二满三平diva of drama, but even back in elementary school she knew how to put on a performance. Especially when it came to P.E. I never once saw her run laps or docalisthenics. Instead, she would go into her ?°delicate?± act, claiming her bodywould absolutely collapse from the strain if she ran or jumped or stretched. It worked. Every year. She'd bring in some note and be sure to swoon a little for the teacher the first few days of the year, after which she'd be excused from anything that required muscles. She never even put up her own chair at the end of the day. The only muscles she exercised regularly were the ones around her mouth, and those she worked out nonstop. If there was an Olympic contest for talking, Shelly Stalls would sweep the event. Well, she'd at least win the gold and silver?a one medal for each side of her mouth. What bugged me about it was not the fact that she got out of P.E.?awho'd want her on their team, anyway? What bugged me about it was that anyone who bothered to look would know that it wasn't asthma or weak ankles or her being ?°delicate?± that was stopping her. Itwas her hair. She had mountains of it, twisted this way or that, clipped or beaded, braided or swirled. Her ponytails rivaled the ones on carousel horses. And on the days she let it all hang down, she'd sort of shimmy and cuddle insideit like it was a blanket, so that practically all you saw of her face was her nose. Good luck playing four-square with a blanket over your head. My solution to Shelly Stalls was to ignore her, which worked just dandy until about halfway through the fifth grade when I saw her holding hands with Bryce. My Bryce. The one who was still embarrassed over holding my hand two days before the second grade. The one who was still too shy to say much more than hello to me. The one who was still walking around with my first kiss. How could Shelly have wormed her hand into his? That pushy little princess had no business hanging on to him like that! Bryce looked over his shoulder from time to time as they walked along, and he was looking at me. My first thought was that he was telling me he was sorry. Then it dawned on me?a he needed my help. Absolutely, that's what it had to be! Shelly Stalls was too delicate to shake off, too swirly to be pushed away. She'd unravel and start sniffling and oh, how embarrassing that would be for him! No, this wasn't a job a boy could do gracefully. This was a job for a girl. I didn't even bother checking around for other candidates?aI had her off of him in two seconds flat. Bryce ran away the minute he was free, but not Shelly. Oh, no-no-no! She came at me, scratching and pulling and twisting anything she could get her hands on, telling me that Bryce was hers and there was no way she was letting him go. How delicate. I was hoping for herds of teachers to appear so they could see the real Shelly Stalls in action, but it was too late by the time anyone arrived on the ----------------------- Page 10-----------------------scene. I had Fluffy in a headlock and her arm twisted back in a hammerlock, and no amount of her squawking or scratching was going to get me to un lock her until a teacher arrived. In the end, Shelly went home early with a bad case of mussed-up hair, while I told my side of things to the principal. Mrs. Shultz is a sturdy lady who probably secretly appreciates the value of a swift kick well placed, and although she told me that it would be better if I let other people work out their own dilemmas, she definitely understood about Shelly Stalls and her hair and told me she was glad I'd had the self-control to do nothing more than restrain her. Shelly was back the next day with a head full of braids. And of course she got everybody whispering about me, but I just ignored them. The facts spoke for themselves. Bryce didn't go anywhere near her for the rest of the year. That's not to say that Bryce held my hand after that, but he did startbeing a little friendlier to me. Especially in the sixth grade, after Mr. Mertins sat us right next to each other in the third row back. Sitting next to Bryce was nice. He was nice. He'd say Hi, Juli to me every morning, and once in a while I'd catch him looking my way. He'd always blush and go back to his own work, and I couldn't help but smile. He was so shy. And so cute! We talked to each other more, too. Especially after Mr. Mertins moved me behind him. Mr. Mertins had a detention policy about spelling, where if you missed more than seven out of twenty-five words, you had to spend lunch inside with him, writing your words over and over and over again. The pressure of detention made Bryce panic. And even though it bothered my conscience, I'd lean in and whisper answers to him, hoping that maybe I could spend lunch with him instead. His hairsmelled like watermelon, and his ear- lobes had fuzz. Soft, blond fuzz. And I"I've been done twice this week by that game," said the brutal conductor, speaking,[Pg 59] however, the truth. "Come, search in your glove, you'll find it."nimals, after one is used to them, answer quite as well as better. Neither is he very happy in trees, and such rustical produce; or, rather, we should say, he is very original, his trees being decidedly of his own make and composition, not imitated from any master.“Yes!” said Harold, in some surprise at the lieutenant’s manner, “and a most amiable man he was—”二满三平
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