I slip into line and mimic the movements of the other students as they grab a tray from a stack along the wall, slide it across the counter, and help themselves to various food items. Since I don't know how many sides are allowed, I copy the boy in front of me. He takes a chicken sandwich from a bin marked, "Main Dishes" and then ladels some canned peaches into a little styrofoam bowl before heading over to the cashiere.
I do exactly what he does, even though I hate any chicken product and canned friut makes me gag.
As I leave the lunch line with my tray, wondering where the heck I'm supposed to sit, I hear my name again. The Mandell twins are sitting at a table with a bunch of their sevie friends. Because they are the only people I even sort of know, I slide my tray in next to them and spend the rest of lunch picking at my sandwich and listening to the seventh graders discuss DS games.
I have two more classes with Kathy, and one with Justice.
Then, suddenly, it's the end of the day. I made it!
Somehow I manage to open my stuck locker, gather my stuff, and make my way down to the front of the school. As I'm leaving I see Kathy.
"Hey," she greets me. "Where are you going?"
"To the gym," I say, my eyes darting around. "I have to find Justice. She wants me to join the cheerleading squad."
Kathy makes a face. "Ew, but okay. I have volleyball, and that doesn't start for about half and hour, so I'll go down there with you." I follow her down a hallway to the gym. When we walk inside, I can already hear the cheerleaders at work.
"Give me a W-D-A! What have you got? Go, CROWDA!" There are four girls, all dressed in identical green and white cheerleading outfits, leaping across the gym. Then they all assemble into a pyramid, with Justice on top, and toss her up.
"Ouch!" she yelps as she comes down. "Not so hard, Mary Anne. It has to look smooth."
Then suddenly she spots me. "Hey, Billie! Girls, this is Billie Liberty. She'll be joining our squad."
"Maybe," Kathy mutters, but nobody pays attention to her.
Justice takes my hand and leads me over to the rest of the group. "We're practicing for the basketball game against Woodfield," she says. "Why don't you just watch for today? Then we'll teach you the moves and measure you for a uniform."
Kathy tugs my arm. "Come on," she says. "You don't want to do this."
Actually, I had never seen myself as the cheerleader type, but it did seem a nice way to make friends.
Kathy and I sit down on the edge of the bleachers. "You really want to join that?" She asks. "They're all just like Justice, a bunch of snobs. Not even worth the money those fancy-shmancy uniforms cost them."
"What's your problem?" I ask finally. "You've been putting Justice down all day and she's never been anything but nice."
Then, suddenly, the door on the opposite end of the gym opens and a bunch of boys flood in. Their green and white jerseys read "Crowda basketball". As Danny comes in, I see Justice stop waving her pompoms and turn towards him, flashing him an enormous smile.
Kathy is also staring at Danny, her eyes wide open. Then she watches as Danny goes over to Justice and says something to her. Her eyes narrow.
"That is my problem," she says.
If only I knew how big of a problem it would turn out to be.