September 21, 1995
Belden was exhausted, and it was barely lunchtime.
It was her first day back to school after dealing with a stalker,
who had tried to seek his revenge on her from a previous encounter by
trying to kill her. The
result of that misadventure had involved a gunshot, a dead stalker, and
spending Monday having surgery on her left hand - which was now firmly
encased on a bulky cast. It
was also throbbing madly at the moment.
Maybe coming back to school today wasn’t such a good idea.
tried to shift her backpack, but her cast got in her way.
Instead, she ended up swinging her bag into a person walking by
her. She turned to apologize,
but the apology died on her lips upon seeing her accidental victim.
Fleming glared at her. “Watch it, Belden,” she said.
Almost as an afterthought, she twisted her lips into a
condescending smirk. “You
could kill someone with that thing.”
heart stopped as she stared into Beth’s cold eyes.
She wouldn’t, would she?
Beth’s evil look confirmed it.
Oh, yes, she would.
Beth was deliberately taunting her about killing someone.
clenched her jaw, turned without saying a word, and walked away.
She made into the girls’ bathroom just inside the cafeteria
before allowing a tear to roll down her cheek.
She leaned over the sink, feeling like she was going to be sick.
toilet flushed and a stall door opened.
Trixie was struggling so hard to calm her roiling stomach that she
didn’t even notice until Merrissa Parkman stood right behind her.
She jumped when Riss greeted her: “What’s wrong, Trix?”
just shook her head and continued taking deep breaths.
Riss watched her closely while she went about washing and drying
her hands. Then she put her
arm around her small friend’s shoulders.
“Come on, Trix. You can tell me.”
don’t know why I’m so upset. I should know better than to let Beth bother me,” Trixie
said, totally humiliated by the tears she couldn't stop.
must have really hit home, whatever she said,” Riss observed.
shrugged, then said in a shaky voice, “It was nothing, really.
I bumped her with my backpack, and she told me to be careful.”
girl noticed the bathroom door open silently behind them, nor the
raven-haired beauty that stopped just inside the door when she saw them.
frowned and looked sharply at Trixie.
“That would not be enough to get you this upset.”
know. It’s just… she
said… I could… kill someone with it.”
now Trixie was starting to hyperventilate.
Merrissa sat her on the floor and pushed her head down between her
legs. The girl by the door
narrowed her eyes angrily and slipped out unnoticed, as Riss rubbed Trixie’s back and calmed her down.
Trixie was breathing better, Riss said, “I think I know what you need.
After school, since you obviously can’t play ball today, you
should come over to my house. I’ll
give you ‘lessons in life with a cast on your arm.’
Chris and Paul can get Bobby after practice, and you can all stay
snorted. “Moms’ll go for
that,” she said, dripping heavily with sarcasm.
then the school nurse came into the room.
“Is everything okay in here, girls?”
nodded, and Riss said, “Yeah, we’re good.”
nurse looked closely at Trixie’s pale and tear-streaked face.
She grabbed a handful of paper towels, dampened them with cold
water, and wiped Trixie’s cheeks.
grinned at the nurse, “But you know what would make us even better,
Parkman arched an amused eyebrow at Riss, a twinkle in her eye.
“What would that be, Daughter?”
you would convince Mrs. Belden that Trixie should come over for ‘lessons
in life with a cast’ after school today.”
Parkman sighed dramatically. “Trixie, if anyone has experience in that area, it’s
Riss. Four different times
she’s broken her arm. It’s
a wonder she can still play ball. Not
to mention the fact that one time, it was her right arm, and I had to
scribe for her for six weeks. Ugh!”
giggled. Riss and her mother
exchanged small smiles. Mrs.
Parkman looked her over again. “Trixie,
you look tired. How’s your
nurse nodded. “Lucky for
you I have your pain medication in my office.
How about you come to the clinic with me, take a pill, and take a
little blonde looked worried. “What about class?”
the nurse reassured her, “I’ll send your teacher a note.
After what you’ve been through this week, a missed class or two
is to be expected. No worries.”
laughed. “Leave big brother
to me. Go with Mom.
You’ll feel better.”
in resignation, Trixie made a move to stand up before realizing how hard
it was going to be to get up off the floor.
Mrs. Parkman and Merrissa helped her up, and Mrs. Parkman escorted
her away while Riss went to find Mart.
Trixie’s Locker After School
walked up behind Trixie and grabbed her backpack off her shoulder.
Trixie whirled around to see who was trying to take her bag, only
to face a grinning Di. The
blonde rolled her eyes while the raven-haired beauty unzipped the bag and
held it up so Trixie could easily repack it with only one hand.
are you feeling, Trix?”
better, actually. I took a
pill and napped through French, but Mrs. Parkman let me go back to class
all, we can’t have you slacking off the first day back,” Riss said,
appearing at Trixie’s side. Trixie
snorted. Riss continued,
“Hey, Mom said she fixed it with your mom.
You’re mine for the afternoon.”
looked at Di with a twinkle in her eye.
“That sounds like a threat to me.”
twinkled back. “Most
definitely. If I were you,
I’d be worried about coming back alive.”
arrived at the lockers in time to catch Di’s remark. “Coming back alive from where?”
house,” Riss chimed in. “Oh,
by the way, did you hear what happened to Beth?”
What?” Trixie asked curiously.
grinned wickedly. “Apparently,
someone soaked her hairbrush in blue ink.
Her lovely blonde tresses have got quite the dye job right now.”
eyes flew wide in shock. “How
awful! Do they know who did
but Beth thinks you did. Of
course, since you were with Mom when it happened, you’ve already been
leaned her head dejectedly against the locker door. “As if that will convince her.
snorted. “You are not the
only person in this school who can’t stand her.
You’re too nice to do such a thing.
There are lots of people who are more vicious than you are, and who
would have reason to get back at her for something or other.”
noticed the gleam in Diana’s eye as she spoke.
She narrowed her eyes in silent query.
Di raised an eyebrow in challenge.
Merrissa winked, agreeing to remain silent. Di responded with the faint curl of a smile at the corner of
entire exchange went unnoticed by Trixie and Honey.
Honey stopped to ask, “Why would Beth suspect Trixie in the first
grinned. “She’s jealous
because of Chris.”
sighed. “We just practice
together. That’s all.”
rolling dramatically, Diana knocked on Trixie’s head.
“Hello! Is anyone home in there?
Or are you just blind? He
is so interested in you.”
nodded in agreement. “I
don’t care how well you play basketball, there is no way you’d
get as much of his attention as you do unless he was interested.”
slammed her locker door loudly. “You
guys are all nuts! But I
suppose Beth believes this nonsense even more than you do.”
Sighing heavily, she hefted her backpack with her good arm. “Come on, Riss. Let’s
get out of here before Miss Head Cheerleader finds me.”
the Parkman Residence
slammed her book shut and groaned in frustration. “I can’t believe I could miss so much in just three days!
It’s only September, for crying out loud!”
laughed. “You’re doing
fine. We got through all your
science, and now you’re caught up.”
snorted. “Yeah, with
Chemistry. That only leaves
English, Math, Social Studies, Spanish, French and Art.”
good-naturedly, Riss gave her friend a pat on the shoulder.
“Hey, at least you get a study hall until you’re cleared to go
back to gym.”
again, Trixie lamented, “I can’t believe I have to write a paper for
Art. I couldn’t have missed
a drawing lesson. No. I have to miss a lecture on the history of Ancient Egyptian
your mother an art major?”
by the realization, Trixie look at her friend in amazement.
“You’re brilliant! Moms can help me with that!”
Riss nodded. “So Chemistry
and Art are covered. Didn’t
you say you have a study partner for French?”
and he helps me with Math, too.”
raised an eyebrow. “He?”
he.” Trixie wrinkled her
nose at her friend before continuing.
“Most of my friends are guys.
I get along with guys better than girls most of the time.
Comes with being a life-long tomboy, I guess.”
her head, Riss responded, “So the only girls you hang out with are
the prettiest two in the whole school?”
ruefully, Trixie nodded. “Stupid,
huh? I really must want to
look like the ugly duckling forever.”
Ugly Duckling never was a duckling, nor was she ever ugly.
She just made the mistake of believing someone who told her she
was.” Riss gave Trixie a pointed look.
“Which brings us to our ‘lessons in life with a cast’.”
knitted her brows in confusion. “How
are the two subjects related?”
grinned. “Lessons in
dressing for a cast – in outfits which also happen to be flattering to
rolled her eyes, then sighed in resignation.
“I agreed to this, didn’t I?”
at the Parkman’s
her “lessons in life with a cast” Riss had insisted that the easiest
way to dress would be in a tank top, covered with an opened, over-sized blouse. Riss’ older sister,
Kyra, who was away at college, was about Trixie’s size, so they borrowed
a tank top of hers. They used
a shirt of Riss’ so that it would be a bit too big.
This was to enable the cast to fit through the sleeve.
Trixie felt that the tank top was cut too low and was too
tight, but Riss insisted she looked fine.
She then insisted on working a little on hair and makeup.
Chris Zack and Paul Andrews arrived with Bobby Belden in tow, Trixie was a
bit nervous. She greeted the
boys shyly, and was somewhat embarrassed by the way Chris looked her over.
His appreciative smile, however, completely melted her.
Parkman had been quite thoughtful when planning dinner.
The smorgasbord of everyone’s favorite Chinese dishes included
plenty of foods that could easily be eaten one-handed.
Nothing needed to be cut. Even
serving the dishes was easy with one hand.
Trixie was tremendously relieved.
the bowls of beef and broccoli, sweet and sour chicken, sesame chicken,
beef Chow Fun, vegetable lo mein, steamed dumplings, crab Rangoon, beef
sticks and white rice were being passed, each person present was asked to
share a little about their day. Mr.
and Mrs. Parkman had done this with their four children every night since
they were small, and when friends were over for dinner they were invited
to participate. Even Kyra
participated via Mr. Parkman; he had spoken to her on the phone that
afternoon, and he shared part of their conversation.
was pleased to swap basketball stories with Paul.
Dane Parkman, a freshman, regaled them all with tales of his Biology
Lab. Little Emily Parkman,
three-years-old, proudly told everyone, “Today I wearned about owange
smiled when it was his turn. “The
most remarkable thing about my day was how much I missed my partner at
basketball practice,” he said. Trixie
stared at him in surprise, and he winked at her.
She blushed and became intently interested in her lo mein.
and Mrs. Parkman smothered smiles while Riss rolled her eyes.
Oh, no, he’s not interested.
Wake up, Trix!
took her turn. “During the
course of my day, I discovered just one more reason to hate Beth Fleming,”
she started. Trixie glared at
her and narrowed her eyes warningly.
Riss sighed in exasperation. “Apparently,
however, I’m not supposed to talk about it.”
Parkman chimed in. “Of
course not, dear. We don’t
allow cattiness at the dinner table.
Find something else to share.”
new thought occurred to Riss. “Well,
I discovered someone needs help catching up in Spanish, and she’s being
given a study hall second period until her cast is off. And I know someone else with a study hall second period, who
scored a 100 on the Spanish Regents last year.”
perked up. “A perfect score
on the New York State Regents Exam? Really?
I didn’t even know that was possible.”
smiled. “While it’s very
difficult, it is possible. Especially
for our overly intelligent friend here,” he said, nodding in
turned to Chris in awe. He
smiled widely. “I’d be
glad to help you with your Spanish, Blue Eyes.”
swallowed quickly before managing, “Gee, th-that would be great, Chris.
smiled smugly. Paul shook his
head resignedly. Neither
Trixie nor Chris noticed.
Parkman cleared his throat. “Trixie,
what was the highlight of your day?”
looked at him thoughtfully for a moment before replying.
She turned her brightest smile on Merrissa.
“Learning to get by – with a little help from my friends.”
smiled back, and lifted her glass in silent salute.