"I just don't understand."
"You don't understand what, Sweetheart?" Mom asked Chris, being very mom-like and sewing.
Chris shook his head, sketching out yet another meaningless drawing, as if it would help him figure out his situation.
"What I don't understand," He said, "Is how I signed Mouse up for community service and after a week, when we were all sure she would crack...."
Chris turned to face Mom, "She was nice."
Mom blinked, "Alright, what's so weird about that, Honey?"
Chris shook her shoulders, "Don't you understand? This is madness! Pure madness!"
Mom pursed her lips and said, "Hm... Why do you say that? Mouse is a very nice girl..."
Chris and I gave her a 'you've got to be kidding' look and Chris said, "Summer, 2004. When Mouse and Leo came over to go swimming."
Mom's face fell and she said, "Oh, Chris, I thought you had forgotten about...."
"Dad set up the kiddie pool for us," Chris went on, "and I didn't want to swim in it. Remember why?"
Mom didn't say anything and Chris said, "Because Mouse had put dog poop from the neighbor's yard it in."
I snorted, "That's not very Mouse-like. Not good enough."
"I'm not finished yet." Chris said, clenching his teeth, "Then she pushed me in."
"Who?" I said stupidly.
Chris gave me a 'you're such a moron' look and said, "The pizza man, Angie. Who do you think? Mouse!"
I pouted and said, "Well, you don't have to be so sarcastic."
Chris turned back to Mom and said, "Well, the point is that Mouse is not 'a very nice girl.' She's a demon! She was sent here to torture me from he-"
Mom grabbed Chris' ear, which she didn't do very often, and said firmly, "Chris,"
"What?" Chris said through clenched teeth.
"You are not allowed to say that word!" Mom scolded, "Where did you hear that word?"
I snorted again, "Where do you think, Mom? Everyone from this generation talks like that, even Leo's mom."
Mom scowled and, with her hand still clamped on Chris' ear, she asked him, "Chris, did you learn to talk that way from Leo's mother?"
"I almost never see her!" Chris exclaimed, "Plus, Angie's right! Everyone talks that way! It's high school!"
Mom shook her finger at him, "Oh, everyone, Chris? Yes, I'm sure everyone talks like that at your school. Well, that's not a very well-formed school, now is it?"
"Mom," I said, a bit sharply, "You're starting to sound like Mrs. Coleman. That's a bad sign."
All the firmness faded from Mom's face and she let go of Chris' ear, coming out of her little faze.
"Oh, Chris, Sweetie! I'm so sorry! I don't know what got into me." She hugged Chris and he hugged her back.
"There, there." Chris said soothingly, "You're fine, just remember not to channel your anger out in such ways."
I rolled my eyes. It's kind of ironic that my brother could easily get a job as a psychiatrist, except for the fact that's he's not to far off from a shrink himself.
After a big, dramatic forgiving ceremony, catered by Mom and Chris, I said, "So, Mouse was being nice?"
A grim look crossed Chris' face and he nodded, "I don't know what the deal is. It's probably some kind of public scandal and she's planning to mess up our brains by acting out of the ordinary. Well, no, I will not settle for that! I will not!"
Mom and I blinked, totally lost.
Chris sighed as if our intelligence levels offended him and said, "You know what, I'll talk to Hilary about it."
"Hilary?" Mom and I said at the same time.
Chris nodded and said in a 'duh' sort of tone, "Yes, Hilary. She's the leader of the volunteering committee."
We both made an 'oh' face and Chris shook his head.
Chris picked up a book and said, "Well, I'm going to go read."
We nodded and Chris left the room.
I sighed and shook my head. Well, at least I got to see what Mouse was going to do next.
"Hi, everybody! Time for todays' meeting!" Hilary said, smiling widely. Hilary was a very pretty girl with light brown hair that had blonde highlights. All of the popular guys would definitely all be in love with her, if she wasn't the leader of the volunteering committee and if she didn't dress like a first grade schoolgirl.
"Has anyone seen Tiffany?" Hilary said.
Just then, as if she had been waiting, Mouse (A.K.A. Tiffany) came into the room. She was smiling hugely and carrying a plate of cookies.
"Hello, friends!" Mouse cried cheerily, setting the cookies on a table, "Cookies, anyone?"
All of the volunteers exchanged a nervous glance and Chris heard a girl named Jennifer whisper to her friend, "Do you think they're poison?"
When no one went for a cookie, Mouse smiled warmly and said, her voice as sweet as syrup, "Oh, come on, don't be shy! There's enough cookies for everyone!"
She picked up a cookie and took a bite, "Mmm! See? They're fine."
Mouths hanging open, Chris and Alice exchanged a nervous glance.
Chris snapped his fingers and said, "Becky! Hilary! May I have a word?"
Hilary and a girl with thick glasses and stringy blonde hair, the junior girl who had alerted Mouse that she was on the volunteering team, ran over to Chris and the three started whispering.
"What should we think?" Hilary whispered.
Becky shook her head and whispered back, "I don't know. I'm not eating one of those cookies!"
Hilary shrugged, "Well, what if she's changed?"
Chris shook his head and whispered, "Not going to happen. I've known Mouse since we were little kids. She's a demon and will forever be. You can't change Mouse!"
"Tiffany." Becky whispered, snickering.
A worried look on her annoyingly beautiful face, Hilary turned to Chris and whispered, "Well, who knows? Maybe spending so much time with such good people, we've rubbed off on her a bit."
Chris gave Hilary a look and shook his head, "Fine, eat the cookies."
Hilary smiled weakly at Chris and turned to Mouse, "Oh, um, thank you, Tiffany."
Mouse kept the grin on her face as Hilary and Becky each took cookies.
All the other team members exchanged looks and, seeing that Hilary, Becky, and Mouse were all still standing, they got up and got cookies. Everyone except for Chris and Alice.
Mouse's lips twitched, but she kept smiling, "Hey, Chris, Alice, do you two want some cookies?"
Alice shook her head, "Nope, I'm a vegan."
Mouse smiled more, "That's okay, I made a batch of vegan cookies too!"
Alice looked at Chris for approval and he mouthed, No.
Alice whispered to him, "Chris, she made vegan cookies just for me. It would be rude to decline..."
"Do you seriously think she made those cookies, Alice?" Chris hissed, "She's a cold-blooded fiend!"
Alice reluctantly walked over to the cookies and, smiling tightly at Mouse, took one.
Feeling betrayed, Chris turned away haughtily.
His teammates had turned on him, along with his best friend.