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So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
---2 Corinthians 4:18
Are you going to feed us something weird for your report?'
Sophie LaCroix looked up from the library table into the disdainful face of B.J. Schneider. Disdainful was a word Sophie's best friend, Fiona,
had taught her, and this word definitely worked when B.J. or one of the other Corn Pops narrowed her eyes into slits, curled her lip, and acted as if Sophie were barely worth the breath it was taking to say something heinous to her.
'As a matter of fact, yes,' that same
Fiona said as she tucked a strand of dark hair behind her ear. It popped back out and draped over one gray eye. 'We thought we'd dish up some sauteed roaches on a bed of seaweed with a nice snake venom sauce.'
Sophie dragged a piece of her own hair under her nose like a mustache.
'It is so disgusting when you do that,' said another Corn Pop,
Anne-Stuart---with the usual juicy sniff up her nostrils.
Not as disgusting as you and your sinus problems, Sophie thought.
But she didn't say it. All of the Corn Flakes had taken a vow not to be hateful to the Corn Pops ever, no matter how heinous THEY
were to the Flakes.
B.J. put her hands on her slightly pudgy hips. 'I KNOW you aren't really going to serve something that nasty for your culture project,' she said.
Fiona pulled her bow of a mouth into a sly smile. 'Then why did you ask?'
B.J. and Anne-Stuart rolled their eyes with the precision of synchronized swimmers.
'What are y'all doing for your presentation?' Sophie said,
adjusting her glasses on her nose.
'We AND Julia and Willoughby---we're doing a folk dance,'
Anne-Stuart said. 'And we're going to make the whole class participate.'
'You're going to 'make' us?' Fiona said.
Sophie cleared her throat. Sometimes Fiona had a little trouble keeping the vow. It was hard with the Corn Pops acting like they ran
Great Marsh Elementary, especially when it stretched into Saturdays at the town library.
'Then everybody can get used to dancing with each other,' Anne-
Stuart said. She sniffled. 'That way, SOME people won't feel so lame at the graduation dance.'
'What graduation dance?' Sophie and Fiona said together.
Sophie's voice squeaked higher than Fiona's, which brought a heavy-eyebrowed look from the librarian.
'What dance?' Fiona said again.
B.J. and Anne-Stuart both sat down at the table with Sophie and
Fiona---every bit as if they'd been invited---and B.J. shoved aside the Food from Around the World book they'd been looking at as
Anne-Stuart leaned in her long, lean frame. Sophie was sure she could see moisture glistening on Anne-Stuart's nose hairs.
'The dance the school is having at the end of the year for our sixth-grade graduation,' she said.
'Duh,' B.J. put in.
'Who decided that?' Fiona said.
'Just the entire class. Back in September.' B.J. gave her butteryblonde bob a toss. 'You were probably off in one of those weird things y'all do---making up stories---'
'No,' Fiona said. 'I wasn't even HERE yet in September. I
moved here in October.'
'I know YOU were here,' Anne-Stuart said, pointing at Sophie.
Sophie shrugged. She knew she had probably daydreamed her way through the entire voting process. That was back before she'd gotten her video camera, and before she and the Corn Flakes had started making films out of daydreams instead of getting in trouble for having them in school and missing important things like voting for a stupid dance.
'What were the other choices?' Fiona said.
'Who cares?' B.J. said. 'We're having a dance, and everybody's going to wear, like, dress-up clothes, and---'
'So if you didn't even know about the dance,' Anne-Stuart said,
'then you obviously don't have your dates yet.'
'Dates?' Sophie said.
'You mean, as in boys?' Fiona said.
Anne-Stuart snorted and covered her mouth. B.J. waved at the librarian, whose eyebrows were now up in her hairline.
'You know,' Anne-Stuart whispered. 'Boys. The ones with the cute legs.'
'Cute LEGS?' Sophie's voice squeaked out of her own nostrils,
and she was sure Anne-Stuart was going to drip right out of her chair. B.J. kept smiling at the librarian.
'People are actually coming to the dance with DATES?' Fiona said.
'You meet your date at the dance, and he doesn't dance with anybody else but you the whole night.' Anne-Stuart put her hand on Fiona's and wrinkled her forehead. 'You don't HAVE
to. I mean, if you can't get a boy to be with you, then, you can't.'
'I don't WANT a boy to be with me, thank you very much,'
Fiona said. She snatched back her hand.
Sophie was doing the mustache thing with her hair again. What boy in their class would she even want to get within three feet of?
One of the Fruit Loops---Tod or Eddie or Colton? The thought made her feel like she had the stomach flu coming on. She shrank her already tiny form down into the chair.
Tod Ravelli had a pointy face like a Dr. Seuss character and acted like he was all big, even though he was one of the shrimpiest boys in the class. Acting big included trying to make Sophie feel like a worm.
Colton Messik wasn't any better. He seemed to think he was cute the way he could make the Corn Pops squeal when he told a joke.
Sophie and the rest of the Flakes thought the only thing funny about him was the way his ears stuck out.
And Eddie Wornom was the worst. He acted like Mr. Football, but mostly he was what Sophie's mom called 'fluffy' around the tummy,
and he was louder than the other two put together, especially when he was calling their friend Maggie 'Maggot' or some other lovely thing.
'I doubt any boy would ask you anyway,' B.J was saying to
Fiona. 'Not unless it was one of the computer geeks. Vincent or one of the boy-twins or---I know! Jimmy Wythe---he's like the
KING of the computer geeks. You could go with him.'
Fiona let her head fall to the side, eyes closed, and pretended to snore. Sophie watched the librarian march toward them. B.J. lowered her voice. 'But you better hurry up because there are more girls than boys in our class. You COULD get left out.'
'We have to go,' Anne-Stuart said. She grabbed B.J.'s hand,
pulling her from the chair, and cocked her head at Mrs. Eyebrows.
Silky-blonde tresses spilled along the side of Anne-Stuart's face.
'We tried to get them to be quiet, ma'am,' she said. She and
B.J. trailed off.
'Come on,' Fiona said. 'Let's wait for Kitty and those guys outside.'