The girls spent the afternoon at the movies and enjoyed the double feature. They returned to Marcia's house and waited for dinner while they watched TV. All thoughts and conversation about Sarah moved to the back of their minds. The girls found being together more fun and enjoyment than plotting revenge against another girl.
Dinner that night was very quiet. The girls seemed subdued and not very active. Marcia's mom noticed it, but said nothing. The girls ate, cleaned off the table, washed, wiped and put away the dishes. They poked fun at each other as they stood in the kitchen. They moved from the kitchen to Marcia's room, set out the sleeping bags and sat on the floor.
They sat, played hand-clapping games and chanted along with them. They played this for over an hour. All the while, they laughed and rocked as each one of them failed to hold the rhythm. They lay on the floor, rolled around and laughed at each other. A quiet knock came at the door and Marcia's mom entered with a box of cookies and milk for the girls. The girls grabbed the milk and cookies, as mom left the room.
"What will happen when we get back to school on Monday?" Naomi asked.
"Right now, I don't care and don't want to think about it. Let's just enjoy the night," Marcia chided. Monica and Sabrina agreed.
The girls finished the cookies and milk, walked to the kitchen and put their dishes in the sink. They returned to Marcia's room, crawled into their sleeping bags and fell asleep. The day dawned with heavy snow laden clouds. As the day proceeded, snow fell softly from the sky and the girl's moms came to get them, before Marcia's house became their only refuge in the storm.
The snow came for the rest of the day, but stopped shortly after the evening started. Over the weekend, the sun melted most of it and the woods and streets were wet with melted snow causing muddy driving. When Monday came and the girls returned to school, everything was dry and warmth returned to start December. Marcia walked to school and cut through the woods to meet up with Sabrina. They walked to school together, but never discussed the sleepover or anything relating to the week off from school. They just wanted to get to school and looked forward to meeting their friends.
Things started quietly on Monday at school. Lunchtime came and the two groups took their places in the lunchroom. The only noticeable difference was that Marcia and Sarah sat watching each other closely. The lunchroom felt strongly of the tension between the two girls, but no fireworks followed. This went on for the first week back with both sides quiet but the anticipated scuffle was still expected.
The second week was less stressful, but the undercurrent was still there. The school was abuzz about the upcoming Christmas concert from the upper class girl's choir. It happened ten days before Christmas break. Marcia looked forward to the concert because she wanted to join the choir and sing. She loved to sing Christmas songs and sang them at home, as she did her chores.
The week of the concert, Marcia sat at the lunch table as usual and Sarah approached her. They were both alone because no one else was out of class. Sarah plopped in the chair across from Marcia and looked with poisoned eyes at her.
"I have not forgotten what you did at my sleepover. No one knows but us about it. If you want to keep it that way, then I suggest you keep quiet. I am watching you closely and any slips or funny moves and you will go down," said Sarah venomously.
Marcia looked at Sarah with a smirk and said, "What makes you think I will tell anyone. As far as they know, your prank made me sick. The fact that I puked on you made it that much better. I will never tell them I did it on purpose."
As the lunchroom filled with happy students, Sarah stood up quickly and moved to her table. Marcia watched Sarah haughtily walk away and resumed eating her lunch. Naomi, Monica and Sabrina soon joined her and sat down. Instead of looking up at her friends, Marcia kept her head bowed and continued to eat. Her friends said nothing and ate quietly. When Marcia finished her lunch, she looked over at Sarah who had a smug look on her face, as she watched Marcia.
Naomi noticed the silent exchange between Sarah and Marcia and asked, "What is going on between Sarah and you now?"
"It's nothing!" Marcia quickly quipped. "We had a discussion, before you arrived."
"It does not look like a discussion to me," Sabrina quipped.
Marcia looked scornfully at Sarah, but she wanted to tell someone. She huddled down and brought her friends closer. "Sarah threatened me with exposure about the sleepover stuff, if I let it out. She made it very clear," spoke Marcia softly.
"What can she do? She has no power over you," chided Monica.
The four friends looked over at Sarah and glared at her. Sarah smiled and flipped her hair in an "I don't care" attitude. When she looked back at the girls, there was a sneer on her face and a look of scorn. It was a sign to Marcia to expect trouble, soon.
Marcia shuddered and turned to her friends. There was concern on her face but she spoke quietly, "Let's go take a walk and get out of the lunchroom." When she got up, she looked at Sarah and saw the look of scorn was still there.
The girls walked to the empty classroom where they gathered after lunch period. Marcia plopped on a desktop and sat with her head hung. Her friends saw her defeated look and gathered around her. Words of comfort and derision came from her friends.
She looked up at them and smiled weakly. "I think Sarah has me now. If word of what I did gets spread around school, she threatened to expose me and become the queen bitch again," mumbled Marcia.
"Don't worry about Sarah. She says a lot of threatening words, but never follows through. She will forget and you will be fine," Naomi chimed.
The end of the school day came quickly after lunch. Marcia and Sabrina walked home together and chatted about the concert the next day. Marcia felt so good about it. Christmas was her favorite time of the year. She dropped Sabrina off at her house and started through the woods to her house.
The path was muddy and Marcia tried to walk on the sticks and leaves. As she walked, the crunch of the leaves and crack of the sticks sent small varmints scurrying. The birds flew away higher in the trees. The one thing that did not stop was the constant chirp of the crickets. Their sound made Marcia stop, as they called to her. Her heart warmed, a smile crossed her lips and she stood looking at them scurry over the leaves and sticks. She remembered Halloween and wondered if that could ever happen again.
Marcia moved on content that her friends the crickets were happy. She loved crickets. It was not so much for what they were. It was their sound and how they lived. She thought about coming back later with a cricket cage and capturing one to keep in her room. She continued walking and her mind went blank, as the crickets soothed her with their chirps.
When Marcia got home, she forgot about capturing a cricket. Her mom prepared dinner while she set the table. The family had errands to run after dinner so they ate quickly and cleaned up fast. They had to finish the Christmas shopping and wrap the presents. The family of aunts and uncles came to Marcia's house this year. That made things critical and getting the house decorated early was important.
Marcia woke early the morning of the concert and dressed quickly. She ate a fast breakfast and left to get Sabrina. As she walked back through the woods, she noticed the crickets were quiet. She looked around and saw very few of them out scurrying around. The ground where they usually were had many footprints of a couple of people. It looked as if the crickets were no longer there and someone scooped up them. She thought it was strange but kept walking to Sabrina's house.
Sabrina and Marcia walked to school and chatted about the Christmas concert. The concert started before lunch and when it ended, a special lunch appeared in the lunchroom, shared by parents and students. Each classroom sat together with parents sitting behind the students. As the concert started, Marcia sat singing along. Her friends poked her to keep quiet, but she ignored them.
Absent from the classroom was Sarah. Her family provided all the special food for the Christmas lunch. Sarah and her mom supervised the catered lunch. They made sure the caterers laid it out properly. Sarah had help from a few of her friends moving chairs and tables. As they worked in the lunchroom, there was a pall of mischief in the air. Sarah seemed a bit too cheerful and her friends giggled too much.
Sarah's mom left the lunchroom to watch the end of the concert. When she left, Sarah and her friends ran to their lockers and got some bags. Saran walked to Marcia and Naomi's locker and poured the contents of one of the bags in each locker. Some of the contents spilled out but Sarah left it on the floor. When the bags were empty, the girls ran to the lunchroom. They took the remaining bags and spread the contents over the lunch.
The girls quietly slipped into the hall to watch the concert. They stood near Sara's mom, as if they came in with her. As the concert ended, Sarah and her friends joined their class and walked out of the hall in an orderly manner. The girls giggled and laughed with their classmates, as they walked to the lunchroom. The school students, teachers and parents filled the lunchroom, as they lined up to take lunch. The caterers opened the serving dishes and a hoard of crickets flooded out over the food and tables.
As the crickets crawled around, screams broke the chatter of the children. Parents closed in around their children and pulled them out of line quickly. The teachers tried to maintain order, as they moved the children out of the lunchroom. Marcia and her friends looked on in horror, wondering why someone would repeat their prank. Sarah and her friends stood behind Marcia and suppressed their laughter. The teachers herded all the girls quickly back to their classroom.
Before the teacher returned, but after the girls were in the classroom, Sarah asked, "Marcia did you have a hand in that prank? You ruined the lunch my family donated. You will pay for that."
Marcia quickly turned and venomously looked at Sarah. "You did this to get back at me spoiling your Halloween party and your sleepover. You won't get away with this," she screamed.
After Marcia's scream died down, the teacher entered the classroom. She looked flustered and ill at ease. The level of noise in the classroom slowly subsided, as the teacher calmed and took command of the room. Marcia still seethed with anger at Sarah. The teacher started a special math lesson to focus the girls' attention. Marcia and Sarah ended up going to the blackboard to demonstrate the solution to the problems selected.
The girls stood at the blackboard and stuck out their tongues at each other. The hate and venom between them rose to a higher level. The teacher missed the interaction because her back was to the board watching the class. The class watched the exchange and saw how badly Marcia wanted to exact revenge on Sarah. Marcia picked up the felt eraser and threw it at Sarah.
The teacher turned just in time to see Sarah duck. The teacher chided, "Marcia, you know better than to throw the eraser at Sarah. Go to your desk and sit down. I want to talk to you after class."
Naomi patted Marcia's back as she sat down at her desk. Marcia turned to her and smiled. The teacher saw the interaction between the two girls. Sarah continued at the blackboard and showed how to solve the math problems. Marcia sat at her desk and fumed.
Class ended and Marcia stayed at her desk. As Naomi got up to leave the teacher said, "Naomi, will you please stay behind too?"
Once the classroom emptied, the teacher closed the door and walked down the aisle to sit opposite Marcia and Naomi. She looked at the girls and spoke, "You are both in trouble. The principal and janitor traced the crickets in the lunchroom to your lockers. The school remembers the Halloween prank you played on Sarah. With the evidence, suspicion of your involvement in this prank surfaced quickly. The principal is calling your parents. You are to stay here until summoned to her office."
Marci tried protesting, "Bu, But we had nothing to do with this prank."
"It does not matter. You have demonstrated a disregard for school policy and dragged Naomi into it," said the teacher.
Naomi and Marcia's mothers appeared in the doorway to the room. They were not happy. They entered the room and took the girls out to their lockers. The crickets scurried on the floor around the feet of the janitor and principal. The girls opened their lockers and clusters of crickets fell out onto the floor. The janitor swept the crickets up and put them in a trash bag. All the crickets fell out of the lockers and the girls took their books and closed the doors.
"Girls and moms please follow me to my office," the principal directed.
Marcia, Naomi and their moms followed the principal to her office and sat in front of her desk. Marcia and Naomi sat together with their moms on each side of them. The girls held hands as the tension and fear ratcheted up in the office. The moms sat calmly, but wondered why they were there at all.
The principal addressed the girls first, "Do you know why you are here?" Marcia and Naomi shook their heads, "no."
Marcia's mom spoke, "Why are the girls here?"
"They are suspected of causing a total disaster of our special post concert luncheon today. Someone put crickets in all the food. We know that Marcia did a similar prank at a Halloween party earlier. Therefore, the finger of guilt points directly at her. The crickets found in their lockers seems to tell us that they are guilty of something," explained the principal. "Who else would do something like this?"
Naomi's mom spoke up, "This is pure prejudice on your and the school's part. There is no proof the girls did it. It could have been anybody."
"That is entirely possible, but the crickets came from somewhere and we know Marcia likes crickets," added the principal. "Do you have any idea who would do this?"
Marcia started to speak, but kept her mouth closed. She suspected she knew who it was, but did not want to say right then. Naomi looked over at her and squeezed her hand tighter around Marcia's hand. Their eyes met and they knew who did it, but there was no proof.
Marcia knew at that moment that Sarah finally won. She beat Marcia and there was no way to retaliate. Sarah would still reign as queen of the school. Marcia and Naomi lost this time and paid the price. The punishment meted out would be harsh. Sarah knew how to play the game and win at any cost.
The principal's voice yanked Marcia and Naomi back, as she spoke. "With today's incident and some of the past things that have happened, I have to follow the rules. Both of you are being expelled from this school never to return after Christmas break. This punishment is final and cannot be appealed."
The moms were aghast at the decision and started to talk over each other vehemently protesting such harsh treatment. The girls sat quietly as they listened to the protests. They turned to each other and hugged. The protests went on for a few more minutes, before the principal stopped it. She looked at the girls and their mothers and stood.
"My decision is final. The girls can finish out the term until Christmas break. They will get report cards then. I will be personally glad to provide glowing letters to any other schools you select to transfer the girls. Good afternoon, it was unfortunate that we had to meet under such dismal circumstances," the principal said as she extended her hand to the moms.
The girls parted, but vowed to keep together. When Marcia arrived home, she went straight to her room, threw her books on the floor, fell on her bed and cried. Her tears ran down her face into her pillow. She was hurt and sad that Naomi was a target of Sarah's revenge. She had to talk to Naomi.
She got up, blew her nose and walked to the kitchen. Her mom turned from making dinner and hugged Marcia tightly. She sat with Marcia and held her hand as they both sobbed. Eventually her mom got up and finished making dinner.
When Marcia and Naomi met the next day before school, they decided to walk in together and smile at their classmates. As they walked the halls, everyone opened a path to let them through to their classroom. Flowers and cards ringed their lockers from other students.
Sarah and her clique of friends waited until the girls approached. As they got close, the taunting and laughter increased. Sarah stared surprised that Marcia and Naomi showed up at school. She thought they should stay home and hide. A heavy look of disappointment crossed Sarah's face and she stormed away from the area taking her girls with her. With so little time left until Christmas vacation, it was pointless to complain.
During Christmas vacation, Naomi spent a lot of time with Marcia. They became best friends. Their parents worked together to find a good school that would take both girls into the next semester. It took about four days of calls, but another private school accepted the girls and wanted to have them together.
One day as Sabrina, Naomi and Marcia walked through some woods further out from Sabrina's house they came across a small white wolf stuck in some briars. Marcia went to the wolf and released it. As the wolf scampered off toward the deeper woods, its mother appeared. She stood there looking at Marcia and bowed her head, as if in thanks to Marcia. A bond seemed to stretch between the mother and Marcia, which would follow Marcia for the rest of her life.
The mother lifted her head, barked, looked back at Marcia and scampered after her young wolf pup. Marcia watched and waved good-bye. Sabrina and Naomi stood in awe, as Marcia did her kind good deed. They knew that the bond forged then would last and Marcia had a stake in caring for endangered wolves all over the world.