I have something to give you. Meet me at "our" beach at 6:30. We can go to the party together.


It's almost six p.m., and I'm sitting on the bottom bunk on the left side of the girl's bedroom folding the note from Pierce until it is as tiny and inconspicuous as possible. Shelly is in a chair facing the vanity mirror while Lily-Bella waves her wand over Shelly's hair. One hairstyle after another blooms on Shelly's head as they try to find the perfect one. Shelly is staring at the note in the mirror's reflection. I push it into the front pocket of my jeans to get it out of sight.

Pickles lies on the top bunk reading some Fairy Godmother training manual. I plan to set the book on fire when she's not looking. I don't like the F.G. rules at all. They are ridiculous. Why should a person have to spend her life forced into making other people happy? Case in point-she insisted on taking the top bunk. Sure I preferred the bottom, but the only way she was going to let me have the top was if I physically restrained her. I don't want to do that sort of thing to my new friend, and frankly, I don't want to expend the energy tying her down every night for the rest of the semester.

Besides the beds and the vanity, the girls' room has four desks, four wardrobes and a bathroom with two sinks, two showers and two stalls. Lily-Bella and Shelly's half of the room is covered in predominantly pink clothing, glittery makeup, hairbrushes, ribbons, jewelry, tiaras and dozens of perfume bottles. It is strange to see these items in a spare, log cabin in the woods. There are two windows overlooking the redwood forest. Shelly and Lily-Bella have now spritzed each and every perfume into the air at least twice, so our room smells like a horrible accident at the human perfume store.

"Maybe we should go back to picking out our outfits before we decide on hair and fragrance," says Shelly. "I think that would make more sense."

"You're right. Outfits first," says Lily-Bella.

Shelly and Fairy Princess Lily-Bella wear only matching bra and underwear sets. By now they've each tried on about a hundred different ensembles. Despite the gushing commentary from the two of them as to how "totally cute" they look with each successive change, nothing has met the mysterious standard required to attend a yacht party.

I feel a little underdressed in my jeans and South Pacifica High Debate Team Champions sweatshirt. And now that I'm meeting Pierce alone before the party, I wish I did have something a little nicer. In my former mostly-aquatic lifestyle, I didn't require much beyond shell tops and casualwear for going to the boardwalk with Carla.

Wait, why am I worried about what I'm wearing? I don't care what Pierce thinks. If anything, I want to look as unappetizing as possible. Why am I so happy at the prospect of being alone with him? It's probably just my curiosity. What could he want to give me?

"What about this one?" says Lily Bella, twirling in another pink sparkly gown. I swear to Neptune it looks exactly the same as half the gowns she's already tried on.

"It's soooo cute," says Shelly, who is slipping into a tight black leather mini-dress and matching platform heels. "What do you think about this?" She cuts a model's pose, which involves standing at an angle, flicking her long green waves over her shoulder and puckering her glossy lips. She looks a little like a sea bass.

"It's really cute," says Lilly-Bella, but I think I like the pink one better.

"Of course you do," I mutter.

"What?" says Lilly Bella.

"I mean, I know you love pink, right? You said that when you introduced yourself. So it makes sense that you'd prefer the pink," I say, totally back-pedaling.

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