Read Calli Be Gold Online

Authors: Michele Weber Hurwitz

Calli Be Gold

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Text copyright © 2011 by Michele Weber Hurwitz

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Wendy Lamb Books and the colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hurwitz, Michele Weber.
   Calli be gold / Michele Weber Hurwitz — 1st ed.
      p. cm.
   Summary: Eleven-year-old Calli, the third child in a family of busy high-achievers, likes to take her time and observe rather than rush around, and when she meets an awkward, insecure second-grader named Noah and is paired with him in the Peer Helper Program, she finds satisfaction and strength in working with him.
   eISBN: 978-0-375-89823-5   [1. Individuality—Fiction. 2. Self-confidence—Fiction. 3. Ability—Fiction. 4. Family life—Fiction. 5. Schools—Fiction.] I. Title.
   PZ7.H95744 Cal 2011

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To Ben, Rachel, Sam, and Cassie,
and to Mom


he way I look at it, you can divide all the people in the world into two categories: the loud ones who shout about who they are and what they do, and the quiet ones who just are and do.

I suppose one kind balances out the other kind, like black letters on white paper, or frozen teeth from a Popsicle on a ninety-five-degree summer day.

Except for this: if you’re a quiet person randomly and hopelessly born into a family of louds, then it isn’t a balance at all. It’s downright lopsided.

Unfortunately, that would be me. Calli Gold, number three kid in the Gold family. One quiet. Four louds. Lopsided. Not to mention exasperating.

* * *

I am sitting at the kitchen table, sucking the salt from a sourdough pretzel nugget while my mom arranges pink and blue Post-it notes on the Calendar. Most of the salt is gone and the pretzel has turned to mush when I hear two bangs, several bumps, and one loud crash. My sister, Becca, has tumbled down the stairs.

I’m not surprised, and neither is Mom, because Becca trips on the stairs all the time. It’s never anything serious, because she somehow grabs hold of the banister at the last second. I can’t see her or the stairs from the kitchen, but I hear her groan and moan.

“You all right, Becca?” Mom calls out, still intently examining the dizzying pattern of pink and blue Post-its. She tugs at the back edge of her sweater, straightening the places where it’s gotten bunched up.

I can picture Becca, sprawled at the bottom of the carpeted staircase, the stuff from her skating bag in a messy pile around her on the wood floor. Skates and towels and tights, and her sweatshirt proclaiming to the world that
And in the middle of it, with her lips pulled into a snarl, is my thirteen-year-old sister, mad at everyone who dares to look her way.

If Becca would ever listen to me (and she won’t, because I’m only eleven), there are three things I would tell her: (1) Zip up the skating bag. Then everything won’t fall out. (2) Socks can be awful slippery on carpeted stairs. And (3) It’s probably not smart to look out the window
by our front door to see if the cute boy across the street is shooting baskets in his driveway
walk down the stairs at the same time.

“Becca?” Mom calls again.

“I’m fine,” she snaps.

Mom taps a pen on the enormous monthly write-on, wipe-off calendar taped to our kitchen wall. Better known as the Calendar. “It’s going to be tight today,” she says, peeling off one blue Post-it note and then a pink one. Pink are Becca’s Post-its, and my brother Alex’s are blue. These tiny squares contain their activity schedules down to the minute. My mother, who calls herself the Gold CFO (Chief Family Organizer), says that without her planning, our life as we know it would fall apart.

Mom used to be a project manager for a big food company, but for the time being, she says we are her projects. She says that managing this family is more work than her job ever was.

Light yellow is the color of my Post-its. There are only two of them on the Calendar for this month. One is for a dentist appointment and the other is for a haircut.

My dad says he’d like to see lots more yellow Post-its filling up the Calendar, because the Golds are busy people, and after all, I am a Gold too. Trouble is, in the past two years, I tried gymnastics, ballet, soccer, baton twirling, violin, and even origami, but I was a big disappointment in everything. Or everything was a big disappointment to me. I can’t remember which. So as of right now, I haven’t
yet made my mark on the Calendar. But Dad says I will. He says I have to, because I am a Gold.

Mom clicks the cap onto the pen and adjusts her glasses. “It’s going to be really tight today,” she repeats. Not only does Becca fall a lot, Mom often says things are going to be really tight. When she says this, the up-and-down crease between her eyebrows becomes deeper.

“Get yourself together, Becca,” Mom shouts. She scans the pink Post-it in her hand. “We have eight minutes to get you to skating.” She turns to me. “Do you have homework, Calli?”

“I finished it.”

She raises her eyebrows. “All of it?”

“Yep.” I pop another pretzel into my mouth. “At school.”

“Don’t you have a math test coming up?”

“We reviewed in class.”

“Well then,” she says, “bring a book along. Or go over a few more problems for the test. I know you get a little bored at the rink, and I can’t entertain you today. I have a meeting with the other skating moms. You know I’m chairing the costume committee this year. We have a lot of crucial information to go over.
,” she repeats, like I hadn’t heard the first time.

She grabs her purse from the counter and pulls her keys from one of the pockets. Her purse isn’t a regular purse; it’s more like a miniature suitcase, with all kinds of
compartments and pockets and zippers and pouches. Metallic silver, the thing weighs a ton. I know. I’ve tried to pick it up.

She isn’t one of those mothers who can never find anything in their purses, like my friend Wanda’s mom, who’s always searching for Kleenex, money, or ChapStick. Dad brags that Mom can locate something in her purse with the accuracy of a global satellite.

“Mom?” I say, crossing my legs importantly like she does. “Do I have to go to the rink? Can’t I stay home? I think I’m old enough to stay by myself now.” I take a deep breath. “Wanda’s mom has started to let her stay by herself.”

She puts a hand on her hip and gives me one of those unblinking mom stares, the kind that signals the asking of an outrageously dumb question.

“No,” she says, “you cannot stay home by yourself. I don’t care what Wanda does. You know that the rule in
family is eleven and a half, no more, no less. Don’t start with me today, Calli, I don’t have time for this.” She snaps her purse closed and turns away. Discussion over.

I sigh, sink lower in my chair, and put another pretzel into my mouth as Becca limps dramatically into the kitchen. “I think I hurt my ankle,” she whimpers. “I don’t know if I can skate today.” She drops her bag and one skate topples out, thudding across the tile floor.

Becca never enters a room calmly. She always drops
something, smashes into something else, falls, yells, whines, or creates what Grandma Gold calls a “ruckus.” Becca always seems to have a lot of injuries too.

“Becca, you are absolutely fine.” Mom rolls her eyes and glances over at me. I can’t help it: a little giggle escapes.

Becca whips her head in my direction. “What’s your problem? You think it’s funny that I can barely walk?”

“No,” I say quickly.

Dropping to the floor, Becca shoves the skate back inside her bag, then begins the process of gathering her dark hair into a high ponytail. She spent an hour last night straightening it with a flat iron, but still, she smooths it over and over in upward strokes, even though it already seems to be completely smooth. Her brown eyes are lined with thick black eyeliner, and her lids are smothered in bright glittery blue. I want to tell her she’s pretty without that stuff, but just like with my staircase advice, I know she won’t listen.

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