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Lights, Action, Lily!
By Nancy Rue
ZondervanCopyright © 2002 Women of Faith
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI hate having my picture taken," Reni said. "I always look so stupid." "You do not either look stupid," Lily said.
"Yes, I do." Reni crossed her eyes to prove it, then shrugged. "It doesn't matter how I look in my school picture, though. My parents are having my portrait done at a studio so I can be holding my violin."
Their friend Suzy looked at Reni in awe. Lily did too. Reni was, after all, her best friend, and everything she did was amazing as far as Lily was concerned.
"I guess it doesn't matter about my picture," Suzy said, tilting her head so that her very dark, straight hair splashed across her cheek. "My soccer pictures are always better than my school pictures."
"That's nice for you two," Lily said. "But this is the only set I'm getting. And they have to be good. My dad's putting all our pictures on this family tree thing he's making for my grandmother for Christmas. He's got pictures of people on there from a hundred years ago. They all look like this."
Lily stood up straight and stiff and stared sternly into an imaginary camera lens. Suzy giggled softly.
"Okay, what's so funny? Let me in on the joke."
The three girls jumped - and then grinned - well, at least Reni and Lily did. Suzyducked her head behind Lily's shoulder. It was Officer Horn, better known in kid circles as "Deputy Dog." She kept order around Cedar Hills Middle School with her mud-brown, piercing stare and her thumbs hooked into her belt. Although the Girlz - Lily, Reni, Suzy, Zooey, and Kresha - had had their run-ins with her at the beginning of the year, she was their "bud" now - as long as they played by the rules. Deputy Dog didn't cut any slack to those who didn't.
"Do that face for her, Lily," Reni said.
Lily was about to when there was a shriek from the front of the line, up close to where the photographer was snapping pictures. Deputy Dog's ears practically stood on end.
"Excuse me, ladies," she said, and strolled toward the front.
Lily stood on her tiptoes to check out the action.
"What's going on?" Reni asked.
Lily groaned. It was, of course, Ashley Adamson and her clone-friend Chelsea. Shad Shifferdecker was up there holding what appeared to be Ashley's picture order form over his head, and Ashley was jumping for it and missing - on purpose, from what Lily could tell. That girl is so boy crazy, Lily thought, it makes me want to reach for a barf bag.
"Is it Ashley?" Reni said.
"Are they still going out?" Suzy said.
Lily rolled her eyes. "That's what she says. Where do people 'go' when they say they're 'going out'? I know Ashley's parents don't let her date. She's twelve!"
"I don't know," Reni said. "They let her get away with everything. Did you see how short her skirt is?"
"She'll get in trouble for that with Deputy Dog," Suzy said. And then she tugged anxiously at her own skirt.
"Even if they do let her date," Lily said, "who would want to go out with Shad Shifferdecker anyway? Blech!"
"He's getting cuter," Reni said.
"Gross! He's sure not getting nicer!"
"Shh, Lily!" Suzy whispered. "Deputy Dog's looking back here!"
Lily lowered her voice, and Reni and Suzy leaned their heads in. "Friday, when I forgot my lunch," Lily said, "and I had to go through the food line, he was standing behind me, pretending like he was pulling bugs out of my hair - and eating them!"
"That is so disgusting!" Reni said.
"It's definitely not cute," Lily said. She gave her mane of curly red hair a toss. "As soon as I got home, I got out the shampoo. It was like I could feel his cooties crawling around on my scalp."
Suzy shivered. Reni scratched her own head between two of her African black-beaded braids.
"Here she comes!" Suzy said, and ducked behind Lily again.
It was Ashley, sauntering from the picture-taking area and glancing over her shoulder while giving her turned-up blonde hair a flip.
"Move along, Adamson," Deputy Dog called to her in a bored voice. "The fans are not clamoring for more. You're finished here."
"Hel-lo-o! I'm waiting for Sha-ad," Ashley said.
"You're waiting to get yourself busted with that tone," Deputy Dog said. "Now get back to class."
Ashley rolled her eyes, threw her hair back, and stalked away.
As the line shuffled forward, Lily felt someone at her elbow and looked around to see Chelsea beside her.
"Did you forget it was picture day, Robbins?" Chelsea asked.
Lily could already feel her teeth clenching together. "No," she said.
"Oh - so you meant for your hair to look like that." She put her hands up, several inches from each side of her head, and said, "Poof!"
"You got a problem with that?" Reni said. "No," Chelsea said. She curled her lip, leaving a trail of lip gloss under her nose. "But Robbins obviously has one. Ashley's right - she's so-weird."
Then she swung herself around and at a fast walk went after Ashley, who was loitering in the gym doorway. Chelsea's short vinyl skirt twitched back and forth as she went.
"You're not weird, Lily," Suzy said. "I think you're beautiful."
"Thanks," Lily said.
She composed herself and turned to move ahead with the line. She knew better than to pay attention to Ashley, Chelsea, Bernadette, and the rest of the "popular" kids. And she knew she wasn't weird. Granted, she had the thickest, reddest, curliest hair in the whole School - and she was tall - and she got really into the things she was jazzed about. But that didn't make her weird. It just made her - unique.
Of course, right now she wasn't feeling particularly special, not after hearing about Reni's picture with her violin and Suzy's with a soccer ball.
Lily was at that point again - the point where she didn't have anything going that was just hers - that made her stand out - and it was even more obvious at home. Her older brother Art was already being asked to apply at different music schools, and he was only a junior. Her little brother Joe had enough sports trophies in his room to start his own store, and he was only ten. Even her parents were getting more and more recognition. Mom was taking over as head of the athletic department at the high school while the real guy was having surgery, and Dad had just submitted a book that was probably going to get published.
And here I am again, Lily thought. I'm generic. I'm like the potato chips that come in the white bag with the black print - blah, bland, cardboard -
"Lily-the line's moving," Reni said behind her.
Lily lurched forward into the space that had been left between her and Marcie McCleary. Marcie didn't seem to notice. She was too busy adjusting all the chains that were hanging from her jacket, from her arms, and out of the pockets of her too-big jeans.
Reni poked Lily and pointed to Marcie, her face a question mark. Lily knew what she meant, and she had the same question: What is happening to Marcie? She's turning into a gang chick or something.
Marcie's chain obsession also caught Deputy Dog's eye. "McCleary - come here - I want to talk to you," she said.
Marcie scurried over to her. Ahead, Shad was just taking his seat in front of the camera, and he was taking full advantage of Deputy Dog's turned-away head. Lily watched as he slouched on the stool, parked his arms on his thighs, and gave the photographer a "Whasup?" look. His snappy little eyes sparkled in the lights and for once didn't look so close together.
"Hey," Reni whispered, "he got his braces off. I told you he was getting cuter."
"Sit up, son," the photographer said.
Shad did - so straight he looked like he had a pole for a spine. Several kids ahead of Lily laughed appreciatively. Lily didn't.
"Not that straight," the photographer said. "Come on, give me something natural."
Shad grinned a half-grin, eyebrows arched up to the swish of hair that wasn't shaved. The photographer snapped the camera, and the kids in the front of the line clapped.
"That's gonna be so good!" some girl said.
"Oh, brother," Lily said.
There were only two people ahead of Lily now, and with Deputy Dog still preoccupied with Marcie and her chains, Shad shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans, yanked them down below his boxers, and began to work the line. Lily folded her arms and turned her back in his direction.
Excerpted from Lights, Action, Lily! by Nancy Rue Copyright © 2002 by Women of Faith. Excerpted by permission.
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