For the rest of the school day, Allie had isolated herself in the bathroom, never coming out once to attend any of her classes. Fortunately, dance rehearsals were canceled today, so there would be rehearsals tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. instead. But Allie was already giving up. She couldn't bear to face the team anymore, now that she felt she wasn't good enough. She did not have "cooties," nor was she untalented, dumb, or ugly. In fact, the ugly ones were Esmeralda and Mary Beth. Actually, it was only Esmeralda who was the ugly one. Allie had spent the whole day, crying her heart out in the bathroom and even starving herself during lunchtime. She didn't mind making herself feel reclusive in the ladies' room because whenever some girls or even yet, a teacher, walked in and heard some sniffles, at least she knew she had some company in the hands of strangers who wanted to know if she was all right. She usually just answered with a yes, and shrugged them off. Then they continued to go about their own business.
Back in reality, Alessandra was unknowingly shedding tears as she started thinking of the painful childhood memories she experienced in school with two mean girls who had pushed her off the swings at recess and spread nasty, horrible rumors about her having cooties, and making moves on Quincy. All those thoughts have stung her in the heart. A few drops of tears came running down her face.
Betty Jane then asked Penelope, who was reading a book on the couch, "What's she crying for?"
"She's crying?" Penelope then got up and glanced at Alessandra. "Why, she is. I don't know why she's crying."
"Aw, but she just looks so peaceful lying down like that," Mary-Anne said affectionately.
"They're probably tears of joy," Penelope said. "She was smiling a few minutes ago."
"Allie, if you can hear us, I'm just letting you know that Betty Jane, Mary-Anne and I are here for you, and we love you very, very much, and we can hope that you'll be 100% better by tomorrow," Laura said as she held Alessandra's hands.
During lunchtime, Betty Jane, Quincy, and even everyone else were wondering where Allie was hiding. Betty Jane said to Quincy, "I haven't seen her all day since this morning. How about you?"
"Me neither," Quincy replied with a shrug. "This is so not like Allie."
"I have never seen her feel so awful before, and I would know," Betty Jane said. "That sassy bully, Esmeralda, just thinks she can treat anybody anyhow. I feel so sorry for Mary Beth for being friends with that stuck-up snob."
"Yeah, I know," Quincy said. "But look on the bright side, Betty Jane. At least you won't have to deal with the likes of her ever again as long as you live."
"Oh, I certainly hope not," said Betty Jane. "I'm gonna go up to Allie and talk to her."
"Okay, cool," Quincy said as Betty Jane got up to have a word with Allie. Meanwhile, Mary Beth was considering all that was said and done this morning and eventually came to the conclusion that her "friend" Esmeralda was only using her to gain some sense of personal entitlement.
Esmeralda and Mary Beth were sitting at a table with a few other girls, and Esmeralda was boasting about herself once again, for accomplishing her mission to destroy Allie Sampson's life. "Now how about that? Allie has been missing out on her classes. Well, I guess for the so-called, 'talented' new girl in school, she is making a mediocre impression on her teachers by ditching her classes. So much for trying out for the dance team to increase her so-called 'popularity.'"
Just then, Mary Beth decided to speak up for once. "Stop it, Esmeralda, you know that's not very nice," she said, in defense of Allie.
Esmeralda gasped, stupefied, as well did the other girls. "Excuse me?" she said.
"You heard me," Mary Beth said. "This is ridiculous. We're sixth graders, Esme; we're supposed to be setting an example for the younger students, acting maturely and all that other stuff. But this isn't the best way to go on about it. Allie feels really terrible, and I just feel very bad for her as well."
Esmeralda scoffed. "You're feeling bad for that newbie who is spreading her virus all over the school?"
Carolyn then appeared from somewhere, and said to her cousin, "Esmeralda, you heard Mary Beth. You need to stop being mean, or else I will tell your mother that you're making someone else feel miserable."
"Ooh, I'm so scared; what's Mother gonna do to me, ground me for weeks? Months even?" Esmeralda said cynically. "Stay out of this, Carolyn."
"No, I won't stay out of this," Carolyn said, "and Mary Beth is right, too. If you were really Mary Beth's friend, you wouldn't take her for granted!"
"What would you know about friends?" snapped Esmeralda. "You need to learn to stay out of my life!"
"That's just the problem. You don't deserve to have any friends because you don't even know how to act like one!" said Carolyn. "And I think Mary Beth deserves better."
"You don't dare attempt to turn my friends against me, all right?" said Esmeralda. "The fact that you really care this much about my social life is enough proof that yours really blows."
"Mary Beth, do you have something you would like to say?" Suzy Ann asked as she and Angel joined in on the strike to stand up against Esmeralda.
"Don't say anything," Esmeralda mouthed to Mary Beth.
"As a matter of fact, I do," Mary Beth said. "I'm sorry, Esmeralda. I can't continue being anyone's sidekick for the rest of my life. Even I agree with Allie's friends that what we both did to her was horrible. You may not want to apologize to Allie or her friends, but at least let me be the bigger person who's willing to admit when she is wrong and I really want to be the one to apologize, if you don't wanna. So if you're ready to start acting like a role model again, and perhaps become a better friend to me, then you know exactly where to find me, Esme. But for now on, we're through." She emphasized through to show that she really, truly meant what she said. Then she got up and stormed off.
"There, there now," said Carolyn bitingly to Esmeralda. "Your little friend had something to say to you, and boy, did she say it. You should be ashamed of yourself."
But Esmeralda was now enraged, and suddenly she had a fit of outburst. "Stop telling me what to do, stop controlling my life, and just stay out of my life, okay?" she was screaming directly at Carolyn. "Jesus, is that too much to ask for?" She ran out of the cafeteria, bursting into tears. Everyone wondered for a minute or two about what was going on with her mind, but then went back to minding their own business.
"Wow," Quincy said, a little surprised by Esmeralda's sudden outburst.
Betty Jane was in the bathroom, trying to reason with Allie. "Allie, come on, you know you can't spend the rest of your time hiding out," she begged. "Please come out, just for me. Can you do that?"
"Never," Allie sniffed as more tears came running down her face.
"Allie, you're being quite childish right now. And don't tell me you wanna quit the dance team too!"
"I'm thinking about it."
"Allie, please......." Betty Jane sighed, trying to think of something. "Allie, do you remember that time when you and I became friends for the first time, when we had lunch together in the cafeteria? Well, why don't we just pretend that now is that time? That'll be a good idea."
"How's that gonna make me feel better?"
"Trust me, Alessandra Sampson, it will make you feel much, much better. Now stop being stubborn, and come out right now."
Reluctantly, Allie came out of her hiding spot, her face completely soaked with tears, her hair slightly ruffled and messed up for no reason. Betty Jane gasped and said, "Goodness gracious, whatever happened to you?"
"Humiliation, and crying my eyes out, that's what happened," Allie replied.
Betty Jane gave her a tissue paper to wipe Allie's face, and held her friend's hand, and said, "Are you okay, Allie?"
"Maybe," Allie replied. "I don't know anymore."
"I'm very sorry," Betty Jane said in a whisper.
"For you, of course. What those girls did to you was just awful, and Quincy and I feel really, really bad for you. I don't want you to quit the Dance Team because if you do, you're just going to be missing out on a very great once-in-a-lifetime experience."
"Quincy was really worried about me?" Allie was a little flattered.
"Of course he was, you doofus," Betty Jane said, slightly playfully. "Why do you think he would tell you that you're beautiful, talented.......exceptional?" She gave a knowing wink.
"Oh, he really does care for me; I can't believe it." Allie was cheering up now.
"He does, Allie. He really does."
Just then, Mary Beth appeared right in, and for a moment there was a minute of awkward silence between the three girls before Betty Jane could say to Mary Beth, "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be out assisting your superhero friend?"
"Esmeralda and I are not friends anymore, okay?" Mary Beth said, and that shocked Allie and Betty Jane. "Look, Allie, I agree with your friends that it was wrong of me and Esme to do what we just did. And Esme is her usual immature self, of course, so I want to be the bigger person and say that I'm sorry. I'm apologizing on behalf of Esme, so she's sorry too, even if she won't admit it. What we did was wrong, and I am not going to be her friend anymore. You're right, Betty Jane."
"I was right?" asked Betty Jane.
Mary Beth nodded. "Esme was only taking me for granted. She doesn't deserve to have any friends. But I wish for you two to please give me another chance. That's all I ask for. After all, I'm supposed to be setting an example for you two. Especially you, Allie," she said with sincerity. "So, what do you say?"
Allie was quiet for a minute, considering all this. "So, you're really going to join the Dance Team?" she asked.
"Only to feel a little different from Esmeralda," Mary Beth replied. "And I don't want you to quit, otherwise you'll be missing out. By the way, I think you are lovely, talented, and exceptional. And I know that you do not really have any cooties." She chuckled. "You seem like a really great dancer and a peachy keen artist. I envy you!" she said, a little lightly, as she, Allie, and Betty Jane chuckled.
"Thank you so much, Mary Beth," Allie said as she and Mary Beth gave each other a hug. "That was very kind of you."
"Awesome!" exclaimed Betty Jane. "Let's meet for practice after school today at Allie's house. Allie, what do you think?"
"I think that's a peachy keen idea," said Allie.
That day after school, the three girls met at Allie's backyard to practice all their moves. They were standing a few feet away from the swimming pool. Mary Beth said to Allie, "Gee whiz, you have a swimming pool too? Wow, you must be rich!"
Allie chuckled and said, "Isn't it swell? And I'm not rich, by the way. I was just lucky enough to find this house, that's all."
"Yeah, Allie has the best swimming pool ever," Betty Jane said. She had hung out at Allie's house many times already, but Allie had never been to her house before---well, maybe at least once.
"I feel like going for a dive," Mary Beth said. "I need to relax from such a long day today."
"Yeah," said Allie and Betty Jane in agreement.
"But we need to practice so we can be prepared for tomorrow," Betty Jane said. "Ms. Hazel is kind of strict sometimes, so we want her to know that we know everything there is to know about dancing, if you know what I mean."
"Betty Jane is right," Allie said.
"I suppose you're right," Mary Beth said.
"Now come on, let's follow my lead," Betty Jane said, taking command. Then the three of them started dancing, practicing all the moves they had learned yesterday. There were only two mess-ups, but other than that, they were making quite a great progress. While they were dancing, Alexandra Sampson was in the house, fixing herself a warm cup of coffee and a sandwich for a small snack, when she glanced outside the window and saw Allie dancing with the two girls. She smiled and said to herself, "That girl sure knows how to go on adventures," then went back to her coffee-making business.
An half hour passed by, and now the girls were finished practicing. They felt exhausted from all that moving around, Allie the most exhausted for the day she had gone through today. "Well, so much for that," she said as the three of them were lying down on the grass.
"We'll show Ms. Hazel that we really know our stuff," Betty Jane said.
"Yeah, certainly," said Mary Beth.
"I have an idea," Allie said. "How about, after dance practice tomorrow, we hang out? You know, just the three of us together."
"Allie, I would really love that!" Betty Jane exclaimed. "What do you think, M.B.?" she asked Mary Beth.
"Peachy guess, I guess?" Mary Beth shrugged. "Hang out where? And when?"
"I don't know," Allie said. "I was thinking that one of you made a suggestion. I'm not very good when it comes to suggesting things."
"Taking a dive in your pool?" suggested Betty Jane.
Allie shrugged. "Meh, sounds a little mundane after a while."
"Yeah, I agree," said Betty Jane.
"Besides, I don't even know how to swim," Mary Beth said with a giggle.
The three girls thought for what seemed over a minute for their fun weekend activity, until suddenly, Betty Jane suggested, "I know! Why don't we have a slumber party tomorrow night at my house instead? We can meet at 7:00. What do you say to that?"
"A sleepover party, huh?" Allie said. It was her very first sleepover party. Most of the time, she had invited Betty Jane over to her house for a sleepover, but never before had she ever been invited to someone else's house for a sleepover. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for her, and it would be unwise and foolish for her to not take it. Then she said, "I'm in!"
"Great!" said Betty Jane. "Mary Beth, what about you?"
"A sleepover party at your house?" Mary Beth was a little doubtful. "I don't know, Betty Jane. I don't know where you live. And my sleepovers with Esmeralda would be a lot different."
"Esmeralda who?" Betty Jane said playfully, and the three of them laughed.
"You have a point there," said Mary Beth. "I'll think about it, but I definitely wanna come. I know it'll be peachy keen." She smiled.
And after having what seemed to be the most nightmarish morning of her life, Allie seemed to have a much better afternoon in the long run. There was no way she would let any stuck-up girl at school try to turn her life upside-down and make her feel inferior. She was much more than that. A lot more than that.