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Cricket the Early Years Part 13

"The chance of a prank against Marcia increases."
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Marcia spent the rest of the day looking at her plight. Bullyboy knew she was there. He had not made any threats, but the gestures were bad enough. He ruined her day. School dragged on and Marcia's depression deepened. By the end of the day, she had no will to leave the classroom. Naomi dragged her to her locker and pulled her outside to walk home.

"Come on Marcia. Snap out of it. You will be fine. Remember you are stronger than he will ever be."

"Glad you think so, Naomi. You do not have to suffer with the humiliation he can bring to me. My life is over. What can I do?"

"Hello, where did Marcia go? This is just a new challenge. You have to take this and beat these people at their game. You have a great group of friends who are eager to help. Now, come on lets go home."

Marcia perked up a little at the urging of Naomi. She slammed her locker door. Anger rose in her mind because she let bullyboy get to her. The further the girls walked away from school, Marcia's resolve to win grew. When she and Naomi entered her room, the gloom disappeared. She smiled one of the evil smirks, which she had.

"We have work to do. We have to be ready for bullyboy with a plan of our own."

"Uh, you forget. This is your problem not mine. I will stand with you and help but you are the target not me."

Marcia hummed, as she put away her books and threw her clothes on the bed. She waded through the mess on the floor to get to her desk. Naomi flopped onto her stomach and cradled her chin in her hands. She watched Marcia pick up a notebook and write furiously in it. She smiled at her friend's quick change.

Within ten minutes, Marcia wrote enough to fill a page. She stopped and sat beside Naomi. "Take a look at these ideas. Let me know what you think."

Naomi scanned the list. Everything looked good to her, but she wanted to stifle the aggressive behavior of Marcia. She hoped that this list was for retaliation. She did not want to start a war. If Marcia started anything, it might escalate and involve a much larger group. Naomi knew that was not a good thing.

"This looks good, but you have to let him make the first move. Remember we do have an ally at school. He is one that will stick by you as long as it is getting back at someone."

"Yeah, I know, but I do not want to use him unless I have to. Using him could brand me in another way, which is worse than being bullied."

"He helped in the past and has been supportive of you, but he can be against you easily too."

Naomi's mom came just before they could start planning some of the pranks. Marcia put the list back on her desk and walked Naomi to the car. Naomi gave Marcia a big smile and waved, as she left. As she turned to go back into the house, she noticed a girl on a bicycle. Marcia looked at her, but could not make out who it was.

Rebecca sat on her bicycle and watched Marcia enter her house. Rebecca was Marcia's cousin. She rode over to this area to watch and spy on Marcia for her friend, bullyboy. He told Rebecca about Marcia and wanted to know more about her. Rebecca knew a lot about Marcia and volunteered to help him with his plans. She went to school with Marcia. Jealousy raged within Rebecca because Marcia was so popular and she wasn't. Now she had another way to ruin Marcia's life. Too bad, Marcia would never know.

Marcia walked into the kitchen to help mom with supper. This was the time, when they talked about the day's events and problems. "Mom, can we talk?"

"Sure sweetheart, you can always talk to me. What is on your mind?"

"There is a boy at school who gave me a problem last summer at the pool. I thought it was over, but he wants revenge for being an idiot."

"Has he hurt you? Did you do anything to him?"

"No, it all came about because he fell into the pool when he tried to push me and I stepped aside. He accused me of pushing him in. What should I do?"

"There is not much you can do, yet, as long as he does not openly threaten you. You have to wait and watch and be careful around him."

"That sounds terrible. I can't wait for him to strike out at me. Can't I try and stop him?"

"No, if you lash out first, you will be the bad guy not him. Let him try something and make it fail. You will be the victim and anything you do will be good. You could report him to the principal."

"That would be good, but he has not done anything yet. Why bother the principal?"

"OK, dear. Just watch your step and be careful. This is about all you can do."

"Thanks mom. You are right as usual."

Dinner came and went. After helping clean up, Marcia sat at the table doing her homework. Her mind drifted as distractions flowed through. She stopped, when she remembered about the girl on the bicycle. She was so familiar. Who was she? Why was she there? Marcia concentrated on her face. It struck her as she remembered. It was her cousin Rebecca. Now Marcia's curiosity peaked.

Her cousin went to the same school. She was in the same grade but a different classroom. They greeted each other every day, but rarely spent time together. Now she appeared in the neighborhood. That was strange. Marcia would have to find out about that. She took out her list of pranks and made a note to talk with Rebecca.

Marcia finished her homework and packed her bag for school the next day. She carried her bag to her room and got ready for bed. As she washed up, she felt more determined to talk with her cousin. A thought crossed her mind about it. Maybe she should get Naomi to talk to Rebecca. Naomi was more persuasive and far less of a threat. Marcia liked the idea and would set it up in the morning.

The next morning dawned dark and gloomy. Rain was in the forecast, but had not started yet. Marcia wore her rain gear to school. As she put her clothes in her locker, Naomi approached.

"Hi Cricket," she happily said. "Is anything new going on?"

"No, but I need a favor."

"Sure, I will do anything."

"You know my cousin Rebecca goes to school here right?"

"Yes. What about her?"

"She was in my neighborhood yesterday and it appeared, as if she watched us. I need you to get close to her and find out why she was there. Can you do that for me?"

"Well, I um, guess I can try. When should I start?"

"As soon as possible, please."

"I will meet up with her at lunch."

The morning dragged by slowly and Marcia wished lunch would hurry. When lunchtime finally came, Marcia and Naomi left class together. As they walked toward the lunchroom, Naomi went in search of Rebecca. Marcia continued to lunch and saved a place for her best friend.

It did not take long for Naomi to find Rebecca. She stood at her locker putting her books away and getting her lunch. Naomi stopped beside her.

"Hi, Rebecca, how are you doing?"

Rebecca turned and looked at Naomi, as if to say, who are you. Seconds passed with nothing said. Rebecca thought and remembered this was Marcia's friend Naomi. "Oh hi, Naomi is it?"

"You remembered. That is good. Are you going to the lunchroom?"

"No. I usually eat alone. I like being able to dream of things while eating."

"Do you mind if I join you today? I don't feel like being with Marcia."

"It is a free country. I can't stop you."

The girls walked together to a secluded spot under the bleachers on the ground. They sat there eating lunch in silence. When they finished Naomi spoke.

"How do you like this school? I am still not used to it."

"It is OK. I started here in kindergarten. So, I don't know any other school. It can be a challenge academically. The kids are pretty well behaved. There are always a few bad ones. How does my cousin feel about it?"

"She has her problems, but she likes it. She seems to draw a crowd wherever she goes. Some people want to bully her, but she has her ways to prevent or stop it."

"Yeah, we saw and heard what she did to Roger Wolfson. That was awesome. Did she get in trouble with the school because of it?"

"No, we got a lecture about the smell, but the principal liked it. Please don't tell anyone. Marcia and I thought we saw you yesterday. You were down the street from her house. Was that you?"

"Yeah, I was out for a ride and found myself near her house. I saw you leaving and hung back rather than intrude on the two of you. Sorry."

Marcia waited for Naomi at lunch. He friends gathered around her and distracted her enough that she did not miss her friend. She knew that Naomi would tell her what happened with Rebecca. The lunch period ended and she left the lunchroom alone. Her group of friends dispersed to their classrooms, as they followed behind her.

Naomi entered the classroom and sat in her usual place next to Marcia. She looked over and smiled. Marcia sat wondering what went on with her and Rebecca. The answer would have to wait until recess. Marcia groaned in her mind. Thoughts of bad things plagued her mind until then.

As they walked out of the classroom, Marcia turned to Naomi, "What did Rebecca say?"

"She was out for a bike ride and came into your neighborhood. She wanted to stop by, but it was when I left and she did not want to intrude. I did not press her about it. She sounded truthful."

Marcia nodded with acceptance of Rebecca's answer. She was still curious why she was there. Rebecca never just did anything on a whim. Even though they were cousins, there existed a conflict between them. Rebecca was always in the spotlight. Now she took a back seat to the adventures of Marcia. Marcia worried that Rebecca plotted against her too. That would be another problem to handle. She hoped not.

Marcia smiled and thanked Naomi. They returned to class and waited for the day to end. On the walk home, they talked about things that they planned to do in the future. All thoughts of Rebecca disappeared. The thoughts of bullyboy vanished from Marcia's mind. She only thought of the future coming events.

Meanwhile bullyboy, named Ralph, plotted his first major prank for Marcia. He wanted it to put fear in her but not cause any harm. He had thoughts of a stink bomb or a smoke bomb, but those would affect the whole school. He wanted something simple yet effective. One of his gang gave him a suggestion. He liked it. It was simple yet effective.

Ralph spent the next few days gathering the needed elements. The weekend came and he built the prank. He and his gang attended the Saturday classes and scoped out Marcia's locker. They easily opened it and found the best place to put the prank when completed. Everything was set and Monday was the day for placing the prank.

Monday morning dawned in darkness. Heavy black clouds covered the sky. As the morning went on the threat of snow grew. Bullyboy got to school just as the doors opened. He had his backpack filled with books and one special parcel. He went to his locker and stuffed his backpack into it. He proceeded to Marcia's locker and rigged her locker with the special parcel. He carefully closed the door and left.

When Marcia looked out the window, light snow fell covering the ground with a white clean carpet. She dressed for cold weather and asked her mom for a ride to school. She ate breakfast and put on her foul weather gear. School would definitely be messy. She wanted to be ready for it. Her mom drove to school and let her out a little up the street from school. There were too many cars dropping children off. Marcia walked to school and entered the building.

Naomi met Marcia in the hallway to their lockers. They walked quickly to get out of the heavy coats they wore and exchange their boots for shoes. As Marcia opened her locker door, a loud bang happened followed by a storm of confetti, which cascaded down on the girls. Several students saw the prank and watched in awe as the confetti rained on the girls. A few other students had the misfortune to pass by as it happened. No one was hurt, just scared by the loud bang.

Marcia looked around for bullyboy. She did not see him lurking anywhere near. She thought that was strange. He should have stood by and watched the results of the prank. Maybe it was not him.

She saw one person that surprised her though. Her cousin Rebecca watched from the safety of a classroom door. Rebecca laughed at the scene and pointed at Marcia, as if mocking her. A group of girls gathered around Rebecca laughing at the scene. Other people gathered laughing too.

As the noise subsided, the principal and the janitor came around the corner. They stopped and examined the scene. Confetti still fell to the floor and Naomi and Marcia had a covering of confetti. The principal contained his laughter, but the janitor laughed at the scene. They walked to the two girls and stopped.

"Are you all right Marcia and Naomi? This is quite a mess. Did you do it?"

Marcia blubbered, "Do you think I would ever do this to myself or my friend? Someone put an exploding confetti bomb in my locker."

Naomi shook, "I am all right. Just a little shook up by the blast noise. The confetti is just messy."

"After you get cleaned, come to my office."

Marcia and Naomi shook their heads. The janitor stood by with his broom and trash bucket, while Marcia and Naomi cleaned up. They had confetti everywhere, their hair, clothes, face and mouth. The remnants of the bomb lay carefully nestled on a heavy paper bag. The janitor removed it easily and placed it in his bucket.

Rebecca watched the proceedings, as the girls cleaned off. The smile on her face never wavered. She was happy with the prank, but mystified by who planted it. She thought of doing something like this, but someone beat her to it. Her thoughts wandered to who could hate Marcia that much to do something against her. Slowly, she turned away from the scene and walked down the hall to her classroom.

Marcia and Naomi carefully cleaned each other off and made sure things were clean. The locker contained very little confetti. She easily removed what was there. Marcia put her books in her locker and closed the door. She waited, while Naomi put things in her locker. The trip to the principal's office was easy. The visits became one thing the girls no longer feared.

The principal's door was open and he sat at his desk casually looking at papers. The girls stood in his door until he looked up.

"Come in and sit down. Please close the door." The girls did as he said and he continued. "What happened now Marcia? Have you been targeted again?"

"I don't know. I have not upset or done anything to warrant treatment like this. Someone has a grudge against me, but I do not know who." She responded, but she suspected who it was. She was no snitch.

"I will watch your activity here, but know that you are usually an innocent target of older bullies. Please inform me of anyone who gives you trouble on school property."

"I will or rather we will." She almost forgot that Naomi sat next to her.

"You may go, but be careful. It appears that Roger Wolfson was not the only one who wanted to humiliate you."

The girls stood and walked slowly out of the office. Once outside, they ran down the hall laughing and holding hands. The punishment they expected never happened. They felt they were free to pursue vengeance against the prankster. They just had to figure out who really did it.

The girls entered their class. It was exam day and the class awaited their return. The teacher smiled at their return and waited for the class to quiet. The teacher stood and passed the exam papers out and gave them time to start. Marcia looked at her classmates and wondered if any of them were part of the prank.

To Marcia, the exam was easy and she finished it early. The teacher took the exam and marked it. Once again, Marcia had a perfect score. Marcia and Naomi were very intelligent students, but never lauded it upon their peers. The teacher liked that about the girls. The principal knew of the girls academic records and because of that, he gave the girls wide latitude in behavior.

The exam ended just before lunch. Marcia was happy to get out of the classroom. It gave her the opportunity to look around. When she entered the lunchroom, all eyes looked in her direction. She felt the target of those eyes. It gave her an uneasy feeling, but she still sat at her table. Naomi joined her and felt the same way. Naomi looked at Rebecca who smiled back. Could she be the one, she thought. Marcia looked for bullyboy, but he was conspicuously absent. She wondered why. They eyes continued to look, but went along with their normal daily chatter. Marcia and Naomi had no idea who targeted them.

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