The Stone Beach
By Kim Chatel
YA Paranormal Novella
Great for reluctant readers!
When Caroline begins her last year of middle school, she barely recognizes her best friend. Brenda dresses differently. She blows off classes, homework and friends. But has Brenda really changed, or is Caroline just seeing her with new eyes?
Caroline has worries that Brenda doesn’t even understand. Her fifteen-year-old cat, Casey, is sick and the vet has been hinting that it’s time to put him to sleep. How can Caroline lose her two best friends at once?
In the next few months, Caroline learns that some friendships are not worth keeping, others are worth fighting for and still others will endure into the afterlife.
Read more about Casey and Caroline at Chatel Village.
Brenda cornered Caroline as soon as she got off the bus the next morning. “So what’s your problem, and why did you run off yesterday?” she asked.
“I didn’t run off,” said Caroline. “It was time to go home.”
“Well, you didn’t say goodbye.”
“You were kinda busy, and I didn’t want to intrude.”
“As if,” said Brenda. “Any way, I told you I didn’t want to do Biko.”
Caroline stared at her friend in amazement.
“I can’t believe it!” she said. “I do our entire assignment while you’re busy sucking face with Jimmy–and I can’t tell you how much that grosses me out–and you don’t like the song I picked.”
“We weren’t sucking face!” yelled Brenda. People were starting to stare now. Heads turned their way. A fight between best friends was always good entertainment. “And you’d better not tell anybody that we were.”
“Why not?” sneered Caroline. “Are you ashamed of your new boyfriend?”
“He’s not my boyfriend. He’s . . . I don’t know. But you have no right to go starting rumors.”
“I have every right! You blew me off and I did our whole assignment!”
“Like I asked you to. Anyway, you don’t know anything about it.”
“Guys,” said Brenda, and the word dropped between them like a stone. “You don’t know anything about guys. You’re so . . . immature.”
Tears pushed against Caroline’s eyes. By now, most of the student body had stopped to listen to their fight. She couldn’t let them see her cry. Turning from Brenda, she walked as fast as she could to the girls’ bathroom.
She stared at herself in the mirror. Her face was red and her eyes glassy with unshed tears. She splashed cold water on her face. She didn’t have to worry about make-up. She didn’t wear any. Another difference between her and Brenda.
When had these differences become so great they couldn’t even get along? It was clear that Brenda didn’t care much for their friendship. She was probably out there right now, laughing at her with Cindy, Heather and Andrea. They’d probably get a big kick about the way Brenda had suckered Caroline into doing their assignment all alone.
Well she wasn’t going to get away with it.
Caroline dried her face and went to find her English teacher, Mr. Klein.
After she told him the story (minus the part about Brenda and Jimmy) Mr. Klein leaned back in his chair and stared at her for a few minutes. Caroline squirmed in her chair. He didn’t look at all pleased and somehow his anger was pointed at her.
“Are you sure you really want to accuse Brenda of shirking her duties?” he asked.
“Well, yeah. I mean I did everything,” said Caroline.
“Fine,” he said and asked a passing student to find Brenda and tell her to see him. While they waited, Mr. Klein continued to grade assignments, leaving Caroline to her own thoughts–thoughts that didn’t hold the conviction they’d had while she was in the bathroom. Now she wondered if she’d been mistaken to come to Mr. Klein. You never knew how teachers were going to react.
Brenda finally walked into the office and shot Caroline a ‘You’re Dead’ look.
“Caroline tells me she did the project by herself. Is this true, Brenda?”
“Well . . .”
For a minute, Caroline thought that Brenda was going to deny it, and she got ready to protest. She could prove she’d done all the work. After all, what did Brenda know about Stephen Biko.
“No, I guess I didn’t really help,” said Brenda.
Good, thought Caroline. Now she’s really going to get it.
“I see,” said Mr. Klein. “You realize I should fail you on this project then.”
Caroline didn’t smile. This was what she’d wanted, but somehow it didn’t feel as good as she’d expected.
“But I’ll give you a chance. Caroline, you’ll read your presentation today. Brenda, you have one more night to come up with your own.”
Both the girls nodded and rose to leave.
“Ladies.” Mr. Klein’s stern voice stopped them. “I hope you realize that this assignment was about more than analyzing a song. It was about teamwork, too. I will take this into consideration when I grade both your presentations.”
Brenda grinned, and Caroline’s heart sank.
It wasn’t fair!
Outside Mr. Klein’s office, Brenda pushed her against the wall.
“Consider our friendship over, Caroline. Why don’t you go home and play with your dolls?”
Caroline watched her childhood friend walk away and couldn’t help thinking their friendship had been over for some time.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Stone Beach