The Outsider

The Outsider If there was one thing Claire knew about, it was being an outsider. Claire had gone to five different schools by the time she was in sixth grade. She had lived in five different cities, including Tokyo, Japan. Her dad’s job took the family all over the place. She was used to it. She had learned a trick to getting along in a new school. She only had to seek out the popular kids and do what they did. For whatever time she had in this school, at least she would not stand out. Claire noticed Eden right away. She was the flower everyone buzzed around, the center of all activity. When Eden left a room, it was as if all the air had been sucked out. Eden was popular. So Claire was overjoyed when Eden came over to her lunch table. Claire had been having lunch with Beryl. “The girls want to meet you,” Eden said to Claire. “Can you come over?” Claire couldn’t help noticing Beryl wasn’t invited. But Beryl got up quickly and said, “I was just about to leave, anyway.” Claire felt a rush of gratitude. It was a big deal to be asked to sit at Eden’s table. “This is Claire!” announced Eden when they got there. “Luckily I got her away from Beryl just in time.” “Eeeeeeuw!” The others chorused. “What’s so bad about Beryl?” asked Claire. “Everything. She’s just awful. Isn’t she just awful, girls?” said one of the girls. “You’re not a friend of hers, are you, Claire?” “No, we were just… I’m not…” Claire stammered. “Good,” said Eden. “Then you can be friends with us.” For the rest of the week, Claire ate lunch with Eden and her friends. She avoided Beryl if at all possible. On Monday the friends met up after school as usual. “A bunch of us are going to the movies on Saturday,” Eden said to Claire. “Can you come?” With a sinking feeling, Claire remembered she’d promised to go to Beryl’s. Claire felt her hands clench. “I’d love to, but I’m going to—” she took a deep breath— “to Beryl’s.” Too bad if they don’t like it, thought Claire. She wasn’t going to ditch Beryl to please the others. Suddenly Beryl appeared, plunked down next to Eden, and draped one arm around her shoulder. Everyone burst out laughing. “We’re sorry, Claire!” said Beryl and Eden together. Beryl added, “We had to find out how loyal you were.” Claire realized she’d never stuck around long enough to be loyal to anyone. “Are you angry?” asked Eden. “Only if we don’t get to go to the movies,” said Claire. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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