October 20, 1995
the bell rang to end French class, Tad slipped Trixie a folded piece of
paper. He winked at her,
and said, “Here’s your homework for tonight.
By the time you get to my house tomorrow, you need to have
translated this message, and composed a reply in French.”
groaned out loud. “Don’t
you think the teachers give me enough homework?
Do you really have to add to my burden?”
She flashed him a quick, teasing smile, and hurried off to her
stared after her, as he headed down the hall at a much more sedate pace.
How would she respond when she figured out what the note said?
Trixie settled herself in her next class, she flipped open the note from
Tad and read it quickly. Then
she frowned and studied it intensely.
She started to reach for her French dictionary, but was
interrupted by her teacher’s voice calling for desks to be cleared.
Mrs. McMahon had decided that this Friday afternoon was a
wonderful time for a pop quiz in Math.
quickly shoved the note into her pocket and tried to shove the message
from her thoughts, so she could concentrate on the quiz. She wanted to do well in this class. She just wouldn't think about the note until later, because
she would need the dictionary to translate it.
Besides, it couldn’t possibly say what she thought it said... she must have gotten several words wrong.
the rest of the afternoon, whenever she could, she would slip out her
French dictionary and look up a word quickly.
By the time the last bell rang, she had found them all.
On the way to the bus, she pulled the note out of her pocket and
read it again:
retour au foyer avec moi?
reviewed the words she had searched for earlier. Assister à
meant “to attend”, as in “to go with someone to something”.
Soirée dansante meant “a dance”.
And retour au foyer meant “homecoming”. Rough translation:
you like to go to
Homecoming Dance with me?
could not believe her eyes. Tad
wanted to take her to Homecoming!
was so absorbed in her note, that she did not see Chris Zack coming
towards her. She walked
right into him - and would have fallen on her butt, had he not grabbed
crumpled the note in her right hand, and looked up into the pale gray
eyes that seemed to look into her soul.
Chris smiled gently. He
kept his arms around her as he asked, “Lost in thought, Blue Eyes?”
rested her arms on his. She
was enjoying the feeling of his arms around her, and she loved it when
he called her Blue Eyes. Chris
caught his breath, as she smiled a slow, lazy smile.
I was. I’m sorry I almost
barreled you over.”
Chris thought. You did
– the day I met you.
he said, “I was actually looking for you.
I wanted to ask you something.”
by the look in his eyes, Trixie couldn’t speak. She raised an eyebrow, silently encouraging him to ask his
his arms ever so slightly, Chris lowered his head a little.
His soft voice was meant for her ears only.
“I was hoping you would do me the honor of allowing me to
escort the most beautiful girl in the school to the Homecoming Dance.”
eyebrows shot up.
she could say a word, however, Chris stopped her. “And don’t give me any nonsense.
I mean you. You,
Trixie Belden, are the most beautiful girl I have ever met, inside and
heart was pounding. The
blood rushing through her veins sounded like Niagara Falls to her ears.
Her knees felt weak, but she knew she couldn’t fall; Chris’
strong arms still held her.
to force the thoughts swirling around her brain into some coherent
pattern, Trixie suddenly focused on the crumpled note in her hand.
was actually starting to understand the many and varied emotions that
would dance across her face from moment to moment.
He released her and stepped back.
“Don’t tell me I’m too late,” he said.
“Did someone else already ask you?”
questioned her intently with his eyes.
He couldn’t believe how nervous he was.
It wasn’t about finding a date; he would have no problem with
that. It was just that the
only date he wanted was Trixie.
couldn’t meet his eyes. She
fumbled with the paper in her hands.
Eyes, look at me,” Chris said softly.
raised her eyes to meet his. His
eyes told her that all he wanted was an honest answer. He deserves at least that, she realized.
what this note is,” she said. “The
one I was reading when I bumped into you: it’s an invitation to Homecoming.”
technically, he asked first,” Chris said.
Trixie nodded. He
stared at her for a very long moment.
He moved a step closer. “And
what was your answer to him going to be?” he breathed.
- I don’t remember,” Trixie whispered, again mesmerized by his look.
Chris, play fair with her. “Trixie,
what are you doing tomorrow night?”
her brow, Trixie stammered, “T-t-tomorrow?”
she said, looking at him questioningly.
let’s do this: You think
about it. You talk to Mr.
Note Writer tomorrow. Then
tomorrow night, I’ll take you to the Cameo.
You can answer me then.” He gave her a small smile and looked
at her hopefully.
could barely manage to nod her head yes.
Chris said. He clasped her
hands in his and raised them to his lips.
“I’ll pick you up at seven.”
Then he hurried off, before he said anything more to try and
influence her decision.
breathlessly watching his retreating form for a brief moment, Trixie
turned in the direction of the bus.
Honey was standing at the door waiting for her, and the driver
was looking impatient. It
was only then that Trixie realized, with unmitigated horror, that everyone
on the bus had just witnessed the entire scene with Chris.
She glanced at the bus windows and could very clearly make out
the faces of the two people she least wanted to see right now: Mart Belden and Tad Webster.
Shaking her head at Honey, she turned and walked away.
hesitated. After a moment,
she signaled the driver to leave without them, and she rushed off to
she caught up with her, she asked, “Where are you going?”
was startled by the question; she
hadn’t realized Honey had followed her.
She made a face and said wryly, “Home.
I just didn’t want to ride the same bus as big brother.
I thought a two-mile walk would be far more relaxing.”
chuckled. “Are you sure
you want to walk? I could
call Tom and ask him to come and get us, you know.”
impulsively turned and gave her friend a quick hug. “You’re wonderful, Honey.
And thanks for the offer. You
really didn’t have to follow me.”
know, but you looked like you needed a friend.
I’m always here for you.”
Hon." Trixie smiled.
"Would it be okay with you if we just walked?
Two miles isn’t that far, and it’s a nice day.
I’m really not in any hurry to get home, and I could use
the time to think.” She
gave Honey an imploring look. “Please,
let’s just walk.”
nodded agreeably. “If
that’s what you want, that’s fine with me.”
that, the two girls walked off in a companionable silence.
the bus let Mart off at Crabapple Farm, he ran up the driveway at top
speed. He tore through the
house, up the stairs, and to his room.
After dumping his things, he headed for the phone in the hallway.
Belden was still recovering from the tornado that had just blown past
her, when Mart came barreling down the stairs again.
have you talked to Brian?” Mart yelled.
He sounded panicked.
paused a moment, as if to force patience upon her son.
She answered slowly, “Yes, I have.
This afternoon, in fact. Why?”
just called him, and one of his roommates said he was out of town for
she nodded. “He called to
tell me his plans. Again, I
will ask: Why?”
looked almost alarmed. “Does
Trixie know this?”
raised one eyebrow. She was
beginning to understand Trixie’s impatience when she couldn’t solve
a mystery. The longer Mart
dodged her question, the more her curiosity was piqued.
The advantage of maturity, however, was that she had learned
better how to hide her impatience.
And she was a lot more patient with Mart than she was with Trixie, lately.
Mart, Trixie doesn’t know yet,” Helen answered calmly.
“She will later. By the way, where is she?”
gave a start, just now becoming aware that his mother did not know about
Trixie skipping the bus home. “I’m
not sure, but I think she walked home.
I am sure she didn’t take the bus, because I saw her
walk away from it, and I’m pretty sure it was because she
didn’t want to be near me, because I saw the look she gave me before
she walked away.”
tried to fight the laughter, but it was a losing battle.
Helen laughed for several minutes, before she was able to speak again.
Mart stared at her in confusion, wondering if she had completely
lost her mind.
Mart, yesterday I accused Trixie of sounding like you.
Now you sound like Trixie. You
two are acting more and more like twins every day!”
Her eyes twinkled and she giggled, as she continued, “And you
two thought looking alike was bad!”
threw up his hands in exasperation.
“Moms, please! Return
to the topic at hand, if you don’t mind.”
her composure, Helen concentrated on her middle son’s agitation.
“Okay, Mart, why were you rushing to call Brian?
Why are you worried about Trixie knowing his plans?
And what did you do to your sister to make her want to walk
sputtered, “Me? I…what do you mean me?
I didn’t do anything!”
try answering my other questions.”
took a deep breath. “Okay.
Something happened this afternoon.
Nothing bad, I don’t think.
I’m not sure what happened, but I am sure Trixie
didn’t want to give me an opportunity to ask any questions.”
He furrowed his brow. “Anyway,
I was trying to call Brian to give him a heads-up.
I know she’ll want to talk to him about it, and it is
Friday, after all.”
he paused for a breath, his mother interrupted, “I’m curious:
what does this being Friday have to do with anything?”
gave her a withering glare. “Just
because Trixie wants to keep her Fridays private does not mean that I am
unaware of her telephonic rendezvous with our eldest sibling.
Her detective gene has worn off on me enough that I couldn’t
allow her to have a little mystery of her own.
However, when I spied on her long enough to realize what
she was doing on Fridays, I decided to leave well enough alone.
She remains ignorant of my knowledge.”
eyes widened. “I am
amazed at your self-control!" She paused.
you know she spends Fridays on the phone with Brian.
So what were you trying to give him the heads-up about?”
headed for the bus after school. Chris
Zack stopped her to talk to her. He
had his arms around her the entire time they were talking.
They were looking kind of dreamy, and everyone on the bus watched
the whole thing. Plus, Tad
seemed really upset about it. After Chris left, Trixie realized Tad had been watching.
That’s when she gave me a dirty look and headed in the other
frowned, deep in thought. “You’re
right. She’s not going to
talk to anyone but Brian.” She
smiled gently before continuing, “However, I wouldn’t worry about
tonight, if I were you. Brian’s
Friday night class was cancelled, so he decided to come home for the
weekend. Jim was more than
happy to show off that new car Matt had delivered to him at school.
They had dinner plans, and they are heading home after that.”
grinned with relief. “Trixie
will be ecstatic!”
wants this to be a surprise,” Helen said, fixing him with a stern
look. “He asked me to
tell her that he won’t be around this evening, and he will talk to her
later. You are to
make sure she’s at Wimpy’s at ten.”
started to protest that Trixie wouldn’t want to go out, but his mother
cut him off. “I don’t
care what it takes, Mart. Brian
made a simple request. Find
a way. Just make sure
that, Helen returned to her housework.
Mart went to his room to change his clothes and to try to figure
out how to get his sister to do the one thing she always refused to do:
go out with the gang on Friday night.
Why do I get all the hard jobs?
and Honey cut through the preserve.
It was a perfect fall day. The
leaves were a rainbow of brilliant fall colors: rich red, bright orange,
golden yellow, and earthy brown. Many
had fallen already, covering the trail with a soft, natural carpet. The empty spaces in the trees allowed for more sunlight to
filter through, shimmering along the colorful canopy overhead.
The air was crisp, but not cold.
The stillness of the forest felt like a giant was holding his
breath. The occasional bird
calling its mate echoed in the silence.
It was peaceful and soothing.
took a deep, cleansing breath. She
sighed heavily and closed her eyes.
When she stumbled over a tree root, she said, “Stupid!
I should know better than to wander through life without watching
where I’m going.”
observed her friend thoughtfully. The
short blonde girl seemed to be making a comment about life in general,
rather than tree roots on the trail.
Her shoulders were slumped, and she had a dejected air about her.
“Oh, I don’t know, Trix.
It seems to me that you notice a lot of things most people
miss,” she began offhandedly, waiting to see how Trixie would react.
snorted indelicately. “Yeah,
sure. About criminals,
things out of place, or suspicious behavior.
Better yet, about things I should keep my nose out of.
But notice important things about people around me?
Observe the feelings of my friends and family?
See the speeding vehicle heading right for me?
No. I notice
everything except the things I should.”
smile curved Honey’s lips. “Do
you know when you are most likely to miss something?” she asked.
“When you are complimented by it.”
blue eyes turned to stare at her. “What
on earth do you mean?”
launched into a litany of examples.
“You never notice when someone thinks highly of you.
You don’t notice if someone envies you.
You don’t notice the admiring looks you get in the halls.
You don’t notice when you look particularly nice - only when you
look your worst. You always
notice Mart’s teasing or Neanderthal routine, but you never notice
when he looks at you with pride.
always seem to notice situations where you feel Diana and I outshine you
in looks. But you never
seem to notice the times when your actions, words, and smarts make us
seem dumb, dull, and boring when compared with you.”
voice softened, “You are only interested in noticing the details that
put you in a bad light. You
really have blinders on, Trix. Open
stopped, grabbed Trixie by the arm to stop her, and looked her best
friend in the eye. She
gently told her, “If you could only see in yourself what the rest of
the world sees in you, you would be amazed.
welled up in the pools of blue. Arms
reached out, and a silent embrace spoke of immeasurable love and
girls arrived at Crabapple Farm a short while later. They had finished their walk in companionable silence, and
Trixie was still not in the mood to talk.
When they entered the kitchen, they found normal Crabapple Chaos.
Di, and Dan were seated at the kitchen table, homework spread out before
them, sharing a snack of homemade cookies and cold milk. Mrs. Belden was trying to wash a streak of mud off the face
of a squirming Bobby. Mr.
Belden was trying to walk through the room, but Reddy kept walking in
front of him. Every
direction he turned, so would Reddy.
Peter was struggling just to stay on his feet.
The radio was blaring, and the phone was ringing.
Trixie and Honey took in the scene around them and laughed.
grabbed the phone, spoke for a brief moment, and hung up.
Mrs. Belden finished with Bobby’s face and zipped his jacket.
The Belden parents and Bobby then headed for the back door,
informing Trixie they were going out to dinner.
before stepping outside, Helen turned to her daughter and said, “Oh,
Trixie, I almost forgot. Your
date had a change of schedule for this evening.
He won’t be able to keep your plans, but he said he’d talk to
a smirk, she turned and walked out the door.
Dan, and Honey looked at Trixie with comically identical slack-jawed
expressions of shock. Mart
went to the sink to rinse his glass, so that no one could see his face.
stared after her mother in dismay.
“He can’t do that to me!” she wailed.
“Not tonight, of all nights!”
turned and ran to her room, fighting tears the whole way, and slammed
her bedroom door.
sighed inwardly. I will
get Brian for this!
threw herself onto her bed and buried her face in her pillow.
How could Brian do this?
I need him!
thoughts swirled in a tempestuous maelstrom.
She was getting a terrible headache.
She took a few deep breaths, fought back the pounding pain,
closed her eyes, and willed herself to sleep.
It was either that or cry, she knew.
And Trixie Belden hated to cry.
slowly turned from the sink, knowing what he would find when he did.
Three pairs of eyes were watching him intently.
he asked innocently.
spoke first. “I’m not
sure which question I want to ask more.
‘What date?’ Or ‘Why aren’t you surprised?’”
piped up next. “I know
Trixie has plans every Friday. I
also know that you get upset every time a guy even looks at her.
So how exactly is it that you're calm about this date?”
it was Honey’s turn: “And don’t say that you’re calm because
it’s cancelled. Because
you know what she does on Fridays, even though you won’t tell us. And, if she’s been dating on Fridays, you’ve known it.
And, you would have told us if she were dating.
So don’t try to say you didn’t know.”
She closed her eyes in frustration.
“And now I’m not making any sense again.”
me translate,” Di said. “Mart,
you have some ‘splaining to do!”
looked at each of his friends. He
studied their expressions. Their
eyes each told a different story. The
deep, dark eyes were curious; Dan was interested in what Trixie’s
secret was, and why Mart was willing to keep it.
The violet eyes were worried; Di was concerned because Mart was
keeping something from her, and they were supposed to have total honesty
between them. She also
worried when Trixie hid things, because that usually meant trouble.
The hazel eyes flashed from fury to hurt and back again. Honey had been feeling hurt for weeks that Trixie wanted
Friday nights to herself. Now
she was deeply wounded, because she thought Trixie had shared her secret
with Mart. Worse yet, it
appeared to involve a boy - and she’d kept that a secret from Honey,
sighed deeply. He chose his
words carefully. “Okay, I
am going to say three things on the subject, and then it's closed. First, you are all way off base.
You think you know what’s going on, and you don’t.
Second, Trixie doesn't know that I know, and she’d
probably flip out if she did. Third,
tonight is not the night to interrogate her about this.
Drop it. Let it be.
Tomorrow you can bring it up again.
But do not discuss it tonight.”
headed for the refrigerator, his body language indicating very clearly
that he would not say another word on the matter.
“Right now, we are going to have some sandwiches.
Then, we are going to the play at school, like we had planned.
Then, we are going to Wimpy’s for a late dinner.
And we are going to take Trixie with us, even if I have to drag
her by her hair.”
others laughed at that image. They
looked at each other, sending silent messages.
They would leave their questions for later, but it was only a
brief reprieve. This
discussion was far from over.
they were done eating, Mart went upstairs to get Trixie.
He had left her alone while they ate, because he knew she
wouldn’t be hungry. He
knocked on her door, but wasn’t surprised that there was no answer.
a minute or two, he quietly opened the door.
He was surprised to see that she was asleep. She looked so peaceful lying there, part of him wanted to
just leave her be. However,
he also knew he had to get her to go out with them.
next to Trixie on the edge of the bed, Mart reached out and brushed a
curl off her face before gently shaking her shoulder.
“Princess, wake up,” he said softly.
fluttered for a moment, before blue eyes opened slowly.
Trixie looked up at Mart in confusion.
As sleep wore off, memory returned.
She scowled at her brother.
she had a chance to start a tirade, Mart held up his hand.
“Look, I’m sorry to wake you, but I promised Moms I’d make
you go out with us tonight. She
didn’t want me to leave you alone.”
sighed heavily. “Of
course not. Why would Moms
want to let me decide my evening for myself?" she said bitterly.
"Mart, I’d really rather be alone.”
know, Trix. And I know all
you want to do right now is talk to Brian.
And I know you don’t want to talk to me, because I’m not
Brian. Isn’t there
anything I can do to help?” he asked, looking down at her with anxious
oh-so similar eyes looking back at him widened in amazement.
Her jaw dropped. She searched his face for a long moment.
“How long have you known?”
gave her half a smile. “Three
you didn’t say anything?” she asked with wonder.
meant so much to you to keep it to yourself. I can respect that.” He
looked away for a minute, focusing on some distant place.
Then he returned to meet her searching gaze.
I know I act like a jerk about other guys wanting to be around you.
I’m sorry. But
guys my age are idiots, and I worry about you getting hurt.
The gunshot wound you got last month was less hazardous than the
emotional number a teenaged boy could pull on you.
Fridays are different. You
aren’t doing anything dangerous.
And as for someone hurting you, you’re as safe as you can be.
Brian loves you more than anything and would kill anyone who hurt
you. If the whole gang knew
that’s what you were up to on Fridays, they’d horn in.”
He shrugged. “You
deserve to have that time with Brian.
So I respect that.”
eyes filled with tears. She
sat up on her knees and wrapped her arms around his neck. Squeezing him tightly, she said, “You are awesome!”
hugged her back.
a long moment, Trixie leaned back so she could see his face.
“I have different relationships with the two of you because
you’re different people. Even
though I find it easier to talk to Brian, you need to know that I love
you just as much. Thank you
for being my brother.”
smiled gently at first, but it slowly turned into a wide, devilish grin.
“Okay, how about we just keep this to ourselves.
Pretend I browbeat and threatened you, and that’s why you’re
going out with us tonight.”
laughed. “Okay, big
brother, you’re on!”