“Look Mom, I’m done.” She held up the card for Karen to see.
“Ooo, that is fancy! How many did you make?” Karen asked.
“Five. There is one for Sadie, Abby, Sara, Maddie, and my bestest friend Rae.” Deirdre held up each card, showing her mom the different designs.
“Oh my, this is going to be quite the party with all of those girls here. I don’t know if I can handle it,” Karen said with mock distress.
“Quit teasing me. You said they could all spend the night right? It’ll be my first slumber party. I’m so excited!”
“I know you are, sweetie. It’ll be a lot of fun, I’m sure.” Karen hugged her, then handed Deirdre her backpack. “Now scoot. You don’t want to be late for the bus and miss your chance to hand out these awesome invitations.”
Deirdre carefully put the cards in her backpack and waved to her mom as she headed out the door. She couldn’t stand still at the bus stop, checking her watch every other minute, she circled the other kids at the stop. She knew she would see Abby and Maddie on the bus, and Sadie and Sara first thing when she got to school because they had lockers by hers, but she wouldn’t see Rae until lunch. They didn’t have any classes together this year. She just couldn’t wait to give them their invitations. Thinking about all the things they needed to talk about to make this the best slumber party ever, Deirdre let out a little squeal. All the kids at the stop looked at her funny, and her cheeks turned crimson with embarrassment. Thankfully, the bus pulled up and distracted them all from her exuberance.
Deirdre got on the bus with the other kids, taking her usual seat with Abby and Maddie, she set her backpack on her lap.
“Hey, how was your weekend, anything fun?” Maddie asked.
“Not too much this weekend, but I have some plans for next weekend,” Deirdre smiled and handed them their invitations.
Abby closed her latest mystery book and examined the card. “A slumber party. That sounds fun. Maybe we could set up a ‘who dun it’ mystery?”
“Really Abby! Maybe we could do something that Deirdre would like for her birthday party,” Maddie retorted, shaking her head.
“I’m not sure what we’ll do yet. I was going to wait till we are all together at lunch with Rae to talk about the party, but maybe a mystery would be fun, or all night movies and pizza.” Deirdre added.
The girls giggled and discussed all of the possibilities for the party. The morning was going just like Deirdre had imagined. She could barely contain her excitement. It kept escaping in little giggles and bouts of clapping. By the time she made it to Sadie and Sara at their lockers, she was bouncing up and down with joy.
“What’s got you so happy?” Sadie asked.
“Yeah, you look like you’re going to burst, and confetti will shoot out of your head,” Sara noted dryly.
“Me and Maddie and Abby spent the bus ride making plans for this weekend. It’s going to be awesome!” she squealed, handing the girls their invitations.
Sadie read her card, then grabbed Deirdre and Sara in a big hug, while jumping up and down, “Slumber party!”
“Sounds great, but get off me,” Sara ripped herself out of Sadie’s grip and straightened out her shirt.
“You’re such a butt,” Sadie said, sticking out her tongue at Sara.
“I know you are, but what am I,” Sara replied, winking.
The morning bell rang, signaling it was time to get to class. The girls headed to homeroom together, Sadie and Deirdre holding hands and skipping down the hallway with Sara following behind hoping no one noticed her weird friends.
Deirdre watched the clock in Math, counting every minute that ticked closer to lunch time. Just two more minutes and the lunch bell would ring, then she could find Rae and give her the invitation.
Deirdre and Rae had been best friends since Kindergarten, when the Malone’s had adopted her. They hadn’t been so close this school year since they only got to see each other at lunch, and Rae was making a lot of new friends in her classes without Deirdre. Everything was going to change at the slumber party though. They were going to have so much fun and Rae was going to remember that they have been best friends for years, not having classes together can’t change that.
One more minute, fifty-nine, fifty-eight, fifty-seven…the lunch bell chimed and all the kids grabbed their books and headed for the door with the teacher in mid-sentence. Deirdre was the first one out the door. She was in a rush to see Rae in the lunch room, but she had drunk all that orange juice at breakfast and she really had to go, so she made a quick detour to the girl’s room. She had barely latched the stall when she heard some girls enter the room. It was Rae, she would know her voice anywhere, and she was with Abby, Maddie, Sara and Sadie. She must have come in to fix her make-up. Rae was one of the few girls in sixth grade whose mom bought her make-up to wear to school. Deirdre grabbed Rae’s invite out of her pocket. She was just about to open the stall door when she heard her name, and stopped.
“Rae, have you seen Deirdre yet?” Maddie asked.
“No, why?” Rae asked, touching up her mascara.
“She’s having a slumber party this weekend. She gave us all invitations this morning. She’s probably going to give you yours at lunch,” Sadie added.
“Like I would go to that screamer’s party,” Rae said, rolling her eyes.
“I’m not real friendly with anyone, but that’s kinda cold, Rae. I thought you two were best friends,” Sara said.
“We haven’t really been friends all year. Anyhow, don’t you hear what the other kids are saying about her? She’s a freak,” Rae turned around to look at the other girls seriously. “Jason Bram said he saw her screaming outside his neighbor’s house last month. The police had to come pick her up, she just wouldn’t stop screaming. It was the creepiest sound he’d ever heard, like someone had died or something. And the freakiest part is that it scared his neighbor so bad he had a heart attack and died the next day.”
“Jason Bram will say anything to get your attention. He’s had a crush on you all year,” Abby said.
“He’s not the only one. Cara Thompson said the same thing about a lady that lived up the road from her. Deirdre’s father picked her up from that place. She was sitting in the yard screaming at the front door.” Rae flipped her hair over her shoulder. “You all can do what you want, but I’m not spending any more time with the screamer.”
“That’s kinda creepy,” Sadie said, looking down at her shoes.
“Yeah, my mom probably wouldn’t want me staying at her house if she’s going to run off screaming into the night,” Sara added with a shrug.
Abby looked at the other girls, confusion shining in her eyes. She simply said, “Yeah.”
“Let’s go. We can eat outside and hopefully avoid seeing her at all,” Rae said heading for the door.
The girls followed her out. Deirdre stood there in the stall staring at the card she had made for Rae. The words ‘Best Friend’ seemed to mock her with their bright colors. The glitter shined brightly through her unshed tears. She let the card fall to the floor, stepping on it as she ran out of the bathroom and straight to the office. She wasn’t feeling so well, and wanted to go home.
Twenty minutes later, she was on her way home with her mom. Karen tried to talk to Deirdre, but all she got was, “I’m just feeling sick and need to lay down.” As soon as they got home, Deirdre rushed out of the car and up to her room. She sat quietly in her bed, staring at the wall, letting the heartache wash over her again and again. Eventually, she picked up her diary.
I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening, that I was a normal girl. I thought nobody noticed when I screamed, or maybe every kid screamed like that. Maybe it was part of growing up. I guess not. I should have known. Caylin, Marcus, and Joey never scream, at least not like that. What’s wrong with me? Something is wrong, I know it, and now I’ve lost my best friend, maybe all my friends. Who wants to be friends with a freak! So much for a happy birthday. What am I going to tell my mom? Am I going to have to tell her that I’m a freak and that’s why no one wants to come to my party, or does she already know? Maybe she’s going to want to give me back too now. Then I would be all alone, with nothing to hear, but the screams.