Authors: Cylin Busby
“Is it okay if I sit here?” you ask him. “ Dan wanted to move up front.”
“Okay, I'll ride in the van,” you tell Mrs. Bulow. You hear Heather let out a sigh, so you turn to her. “I'll see you up there,” you explain. “Please don't be mad.”
“I'm not.” Heather smiles. “ Just wish I was coming, too. Say hi to James for me, 'kay?” She winks.
“No problem,” you say as you go down the stairs and leave the bus. The driver follows you and opens the luggage compartment. You see your bag right on top and grab it. “Thanks,” you tell the driver with a wave as he climbs back onto the bus.
You walk over to the van and hear music blasting out of the open doors. “Hi! Mrs. Bulow asked me to ride up with you guys,” you tell the girl junior chaperone.
“Cool,” she says, grabbing your bag and tossing it into the back of the van. “I'm Cathy. You can sit with me while this maniac drives.” She gives James a little punch in the arm.
“Maniac on the slopes,” James corrects her.
“Behind the wheel, never.” He grins over at you. “Hey, I'm James,” he says, putting out his hand, and you tell him your name.
“Let's go, people!” says Mr. Abbott, one of the teachers chaperoning the trip, motioning everyone into the van. You sit next to Cathy in the first row of backseats, while the two other seniors sit behind you. When James goes to sit in the driver's seat, Mr. Abbot says, “Not so fast,” and grabs the keys from him. “I'll be doing the driving.”
James grumbles but sits in the passenger seat and instantly starts messing with the CD player. “Okay, passengers, what do we want to hear? Some death rock, acid beats?”
You let out a laugh because you assume he's jokingâhe doesn't really listen to that type of music, does he? In a second, you realize you're wrong as James slips in a disc of the worst music you've ever heard.
“These guys and their heavy metal,” Cathy grumbles to you over the loud music. She puts on her own headphones and starts listening to her MP3 player, looking out the window. By the time Mr. Abbott pulls the van out onto the freeway, you already have a headache.
“This album is so radâthis is the best ski music ever!” you hear Glenn, the other junior chaperone, say from behind you.
“Get ready to party!” James says loudly, and Mr. Abbott shoots him a look.
“Can you please turn that noise down?” Mr. Abbott asks. “I'm trying to drive, here.”
“Noise?” James says. “This is one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time!” He turns around in his seat and looks at you. “You dig it, right? I mean, how awesome are these guitar licks?” James plays air guitar along with the song for a second, and you almost burst out laughing. Even if his taste in music is terrible, he's still adorable.
“It's not exactly my type of music,” you tell him, smiling.
“When we get up to the mountain, we'll teach you how to really party,” James says knowingly. “Right, dude?” he says to Glenn, and gives him a thumbs-up.
“Righteous!” Glenn yells over the music.
Are these guys for real?
“Oh no,” you hear Mr. Abbott say suddenly as the van starts making a funny thumping soundâ
âand then it stops altogether!
“Sorry, guys, I thought this van might give us trouble,” Mr. Abbott says as he pulls over to the side of the highway. The van comes to a stop, and Mr. Abbott turns around. “I'll go have a look at the engine, but I think we may need to call a tow truck.” His face looks glum as he climbs out of the van. He lifts the hood, and black smoke comes billowing out of the engine!
“That's not good,” James jokes.
Mr. Abbott pokes his head back into the van for a second. “ The bus is coming up the hill right behind us, so if any of you want to flag down the driver and get on, feel free. This looks like it's going to take a while,” he explains.
You want to get up to the mountain so that you can ski this afternoon with your friends, but you were also looking forward to this road trip with James the cutie. You look over to him for a second. “I'm staying, man. The bus is for losers!” he says.
“Here comes the bus. Anyone want me to flag it down?” Mr. Abbott says again, and you decide toâ¦
“Great,” the guy says. You tap Zac on the shoulder, and when he slips off his headphones, you quickly explain what's up.
“So I'll see you later,” you say as you move over to sit by Molly.
“Definitely.” Zac grins back. Looks like you've made at least one new friend on this trip already!
Once you get settled into your new seat, you turn to Molly. “You're new at school, right?” After the words are out of your mouth, you feel silly. Obviously she's new!
“Yeah,” she says, nodding. “We used to live a couple of towns over, so it's not that different.”
“But it must have been hard to leave all your friends,” you continue.
“That wasn't easy, but I still see them sometimes. Actually, some of my old friends from middle school go to Marshall now. One of my best friends, Sierra, is going on this tripâI'm psyched to meet her up there.”
“How cool,” you say, but just the mention of the
other high school instantly makes you think of Mitch. “I have a friend from last year who goes to Marshall. So maybe he'll be there, too,” you tell her.
She raises her eyebrows. “Friend? Or boyfriend?” she says with a grin.
“Wellâ¦” You feel your cheeks flush as you struggle to answer.
“You don't have to explain,” Molly says, pulling her long blond hair into a high ponytail. “I know all about those kinds of friends!”
You realize that Molly is actually really easy to talk toâshe's funny and super nice, too. “When we get up there, do you want to room together?” she asks. “I don't really have any friends on this trip, so I was just going to stay with whoever was left.”
You had been planning to stay with Heather and her friend Carrie, but it might be fun to room with a new friendâespecially one who has Marshall connections! And Heather is so wrapped up with her crush on Dan, she probably wouldn't even noticeâ¦but then again, she is your best friendâ¦.
“Sure,” he says, “I don't think we've ever met, but I'm Zac.” You tell him your name and he quickly responds, “Oh, I know who you areâI thought that project you did in English last week was really amazing.”
“Thanks.” You smile. You had thought it was pretty cool, but none of your friends even mentioned it to you. “So, you skipped a grade or something, right?” you ask him.
“Yeah, the teachers thought it might be a good idea, so I was bumped up,” he says, looking out the window. It seems like he doesn't really want to talk about it, but you're so curious.
“How is it going? Is it really hard to keep up?” you ask.
“I'm only a year younger than everybody else, so it's not that big a deal,” he explains. “ But
people want to make it a big deal, you know?”
You nod and glance over at the popular kids, all sitting together in a group. “Yeah, I know what you mean,” you tell him.
“Anyway,” he says, looking at your MP3 player, “what are you listening to?”
You two start talking aboutâand listening toâ music, and before you know it, a half hour has gone by. You're listening to his MP3 player, and he's checking out yours, when the guy sitting across the aisle from you leans over and taps your shoulder.
“Hey, would you mind switching seats with me?” he asks. “Zac is my tutor at school and I need to ask him some homework questions.”
You glance over at Zac, but he's got headphones on and hasn't noticed anything. You look back at the guy and see that he's sitting with Molly, the new girl at school. You've noticed her in your art class, and she seems really cool. This could be your chance to meet her. But you also really like sitting with Zac and getting to know him.
You tell the guy:
“That's okay, Mr. Abbott,” you say. “I'll just wait with everyone else.” As the bus roars by, a few kids make faces through the windows. So what if they'll get up the mountain before you? At least you get to hang with a group of cool seniors!
Before too long, the repair crew shows up with a tow truck. “Sorry, mister,” the driver says to Mr. Abbott. “This van isn't going anywhere. We can have a rental vehicle sent out, but we'll have to tow this one back to the garage.”
“Okay,” Mr. Abbott says. “I guess we don't really have much choice. Everyone please get your bags out of the back.”
Cathy opens the back of the van and starts piling up the bags on the side of the road, but as she puts one big duffel bag down, you hear a loud
and the sound of glass breaking. “Oops,” Cathy says, cringing, as a dark syrupy liquid starts leaking through the bag. “What's that?”
In a few seconds, there's a puddle of something
under the bag, and it smells sweetâand strange, likeâ¦
“Is that what I think it is?” Mr. Abbott says, taking a sniff. He unzips the bag to reveal a four-pack of wine coolers, two of the bottles broken. “Whose bag is this?” he asks, and no one says anything. “Yours?” He turns to Glenn.
Glenn just looks down.
“Glenn, show me which bag is yours,” Mr. Abbott says, and he sounds angry.
“Hmm,” Glenn says, looking over the bags. “I really can't remember right now.”
Mr. Abbott glares at him. “Cathy, which one is yours?” he asks.
“Gosh, Mr. Abbott,” she says, “I can't tell; they all look alike.” She gives James a nudge. You know what they're doingâno one is going to take the blame.
Mr. Abbott points to you. “Which bag is yours? And stop playing games!”
You look down at the bags, then up at James, who gives you a sly smile. If you play along, then maybe no one will get in trouble. But you shouldn't get in trouble, anywayâyou didn't do
anything wrong! Do you want to cover for James and his friends, or tell the truth and point out your bag?
“I want to get on the bus,” you tell Mr. Abbott, and he quickly puts his hand out to wave down the driver.
“Aw, man, are you for real?” James says, obviously disappointed in you. “I thought you were cool.”
You're about to say something to him when the bus pulls over and the driver opens the door, so you just turn and say a quick “'bye” as you climb aboard.
“Yeah, whatever,” James says, looking away. When you get on the bus, the first thing you notice is that Mrs. Bulow isn't sitting with Heather anymoreâinstead, Dan is!
“Hey,” you say to them. “What happened?” Heather looks really surprised to see you. “Your ride didn't work out?” “Something like that,” you say, rolling your eyes. “It's a long story!”
“Well, I would have saved your seat, butâ¦” She glances over at Dan, then back to you.
“Don't worry about it,” you say, shooting her a
grin as you move past them to the back of the bus. You see Mrs. Bulow sitting back there.
“We have one open seat back here, actually,” Mrs. Bulow says. “One student felt a little sick before we left the parking lot,” she whispers, “so he stayed behind.” You can see the only open seat is next to a cute guy you don't really know. He's supposed to be super smart and skipped a grade last year.
“Um, okay if I sit here?” you ask him.
You look up at Mr. Abbott and play along. “I can't really tell which one is mine,” you say, and glance over at James. He grins back at you just as Mr. Abbott turns to him.
“Oh, you think this is funny?” Mr. Abbott questions. James just looks down and pulls his hat lower on his head. “I saw that smirk! This isn't a joke,” Mr. Abbott says, looking at each of you in turn. “Underage drinking is serious. You
that you are not allowed to have alcohol on this trip!” he yells.
Mr. Abbott kicks the brown duffel bag with the bottles in it. “I want to know whose bag this is RIGHT NOW,” he orders.
You look down at your snow boots, feeling terrible. You've never gotten in trouble for something this serious before.
“Okay, nobody wants to talk?” Mr. Abbott says after a few minutes of silence. “Great. Then nobody here will go on the trip. When the rental van comes, I'll drive you back to school and you
can call your parents. I'm sure they'll be very proud of you.”
You look over at James. Why doesn't he just say the bag was his? It's not fair for all of you to be kicked off the trip because of him! “Here comes the van now,” Mr. Abbott says, pointing down the road. “Last chanceâ¦”
Cathy and Glenn just look down, and you glance around at the group of seniors. How could you have thought these people were cool, just because they're older? You're suddenly wishing that you'd just stayed on the bus!
“Okay, that's it,” Mr. Abbott says, shaking his head. “Everyone in the van. We'll sort this out when we get back to the school.”
Looks like your ski trip has endedâbefore it even had a chance to start!