With Little Red Riding Hoodie‘s Kindle Scout campaign about to end (click here to nominate it for publication and read the first chapter-and-a-half), I thought people like one more taste of the book’s contents. So here’s about the first two-thirds of Chapter Three. After reading the preview Amazon put up on the book’s Kindle Scout page, and finishing Chapter Two here, you can read on to get a further look at Sally’s adventures in sixth grade. Enjoy!
. . .
Sally was relieved to discover the next morning that Tommy had not wet the bed. Her father lumbered around trying to get himself ready. He looked hungover, and he only grunted when Sally said good morning to him.
She got Tommy up and then went to have a shower herself. The water was warm and soothing, especially after having to skip bathing the day before. She took ten sinful, extra minutes.
After a breakfast of cornflakes, she made sure Tommy was ready to go. She escorted him to the bus stop and then put up her hood and took off on her bike down Jordan Avenue towards Parker Drive.
It was chilly again this morning, but being clean and not rushed made her feel invigorated. She strained as usual to get to the top of the hill, but it didn’t seem quite as difficult today.
By the time she made it to her locker, Alison was already there.
“Have you heard anything yet?” she said, practically quivering in front of Sally.
“No,” Sally replied. “I just got here. Besides, he said the cast list won’t be up ’til after last period.”
“Suckage!” Alison said. “I don’t want to have to wait all day to find out!”
“Imagine if you had auditioned,” Sally said, rolling her eyes.
“C’est la vie,” Alison said.
“No speaka da French,” Sally replied.
Sally had barely gotten herself seated in first-period social studies, when Mr. Frank turned smugly to the class, put his hands behind his back, and said, “All right, ladies and gentlemen, please put your things away, except for a blank sheet of paper and a pen.”
Sally’s heart stopped. A pop quiz? Mr. Frank chose today for a pop quiz? She had fallen asleep trying to read the material last night!
“Put your name in the upper, right-hand corner,” he continued.
Sally loathed him. He was enormous – one of those men whose gut seemed to extend outward from the rest of his body, like he was only fat in front. She didn’t care if people were overweight, but Mr. Frank thrust his stomach at the class like it gave him authority, and he smiled sadistically at them every time he gave a quiz.
“Please describe the basic process for a bill to be originated and get through Congress all the way to the president’s desk for signature or veto,” he said, gazing on the class imperiously. “You have ten minutes. Begin.”
Sally didn’t know what to do. She only vaguely remembered what she had read before passing out last night. She was pretty sure any member of Congress could start a bill, and there was something about a committee, but she couldn’t recall what it was. And then? And then . . .
Sally heard a clinking. She couldn’t say for certain what it was. She scanned the hall of the school, examining the smoke-swirl pattern in the grey tile floors, looking for the source of the sound between the gun-metal grey lockers. After a moment, she saw it. A gold coin rolled down the hall and then, as though possessed of a mind of its own, turned a corner and continued out of sight down the adjoining hallway.
She gasped and sat up straight in her desk. Last night’s dream came rushing back to her all at once. She had forgotten it when she woke up this morning. The terror of those dogs, the fear that they would catch her, seized her mind and would not let go.
“Something you’d like to share with the rest of us, Miss Prescott?” Mr. Frank said.
“What?” she said.
Everyone laughed. Sally looked around. Everyone was staring at her. What had she been doing?
“If you’re finished reacting to my ‘alarming’ quiz, you might think about the fact you only have seven minutes left to finish it,” Mr. Frank said.
He looked down on her sternly, and she could see malicious delight dancing in his eyes. She thought he must hate children and couldn’t understand why he became a teacher.
“You now have six minutes and forty-five seconds,” he said.
Sally put her head down and tried to think of something to write. The only thing that would come to mind, though, was the memory of those terrifying dogs. She had written only two sentences, when Mr. Frank called time and instructed everyone to pass their papers to the front.
She was getting an “F.” She knew it. Mr. Frank had no mercy. He wouldn’t give her any kind of partial credit for starting the quiz or putting her name on the paper. He would just fail her.
She wanted to cry. It wasn’t her fault she fell asleep during the reading. The author shouldn’t have made it so boring. What did they expect would happen to a sixth-grader trying to read it late at night?
Mr. Frank spent the class period discussing the reading and taking them through the convoluted process of U.S. legislation, but Sally barely heard him. She was too distraught to pay attention. The fresh wound of her failure on the quiz and the memory of the nightmare crashed her focus.
Second-period math didn’t do much for her either. They went over last night’s problems. Mrs. Lamay assigned another thirty for tonight.
Mr. Pipich’s class cheered her a little third hour, but seeing him reminded her that the cast list for Romeo and Juliet would be posted at the end of the day. After her dispiriting failure on Mr. Frank’s pop quiz, it was impossible to believe she would get a part. Maybe she would get the Nurse because she was ugly, but even that seemed unlikely.
The day droned on from one miserable experience to another. Even Alison, who was usually so fun and supportive, irritated her throughout the entirety of lunch with constant assertions that Sally would be cast as Juliet and end up falling in love with Brian and marrying him some day.
By the end of the day, Sally could barely muster the desire to go to Mr. Pipich’s room to see the results. She didn’t want to have her dreams crushed. Molly would get the part. It didn’t matter how bad she was. She was gorgeous. She looked like a woman. Sally? She was a kid.
She decided, though, that it was better to get it over with. She may as well go take her medicine now, so she wouldn’t be disappointed later.
When she got to Mr. Pipich’s room, a crowd milled near the door. He had posted the cast list on the small corkboard outside his class. Twenty or thirty students had gathered around and were talking animatedly about what they read and pointing at the board. The crowd looked like a single, amorphous creature.
Summoning her courage, she began pushing her way through to the front, so she could read the list herself. The crowd parted slowly. This odd beast made up of many different living things seemed to wish to deny her passage, as though there were some secret on its other side it did not want to divulge.
As she got closer, her anxiety rose. She’d known she’d wanted it, but she hadn’t realized how deeply and profoundly she had desired to be cast in the play. She loved Romeo and Juliet. Mr. Pipich just had to include her. He had to! She had no idea how she would face her disappointment if he hadn’t.
Deliberately, she tried to convince herself that there was no way a girl like her could be in a play as special as Romeo and Juliet. She was ugly. She was nothing. She was the dumb girl, who couldn’t pass a social studies quiz. Mr. Pipich wouldn’t want someone like her in the most amazing play ever.
She willed her mind back to the defeatist attitude she had had prior to reading yesterday. If she believed she didn’t deserve this, couldn’t hope to ever get it, she would not be disappointed when she did not. It would hurt less than if she got her hopes up. Hoping to get Juliet was like hoping for Mom to come home.
At last, the crowd parted enough for her to reach the front. Sally closed her eyes. She drew in a deep breath and steeled herself for disappointment. Then she opened her eyes and read the cast list.
And there it was in black ink:
JULIET CAPULET – SALLY PRESCOTT
Her heart stopped. She couldn’t possibly have read that. She read it again. It hadn’t changed. She, Sally Prescott, had gotten what she wanted; she’d been cast as Juliet.
A lump came up in the back of her throat. Then a freight train of emotion crashed through her. She began weeping. Tears streamed down her face as the sheer joy of her accomplishment overwhelmed her. For the first time in her life, she understood what it was to cry from happiness.
A scream broke through the crowd causing everyone to turn. Alison stood a few feet away. Her mouth was open wide enough to accommodate an entire apple.
“Sally!” she screamed. “You did it!” She rushed Sally, grabbed her hands, and began jumping up and down. “You did it, you did it, you did it, you did it, you did it!”
Sally began jumping too, and people nearby had to back off. They all looked irritated.
“I told you, you could do it!” Alison shrieked. “Didn’t I tell you?”
“Yes,” was all Sally could manage. She had no words to describe what she was feeling.
A moment later, though, Alison grew suddenly silent. Her face fell. Sally turned around. There stood Molly Richards, surrounded by The Set, looking as though someone had called her a very dirty name. Sally suddenly realized she hadn’t seen Molly’s name anywhere on the cast list.
Molly fixed Sally with a glare capable of wilting flowers. No one said anything for a moment.
“I think Mr. Pipich made a mistake,” Molly declared. “He probably meant to cast you as Romeo. After all, you look like a boy.”
Wendy and Brinna cackled at the joke, and Kylie sneered. Everyone else was silent.
Sally was angry. How dare Molly say something like that? Sally had rocked the audition. Molly sucked. Sally decided she’d had enough.
“You’re just jealous, Molly,” Sally said.
“Of Little Red Riding Hoodie?” Molly retorted. “Please.”
With a casual flip of her hair, Molly turned her back on Sally and started to walk away defiantly. The rest of The Set fell in behind her.
Sally cursed herself. Her quip had been weak. Molly had easily dismissed it. Sally could have let her walk away, content with having gotten the part. But she couldn’t do it. She hated that nickname, hated Molly, and could not stand to let her get away with being a bitch this time.
“Yeah, you’re jealous,” Sally said. “You’re pissed because you were so bad you got beaten out by a girl with no tits.”
There was stunned silence. No one said a word for at least ten seconds. Molly stopped cold in her tracks. Alison’s mouth hung open at the sheer audacity of the statement. Molly turned around savagely to snarl something back. Sally met her hateful gaze with a defiant smile. Molly’s mouth opened, snapped shut, opened again, and shut a second time. She clearly couldn’t think of a comeback to Sally’s devastating riposte. She turned on her heel and stormed away.
The Set followed quickly, looking confused. Brinna turned back several times, throwing Sally a death glare, but Sally returned it with a triumphant grin.
The crowd began breaking up. A lot of people smiled at Sally. One or two congratulated her. It was as though she had grown six inches taller right then.
“Oh. My. God!” Alison said. “I can’t believe you said that!”
“I had to say something,” Sally replied with a shrug. “Besides, it’s the truth. She’s got great boobs, and she thinks they should get her whatever she wants. It makes her angry when someone she thinks is inferior beats her.”
“Sally,” Alison said, beaming, “you don’t need boobs. You’ve got brains.”
Little Red Riding Hoodie: A Modern Fairy Tale is part of Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. You can nominate the book for publication by following this link, logging in with your Amazon account, and clicking the blue “Nominate Me” button. Thanks!