In eighth grade, Amanda starts a club that purposefully excludes her long-time enemy Ernestine, but when the club decides to host a reception for the winners of a speech competition, Amanda gets an unexpected surprise. Original.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
A graduate of Howard University, Sandra Belton received her M.A. in elementary education from George Washington University. She lives with her family in Chicago, Illinois.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"This is gonna be the worst year of my life."
Clovis didn't even look up. He just sat there at our kitchen table, messing with his book. It was like I hadn't said anything at all.
"Clovis, did you hear what I said?"
"I heard you," he said, but he still didn't look at me or stop what he was doing.
"Clovis, is coverin' that dumb book more important than me?"
"What's dumb is what you're sayin', Ernestine," he said while he kept on using his ruler to make straight folds for the book cover. "I can do what I'm doin' and still hear every word you say."
"Just because you're hearin' me doesn't mean you're listenin' to me," I said, "'cause if you'd been listenin' you'd have heard me say that this is gonna be THE WORST YEAR OF MY LIFE!"
When I started yelling, Clovis jerked up his hands to cover his ears. His hands came up to his head so fast, they knocked his glasses off his face. The glasses fell on the floor, and one of the lenses popped out.
"Ooooooo, Clovis! I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you break your glasses!" I pushed back my chair from the table so I could get on the floor and pick up his glasses for him. But before I could even get out of my chair, Clovis started yelling at me.
"DON'T MOVE, Ernestine! You might step on my lens!" Clovis held out his hand to stop me from getting up.
"Whew! That was close," he said, picking up his halfway glasses and the lens.
"Clovis, I'm really, really, really sorry," I said. I wanted to reach over and help him fit the lens back into the frame, but I didn't. I was afraid I might mess them up some more.
"Are they ruined, Clovis? Huh? Are they?"
Clovis was holding everything real close to his eyes so he could see good enough to put his glasses together. He had his lips pinched together like he does whenever he's concentrating hard. He does the same thing when he's real mad. I figured his lips were doubly pinched right then because he was both.
"See, Clovis, that's what I mean," I said, trying to explain. "My luck is so bad this year, it's spillin' over to you. You got some of it just by hearin' what I was sayin'."
Clovis looked at me over the top of the frames he was holding practically in his eyes. "I was listenin' to you, Ernestine, and I'm still waitin' for you to tell me how come this is the worst year of your life."
"You oughta know most of the reasons, Clovis. Best friends are supposed to know things like that without being told!" The words just popped out before I could stop them.
Clovis practically threw his glasses down on the table. The lens that had popped out was kinda stuck in the frame, but it still wasn't fitting in like it belonged.
"Ernestine, what is wrong with you? First you say I'm not listenin', then when I tell you I am, you say I oughta know whatchu talkin' about in the first place. Girl, you makin' me CRAZY."
Clovis's eyes were so squinty, I almost couldn't see the brown part. With both his eyes and lips bunched up, I knew he was really getting mad.
I made my voice extra soft. "I'm not tryin' to make you crazy, Clovis," I said. "I just want my very best friend in all the world to understand how awful my life has gotten."
Clovis picked up the pieces of his glasses and started shaking his head in the same way his grandmother does. "Look, Ernestine," he said. "Don't start pullin' that pitiful stuff with me. I see you pull it all the time with your mama, but don't try it with me."
I started to say I didn't know what he was talking about, but I figured that would start another giant argument, so I just made my voice regular. "It doesn't work with Mama, either," I said. "Nothin' works with anybody. Like I said, it's the worst year of my life!"
"How come it got so bad all of a sudden?" Clovis said, starting to bite on his lip. "Only a few weeks ago everything was great. Remember what you said right after your birthday party? You said last summer had been the best summer of your life."
"Yeah, but that was before school started."
"Ernestine, how can a few weeks of school wipe out a whole great summer?" Clovis's concentrating face was so screwed up, he almost didn't look like himself. But I knew he was listening to me.
"There were only twelve weeks of summer, Clovis. Sixth grade will go on for months and months. Practically forever!"
"But school has only gotten started. We -- "
"Clovis, listen to me." I didn't want to interrupt, but I had to make him understand. "It's already terrible. You don't know how terrible. You're not even in my same classroom. And the only friend I have who was already at Du Bois is Alicia, and she's not in my classroom, either. She's in yours. Plus, there're hardly any kids from our old school in my room. Most of the kids came from Carver or were already at Du Bois -- "
"At least Amanda's not in your classroom," Clovis said, interrupting me back.
"Yeah, but Edna is, and sometimes I think Edna's worse than Amanda."
"How come?" Clovis had gotten the lens back into the frame and was starting to unsquinch his face.
"I don't know," I said, shrugging my shoulders. "Edna acts stuck up all the time. But sometimes Amanda acts almost...almost regular. You know, like she acted when she came to my birthday party."
"But when you went to her birthday party, you said she was evil to you."
"She was," I said, "but that's what I mean. Amanda goes in and out of bein' evil."
Clovis was examining his glasses real close to make sure everything was put back right. "I think Amanda is like that because she goes in and out of feelin' bad," he said.
"How you figure that?"
"'Cause a lot of times that's the way people get when they're feelin' bad, he said. "You know, act kinda evil. And sometimes do mean things."
I wanted to tell Clovis he sounded like his grandmother, but I didn't. I just looked to make sure he was holding onto his glasses tight. Then I pounded on the table with my fist.
"As bad as this year is makin' me feel," I said, "I might burn down this whole town!"
Clovis didn't even flinch. He just looked at me out the corner of his eye. "It's not a joke, Ernestine. Feelin' bad does make people act funny sometimes. And Amanda's probably feeling really bad about what's happened to her parents."
That's what Marcus said about Amanda!
I didn't tell Clovis what I was thinking. I just asked him, "How come you takin' up for Amanda?"
"I'm not takin' up for anybody," Clovis said. He went back to looking at his glasses. "I'm just tellin' you why I think she acts she way she does sometimes."
I figured Clovis was right in a way, but I wasn't going to tell him that. I just leaned over to take a closer took at his glasses to see for myself if they were fixed. "But, anyhow, there're other reasons besides knowin' sometime Amanda that's makin' this year horrible," I said.
Clovis started cleaning his glasses with the bottom of his shirt. "Like what?" he said.
"Like I said before, you oughta know some of them --" I started, and then interrupted myself before Clovis could. "But I wanna make sure you do in case you don't."
I got up to wet a paper towel for Clovis to use to make his glasses sparkly clean like he likes them. "Ever since Daddy started at the university he's hardly ever at home. And Marcus has gone all the way to Washington, D.C., to college. He'll only be at home for things like Christmas."
"You still have your sister, Jazz," Clovis said.
"Who wants to be around Jazz?" I said, handing Clovis the wet towel. "I don't."
"Ernestine, you should stop saying you don't like your sister, 'cause you know you do." Clovis started polishing the tenses of his glasses with the towel.
"I didn't say I don't like Jazz," I said. "I just don't want to be around her most of the time. Eight-year-olds are a real pain."
Before I sat back down at the table, I looked at the brownie tin on the counter next to the refrigerator. I knew it was packed with the brownies Mama and Jazz had made yesterday. I also knew I shouldn't even think about going near that tin.
Plus, I've gained back practically every single pound I lost at camp.
It was one more horrible thing I could have told Clovis about, but I didn't want to say that out loud to anybody. Even Clovis. Especially with the smell of those brownies creeping through that tin.
While I stood there near the window I could hear the sound of Mama's voice while she stood outside in the yard talking to our neighbor, Mrs. Tolson. The sound reminded me of one more thing I could tell Clovis about.
"And you know what else, Clovis?" I said. "Ever since Mama's started teaching every day instead of being a substitute like she used to be, she never has time for me anymore. Except to yell about something I haven't done or that she says I oughta be thinkin' about doin'."
All of a sudden the brownie smell, the sound of Mama's voice, and everything I was saying started mixing together and making me feel sad. So sad, I almost felt like I might not be able to stop myself from crying. Then I heard Clovis's chair scrape across the floor.
"There!" he said. His voice sounded like he had done something great. I turned around to look at him.
"There, what?" I said.
"All fixed," he said. "See?" Clovis pointed to his glasses, which looked regular again.
"Whew," I said, "I thought I had wrecked them forever. Just like everything else this year is wrecked."
Clovis grinned at me. "You didn't wreck my glasses. That lens has been comin' out ever since this summer when I dropped my glasses on the sidewalk."
"Boy, how come you yellin' at me, tryin' to make me feel guilty about almost wreckin' your glasses?"
"I didn't try to make you feel guilty," he said. "All I did was ask you not to step on my lens."
"You didn't ask, Clovis," I said. "You yelled at me. LIKE THIS!"
This time when I yelled, Clovis didn't try to plug up his ears. He just made a beeline through the swinging door of the kitchen. "You got a PROBLEM, Ernestine!" he yelled on his way out.
"I got MORE than one, Mr. CLO-vis," I yelled back, pronouncing his name the way he hates.
"That's Clo-VEESE to you, Ernie," Clovis yelled back, calling me a nickname. Something I hate.
I was getting ready to run after Clovis when the smell of those brownies finally beat me down. I popped open the tin and grabbed two.
When Clovis sees me with one, he'll want one, too. But if he yells at me again, I'll eat 'em both. I might do that, anyhow.
Copyright © 1997 by Sandra Belton
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Aladdin. Paperback. Book Condition: VERY GOOD. Light rubbing wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins not affecting the text. Possible clean ex-library copy, with their stickers and or stamp(s). Bookseller Inventory # 2807412770
Book Description Aladdin, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: Used: Good. Bookseller Inventory # SONG0689816618