Tonight the Streets Are Ours / Page 2

Page 2


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OH SHIT was Lindsey’s reply, and that gave Arden her first inkling that perhaps her best friend knew more than she herself did about why the principal wanted her. But before Arden could ask what, exactly, “oh shit” meant, Mr. Winchell snapped, “No telephones!” in the triumphant fashion of a man who has missed his true calling as a prison warden.

After another ten minutes of waiting, Arden was brought in to see the principal. Mr. Vanderpool was a preposterously tall human—so tall that it was easy not to notice how bald he was unless he was seated—who seemed awkward whenever confronted with actual teenagers rather than school board members or faculty. He rarely wandered the hallways and never showed his face in the cafeteria; his one interaction with the student body as a whole was during assembly, when he would stand on the stage and address them en masse from afar. He had a seemingly endless collection of novelty neckties, which was either the one area of his life where he gave himself permission to entertain whimsy or was his sad attempt at appearing kid-friendly. Arden wasn’t totally sure that Mr. Vanderpool knew who she was, as this was their first proper conversation in her nearly three years at his school.

“Arden Huntley,” he said once she was seated in his office, on the other side of his desk. “Do you want to tell me why you’re here?”

Arden blinked at him. “You called me here, Principal Vanderpool.”

He looked pained. “I am aware of that. Do you want to tell me why I called you here?”

Arden really wished that Lindsey had said something a little more useful than “oh shit.”

“Um, I don’t know,” Arden told the principal.

He cleared his throat and reached into a drawer in his desk. What he pulled out was a small plastic bag filled with some brownish flakes. “Does this look familiar?” he asked Arden.

“No?”

He sighed. “Arden, we found this bag of drugs in your locker today.”

“What were you doing in my locker?” Arden blurted out, even though that was, perhaps, not her most pressing question.

“Routine random locker checks,” Mr. Vanderpool replied. “But what I’d like to know is, what was this”—here he shook the baggie—“doing in your locker?”

Now Arden knew exactly what Lindsey’s text message had meant, and she knew the answer to the principal’s question, as well.

She and Lindsey shared lockers, as they shared pretty much everything. Thanks to stupid school bureaucracy and geography, they had been assigned lockers on opposite ends of the building from each other, and from where most of their classes and activities were. So Lindsey usually used the one that was officially Arden’s, because it was closer to the gym, while Arden usually stored her stuff in Lindsey’s, which was right by the theater and library. They had always known each other’s combinations, to school lockers and to everything else, and Arden had seen nothing but benefits to this sort of sharing.

But that was before Lindsey, apparently, stashed a bag of pot in her locker.

Arden knew that Lindsey got high sometimes: weekends, parties, whatever. People did that—not Arden, but people, fine. But how could Lindsey have been so dumb, so thoughtless and foolhardy, as to bring it into school? Their school had a zero tolerance policy, a minimum three-day suspension for any student found in possession of any sort of drugs, no matter what kind, no matter what the quantity—though if they were worse drugs, in higher quantities, you risked a longer suspension or even expulsion. Everybody knew this.

But the worst part, for Lindsey, was that getting caught with drugs meant you were immediately kicked off all sports teams for the rest of the year. No way around it. And Lindsey lived for the school track team. She loved running roughly as much as Arden hated it. Not only that, but being recruited for track was basically Lindsey’s only hope for getting accepted into a good college. She didn’t have a whole lot else going for her. This was not, by the way, Arden’s opinion. This was the opinion of countless guidance counselors, teachers, and Lindsey’s own parents.

Arden knew what would happen if she explained how that bag of marijuana wound up in her locker. Lindsey would lose it all. Over one casual, stupid decision, and one massive helping of bad luck. That sounded about par for the course for Lindsey.

But fortunately, Arden didn’t play any sports.

Let’s go even further.

Let’s go way, way back

When she was nine years old, Arden Huntley was turned into a doll.

It’s a very competitive process, to be a doll.

Only one girl gets this honor each year, and there are a lot of rules. She must be between the ages of eight and twelve. She must be a United States citizen. She must write an essay explaining why she thinks she has what it takes to be the Doll of the Year, and she must submit this essay to the Just Like Me Dolls Company by July 1, and if her application is chosen above all the other thousands and thousands of girls who are vying for this honor, then she and only she will have a Just Like Me Doll modeled after her that goes on sale six months later.


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