The Crazy Maisies
I wish, I wish, I wish I could go, I thought when our teacher Miss Creighton
first made the announcement.
". . . I will be taking names from all you eighth-grade girls in the next week,"
she continued. "All those who want to go must register before the end of
May, which only gives you two weeks."
A school trip to Venice. Two weeks in sunny Italy. I wanted to go more than
anything, ever, since the beginning of eternity and even before that.
"You going to put your name down, Tori?" asked Georgie when the bell rang
and we headed out of the classroom for our lunch break.
I shrugged my shoulders as if I didn't really care. "Maybe," I said.
"I definitely am," said Megan, catching up with us and linking arms. "Mom
said I could go on the next school trip, wherever it was."
"Me, too," said Hannah, linking arms with Megan.
"Me, too," said Georgie. "Which means you have to come, Tori. It wouldn't be
the same without you. The Crazy Maisies hit Europe."
Me, Hannah, Megan, and Georgie. We called ourselves the Crazy Maisies.
My mom used to call me that when I was little and acting silly. Me and my
friends act silly a lot, hence the name.
"Venice isn't that great," I said. "Too many tourists. Florence is much more
interesting." Ha. Like I'd been to either of them. Not. But I had heard my well-
traveled Aunt Phoebe saying that Venice was so full of tourists these days
that you could hardly move.
"You have to come," said Hannah. "And so what if there are loads of tourists?
We'll be four of them!"
"Yeah," said Georgie. "Italy, here we come!"
I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. I was so going to miss out, but I could
never tell them the real reason why I couldn't go.
"Si, signora, pasta, cappuccino, tiramisu," I said, trying to remember all the
Italianish words that I had ever heard and to distract them from trying to
persuade me to go. I'd have to think up some excuse that they'd all buy later.
"Linguine, Botticelli, spaghetti . . ." Megan joined in.
"Da Vinci, Madonna, pizzeria, Roma," said Hannah.
Then they started singing a song that we'd done in music class last quarter.
We'd had a substitute teacher who had us singing songs from around the
globe. "Trying to broaden your horizons," he said as he taught us folk songs
from Italy to Iceland. By the end of the quarter, however, I think he was glad
to broaden his horizons and move on to another school where the students
"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore . . ." my
friends chorused off-key and in terrible Italian accents.
A few ninth-grade girls sloped past and looked at us as if we were crazy. I
play-acted that I wasn't with them, but Georgie dragged me back, and
Hannah and Megan got down on their knees, put their hands on their hearts,
and continued hollering away at the tops of their voices.
Crazy. They all are. And they'll have a great time in Venice, that's for sure.
Another thing that was for sure was that no way would I be going with them.
Not a hope in heck.
During break, we went out into the playground, found a bench on the sunny
side, and did each other's hair. When we first met, only Georgie, out of the
four of us, had long hair. After a short time hanging out together, we all
decided to grow our hair to the same length so that we could play
hairdresser, and long hair is best for experimenting with. Georgie and Meg
are blond, although Megan's hair is thicker and golden blond, while Georgie's
is fine white-blond. Hannah and I have ordinary brown hair, although Hannah
has had chestnut highlights put in hers lately. It looks totally cool. I'd love to
have highlights, but that's another thing to add to the "not going to happen
unless Mom wins the lottery" list.
I think Georgie's the prettiest of the four of us, although Megan and Hannah
are good-looking in their own ways too. Hannah could pass for being
Mexican. She has olive skin and amazing dark brown eyes, which look
enormous when she puts on makeup, and Megan has a sweet face,
cornflower-blue eyes, and a tiny nose like a doll. Out of all of us, boys mostly
pay attention to Georgie and me, though. Hannah and Megan say it's
because I'm pretty too, but sometimes I wonder if the main reason that boys
talk to me is to get in with Georgie.
I'm not huge in the confidence department. Some days I can look okay—I
know I can—but I could look lots better if I got my hair done professionally
and bought some fab new clothes and makeup, but I doubt if that's going to
happen anytime soon. Reason being, my family is broke and a half, so it's
hard trying to keep up on the appearance front. Most of my clothes come
from secondhand stores, but I worry that my friends will find out. At school,
girls who don't wear the latest designer clothes get called Discount Divas
because their clothes don't have recognizable labels. Megan, Georgie, and
Hannah have no idea that I'm Queen Discount Diva.
"I think we should go for a really sophisticated look when we're in Venice,"
said Megan as she pulled back Georgie's hair and began to braid it.
"No. I think we should wear it loose," said Hannah.
"Yeah," said Georgie. "Loose and romantic-looking. There might be some
cute Italian boys to flirt with."
Oh, no! Boys! Italian boys. I hadn't thought of that. What if one of my friends
got a boyfriend and I wasn't there to share it all with them? What if all three of
them got boyfriends and had their first kiss? It might happen. I've heard that
Italy is a really romantic place. Romeo and Juliet happened over there, and
they were way loved up. I've also heard that Italian boys are very hot-blooded.
(I'm not totally sure what that means and whether they really do have hotter
blood than us on account of living in a warmer climate. Whatever.) Apparently
they are more forward than American boys, who mostly seem more
interested in computers than they do in girls. Anyway, I would be left so far
behind in the game of love. I'd be like Cinderella left at home while everyone
else went to the ball. Eek! That would be freaking tragic. The Crazy Maisies
do everything new together—that way we can talk about it all and see how
we all feel.
"Ow," said Hannah with a wince as I brushed her hair up into a
ponytail. "You're hurting me."
"Sorry," I said and made myself brush more gently. I didn't mean to take my
frustration out on her, but all the talk for the next few weeks would be about
the trip. And then they'd go, and I'd be by myself. And then they'd come
back, and all the talk would be about the trip again. And I'd have nothing to
say because I wouldn't have been there. I'd be left out. It would be awful.
Luckily, Megan changed the subject and began making plans for the
weekend. A new comedy was playing at the local movie theater. Of course,
everyone was up for seeing it.
"Cool!" said Georgie. "And we could go for a snack afterward."
Megan and Hannah nodded enthusiastically. "Lots of those spicy, cheesy
taco thingies. I loooove them."
"Ice cream for me," said Georgie. "Pistachio with
. . . strawberry."
"Pecan fudge is my fave," I joined in.
"We'll have to do the early show, around six o'clock, or Mom won't be able to
pick me up," said Hannah.
I did a quick calculation as they were discussing how they were going to get
there and back and what they were going to eat. I'd need money for the
movie. Snack. Coke. Nope. No way could I do it on my allowance money. I
get around one fourth of what my friends get, and some weeks when things
are really tight, Mom can't give us anything at all—us being me, my older
sister, Andrea, and my two brothers, William and Daniel. I took a deep breath
and got ready to apply my usual philosophy: when the going gets tough, the
tough bluff it.
"I can't make it tonight. Mom got me and Dan and Will tickets for the Cyber
"The Cyber Queens? Wow! You lucky thing!" said Georgie.
"You've kept quiet about that this week," said Megan. "Those tickets are like
the hottest in town."
Hannah playfully punched my arm. "Yeah. Why didn't you tell us?"
"Mom only told us last night. It was a surprise for when we got home."
"A surprise? That's so cool," said Georgie. "Your mom is so awesome. I wish
my mom did stuff like that. I bet my mom hasn't even heard of the Cyber
Queens. Can she get the rest of us tickets?"
"Don't think so," I replied. "I think she got the last ones."
"Take your digital camera," said Hannah. "Take lots of pictures to show us."
"Sure," I said.
I felt guilty when the bell rang for afternoon classes. Not only did I not have