Dad stood up to clear away Mom's plate and shook his head at us kids, as if to say, "Watch out… you don't want to see your mom when she's *really* angry."
I knew he was right!
The next day, I caught Mom going through some old photo albums. This maternity leave thing has given her *way* too much free time, if you ask me. She called me over to the couch where she was sitting and pointed to a photo.
"Look at you, Kaylie!" she said, pointing to a picture of a 22-inch-long, bald-headed, red-faced version of me. "That was taken when you were a baby."
"Really," I said sarcastically.
Mom did not notice the sarcasm. "Here's a picture of you, right after you came home from the hospital!" she said, wiping away a tear as she turned the page. "And here's a picture of you getting your first bath…"
"Mom!" I moaned. Why is *that* in there?! I'm naked!"
Mom smiled. "You were so cute… your little fingers… your little toes… your little belly button…"
"Oh, did I tell you?" Mom said, not looking up from her album. "If the baby's born before Spring Break, we're all flying to Smallville for five days."
"Smallville?" I like Smallville! That's where Grandma and Grandpa Kent live. They used to have a house on a farm with a treehouse and everything, but now they live in an apartment in downtown Smallville. Smallville is very appropriately named, if you ask me. It's a whole lot of small and not a lot of ville. We go there several times a year. Sometimes Grandma and Grandpa come here. The last time I saw them was at Christmastime a few months ago.
"Yep," said Mom. "Your grandparents miss you. It wouldn't hurt you to call them once in awhile."
"You know I hate talking on the phone."
Mom shook her head. "You're too much!"
Lunch time at Metro Junior High is like a war zone. Not only is there a 17% chance of a carton of milk whizzing past one's ear at any given time, but the lunch line is so long that by the time you get through it, lunch time is practically over. That's why I bring a sack lunch to school.
"How *do* you do it?" Lisa asked, as she watched me unpack my lunch.
"A cheese sandwich, three Twinkies, two Kit Kat bars, a Hostess cupcake, a bag of Fritos, three giant marshmallows, grapes, a cream soda, and a stick of gum?" she said.
"So, how the heck do you eat all that *and* manage to stay so thin?"
I looked down at my food. "Good genes, I guess."
"Good genes!" she said, shaking her head as she took a bite of the lettuce-and-sprouts salad she'd brought from home. Next to the salad was a sandwich and a bottle of water. (No dessert? What a boring lunch.) "More like miracle genes."
I began to arrange my food in the order I planned to eat it.
"Look at Carson!" Lisa said suddenly, pointing to the table next to ours. Carson McElhen was making some sort of food sculpture with his carrots, mashed potatoes and corn bread. So *very* mature.
"How can you like boys?" I asked her as I peeled the skins off my green grapes, one by one.
"I don't know," she said. "I just do. It wouldn't kill you to take an interest in a member of the opposite sex. We're going to be in high school soon, and it's sort of expected."
"I like Duncan Bradley."
"Duncan Bradley is a twenty-two-year-old movie star. That's different."
"But boys are so… ooky."
"True. But they don't stay ooky forever. Soon they grow, and then they get cute. And then you kick yourself for not snagging them when they were available. I have three older sisters. I know these things."
"Hey, Lisa!" Courtley Miller said, plunking herself down on the bench next to Lisa. "Hi, Kaylie," she said to me, in a less-enthusiastic tone.
I gave her one of my classic fake smiles.
Courtley Miller. Snob-and-a-half. Lisa and I used to be the presidents of the "I Hate Courtley Club." But then, a few months ago, Lisa decided that Courtley wasn't so bad after all. Last week Lisa told me that Courtley is her hero. What can I do about it? Nothing. Except sit here and pretend to be polite while my best friend is being hypnotized by a rich socialite with a bad dye job.
"I met an amazing guy on the Internet last night," Courtley announced. "He's seventeen, he's a model, and he lives right here in Metropolis!"
"Wow!" Lisa gushed.
"I have six Internet boyfriends now," Courtley said proudly. "Plus two real-life ones."
"How wonderful for you," I muttered, picking up my cheese sandwich. I took a very, very big bite and chewed it thirty-three times before swallowing.
"So, are you coming over after school today?" Courtley asked Lisa.
"Definitely!" Lisa said. She turned to me. "Courtley has over five hundred movies, and we're going to watch one," she explained. Then she must have realized she was being very rude because she said hesitantly, "Maybe you could come too, Kaylie…"
"Nope, she can't come over," Courtley said. "I can only have one friend over at a time. Oh, did I tell you we just put in a hot tub?"
"That is *so* cool!" Lisa cried, and the two of them got into a long discussion about methods of relaxation. I took another bite of my cheese sandwich and glared at them. They never noticed the glare because they didn't even look at me once the whole rest of lunch period.
The next morning, I was awakened by the sound of someone screaming. I checked my alarm clock. Six in the morning. I pushed aside the stack of warm, fluffy blankets that were covering me and slid my feet into their slippers. Then I tripped over a chair, hit my head on the corner of my dresser, and fell onto a pile of clean clothes that I'd forgotten to hang up the night before.
My dad heard the commotion and ran into my room. "Kaylie, are you okay?"
"Just a minor head collision," I said. "No need for concern."
"It's a good thing you're more or less invulnerable," he said. Then he saw the dent I'd left in the dresser. "Or maybe it's not…"
"Who was screaming?" I asked.
"Michael was having another nightmare about his teacher turning into a vampire."
"Someone should get that kid some help," I said, climbing back into bed. I burrowed my head underneath the covers and went back to sleep, only to have my alarm clock ring an hour later, urging me to get up and go to the evil institution that is Metro Junior High.
During Art Appreciation, which I do not appreciate in the least, we had a fire drill. While we were filing out of the building, I got stuck right behind Carson McElhen. And for some reason, he decided to stop abruptly, and I crashed into him.
"Watch where you're going, Kent!" he said to me.
"Watch what you're doing, moron!" I shot back.
Who knew calling someone a moron was a federal offense? Mrs. Biederman, who is the head hall monitor, promptly handed me a detention slip. "This will teach you to act appropriately during future fire drills," she said, shaking her pointer finger at me.
"But he… but I wasn't…"
"No talking!" she shouted, and stormed off.
Dear Piece of Paper,
I realize that you are not my journal, but since I am at school and my journal is not here, I will write to you instead. I'm having a very, very, very bad day. We just got back from doing a practice fire drill. I have a detention slip in my pocket and my Art Appreciation teacher is talking about contour lines, and she is *so* not making any sense. And Carson is the biggest jerk and dork in the entire world.
Love, Kaylie M. Kent
Where am I? Oh yeah, Art Appreciation. "Huh, what?"
My teacher, Mrs. Lambert, smiled. "Lost in la-la land again, Kaylie?" The rest of the class laughed. (Arghh, if I come out of this day alive, I will be amazed.) "A message just came for you over the intercom. You need to report to the main office immediately. Bring your stuff with you."
Great. What'd I do now, I wondered? I walked to the office as slowly as possible, dragging my feet on the tiled floor of the hallway. I tried to think of all the possible reasons why I might have been called to the office. I wondered if it had something to do with my detention slip? Maybe Mrs. Biederman was going to apologize and declare my detention a big mistake on her part! Sigh. That would never, ever happen and I knew it!
When I got to the office, I saw Aunt Lucy waiting there. I ran to her and hugged her. "I am so glad to see you!" I cried. "Why are you here? Did someone die?"
Lucy laughed. "Your mom went into labor. Jenna and Michael are waiting in the car, and we're all going to the hospital. Come on, I've already checked you out of school."
"Where's Crissy?" I asked.
"In school! Where else?" Lucy said as we hurried toward her 1998 Dodge Neon. Jenna and Michael were sitting in the back seat, pinching each other. Lucy started the car and backed out of the parking space. "I left a message on our voice mail. As soon as Crissy checks it, she's supposed to know to come to the hospital and meet us there."
"How will she get there?"
"The bus. How else?"
I didn't know.
We made it to the hospital in record time. I think Lucy was going over the limit. That speed demon! As soon as we got inside, Lucy went up to the receptionist's desk and said, "I'm looking for my sister! She's in labor. I need her room number, stat!"
Lucy's *really* into those hospital shows. Could you tell?
We found Mom's room. Lucy knocked and Dad opened the door. He was wearing a green hospital outfit. He looked like a Martian. I have never seen a Martian, but I expect that that's what one would look like.
"The doctor says the baby probably won't come for a couple of hours," Dad said. Then he went into a speech about dilating and ice chips. After his little speech, the rest of us went to the waiting room to… well… wait.
So there we were, in the boring waiting room with nothing to do. "I'm hungry," Michael said after a couple of minutes. "Kevin Fieldman made me give him my Oreos at lunch time. And my sandwich was soggy, so I couldn't eat it."
"Why was your sandwich soggy?" I asked.
"Kevin Fieldman threw it in a puddle before school started," Michael answered, as if it was something that happened every day.
"Sounds like you had a bad day, too," I said, sighing.
"What happened to you?" Jenna asked me, peeking up over her copy of *Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself.* Great, even when her mom's in labor, Jenna can dive right into a good book.
"Well," I said, "I got a detention for talking during a fire drill, I failed to notice one of the yellow 'Slippery When Wet' signs sitting outside the girls' bathroom and was met with some embarrassing results, and my entire Art Appreciation classed laughed at me because I wasn't paying attention."
"At least you probably got to eat lunch!" Michael said. Leave it to Michael to think that food is the most important thing in the world.
Lucy hugged Michael. "Don't worry, little guy," she said. "I'm sure there's a vending machine around here somewhere. Come on, let's find it."
Lucy and Michael left in search of a machine, and Jenna and I stayed in the waiting room, waiting for Mom to have her baby and waiting for Lucy and Michael to return with Kit Kats for all.
Crissy arrived about an hour later. She greeted her mom and then sat down next to me. "So I hear your mom's in labor. How freaky for you. But you're probably thinking 'Finally!', right? She's been pregnant for *how* long now? A year? Whatever. Personally, I detest small children, but I know she'll be awesome."
"She?" I asked.
"Your baby sister!"
"What makes you think it'll be a girl?"
"I just have a feeling," she said. "I'm usually right about these things."
Michael scrunched up his face. "I don't *want* a sister!" he cried. "I want a brother!"
Lucy explained to him that the gender of the baby would not be his decision.
I turned to Crissy and whispered, "Is your mom still dating that Truce Kipley guy?"
"No, thank God," Crissy said. "You should have seen him the other night. He and mom went to some club and he got totally plastered. Mom said it was not a pretty sight. She had the sense to dump him, right then and there. But now she's dating some guy named Wolfgang Peterson. He has a mustache."
"*Wolfgang*?" I repeated. "That is so… barbaric."
"Tell me about it," she said, digging through her backpack and pulling out a copy of "Teen," which she handed to me. She pulled out a copy of "YM" for herself and started drooling over the picture of Duncan Bradley on the cover.
"He's so hot. Don't you think?" she asked dreamily.
"Definitely," I said.
The afternoon wore on. A little after seven o'clock, all five of us—me, Jenna, Michael, Lucy, and Crissy—were sprawled out on the waiting room couches, looking and being incredibly bored, when Dad appeared (still dressed in that Martian outfit) and announced, "You have a new baby sister!"
Crissy sat up and squealed. "I knew it! I told you I can predict these things."
We all crowded around Dad and hugged him. "Can we go see Mom?" I asked.
Dad nodded. "Yes, but be…" he started, as we all scrambled to be the first one to go into Mom's room, "… quiet. She's just been through a long ordeal…" But we weren't listening.
I was the first one to the door, but Jenna and Michael were close behind me. I pushed open Mom's door and went inside. Mom was lying on her bed with pillows propped up behind her. She looked completely exhausted, and she looked like she was having a really bad hair day. But when she saw us, she smiled and said, "Hi."
Well, it turned out she hadn't *just* had the baby, she'd had it a little while ago, and Dad had waited to tell us in order to give Mom a little time to rest (and a little time to be alone with the baby). Now the baby was lying in a plastic bed thing that looked like oversized Tupperware.
We hugged Mom and then immediately turned our attention toward the baby. She was so small! She had a little knit cap on her bald head, and her eyes were closed, so I could only assume she was sleeping.
"What's her name?" Jenna asked.
"Kiranay Stephanie Kent," Dad answered.
Great, another kid with the initials K.K!
"Make her wake up!" Michael demanded.
"Not yet," Dad said. "She's just been through an ordeal, too. Let her sleep."
Crissy and I smiled at each other. It had been a really weird day. But… weird in a good way.
"So, I heard your mom had a baby yesterday," Lisa said to me at lunch time the next day. She was eating a turkey sandwich. Next to her, Courtley was playing with her hair and looking bored.
"Yes," I said. "She did."
"So, come on, what'd she have?"
"A girl. Kiranay Stephanie. She's coming home from the hospital this afternoon."
"That's a weird name," Courtley spoke up. She whipped a nail file out of her makeup bag and started filing her nails, right there at the lunch table.
"I like it," Lisa said. "It's different. Oh, Kaylie, don't look now, but Carson McElhen is looking *right* at you!"
I spun around. "Where?" Carson *did* seem to be looking in this direction.
"I said not to look!" Lisa hissed.
"He's not looking at Kaylie," Courtley said, rolling her eyes. "He's *obviously* looking at *me.*"
"Well, you can have him," I offered. "Please! Take him and… I don't know… throw him off a bridge or something."
"No thanks, I have too many boyfriends already," Courtley said, taking out a bottle of pink nail polish. "Well, not that I could ever have *too many.* But I have many, so therefore, I'm happy. Do *you* have a boyfriend, Kaylie?"
She knew very well that I did not. "No! I'm only fourteen, give me a break."
"Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning," Courtley snapped.
"Meow to you, too."
"All right! Enough!" Lisa, our designated mediator, cried. "Both of you… behave."
"Or what?" Courtley asked.
or else, I'll fling a piece of turkey at you."
"Meat is absolutely disgusting," Courtley said, sneering at the piece of dead bird.
"Then you probably wouldn't like it shoved down your throat, now, would you?"
Courtley's eyes widened. Then she glared. "Lisa Muff… I thought you were cool. But apparently you're still an immature little misfit like *Kaylie.* I'm going to go sit with my *cool* friends."
"Have fun," Lisa said, waving her off.
As soon as Courtley was out of earshot, I bent across the table and squealed, "I can't believe you just did that!"
Lisa shrugged. "I was getting just a little bit sick of her attitude."
"And her ego the size of Orlando?"
"That, too. I hope she falls in the school fountain."
I watched as Courtley found a place to sit at the Table of Coolness. For a moment, I thought about using just a little bit of my heat vision to… I don't know… do something bad to her. Nah, someone would probably notice and I—
"Ow," I said, as I got hit in the shoulder by a piece of flying tomato. Okay, so it hadn't hurt, but "ow" just always seems like the natural thing to say. I looked to see who'd thrown it, expecting it to be Courtley or one of her friends. But they were wrapped up in some discussion, probably about which nail polish to wear to the Spring Swing dance.
I looked at Carson. He was staring right at me! And he had an evil grin on his face. The smile vanished a moment later, when Mrs. Biederman marched over to him and handed him a detention slip. Thanks to my Superhearing, I heard her say (over the noise of the cafeteria crowd), "I saw you throw that tomato, young man! I'll see you in Friday detention."
Friday detention? Oh no, no, noooo! That's when *I* have detention for calling Carson a moron, yesterday! Is there no justice in this world? My question was answered a moment later, when a cooked carrot fell from, well, apparently the ceiling, and landed on my head. The gross part is, the cafeteria hasn't served cooked carrots in over a week.
After school on Friday, Lisa and I parted at the door of the Detention Center.
"Good luck," she said.
I sighed. "I'll need it."
There were five kids in detention. Only five? We must have a very well-behaved school. Ha ha, yeah right. Well, I guess Mrs. Biederman must be slipping in her duties.
"Good afternoon, people," Mrs. Biederman said to me, Carson, two boys I didn't know, and Meghan Corner, a girl I know from several of my classes. "For the next two hours, you will sit quietly. You will do homework. No one will leave this room. If you have to go to the bathroom, hold it! If you need a drink of water, too bad! Any questions?"
No one had any questions.
Five minutes into our punishment, Carson handed me a crumpled-up note.
Hey Kangaroo, What's up? Doesn't Mrs. Beedermin look like a duck? Quack, quack! Ha ha. Sincerely, Carson M.
I glanced sideways at him. Could he *get* any weirder? I took out a pencil and scribbled a note onto the back of his note.
Carson M., I still think you're a moron. And my name is KAYLIE. And you spelled Biederman's name wrong. Get a dictionary! And yes, she sort of does look like a duck, but just because I'm agreeing with you this time doesn't mean I'll ever do it again. Unsincerely, Kaylie M. Kent
I passed the note to him and pretended not to watch as he read it. A slow smile spread across his face as he got out another piece of paper. He wrote for the longest time, pausing every once in awhile to erase something. When he was done, he slipped the note to me.
Kaylie M. Kent, What does the "M" in your name stand for? Mallard? Ha ha. So, don't you think it's interesting that you're in detention because of me, and I'm in detention because of you?? Hey, so what did you do to tick Courtley Miller off? Not that I care, but she's been saying some pretty bad stuff about you. None of which I'll repeat, not for a zillion dollars. Guess what! I'm going to the Monster Truck Rally tomorrow. I go every year. Last year, they did a drawing, and my seat got picked, and I won two tickets to the Dale County Spud Festival. Do you like spuds? Sincerely, Carson
I read the note and then wrote back.
Carson, What has Courtley been saying about me? Wait, I don't want to know. She's out to get me, you know. No, I don't think it's interesting that I'm in detention because of you. Because it's all your fault! Do I like spuds? I've never really thought about it. Why are you so weird? Unsincerely, Kaylie
Kaylie, Courtley Miller is a major wombat. And I don't mean that in a good way! None of the guys like her, except for Mitch, but he's a bonehead. We guys think she's pretty and all, but she's got an ego the size of Delaware. Anyway, for the record, you're nothing like Courtley. In fact, I think you're nice. Ha ha, just kidding! Why do you ask so many questions? Write Back Soon, Carson
Carson, I agree that Courtley is a wombat. Did you know that she dyes her hair? WBS, Kaylie
Kaylie, Yes, I knew that about Courtley. Not that I pay much attention to girly stuff like hair dye, but my mom also dyes her hair, and she has very dark roots. Kind of like Courtley, you know? So I notice these things. My mom says I'm a very observant person. Carson
He handed me the note and I read it. Just then, Mrs. Biederman announced, "All right, people! Detention time is over! I hope you all learned a valuable lesson today!"
Detention? Over? Already? Hey, well, that wasn't so bad.
Spring Break officially began the next day, Saturday. Smallville, here we come!
We save a lot of money on airfare by flying "Superman Express", as Mom calls it. On Saturday morning, Dad made a lame excuse and left. A few minutes later, Superman landed on our front lawn. Hmmm. Real smooth.
Michael and Jenna ran out of the house, jumping up and down in excitement. My poor, clueless siblings think that Superman is something to get excited about! If only they knew!
Dad… er, Superman… flew Jenna and Michael to Smallville and returned a short while later for me.
"Ready to go?" he asked me.
"Sure," I said. This was the first time I'd flown with Superman since I'd discovered he was my dad, and it was incredibly weird!
He dropped me off in Smallville and went back for my mom and Kiranay. "Are you sure it's safe to fly with the baby?" I asked before he took off. "I mean, she's a newborn and all."
"I'll fly slowly," he promised. "Anyway, I flew with you when you were a baby, and you turned out fine."
Just a little screwed up, I thought.
You should have heard Grandma squeal when she saw Kiranay for the first time. Sure, we'd sent her a video the day after Kiranay was born, but seeing the real thing is a little more exciting than a video, I guess. Naturally Grandma had to be the first to hold her fourth grandchild.
"You are the most precious thing," Grandma told Kiranay. Kiranay let some goo dribble down her chin and stared at Grandma. Grandpa sat across the room in his favorite chair and smiled at Grandma and the baby. He had this smug look on his face… like he knew something the rest of us didn't.
We older kids went into the den to unpack our backpacks. The trouble with staying at Grandma and Grandpa Kent's place is that they only have two bedrooms. Mom and Dad always get the guest room to themselves, so we kids have to sleep on the floor of the den. Jenna always sleeps by the baby grand piano, Michael sleeps with his head in the closet, and I sleep underneath the ironing board. Kiranay will get to sleep in a fold-out crib next to Mom and Dad's bed.
After we unpacked, we wandered back into the living room. The older people were still ooh-ing and ahh-ing like they'd never seen a baby before, so I asked if I could go walk around Smallville for an hour or so. Dad said sure, as long as I took Jenna and Michael with me and promised not to let them out of my sight.
"No problem," I said.
As we walked down one of Smallville's main streets, we saw a bunch of people and trucks, over near the park entrance.
"What's going on?" Jenna asked.
"Are they having the corn festival this week?" Michael asked hopefully.
"Wrong time of year," I said as I tried to figure out what all the people gathered were doing. Well, heck, there's nothing quite like *asking,* I thought, so I went up to a girl in pigtails and asked her what all the commotion was about.
"We're settin' up for the first annual Smallville Hay Festival," the girl said.
"A hay festival?" Jenna said. "What's so great about hay?"
"Everything!" the pig-tailed girl said, sounding insulted. "Why, it's going to be the best darn festival since the corn festival! We'll have hay rides, square dancing, and best of all, hay games, like 'Find the money in the haystack.'"
"Money?" said Michael. "I like money."
"Hay games," I repeated, trying not to laugh. "Very clever."
"It sure is!" said the girl. "Here, take a flyer."
As she walked away, Jenna, Michael, and I bent over the piece of paper. It read:
Hay! You! You're invited to a rootin' tootin' good time at the
1st ANNUAL SMALLVILLE HAY FESTIVAL
March 25-29 Downtown Smallville
Bring the kids! Free hayrides, balloons, and much more!
Jenna began to laugh. "A rootin' tootin' good time?"
I rolled my eyes. "I'm officially sick."
"People in Smallville sure are weird," Michael said.
"Grandma and Grandpa aren't!" Jenna objected.
"Yeah," I said. "I wonder how they can stand it here? They're two cool people in a crazy, mixed-up town."
I love Smallville, I really do. It's just so *small* and sometimes it's just so *weird.* I wonder if Grandma and Grandpa think people in Metropolis are crazy?
We walked back to the apartment and were greeted by the delicious aroma of a baking apple pie. See? This is why I love it here!
The Hay Festival started a few days later.
"Do I *have* to go?" I whined as Mom got Kiranay dressed. I was sitting on the double bed in the guest bedroom, still wearing my pajamas.
"Yes," Mom said. "Grandma and Grandpa are really excited about this, and so are Jenna and Michael. Wouldn't you like to go back to Metropolis and tell your friends that you were actually at the first annual Smallville Hay Festival?"
"I'd rather jump off the Empire State Building and land on my nose," I said.
"The whole family is going to this thing," Mom said firmly, and that was the end of that.
The whole big happy family arrived at the Hay Festival just as it was starting. I think everyone in Smallville was there. There were games, kiddie rides, food, and (of course) enough hay to feed an army of horses. We decided to split up. Grandpa, Dad, and Michael went north, and Grandma, Mom, and Kiranay went south.
Jenna and I wandered over to the big patch of grass that had been roped off for the games. A big sign read, "Sign up now for three-legged races, egg relays, and pie-eating contests! Today only! Prizes will be awarded!"
Jenna grinned at me. "Prizes?" she said.
"Are you ready to kick some Smallville butt?"
And we did! Really! Jenna and I won the three-legged race easily. During the egg relay, Jenna tripped and nearly broke her egg. She is such a klutz! Luckily, when it was my turn to run with the egg, I made up for lost time, and we won *that* race too!
Then came the pie-eating contest, which I, of course, won. I have an endless stomach, I swear! Jenna cheered me on the whole time, and when I finished my pie before the other kids had even eaten half, Jenna and I gave each other high-fives.
We were so excited about winning that we didn't even care that the Smallville natives were giving us deadly glares.
The man leading all the games had on a red bow tie. "Congratulations, Ladies," he said to Jenna and me. "Enjoy your super duper prizes!"
"Come on, Girls, put on your T-shirts," Grandma pleaded. "I want to get a picture of you two in your T-shirts before go back to the apartment."
"But they're so dorky-looking!" Jenna whined as she slipped on her oversized T-shirt that read, I'M PROUD TO SAY I WAS A WINNER AT THE 1ST ANNUAL HAY FESTIVAL IN SMALLVILLE, KANSAS!
"Yeah, some prizes," I said, putting on my shirt for the sake of Grandma's newfound love of photography. "I was expecting cash… maybe a big screen TV… but T-shirts?"
"Say cheese!" Grandma said.
Click! Click! Grandma snapped two pictures and clutched the camera to her chest. "I am so proud of you girls!"
It was getting dark so we walked back to the apartment. Dad put his arm around my shoulder. "Did you have fun today?" he asked.
"Yeah… I guess so."
"Jenna says you won the pie-eating contest."
"Yeah," I said. "I can't believe I ate the whole pie."
"I used to win pie-eating contests all the time when I was a kid," Dad said.
"Sure. I could eat and eat and never gain an ounce. My mom used to say I had a bottomless stomach."
I'm beginning to realize that Dad and I are a lot alike… and I don't just mean because we both have Superpowers and happen to love junk food! Okay, so I'll admit… having Superpowers is a little weird. But now I'm realizing that being weird is kind of cool. Who wants to be normal, anyway?
Love, Kaylie M. Kent
Lisa and Courtley are best friends again. I called Lisa as soon as my family got back from Smallville, and she broke the news to me.
"Great," I said. "Just great."
"I explained to Courtley that I didn't really mean to be so rude, before, and she understood," said Lisa. "Anyway, I've got a great idea. There are only a few days left of Spring Break, so I think you should throw a party!"
"Because I'm sick of having parties at my house, and we can't do it at Courtley's because they're spraying for termites or something. In fact, she's staying with me this weekend and her parents are getting a hotel room. So…"
"So can I have a party this weekend?" I asked my parents, after I hung up the phone.
"I guess so," said Mom.
"As long as it's small and quiet," Dad said.
"Ten people," Mom said.
"Well, that's more than the population of Smallville."
"Very funny," said Dad.
I called Lisa and told her the good news. Of course, she didn't think it was good news that I could only have ten people over. Lisa came up with a food list, a list of CDs to play, and (of course) a "Things To Do" list for her trusty sidekick, me. Then she started on the guest list.
"We have to invite my cousin, Crissy," I said.
"Fine," said Lisa. "You invite Crissy and I'll invite everyone else. You just be ready Saturday night at seven."
"Okay," I said.
Crissy arrived early on Saturday evening to help me set up. "Let me get this straight," she said as she blew up one balloon after another. "Your friend Lisa told you to have this party… she made up the guest list… she made up the food list…"
"That's right," I said.
"Yet, this is *your* party?"
"In a strange, twisted way, I suppose it is," I said.
Dad came into the living room and asked if we needed any help with anything. "Here," I said, passing him a handful of balloons. "Blow."
Crissy watched as Dad began to blow up the balloons. "You can do it at Superspeed if you want, Uncle Clark," she said. "I know all about you being Superman."
"So I've heard," Dad said, increasing his pace ever so slightly.
The doorbell rang, and I ran to answer it. Lisa and Courtley stood on the porch, dressed in sparkly clothes and several pounds of makeup.
"Hey, come in," I said, as they brushed past me and headed through the foyer toward the living room.
Courtley stopped short at the living room entrance, stared, turned around and whispered, "Oh my gosh, who is that total hunk blowing up balloons?"
"That's my dad," I said, rolling my eyes. "And he's not a hunk, he's an adult."
"Wow! He's even hotter than my boyfriend!"
Which one, I thought? I looked at Lisa. She shrugged.
Meghan Corner, Lianna Staples, Katlin Freedman and Amy Green arrived next. They were soon followed by Carson McElhen (*why* did Lisa have to invite him?), Mitch McConnell (apparently one of Courtley's boyfriends), Brian Finkel, Kenny Lingheim, Brad Kelker, and Josh Williams.
Okay, if you've been keeping track, you will have noticed that there were now fourteen people at my party. So much for the ten-person limit… way to go, Lisa. Luckily for me, if my dad noticed the extra people, he didn't say anything. My wonderful, understanding father hung around for a few minutes, then went upstairs to make sure my siblings and mother didn't get into any mischief.
The party started off kind of slow. A few people danced, and a few people ate chips. Carson put pretzel sticks in his nose and proclaimed himself a walrus.
After about an hour, Mitch McConnell suggested we play Spin the Bottle, but the only other person who wanted to play was Courtley. Big surprise, there.
"Oh, come on, you wimps!" Courtley said to the rest of us. "I know it's the lamest game in the whole world—not counting bobbing for apples, of course—but at least it's something to do."
The rest of us groaned, but we sat on the floor in a circle anyway. I ran into the garage to find an old glass bottle. Courtley spun first. The bottle pointed right at Mitch. Everyone rolled their eyes, except Courtley. She jumped up, ran over to Mitch, and planted a big kiss on his lips.
"I love this game!" she said as Mitch picked up the bottle and spun it. The game went on for about ten minutes before Lianna got Carson, and then Carson got me. He walked over to me, smiled shyly, and kissed me gently on the cheek.
Everyone burst into giggles.
"Kaylie, you're turning all red!" Lisa cried, coving her mouth to keep from laughing.
I gave her a look to show I didn't care that everyone was laughing and spun the bottle. It pointed directly at Courtley. Everyone started laughing *again*! So I spun it again, and this time I must have spun it a *little* too hard, because it flew through the air, hit the wall, and broke.
That time, even I couldn't help laughing!
"There goes the game," said Carson through his laughter.
My dad did come downstairs to see what had happened, and when he saw the broken bottle, he looked at us and shook his head. "I don't want to know," he said, sending us all into *another* round of giggles.
Dad politely suggested that it was getting late and that everyone should think about getting home soon. We got the message.
Some people called their parents to have them come pick them up. Carson and Mitch's parents weren't home, so Dad volunteered to drive them. Lisa and Courtley were the last to leave.
"Great party, Kaylie," said Lisa, as her mom pulled into our driveway and honked the car horn.
"Yeah," said Courtley, sounding slightly more enthusiastic than she normally sounds when she's talking to me. Hey… it's an improvement!
"Thanks," I said.
Well, my party was a success… if you can call it that! Carson McElhen *kissed me.* Okay, so it was during Spin the Bottle. But my first kiss… wow. Maybe I'll decide to start liking him!
Love, Kaylie M. Kent
The following Monday, Carson wasn't in school. That evening, I pulled Dad aside and said, "What did you do to him?!"
"What'd you do to Carson? He wasn't in school today."
"The brown-haired kid you took home from the party on Saturday."
"Um… nothing. I took him home. He let himself into his house. Although… on the way home, he *insisted* that I turn the radio to a country music station, and he started singing along with that old Boot Scoot Boogie song. It was a little weird."
"Other than that," I said, processing that information, "did he seem okay?"
"He seemed just fine. Why? Is something wrong?"
"Why would anything be wrong? Nothing's wrong! I'm just concerned for a fellow schoolmate! What's wrong with that?!"
"Nothing. You seem a little… high-strung. Maybe you should lie down. Or have some chocolate. That always seems to help your mom when she's like this."
"Ohhhh, um, nevermind. Gotta go. Cry for help."
"That excuse won't work on me! I have Superhearing too, remember? I didn't hear a cry for help!"
"Shoot," he said, smiling.
"Why do I feel so weird and mixed up? Who knew being fourteen could be so complicated? One minute I hate Carson McElhen, and the next minute I'm worried about him. What's happening to me?!"
"Maybe this should be one of those mother-daughter talks," Dad said.
"Mom's nursing the kid," I said. "And this can't wait. You'll have to do."
"All right," he said. "Why don't we… sit?"
So we sat on the couch and I looked at him expectantly. "Well," he said, clearing his throat, "why don't you tell me everything?"
"Well, it all started in first grade when Carson and I were put in the same class. He put bubble gum on my chair—"
"Why don't you just sort of skip to the more recent events?" Dad suggested.
"Okay, second grade. Carson said that Friday was Flip-Up Day, and so he'd always try to flip up girls' dresses. So I'd always wear pants on Fridays, but one Friday it was class picture day and Mom made me wear a dress, and—"
"Um, why don't you fast-forward to the present? Like, eighth grade?"
"Okay, well, Carson is a total airhead who drives me crazy."
"And I think he's kind of cute."
Mom came into the room and announced, "Kiranay's in bed."
Dad practically flew out of the room. "Gotta go! Kaylie wants to talk woman-to-woman," he said to Mom as he shot past her.
Mom grinned and sat down next to me. "Wimp," she said of Dad. I knew she was teasing. "So what's the problem?"
"Say no more. Been there. Who's the guy?"
"Carson McElhen. He was at my party. I used to totally hate him, but now I'm starting to think he's kind of not so bad. You know? And part of me hates his guts and knows that I shouldn't even bother with such a wacko. But… the other part of me says he's cute."
"So, what should I do?"
"What any woman in your position would do. Let him know you like him."
"How do I do that?"
"Little things… like smiling at him, or letting him catch you looking at him. But don't do it too much, or you'll scare him. Or…"
"Or just come right out and say, 'I like you Carson McElhen. If you like me back, say so. If not, you're just wasting my time. Whoops, there's the bell. Gotta get to class. Ciao!'"
I giggled. "Okay, I'll try it. But he's just so…"
"I know, Honey, it's rough."
The next day, I saw Carson in the hallway before school started. I ran up to him and cried, "Where *were* you yesterday?"
"I had the sniffles," he said, shrugging.
"But you're okay now… right?"
"I'm fine," he said, walking away.
"That's great!" I called after him. "I'll see you in Art Appreciation!" He didn't appear to be listening.
During Art Appreciation, we had to go to the auditorium for a presentation on modern art. I sat in the row behind Carson, four seats over. I had a perfect view of him. I decided he has a very nice head.
The presentation started and the auditorium got kind of dark. It was still light enough to see other people, though. Carson whispered something to the kid next to him: "Look behind you and see if Kaylie's looking at me."
I love Superhearing!
The kid, Brian, nonchalantly turned around and looked at me. He was very tricky. He tried to make it look like he was just stretching his neck, but I knew better! I quickly fixed my eyes on the stage.
"She's not looking at you," Brian said.
"She isn't?" Carson said. He sounded disappointed.
A few minutes later, he whispered, "Look again!".
"She's looking right at you!" Brian reported to Carson.
"I do not lie!"
Carson turned and peered back at me. He smiled. I smiled back.
The sniffles must be going around. The next day, Lisa had them, so I had no one to sit with at lunch. Courtley was sitting at Table of Coolness (a.k.a. Snob Central), and there was no way I was going to join her! So I headed over to the Loser Table.
The losers welcomed me immediately.
"You're Kaylie Kent?" one of them said in awe. "Why are you sitting with *us*? You're so popular!"
"My friend Lisa is sick," I said. "And I don't want to sit alone or with the snobs."
"Don't worry, we'll adopt you," the girl said. "I'm Emily, and this is Devin. And over there is Chloe." Chloe waved.
"Thanks," I said gratefully. "But this arrangement is probably only temporary. You know, until my friend comes back to school."
"Oh, we understand!" said Chloe.
I smiled and opened my sack of lunch. "Anyone want a Twinkie?"
"I have a problem," Crissy said to me on Saturday. We were sitting on her bed, looking through some magazines and waiting for her mom to come home from work with pizza for us. Crissy was turning the pages of her magazine with her feet. Yep… she is definitely weirder than I am!
"What kind of problem?" I asked. "A small problem, a large problem, or a mega-crisis?"
"It's my mom. She's so wrapped up in her men of the week that she never even pays attention to me anymore."
She sighed and looked at her watch. "It's getting late. Where *is* she? Forget it, I can't wait for that pizza any longer. I'm starving! Want some potato chips?"
"Ironed or ridged?"
"Ridged," I replied.
Just then the front door slammed and we could hear some loud giggling coming from downstairs. Aunt Lucy and her "man of the week" were home, apparently.
"Finally!" cried Crissy. "Come on." She motioned for me to follow her. I did.
"Hello, Mother," Crissy said, as she and I slid past Aunt Lucy and her male companion on our way to the kitchen. "You wouldn't be busy by any chance, would you?"
Lucy removed her lips from the semi-hunk and smiled at us. "Just a little, Crissy. This is Ben… I don't believe you've met."
"Nice shade of lipstick, Ben," Crissy said, pushing open the kitchen door. "Fits your complexion perfectly. What are you, a Winter?"
"How'd you know?" Ben said, trying to make a joke. It wasn't funny. He pressed his lips together and managed a forced smile.
Crissy grabbed a bag of potato chips off the top of the refrigerator and walked back into the living room. I followed her, like this was some sort of game. She was the leader, and I was the follower. Crissy stopped in front of her mother and said, "Where's the pizza you promised to bring home?"
Lucy smacked her hand on her forehead. "I completely forgot!"
Crissy glared at Ben. "There's a shock."
"Crissy Larson, go to your room," Aunt Lucy said tiredly.
"Fine," Crissy said, dropping the bag of chips on the floor.
Crissy ignored her mother and stormed upstairs. I ran to catch up with her.
"Now do you see what I mean?" Crissy said, when we were back in her room. She slammed the door and shoved a chair in front of it. "She's so wrapped up in that loser that she totally forgot she promised me pizza. And last week, she didn't tell me she'd be going out with some guy after work, so I made dinner and sat there for three and a half hours, watching it get cold. When Mom finally came home, she said, 'Oh… didn't I tell you I was going out tonight?' and I said 'No, you never tell me anything!'"
"I'm confused," I said. "That day we talked at the mall, you said you and your mom tell each other everything."
"I stretched the truth… a lot," Crissy said. "The truth is, the only reason I know about your dad being Superman and everything is because I have a really bad habit of eavesdropping on my mom's phone conversations."
There was a knock on Crissy's door.
"She better be coming to apologize," Crissy said.
But no such luck. "Kaylie, your dad just called," Aunt Lucy said from outside the door. "He's on his way. He'll be picking you up in fifteen minutes, assuming traffic's not a problem."
Crissy rolled her eyes before flopping down onto her army of pillows. "I give up!" she moaned.
On Monday, Carson McElhen sat next to me during Art Appreciation. "Hey, Kaylie," he said, as he draped his coat over the back of his chair.
"Hi, Carson," I said.
"Some party you had the other weekend!"
"Thanks." I smiled.
"You know, I… well… my birthday's coming up, and I'm having a party. I was going to send out invitations this weekend, but I really want you to come, so I'm gonna ask you ahead of time."
"You want me to come to your birthday party?"
"Yeah… so can you?"
"I don't know," I said, smiling. "When *is* it?"
He grinned. "Sorry. It's April 26th."
Dear Piece of Paper,
It's me again… Carson just asked me to his birthday party! This is almost like a date! Not that I'd ever actually go out with someone who sticks pretzels up his nose and builds food sculptures… or maybe I would… I don't know. He's kind of cute, in a weird sort of way. I might just have to think about it…
for now :)