Trying to put the childish drama of yesterday behind her, Allie reluctantly went to school the next day. Fortunately, no one was getting at her throat anymore, and everyone now believed that the rumors were untrue. But then, she was shutting everyone else out. She was furious that Betty Jane and Laura were part of the rumor, and she was furious with Quincy for even questioning her about her morality. Laura had snitched on Mary-Anne, and Mary-Anne was grounded for two weeks and therefore was forced to apologize to Allie. Allie was sitting alone at lunchtime, isolating herself as usual, when Betty Jane, Laura, and Mary-Anne came over to join her.
"Hey, Allie," Betty Jane said as the three of them had a seat on the bench.
"Hey, guys." Allie said, not too enthusiastically.
"You mind if we sit here with you?" Laura asked.
Allie glanced at Mary-Anne for a split second, then said as she got up, "I gotta go take care of something somewhere. I'll be back." Which was her own way of saying that she did not want to face that girl who had just made her high school life miserable and forgettable.
"No, wait, Allie, come back," Laura said. "Mary-Anne's got something that she wants to say."
"Yeah, come back," Mary-Anne said.
Allie reluctantly came back and sat down. Mary-Anne then said, "I'm very sorry, Allie, for what I did. I know it was quite awful of me to spread that awful rumor about you."
"Why would you do such an awful thing?" Allie said to her. "I barely even know you that well enough that you can spread lies to my classmates about me. You made Quincy think I was a whore. Don't you know when to be considerate of other people's feelings?"
"Before Mary-Anne says something, I think I have something to share with you, Allie," Laura said. "I wanted to tell you and Betty Jane at the same time, but you ran off so soon yesterday before I had the chance to tell you, so I told Betty Jane instead. Mary-Anne and I are stepsisters."
Allie was shocked at first, then she started laughing. "No kidding?"
"Why do you find this funny?" Mary-Anne snapped. She was a little offended, and Allie stopped laughing only to realize it was the real truth and not a joke.
"Oh. I'm sorry," Allie said.
"Allie, she's not joking; I'm afraid it's true," Betty Jane said.
"But how is that possible?" Allie asked. "You two don't even look one bit alike?"
"Duh, it's because I look more like my mother," Mary-Anne said in a slightly snarky way.
"Let me do the talking," Laura said. "You see, Allie, Nurse McLean has been married to my father for almost a year now. Mary-Anne's father was in the army, but there have been news going around saying that he's gone M.I.A., and there have been other news saying that he's been killed and such, so Nurse McLean remarried my father. And as for my mother, I've heard stories saying that she had me at the age of sixteen and wanted to give me away to a foster care. She died right after I was born, and since then, I've been raised by Daddy, and now...........here we are now. One big, happy stepfamily."
"Wow," said Allie and Betty Jane. Allie was surprised that she had never learned all this about Laura before, and they were really close friends. Most people were mysterious sometimes.
"I guess that explains someone's self-righteous attitude, huh?" Betty Jane said, referring to Mary-Anne.
Mary-Anne said to her mockingly, "Ha, ha, very funny. That's half the story, you smart mouth."
"Well, Mary-Anne had a tougher upbringing, let's just say," Laura said.
Then Mary-Anne started speaking. "It's true. I have been trusting all the rumors and such saying that my father was now dead, so I started taking things a lot worse than they were. My mother sent me to Catholic school when I was ten, and it would be four years now if I hadn't gotten myself kicked out. I got kicked out because I was just frustrated, and I always thought nobody would understand."
"What did you get kicked out of Catholic school for?" Allie asked.
"You really don't wanna know."
"Oh, come on, just tell us," Betty Jane said. "We won't spill a word to anyone else, we promise."
"Well, I suppose it won't do too much harm telling you two. I was misbehaving and such, acting all childish and rebellious. That's why I got kicked out. Since then, I've been checking out other schools to go to, and suddenly I stumbled upon here, and...........here I am now." She shrugged. "Right here. In Fort Chester. I moved here to the state when I was four. All the way from Rhode Island."
Allie was amazed. "No way, you came all the way from Rhode Island? I came here all the way from Boston."
"No kidding?" Mary-Anne was also amazed. "I guess we both have something in common, then."
"Yeah, I guess we do," Allie said, also relieved. She didn't know what it was, but she was beginning to like Mary-Anne now.
"You know, Allie, as you've figured I visited this place quite a few times---you know, when my mother brings me to work and all with her," said Mary-Anne, "and I gotta say---I kind of envy you. I mean, I don't know what it is, but it's like........you know, you're like the girl next door. Any guy is lucky enough to have you or even be with you, and when I saw you become crowned Princess at Homecoming, I guess I felt that I was missing out on something. I'm fourteen now, and I've never had any guy notice me the way they notice you. You know, never at all. I've had some few crushes, but when you end up with a guy like Quincy MacKenzie, one can't really help but wonder how you do it. You know what I mean?"
"Of course I know what you mean," said Allie. "I've had a crush on Quincy since middle school, and we agreed that we'll start going steady once we reach high school, and look at where we are now. I know what it feels like to not be noticed---by a boy, or anybody. But if you really want people to notice you, you gotta act like someone who's able to be noticed, but in a good way. You get what I mean?"
"Yeah, I think I do. It's kind of hard for me to make friends, especially since I'm not used to living with Laura and her father, whom I don't know. That's why I just get so frustrated---I don't know anything about my father or my family background, so I just get so frustrated that I don't even know how to act human." She chuckled a little.
"Well, we understand," said Betty Jane.
"I understand too," Allie said as she shook hands with Mary-Anne. "It's great getting to know you."
"You too, Allie," Mary-Anne said, and from that moment onward, it was the start of a wonderful new friendship between Allie and Mary-Anne.
Quincy surprised Allie with a box of cupcakes, which was his own way of saying sorry. His own way of apologizing for falling for Mary-Anne's treachery. He put the box inside her locker, and when she opened her locker, she was surprised to see the box. He was standing behind her and said, "So, what do you think?"
Allie read the note on the box, which said, "Allie, I'm sorry for listening to Mary-Anne. Are we good for now?" She became flattered. "Aw, you really did this for me?"
"Well, I was thinking of serenading you at first just like Spike suggested, but I can't sing, so I did this instead," Quincy said.
Allie chuckled and gave him a kiss. "Thanks, Quincy, you're the best."
"You know, I wasn't really agreeing with what Mary-Anne said about you," he said. "I was only telling her she was wrong to say all that nasty stuff about you."
"I know, Quincy," she said, "but don't worry about it anymore. She's actually a good girl at heart; she just feels kind of..........misunderstood, I suppose. But we're good friends now."
"Oh, that's good to hear. And you'd better start eating one of those cupcakes before they start melting," he said, and they both chuckled. "And you're welcome to hand them out to the other kids at glee club."
"Yeah, don't worry, I will," Allie said as she grinned and took a bite out of one. She handed one to Quincy, just for the hell of it. "Just for the hell of it, I think you should have one too. It was your genius plan after all."
"Don't mind if I do," he said as he took a bite out of his. "Give me three more to give to Peter, Jerry, and Spike."
"Are you sure they'll want one?" Allie asked.
"They're my friends; they like anything to do with sweets," Quincy said. Which is why years later, Jerry turned out to be overweight and diabetic.
"If you say so," Allie said as she handed Quincy three more cupcakes to give to his friends.
"Let me guess; you're off to glee club now," said Quincy.
Allie nodded. "You got that right. No football practice today?"
He shook his head. "Canceled due to the rain."
"Alright, well, I guess I'll see you when I get home in a few hours," she said.
"Good-bye, Allie," Quincy waved to her as they went their separate ways.
It had been a positive time for Allie on her first year of high school. She and Mary-Anne were great friends now, and she and Quincy were becoming more serious than ever. The Fort Chester glee club became engaged in a competition with some rival schools' glee clubs for a spring performance at a local church, which Fort Chester won a trophy for first place. Allie felt proud of herself for her accomplishment because she was the main star of the glee club, and had it not been for her, their team would not have won. Allie was now fifteen, and the school year ended on a positive note for all of them.
That summer, Allie had written to Ms. Hazel, telling her all about her fun adventures in high school. She also asked Ms. Hazel how her new life was going. Ms. Hazel replied back to tell her that married life was fun and congratulated Allie for winning the glee club and wishing her good luck with Quincy that things would work out very well between them. Allie also wrote to Gladys and the other girls back in Boston, and they were also glad to hear back from her.
Allie and Quincy once went to the carnival together that summer, which was on the Fourth of July. They had such a wonderful time together, and he even won her a stuffed pony. When the night came and fireworks formed in the sky, they both shared a passionate kiss. Quincy said softly, "Remember when we met for the first time like this five years ago?"
"I remember it like it was yesterday," she replied.
"Five years gone by so darned fast," he said.
She nodded. "I agree. And then the year after that, we became something more than just good friends."
"I like spending time with you, Allie."
"Same with you, Quincy. Same with you." They were sitting on the bench with their arms wrapped around each other, watching everyone else having a wonderful time as well.
Back in reality, Joanna was getting ready to go to church for the rehearsals for the choir and play. Clearly, she had forgotten that nobody could go anywhere until they were certain that Alessandra was fully recovered. She was up in her room getting dressed up, and Zeke, who was in his room happened to stop by his sister's room and sneaked right in. She turned around and said to him, "What are you doing here?"
"Nothing, I was just feeling kind of bored waiting around in the living room for Mom to open her eyes and such," he said. "The doctor says she should get her consciousness back, but I'm not buying it one bit. And I gotta admit---not being in school for a week can get pretty tedious."
"You just noticed that," said Joanna with a little chuckle.
"Yeah, it kind of stinks not being able to see your friends at school, and now that we're on break I can't even go over to Lester and Chester's house because of Mom."
"Ah, don't worry, Zeke. She'll be fine in no time."
"I hope so. What's the occasion with you?"
"I'm getting ready to go to church for rehearsal for the play and the choir," said Joanna. "The huge day is tomorrow. It's 4:30 now, but we gotta be there by 7:00."
"That's two and a half hours, genius. What're you rushing it for?"
"I just know that Mom would regain her consciousness by that time so we can all drop me off to church for rehearsal. This Christmas performance is very important to me, and I can't afford to miss it, not even for anything else in the world."
"Mom has always put us ahead of herself, and we should be doing the same thing for her, Jo-Jo."
"I know that, but you know---if I miss my chance to rehearse for something huge, my whole life would be over. This is a matter of life and death for me. You'd understand too, someday. What if you had a baseball game or something?"
Zeke thought about it for a while, then said, "Ah, I guess you're right. There's no predicting when Mom will ever bring herself back to life, but we must let her know that we'll be there for her, every step of the way."