Rafe Is a Big, Fat Liar
It isn't easy having a brother who's famous in all the wrong ways. It also isn't easy having a brother who's a blabbermouth. I'm sure Rafe has told you all about me. Let's see—what did he say? That I'm a tattletale? That I get on his nerves? That I always eat all the pudding cups?
Well, I have news for you: Lies. All lies.
Except the pudding-cup thing. That's ... well, okay, that's accurate.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Rafe Khatchadorian is a big, fat liar. And just to prove I'm the kind of girl who tells the truth, I will now correct myself: Rafe is actually a skinny, normal-size liar. And his version of me is completely out of whack.
Here's the real story: Rafe does crazy stuff all the time, and nobody ever gets on his case about it. He just gets yanked out of sixth grade and sent to art school.
But when I do something wrong?
So what is Georgia Khatchadorian really like? Well, I'm much smarter than Rafe. Just ask the people who write the State Intelligence Assessment Tests.
Also, I'm hilarious.
Actually, I'm usually pretty kind. (Rafe thinks I tattletale? You should hear the stuff I haven't told!)
I have excellent fashion sense, which I choose not to express. This is because I'm always broke.
And I'm the innocent victim of my brother's slander.
So I guess this story is about what happens when a smart, kind, creative girl tries to live down her brother's bad reputation.
It's really not my fault that it all blew up in my face.
Don't Mess with a Khatchadorian
Fifty-five minutes until my first day at Hills Village Middle School, and I was stuck at the breakfast table with Captain Irritation.
"What is that? Rabbit poop?" Rafe asked, eyeing my cereal.
"It's muesli," I said.
My older brother is sooooo sophisticated. "Muesli is like granola," I told him. "They eat it in Europe."
"They also eat slugs in Europe," Rafe pointed out.
"Snails," I corrected. "Escargot."
Rafe rolled his eyes. "That word even sounds like barf."
I looked over at Mom. Her face was quivering, as if she couldn't decide whether to laugh or frown. I love my mom, and I have no idea how she can find Rafe funny. It must be a gene I missed.
"So, are you two excited for your first day?" Mom asked.
Changing the subject. Nicely done, Mom.
"I can't wait," Rafe and I said together. Only his voice clearly meant "I can wait," while my voice meant "I'm so excited that I'm about to explode!"
Rafe snorted. "You're nuts."
"Just because you didn't like sixth grade doesn't mean that I won't."
"Yeah, because you're nuts." He narrowed his eyes at me. "It's like prison in there. You'll get eaten alive, Little Miss Pink Backpack with a Pony on It," he growled.
"Mom!" I screeched.
"That's enough, Rafe," Mom said, casting a worried glance my way. "Stop trying to scare Georgia." I knew she was nervous about my first day. After all, Rafe had had a pretty rough sixth-grade year.
What? Did you just say I shouldn't worry, because my brother is a big, fat liar?
Hey—watch it. I can talk all I want about my brother, but nobody else can say bad things about him. I have Rafe's back. Mostly to throw stuff at, and for the occasional backstabbing.
The point is—his back is mine, not yours.
And even though my brother is a big, fat liar, I had a bad feeling he was telling the truth this time.
Horrors of an (In)Famous Brother
The good news is that nobody cared about my backpack. The bad news is that Rafe was right—HVMS is like prison. My crime? Mistaken identity.
It wasn't bad at first. I didn't really mind that the school bus smelled like an armpit. I didn't even mind that all the kids seemed to know one another already.
Then I got to homeroom. I'd never had to change classes before, so I was nervously trying to memorize my schedule while the teacher, Mr. Grank, called roll. He suddenly said, "Georgia Khatchadorian? You're Rafe Khatchadorian's SISTER?!" Yup, he said it just like that, in all-capital letters, with an exclamation point at the end.
The class went silent. Then everyone started whispering to one another.
I felt myself blush. "Um ... yeah?" I said, hesitating.
"You don't know?" Mr. Grank growled.
"Well, sir ... I was just hoping, maybe we could keep that, um, little piece of trivia just between me, you, and these four walls?"
I grinned nervously, but Mr. Grank was all "Don't get smart with me, Ms. Khatchadorian."
Someone in the class said, "Ooooh, trivia ..." and I felt everyone looking at me, like I was showing off some big, fancy vocabulary word or something. Actually, it was more like they thought I was going to take off all my clothes and streak through the hallway. (Which Rafe actually did once.) So I slumped down in my chair until the bell rang.
Now, normally we would've gone to a Big School Assembly next to learn about the school rules and stuff. But for some reason—(ahem, Rafe)—there wasn't one this year. The Code of Conduct was being "reworked." So we went straight to our classes.
Anyone want to guess why—(cough, cough, Rafe)—the teacher gave me a "special welcome" in English? And math? And French? And gym?
For those of you who are confused right now because you don't know much about Rafe, here's the deal: He's notorious around here because he tried to break every single rule in the student handbook. He almost did it too, but he got kicked out. (If you're interested in knowing even more about it, just read Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life. Personally, I wouldn't bother. But you might like it ... if you're crazy.)
And now everybody at HVMS seemed to think I was going to be the next crazy Khatchadorian.
Everywhere I went, I was following in my brother's muddy, bloody footsteps. I was about as popular as toxic waste. Rafe wasn't even here, and he'd already ruined everything.
But I'm not Rafe. I'm the kind of girl who gets straight A's. I even won Most Outstanding Effort in the third grade. All these people have the wrong idea about me.
I decided that I'd just have to show them that I'm not Rafe Khatchadorian II: The Revenge. I'm more like Georgia Khatchadorian I: The Relatively Normal.
I thought that once I showed everyone the real me, things would get better.
Boy, was I wrong.
Miller the (Mini) Killer
And then there was lunch. Students everywhere, and not a friend in sight.
Oh, but there was a fiend in sight. It seems that my brother's old buddy, Miller the Killer, has a little brother. And by little, I mean enormous. I'd seen Miller—and Mini-Miller looks just like him. Only bigger and uglier.
I was standing at the front of the cafeteria when he walked up to me. "Muuuuuunh," he grunted. "Muuuuuuunh." He was dragging his leg behind him.
Then he grinned a stupid grin at me.
"Are you supposed to be a zombie?" I asked. "Because clearly someone has eaten your brain."
He narrowed his piggy eyes at me. "You're Rafe Khatchadorian's sister, right?" Mini-Miller plucked my chocolate chip cookie right off my tray and ate it in a single gulp.
"What makes you say that?" I replied.
Mini-Miller glared. "It says 'Khatchadorian' on your notebook."
"Oh, you can read that?" I asked. That must have been the wrong thing to say, because he flipped my lunch tray right out of my hands. Food splattered all over the floor, and the hard plastic tray landed with a clatter that rang through the cafeteria.
"Oops," Mini-Miller said. Then he laughed, stomped on my foot, and walked away.
Rhonda Helps Me, Helps, Helps Me, Rhonda
NEED SOME HELP?" someone asked in a screechy voice that made my eardrums want to shrivel up and die. She sounded like the Screecher from the Black Lagoon.
When I turned and saw where the voice came from, I jumped. She didn't just sound like a screechy Creature from the Black Lagoon. She, uh, kind of looked like it too. And she was dressed in what looked like a costume straight out of the 1950s.
Not to mention the girl was huge. Okay, that's softening it. She was fat. I'm sorry, but it's true. Some people look like manatees that have escaped from a musical theater production. Some people look like supermodels. I'm not judging, just stating facts. I'm no supermodel myself. You've seen the pictures.
I'll say one other thing: In a cafeteria full of kids, the Screecher was the only one who stood up to help. So she actually looked pretty good to me.
The Screecher flipped over my tray and started piling my cup, plate, and bowl on it. "I'M RHONDA," she said, grinning up at me. She had a really friendly smile—white teeth and a dimple in her left cheek.
"Oh. Hi." I squatted to gather my silverware.
"YOU HAVE MASHED POTATO ON YOUR SHIRT," Rhonda told me.
"AND YOUR FACE," she added.
I let my silverware clatter onto the plastic tray. "Do you know where the girls' room is?"
"DOWN THE HALL, TO YOUR LEFT. WANT ME TO SHOW YOU?"
"No, that's okay. I've got it." I took the tray from her hands. "Thanks."
"ANYTIME!" Another bright smile, and then she stomped back to her seat. She walked like she talked: loudly.
So, in half a day, I'd met Mini-Miller and the Screechy Creature from the Grease Lagoon. Surely HVMS couldn't produce anything weirder—right?
The Princess Patrol!
When I left the cafeteria, the noise suddenly died down (and I'm not just talking about Rhonda). The only students in the hall were three girls clustered around a locker, and they all looked like they'd been dressed by the same celebrity stylist. They eyed me for a minute, and then one put up her hand to shield a whisper. The others laughed.
I'd seen them before. All three are in my French class. Missy Trillin is clearly in charge of, like, the entire school. And everyone in it. In class earlier today, a nerdy boy with glasses had made the mistake of sitting in the seat she wanted.
Missy's family is incredibly rich. Her mother invented Mac N Cheesyohs—you know, macaroni-and-cheese on a stick that you heat up in the toaster—so they have gobs of money. Everyone wants to dress like Missy. Everyone wants to go to her parties. Everyone wants to ride in her solid-gold limousine.
The two celebutantes with Missy were named Brittany and Bethany, but I wasn't sure which was which. Looking at them, I finally understood what Rafe had meant about my pony backpack. These girls had clothes that made my T-shirt and jeans look like sewn-together old dish towels. Their perfect skin made my face look like someone had attacked me with a permanent marker. Their white teeth could've blinded anyone within fifteen feet of them, and you could probably lose a pet Chihuahua somewhere in the middle of their thick, puffy hairstyles. (In fact, Missy actually did have a pet Chihuahua.) I felt like I'd just wandered into a shampoo commercial they were starring in.
Their eyes were on me as I walked along, looking for the girls' room. It wasn't where I expected it to be, but I kept hoping it would appear, like an oasis in the desert.
"Clip-clop," Missy said, and the B's cracked up.
I didn't know what that meant, but it was clearly a joke, so I chuckled along.
"Um, hi," I said with a smile. "Can you tell me where the girls' room is?"
Missy gave me a pursed-lips smile that twisted up the side of her mouth. "Do I know you?" she asked. Her voice made it clear that she couldn't possibly know me. She gave me an up-and-down look that made me want to go hide out in a locker for the rest of the year.
"I don't think we know anyone who gets her clothes out of a Dumpster," one of the B's said.
"Or cuts her hair with a Weedwacker," added the other.
Clearly, these girls were grade-A snobs. So I was all "I guess you guys blew off a couple of lessons at charm school, because that was seriously rude." And then they burst into tears, and Missy tried to draw me a map to the girls' room, but I just walked off.
Well, okay, not exactly true. I did just walk off. But I didn't think of that witty comeback until three days later.
"Clip-clop!" Missy called after me. Her little friends laughed, and they all took off, prancing down the hall like show ponies.
Great. Now they have some little inside joke. Clip-clop. What did that mean?
I came up with a few possibilities:
1. Misheard "tick-tock": Missy and the B's planted a bomb somewhere in building; need to notify security PRONTO for disciplinary action.
2. Princess lingo picked up at expensive riding academy: They had a secret horse language only they could understand.
3. Insult to my footwear: It was, admittedly, not nearly as chic as theirs.
I wasn't really sure which choice was correct, but—based on their personalities—my guess was number three. Though I went ahead and pretended it was number one.
Soooooo ... now I had Grank and Screecher, a Mini-Miller, and a Princess Patrol to deal with. Could this day get any worse?
School ended about five million hours later. By the end of the day, I felt like I should just get I AM RAFE KHATCHADORIAN'S SISTER tattooed across my forehead to save everyone the trouble of mentioning it.
When the last bell rang, Missy climbed into her jewel-studded limo, and I headed back to my bus. Three whiplash-inducing miles later, I was safely home with my friends Nanci, Mari, and Patti. (Yes, they let me hang out with them, even though my name doesn't end in an i and we don't go to the same school.) We were sitting at the kitchen table, munching warm chocolate chip cookies that my Grandma Dotty, who lives with us now, had made.
"So, Georgia!" Mari smiled through her crumbs. "Are we ready to rock?"
"Absolutely," I said.
"Just one more cookie," Nanci said, grabbing five. I have no clue why she's so thin.
"What happened to your shirt?" Patti asked.
"Mashed potatoes," I explained. "Someone flipped them on me."
"That is so wasteful." Patti shook her head as she smoothed her natural- fiber batik shirt. Patti is very eco-friendly.
"Next time, I'll give the guy a lecture," I promised.
Then we headed out to the garage to practice.
I turned on my amp and strummed my electric guitar. Yes, that's right, I'm in a Nanci, Mari, and Patti are friends I made over the summer. They all go to Rafe's school, Airbrook Arts, and I met them at the spring picnic. Mom insisted that we all go to it, since Rafe would be starting at Airbrook in the fall. We brought dessert, which is helpful for making friends with food-eating machines like Nanci.
Patti and Mari were with her. We started talking about baking, then about art (Nanci makes awesome sculptures, and Mari and Patti are into painting), and then about music. It turns out that Nanci plays drums, Mari plays bass, and Patti plays the keyboard. "All we need is an electric guitarist," Mari said.
So I said,
The next day I picked up my electric guitar and amp at a tag sale. Grandma Dotty loves tag sales, and somehow she managed to bargain with the guy who was selling them, until we paid just three dollars for both. And the rest is history.
Well ... it will be history. Once we're famous.
Naturally, Rafe was furious that I'd actually made friends at Airbrook Arts before he did, which only made me even happier to be in the band. We're called the Awesomes! It's our dream to play the school dance this year.
Mom let us keep our equipment in the garage, so we were all set up. "Should we do our theme song?" I asked.
"Let's jam!" Mari shouted—and we blew the lid off that garage!
Um, did I say we blew the lid off the garage?
Someone knocked on the door between the kitchen and the garage. A second later, Rafe's messy-haired head was poking into my band's space.
"Get out," I said. It's a reflex.
Rafe ignored me (also a reflex). "Can I listen to you guys practice?"
"No!" I shouted, but Mari had already said, "Sure, Rafe," and Patti added, "Come on in!" So the next thing I knew, my brother was propped on a folding chair right next to the rack where we keep the extra paper towels and toilet paper. He smiled at me. I narrowed my eyes at him.
"It's really cool that you guys have started a band," Rafe said. He looked at me. "I didn't know you could play guitar."
Excerpted from Middle School by James Patterson, Lisa Papademetriou, Neil Swaab. Copyright © 2013 James Patterson Lisa Papademetriou Neil Swaab. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
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