Mary had offered a small note of hope. “If someone brings the paper in before the end of school today, maybe Mr. Russo won’t take of the points.”
“Yeah right, Russo relishes being a jerk. He’s jealous that no one here takes his precious history as seriously as he does. He can’t stand the fact that we’d all rather be doing piles, playing cello, or painting than memorizing who killed who when and why.” AP corrected. “Besides which you don’t know my parents. Their favorite phrase is ‘a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on ours’ . No way they’d interrupt their precious, well planned days to bring homework to their irresponsible youngest daughter. The only one who gets away with acting like that is Moonbeam and that’s only because my parents are afraid that a public Moonbeam meltdown would damage their precious social standing.”
“Aretha!” Mary admonished. Startling AP was startled by the sound of her real name in the school hallway. Nobody called her Aretha, unless they were really mad at her. She glanced up at her fellow 12-year-old ballerina and knew that was still the case. The short, slightly pudgy dancer was a red as the lipstick MJ wore when he did drag. “That’s not okay. You shouldn’t envy your sister’s difficulties, even if it does get her stuff.”
“I know that was mean. I’m just having a bad day and felt the need to take it out on someone. I didn’t mean it.”
“It’s okay, just think it can’t get much worse.”
“Don’t say that,” Mary warned. “My grandma says whenever you say that the universe makes it worse just to punish you for being so arrogant as to try and tempt it.”
“I’m not superstitious,” AP said.
After lunch, however, when AP went to get changed for her double period ballet technique class, she found out that while she had packed her pointe shoes, Her ballet slippers were missing. AP had packed her own dance bag since she was seven. She’d never forgotten one thing. She emerged from the locker room pale-faced and grabbed Mary and pulled her into the locker-room. “I forgot my slippers somehow! Jen’s going to kill me!” Jen was the head of the ballet concentration at PVPA. AP was one of her favorite new additions to the school’s dance department, but after today AP didn’t think that would be the case anymore. Jen’s favorite mantra was “an unprepared dancer will always be an unsuccessful one.”
“Relax! We take the same size shoe. You can borrow my spare pair.” Mary handed AP her dance bag and AP dug into it. “I might as well get changed to. Class starts in 10 minutes.” Seven minutes later, AP and Mary both emerged in black leotards, pink tights, and pink technique shoes. AP had wrestled her naturally wavy locks into a very controlled and spayed little ball. She envied Mary’s long, blond, obedient hair and wished for the thousandth time that her mother would relax her no daughter of mine is going to relax her hair while she lives my roof.” rule just for the days when she took ballet. But quickly realized that if her mother did that the rule would only have any affect on Sundays.
There was no way her Afrocentric, embrace you inner Nubian queen mother would ever go for that. There was also no way that AP could convince her mother that her desire to relax her hair was merely because like the way it looked not out of some desire to “sellout” or “act white”. AP caught a ride with Missy Taylor, one of the older girls to Advanced II class at Pioneer Valley ballet. She changed in the locker room. And really pushed herself in class. In fact, by the time she was done, the last thing she wanted to do was go back to South Hadley. But she had promised Moonbeam she’d be there to help start off the first ever BHMA Nanowrimo writing session. And no matter how tired she was (and even if she had somehow forgotten her laptop, which she discovered she had, what a day) AP never missed a chance to help other artist grow and experience the joy of finding a new art form. That simply wasn’t part of her being.
After AP checked in at main office, he set off to find the computer lab. It was supposed to close at 8pm, but somehow Moonbeam had managed to convince Kay, the school’s director to let it stay open these nights to accommodate her tiny group of writers. Moonbeam may have had difficulties no sane person would care to struggle with, but she was an organizer at heart, truly. Being their parents’ child AP wasn’t sure how much choice her sister had in that decision. Just like she wasn’t sure much of her desire to change the world through dance was really following the desires of her soul and what part of it was social programming.
AP peaked inside to see her sister typing away, along with three other writers and a staff chaperone. She was impressed Moonbeam looked so at home here. No bouncing off the walls hyperactivity. Just a person who’s whole focus was immersed in something she was trying to pull off. AP barely recognized her sister in this mode. She almost felt bad for breaking her concentration. But she politely cleared her throat anyway.
Moonbeam looked up and grinned. She clapped her hands and everyone stopped their work and looked at her. “This is my baby sister, Aretha.” AP blushed.
““I’m not a baby and you know no one calls me Aretha. Please call me AP.” she told the rest of the group.
“But your proper name is Aretha,” her sister argued, “I know, I helped make it.”
“I’m sorry I’m not as much of a hippie as you. You go around telling everyone your name is Moonbeam Essence like its normal or something.”
“When you’re someone like me, normality isn’t that big of a deal. I can’t have it anyway.” AP blushed again, this time at having such a personal conversation in public. She changed the subject.
“Why don’t you introduce me to your friends?”
“This is Betsy, and Donovan, this is Anna, and this is William. This is Tom, our staff.” AP looked them each in turn, taking an especially long time to take in William. So this too skinny, white boy the latest in Moonbeam’s long line of love ‘em and leave ‘em romantic entanglements. Within the confines of the National Williams Syndrome Association Moonbeam Washington-Williams was known as the “Heartbreak Queen.” A label she seemed to relish. It seemed to AP that her sister got a new boy toy every week. AP didn’t even get meet most of them. That was how fast her sister went through guys. The fact William was still around and peeking her sister’s interest 5 weeks after she’d met him met he must be pretty special. She’d heard all about him on the phone a month ago. Moonbeam said he was cute but she just didn’t see it. “To each there own,” she thought. To have her sister involved in something as normal as liking the same guy for longer than a carton of milk lasted in the fridge pleased her.
At 9:30, AP e-mailed herself that 1,100 words she’d managed to write, said good-bye to everyone, and walked outside to meet her father. Her total nonowrimo word count numbered at paltry 1, 457 . That was very bad. On the day three she was still try to meet what was the She was surprised when Moonbeam didn’t walk her out to the car and take the opportunity to say hello to there father. The same thing happened that next week. When it happened the 3rd time in a row, she asked to talk to her sister outside. Moonbeam bulked at leaving, but gave in once she saw the “obey me” look on her younger sister’s face.
The pair walked into the hallway. “What gives, Moon? Why don’t you ever come to see me off after writing group and why don’t you ever come say hi to daddy. Moonbeam Essence, you’re more a daddy’s girl than I am. And he comes to your school and you don’t even say hi. What’s up?”
Moonbeam blushed. “It’s kind of… William.”
“Yes, he’s the first boy I’ve really liked. Liked enough to care what daddy thinks, what mom thinks, what MJ and even you think,” Moonbeam said simply. “I am just trying to figure out the best way to introduce everyone to him.” Moonbeam confessed, smiling shyly.
“Wow, I never heard you talk this way about anyone.”
“He’s special,” her sister’s smile broadened. “I should get back to everyone. Say hi to daddy.” With that, her sister turned on her heel and walked back into the room to rejoin her friends. AP went outside where she suspected her father would be waiting. And he was.
By the time she reached home it was 9:34 Bedtime was 11 o’clock on weeknights, although AP was allowed to leave the lights on and do homework as long as she had no trouble getting up for school the next morning. Her mother said that AP was big enough this year to determine when she needed sleep and as long as her grades didn’t suffer and she wasn’t grouchy in the mornings who was another person to attempt to regulate her personal biorhythms.
AP enjoyed the new MJom, as she peeled off her sneakers and put on her technique shoes. She was busy practicing the new steps for the piece of student choreography that was do premiere at the high school open mic this Friday. AP was honored to be the first 7th grader asked to perform at a high school open mic this year.
“Very nice!” came her mother voice from the doorway. “But it’s bedtime.”
“Can I have 15 more minutes?”
“You know the rules, young lady. You don’t have to go to sleep. But you need go to bed at 11, Sunday to Thursday”
“Yes, I know the rules. I’m just asking for an exception once. I did get an A on my math test.”
“I see your point. Just this once unless you bring me some more As. I’ll be back in 15 minutes. Have fun. The 15 minutes passed in what to AP seemed the intake of a breath. Pretty soon her mother was back in her doorway. AP thought of asking for another 15 minutes but knew there was no way that would work. At least she was pleased with the way she was making up the movement. She knew a lot of people at PVPA were wondering if Amy Lipsky, a friend of hers from Advanced II at Pioneer Valley Ballet had decided to put her in the contemporary piece that she’d spent all the previous summer creating.