My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yoursby Kristina Springer
Seventh grade was supposed to be fun, but Tori is having major drama with her BFF, Sienna. Sienna changed a lot over the summer--on the first day of school she's tan, confident, and full of stories about her new dreamy boyfriend. Tori knows that she's totally making this guy up. So Tori invents her own fake boyfriend, who is better than Sienna's in every way/i>… See more details below
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Seventh grade was supposed to be fun, but Tori is having major drama with her BFF, Sienna. Sienna changed a lot over the summer--on the first day of school she's tan, confident, and full of stories about her new dreamy boyfriend. Tori knows that she's totally making this guy up. So Tori invents her own fake boyfriend, who is better than Sienna's in every way. Things are going great--unless you count the whole lying-to-your-best-friend thing--until everyone insists Tori and Sienna bring their boyfriends to the back-to-school dance.
- Square Fish
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My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours
By Kristina Springer
Farrar, Straus GirouxCopyright © 2010 Kristina Springer
All rights reserved.
"We're outta here in ten, Tor!" Mom screams from the bathroom down the hallway.
I look at the two outfits carefully laid out on my bed for the fiftieth time this morning. I can't decide what to wear. I have the still-new turquoise spaghetti strap sundress that looks really cute on me but that I never managed to wear all summer. I just didn't have anywhere to wear it. Or I have my new "Go Green" T-shirt and recycled jeans. The dress says I had a great summer and don't want it to end. But the eco-friendly outfit makes a statement and shows I'm environmentally aware. Of course, the dress might make people think I'm trying too hard. Which I obviously am. Then again, so might the green outfit. Argh! This is hard. I've never had to pick out the all-important first day of school outfit on my own before. Sienna and I always had our outfits down weeks beforehand.
"You're still not dressed?" Mom asks, appearing in my doorway. She's already in a silk top and a skirt, ready for work.
"I will be. Just a sec."
"Seriously, Tori, you've got five minutes and then you're busing it."
"Okay, okay," I say, shutting the door. I grab the green outfit and change quickly. The sundress would have been a lie anyway. The summer totally blew. And it's all Sienna's fault.
I check my reflection in the mirror and give my mostly straight brown hair one final brush. I can't help, for the thousandth time this summer, thinking about Sienna. Why hasn't she called me? Ore-mailed? Texted? Anything? We've been best friends since kindergarten and it was bad enough that I had to endure the entire summer without her while she and her family were in Florida. Torturous, really. But what is with the silent treatment these last six weeks? She didn't have a single minute to send one lousy postcard? I know that she's rich and all now, but that's even more reason for her to send me a postcard. Make that a hundred postcards.
Sea started out the summer e-mailing me every day — long e-mails detailing everything from the star-fish she saw swept up on the beach to the seagull that pooped on the front window of their rental car. Then the e-mails started tapering off, getting shorter and shorter and farther in between. I kept writing, of course, even though she never answered any of my questions or commented on what was going on in my life. The last e-mail I got was six weeks ago and it only said, "I'm getting ready to go out for dinner." That's it. Nothing more. If I was more paranoid I'd think some bad guys kidnapped her entire family at an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet and she's locked in a dingy basement somewhere without wireless access. I'm not paranoid though, so the only other thing that could have happened is Sea is ignoring me. But why?
"I'll be in the car," Mom yells, and I hear the front door slam shut.
"I'm coming," I holler back, but of course she can't hear me. I slip my backpack over my shoulders and race for the door, only stopping briefly to grab a strawberry fruit bar from the pantry.
Mom is tapping her fingers impatiently on the steering wheel when I climb in. "Sorry, Mom," I say. The car smells overwhelmingly peachy from the candle-shaped air freshener she has hanging from the rearview mirror.
Mom takes a deep breath through her nose. "No, I'm sorry, sweets. It's just I have this really important meeting in fifteen minutes and I can't be late. But it's your first day. Are you excited? Need money?" She plucks a ten from her purse and hands it to me while reversing out of the driveway and into traffic. Mom's a multitasking goddess.
"Thanks." I take the money and tuck it into the front pocket of my backpack. I stare out the window, watching the passing oak trees and street signs with the names of various presidents. We're both silent for a few blocks.
"Nervous?" Mom asks. She's steering with her knees. I hate when she does this. Nine and three, nine and three, I always want to say. I'm only twelve and even I know you're supposed to keep your hands at nine and three on the steering wheel. Mom pulls a bottle of hand lotion out of the center console, squirts some into her palm, and rubs her hands together. More peach. I don't like peaches.
"It'll be great, honey. Promise." She returns one hand to the steering wheel and dives back into her purse with the other, searching for something.
"Uh-huh," I reply. She says the same thing every year on the first day of school and it's never reached "great" yet. But it's usually been tolerable since Sienna and I have always faced school together. But I don't know about this year. Are we even friends anymore? Did I do something? Does she hate me now? If she does, she could've at least let me know. It's completely unfair to just hate a person and not tell her.
Last year on the first day of school, Sea came to my house at 6:30 in the morning in her pj's, toting her clothes in a duffel bag. Our moms thought we were being silly, but we were determined to get dressed for school together. We both wore jeans but I wore a pretty mint green peasant top and Sea wore a white, fitted tuxedo shirt, complete with the old-fashioned ruffles down the middle. We looked really good.
It was a last-minute decision to do our nails in the vampy black polish I'd picked up while shopping with Mom for back-to-school supplies. Sea said it was very Teen Vogue and would be the perfect first-day accent.
And it was. For like a minute. But then I got a big glob of vampy black on the right shoulder of my new shirt in an unfortunate hand-waving/nail-blowing incident. Of course Mom chose that precise moment to yell that we had to get in the car right now. I looked at Sea, completely freaked. This was the perfect shirt. I didn't have a backup outfit. Sienna didn't panic though. She searched around my desk and then plunged a dry hand into my seashell jewelry box, filled with miscellaneous odds and ends. She pulled out my "Hug a Tree" button and pinned it over the black spot.
"Perfect," she said. But I wasn't so sure. I didn't want to look like a big dork with a button on the shoulder of my shirt on the first day of school. My face must have showed this because then Sea dove into my jewelry box again and pulled out a "Save the Whales" button and pinned it on her shirt in the exact same spot. No one said anything to us about our buttons and maybe we both looked dorky but it didn't matter. I remember I felt a million times better because of Sea that day.
Mom pulls into the Norton Junior High School parking lot and I fidget in my seat. I don't want to get out of the car and start the new school year. See the same students again. The same teachers. I just want to go back home where it's safe and hide in my room with a stack of books. It's pretty much what I did all summer and I'm not quite finished yet.
We stop near the main doors and Mom looks at me with a big smile. "Have a great day, hon. And call me as soon as you get home after school, okay? Remember, no Internet while I'm not home."
I nod but don't move.
"C'mon, Tor. It'll be fine," she assures me. "Go find Sienna."
If Sienna is even here, I think. Maybe her dad took all that new money he made in the stock market last spring and decided to buy them a permanent home in the Keys rather than just summer there. Maybe he bought her a dozen tutors to sit with her poolside and teach her everything. Maybe he sprang to have a superchip containing every bit of information she'd need to know up through high school implanted in her brain so she doesn't even have to go to school anymore. Now that would be cool.
"Seriously, Tor. I have five minutes to make my meeting." Mom hands me my backpack and gives my shoulder a nudge.
"Okay, okay." I sigh and get out of the car. I step up onto the sidewalk and watch my mom pull away from the curb, waving. But I don't wave back. She isn't looking at me anyway.
I remember the day Sienna found out she was loaded like it was yesterday. We were sitting at her kitchen table, cutting pictures of Zane Stewart, the hottie lead singer of the Green Beans, out of magazines to make a collage. Her mom was scrubbing at a scraped-up baker's rack and mumbling curse words about the quality of fiberboard furniture these days. Her dad, whom I've only ever seen on weekends because of his long work hours during the week, came swooping in with a fancy-looking bottle of champagne. He yelled a bunch of stuff about being rich, swung his wife around in a circle, and picked up Sea like she was still five years old. Everybody was really happy. And I was happy for them too, of course. Sea said nothing would really change. They wouldn't move to a fancy house and she wouldn't transfer to a fancy school. And I'm not saying she lied or anything, but maybe she just didn't know that things would change.
I smooth my T-shirt over my hips and cross my arms over my chest. I look around the courtyard, which is swarming with perky, excited students. No one wants to go into school yet. Everyone's too busy checking out each other's new cell phones and iPods. Both of which are banned inside school. I glance from group to group — the mini fashionistas, the mathletes, the band kids — trying to decide where to go stand until first bell, when my eyes fall on a group of girls huddled around someone. Probably an eighth grader showing off her new designer purse. I'm about to turn away and check the side of the school building when I hear her laugh. Sienna.
My heart beats faster and I'm filled with relief. Thank God she's here. I was really starting to think I'd be doing seventh grade without her. I run for the group of girls. "Sea!" I yell, nudging past a few of them.
Long, beautifully highlighted, low-lighted, flat-ironed hair swooshes in front of me as she turns and we come face-to-face.
I scrunch up my face and peer into her eyes. "Sienna?" I ask.
She laughs. "Tori! Oh, Tori, I missed you." She throws her tanned arms around my neck and squeezes hard. I peer down at her right shoulder near my cheek. How is she tan? In the seven years I've known Sienna she's never done more than burn in the sun. Is it makeup or something? I rub my fingers on her shoulder and then look at them. Nope. Nothing came off. And that hair?
"Your hair ..." I begin, pulling back from her embrace.
She laughs again. "You like?" She shakes her head, and her long blond hair glistens in the sun.
"Yeah. I love. But it was short, brown, and curly in May. How'd you do this?" And why didn't you mention it in one of your e-mails?
She leans close and whispers in my ear, "Extensions."
"Oh," I say, but still don't quite understand. The only extension I've ever had was when I needed extra time on a homework assignment. But her hair looks so real. I reach out to touch it and she laughs and moves away before I do.
"So how was your summer?" she asks.
A wave of emotions washes over me. Part anger at Sea for dropping off the face of the earth in July, and part relief that she's actually here. She looks at me, waiting for an answer. "Well, uh ... great," I say, suddenly very self-conscious. There are all these girls still standing around us, listening to every word we say. We're not even friends with most of these girls. Heck, I don't think we've ever even talked to half of them before. They were always "too good" to associate with us. Not that we needed them or anything; Sea and I always had each other.
I want to ask what happened — why she stopped writing me. But I don't want to put her on the defensive by attacking her the first minute I talk to her. "And you?" I ask, bracing myself for the What I Did on My Summer Vacation essay to end all essays.
Sienna giggles. "Oh my god, Tori, it was so fabulous. I have to tell you all about it."
Nice. Now she wants to tell me about it. I nod but I'm starting to get weirded out. The other girls still haven't left and in fact are staring at Sienna with big eyes and bigger smiles. Like she's a celebrity or something. And granted, she does look nice. She's got on a super cute navy blue baby-doll dress and she's tan everywhere — down to her perfectly pedicured toes. And dang, she's got on three-inch wedge sandals. For school. My mom still won't let me wear one-inch heels to weddings.
"To start with, the house we stayed in had eighteen bedrooms. Eighteen! I had three to myself alone. And it was right on the beach. I could open my patio doors and walk down to the water, day or night." Hmm. I already know all of this. Sienna described the house in full detail — down to the bidet with the brass angel knob in her personal bathroom — in her very first vacation e-mail. I'm starting to feel like I'm in a play, only I wasn't provided with a script. She closes her eyes and sniffs the air. I take a quick sniff too. What is she smelling? Did the wind shift and we're getting the sewage plant breeze again? She opens her eyes and looks at me. "Sometimes I can almost still smell the ocean air," she adds.
Oh. Ocean air. Right. "Wow. Well, it sounds amazing," I say, hoping my intense jealousy won't leak out all over the place and make a mess.
Sienna nods. "Daddy rented a yacht for the entire summer too and he even let me drive it a couple of times. When we were far from shore, of course."
"Of course," I agree. Like I know. My dad still won't let me drive the grocery cart when we're shopping.
"And then —" she starts, but she's interrupted by Justin Timberlake. One of his songs, anyway. "Oh, hold on." She slips one hand into a large leather purse, pulls out a pink-sleeved iPhone, and holds it to her ear. "Hello?" she says, and then instantly dissolves into giggles. "Oh, hi, Antonio."
Antonio? That's a boy's name, right? So, there's a boy named Antonio calling her.
Who is this girl and what did she do with my best friend?CHAPTER 2
I involuntarily take a step back. Involuntarily because the group of girls has edged in closer to Sienna and bumped me from the circle.
I survey the other students outside. The air is buzzing with first-day excitement. There are always so many possibilities at the start of each school year. Of course, each year usually ends up much like the previous one, and we fool ourselves into thinking the new one will be better. But not this year. This year is definitely different.
Sienna rejoins me outside the circle. "Sorry about that. Antonio wanted to see how school was going so far." She drops her phone back into her purse.
"Who?" I ask.
Her face lights up and she puts one hand on my forearm. "Antonio," she whispers. "I'm in love!" she says louder, obviously not for my benefit. My hearing is just fine.
The going-nowhere group of girls let out a chorus of awws. Sienna nods, like she's confirming their awws or something. "He's amazing. He's tall and handsome and so sweet and I met him in the Keys this summer."
"So, you have a boyfriend now?" I notice the circle of girls has re-formed around the two of us. Looks like I'm back onstage.
Sienna smiles. "Well, yeah ..."
The girls oooh and giggle.
Okay. Really? This is beginning to feel a little too High School Musical.I halfway expect these girls to start synchronized dancing and singing in a circle around Sienna while she dishes about her new dude. And how does she even have a new dude? I mean, this is Sienna. Last year she would have turned bright red if a guy even asked to borrow a pencil. And now she's in love? No freaking way.
The first bell rings and Sienna links her arm in mine. "C'mon, Tor, I'll tell you all about him on the way to our lockers." I briefly hesitate but then remind myself that this is Sienna. Sienna, my best friend since forever. She just looks a whole lot better so it's easy to forget that fact.
And apparently the sad-looking girls we're walking away from would agree. They were probably hoping Sienna would stay and talk more about her trip. Personally, I don't get the sudden attention. Is it because of her new style, the boyfriend development, or her family's recent wealth? All I know is nobody hung on every word of the curly-haired, T-shirt-and-jeans-wearing, single, $1.75-in-her-pocket Sienna of last year. I'm hoping that girl is still in there somewhere.
Excerpted from My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours by Kristina Springer. Copyright © 2010 Kristina Springer. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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