I watched Alice, who was three desks away, as she grasped the edge of her desk. She gasped and her eyes widened. She sat perfectly still, gaping. I looked down, under her desk. Alice slowly moved her fingers, which were covered in white ABC* gum. I can see why Alice hates it when people stick gum under tables and desks. She once spent about two and a half hours cleaning gum off the bottoms of tables at a restaurant, or so Mouse said.
Alice sucked in her breath like she had just been punched in the stomach. She peeled her fingers out of the used gum.
I held my breath. Alice glanced at me and I shook my head. Please don't scream, please don't scream, please don't scream..... I thought.
Alice was breathing heavily now. She slowly raised her clean hand. "Mrs. Green, may I please wash my hands? Please?........ Please?"
The French teacher nodded and Alice instantly got to her feet.
What was Chris up to? I wondered. He was sitting in his desk, quietly glaring at Jesse, how had apparently "broken his heart" on Monday. Ah, such a sensitive child.
On the way to recess, Jesse stopped Chris in the hall. "Uh, hey, Chris. Hey, um, are you still mad at me? I mean, I don't think you should be, ya know, 'cuz I didn't do anything, but uh...."
Chris scowled at Jesse, looking him right in the eye and not saying anything. Jesse looked uncomfortable and swallowed. "So, uh..... are we cool? You're not mad?"
Chris scowled more and said, "No, we're not 'cool.' We'll never be 'cool.'" He passed Jesse and walked away.
Once Jesse was out of sight, Chris broke into a grin. "Oh yeah, you are most definitely 'cool'."
Chris sat down next to me on a bench at recess, grinning like he owned the world. "Why are you so happy?" I asked him.
Chris giggled stupidly and I said, "What, did you find a new crush? Or did you and Jesse make up?"
Chris scowled and said sharply, "No. Neither. We didn't make up, I still hate him. God,
what an idiot."
I raised an eyebrow at him and he looked at me haughtily, "What?" He said with a tone that I didn't like, an un-Chris-like tone, a snotty tone.
"Chris, don't you dare use that tone on me!" I snapped, losing patience. My brother was not allowed to talk to me like that.
Chris whimpered, leaning over to hug me. "I'm sorry, Angie." He said honestly. I rolled my eyes, Chris is such a kid.
"It's okay, Chris." I sighed.
I heard yelling and I turned around, unwrapping Chris's arms from my hips. "Chris, listen." It was Mouse and Leo. Mouse was screaming at him about something and Leo seemed to be trying to calm her down. What the-
"Oh, gosh...." Chris stood up straight.
"What?" I asked him. Chris bit his lip, mumbling to himself. I cocked my head, "What, Chris?" Before I could stop him, he walked over to Mouse and Leo. I followed him.
Chris stood in between them, staring into Mouse's eyes, looking concerned and serious. Why did everyone seem to know something I didn't? "Mouse," Chris said gently, but firmly at the same time. Mouse stared at him without saying anything. Chris grabbed Mouse's hair, which was a brave move for him, and he sniffed her breath. His eyes widened slightly, but he didn't say anything.
He turned to Leo, "You knew, didn't you?"
Leo nodded, looking tired but relieved that someone else knew what he was going through, whatever that was.
"Knew what? What, Chris? What?!" I exclaimed.
Chris shushed me, "Calm down, Angela...."
"Am I the only person who doesn't know what's going on?" I asked, starting to get anxious and maybe a little scared.
"No," Leo said, "Kathy and Alice don't know, neither does Harold. I don't know if anyone else knows besides us, except for some of Mouse's drunken friends from the football team. They might."
"Shut up Leo!" Mouse shouted at him.
"WHAT?!" I yelled, "Just- please! Someone tell me what the heck is going on!"
Chris sighed, "Mouse, have you been drinking?"
I cocked my head to the side, completely confused.
"No!" Mouse shouted defensively.
"For how long?" Chris asked, ignoring her disclaim. Mouse gritted her teeth, glancing at Leo. I was so lost now. I didn't even know what to say.
Mouse shifted from foot to foot. "But it tastes good....."
Chris looked surprised, "So does smoking! Just because you like it doesn't mean you should have it!" He held out his hand. "Give."
Leo held up his hand, "I already took it from her locker after fifth hour."
Mouse whirled around, "What?!" She tried to grab the liquor bottle and Leo easily held it out of her reach. "Nope. This is going in the garbage."
Chris nodded, "Sure thing. Leo, give me the bottle."
Leo held it close defensively. "Why?"
Chris sighed, "Just give it, Leo. I can't trust you with that either."
"I don't drink!" Leo snapped. Chris held out his hand to Leo and Leo put the bottle in his hand. Chris opened the cap, sniffing it and wrinkling his nose. "Nasty stuff. Why do you like this, Mouse?"
Mouse sighed, rolling her eyes. Chris sniffed the bottle again and took a swig.
"Chris!" I yelled at him.
"Sorry, sorry." He said, "I wanted to know what it tasted like. Bitter, but good."
Leo grinned stupidly, "Hey, that was what I did."
I snatched the bottle from Chris and poured it's contents out into a garbage can, tossing the bottle in after it.
Leo and Mouse watching longingly. Chris sighed and said, "Mouse, underage drinking is very very bad."
Leo nodded, "See, Mouse? That was what I said."
Mouse looked sick as she glanced around groggily at us. I eyed her, "Hey, you okay, Mousey?"
Mouse went up to Chris and said, "This is going to hurt you a lot more then it's going to hurt me."
Chris cocked his head to the side, "What?" Next thing we knew, Mouse barfed all over Chris. Chris stood perfectly still, looking a lot like Alice with his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open.
We all stood, staring in shock.
I tried not to laugh, "Mouse, how much did you drink?"
"A third of a bottle."
"Are you an idiot?" Chris sputtered, laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation. "Ha! Why am I even asking? I, out of all people, should know the answer to that question because I'm the one covered in your drunken barf!"
Leo and I were trying with all me had not to laugh, but, of course, we did.
Chris took a deep breath and started off to the bathroom to change his shirt. Alice passed him, "Chris! What happened?" Chris glared at Mouse and kept walking.
Alice looked from Leo to Mouse to me, totally lost. "Don't worry about it." I suggested and Alice knowingly nodded.
Later Chris ended up puking too. I guess it's an alcohol thing.
*ABC gum: In case you don't know, means Already Been Chewed.