Hey guys, I just decided to do a little bit of editing, but there is a new chapter at the end of this, so don't worry. Not very much has been changed except for the last chapter that I put up, but I hope you enjoy it and the new part.
As always, I do not own this.
"Here DA, let me help you with that." Dorothy Ann, a short, blond-headed bookworm of a girl who now could finally boast of being the fourth grade looked back at her best friend with a scowl.
"Honestly Carlos, I'm not a doll; I won't break." But he had that stubborn look on his face again, so she let him carry the pink book bag that had been her faithful companion for several years. Their footsteps echoed almost eerily as they plodded down the long hall of Walker Elementary, which was empty of students and teachers.
"Why do you have so many books in here anyway?" Carlos asked grumpily. "If you can't carry them than you shouldn't take them out of the library."
"For your information, Carlos, I am perfectly capable of carrying my own books, and you're the one that decided I can't. And I like books. Why did you agree to come with me to the school library if all you wanted to do was complain?"
He rolled his eyes. "Great," he said aloud. "Just what I wanted to do with the start of my weekend, hang around with a booklover who possibly has a death wish and carry enough books to put the library of congress out of business."
Her mouth fell open and she punched his arm. "Hey! I do not have a death wish! And I only have a couple in there." He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Okay," she amended quickly, "more than a couple. But still, as my best friend you should be happy to carry them for me."
His eyes rolled again. "DA if for every book that you had me lug around for you equaled two seconds of being your best friend, I'd be in office for life twice already."
She scowled, her stubborn chin coming up and her eyes narrowing. "For the last time, Carlos, I didn't ask you to carry my books!" She tugged the bag from his grasp but it slipped and crashed to the floor! Books were strewn every which way. Wordlessly they both bent and started to pick them up.
Carlos sighed. "I'm sorry DA." His mouth cracked into a ready grin. "I guess I just like teasing you 'cause you take everything so seriously. And," he added hesitantly, looking up at the ceiling, "I guess being your best friend for forever wouldn't be such a bad thing anyways."
She narrowed her eyes at him as she picked up a red volume. "Really? You're not just saying that, are you?"
"Who me? Never!" He helped her up.
He cocked his head slightly. "What?"
"Okay, as in we'll be best friends forever."
He grinned. "Alright. Best friends forever."
Two Years Later; Sixth Grade.
DA couldn't wait. She stood at the bus stop, ignoring the rain on her violet umbrella. Craning her neck as she looked for Carlos, she clutched her pink book bag to herself in anticipation. The first day of school always sent shivers down her back but today more than ever; today was her first day of middle school!
Carlos finally showed up, looking soggy and wet without an umbrella, and looking even more miserable than he usually did on the day after his last day of freedom. "Hey Dorothy Ann," he called, pointing to her bag, "Is there a book in there that talks about a law where kids can veto the first day of middle school?"
She frowned at him. "According to my research no such law has ever been made and why would you want to anyways? Aren't you excited? I can't believe we're already in middle school!"
He rolled his eyes. "Neither can I," he muttered.
"Come on Carlos! This is going to be a blast! We've finally arrived! People can't push us around anymore; we're practically adults."
With a screeching halt the bus grounded to a stop before them. DA, unable to imagine her smile getting any bigger, started to bound up the steps when Carlos caught her arm.
"I just wanted to remind you, DA," he said seriously when she looked back at him questioningly, "that people in middle school are…different. Everything can change."
She grinned. "Everything except you and me, Carlos."
Without turning to look Carlos knew that it was Dorothy Ann. He had just enough time to run his fingers through his thick black hair before a blond bombshell rocketed into his back.
He caught her by the arms. "Woah, hey! Where's the fire, DA? Boy, either Shakespeare's come back from the dead or NASA wants you to go to the moon for them; what's all the commotion about?"
Her grin threatened to stretch of her face. "No silly, this is better than that! You are now looking at the newest member of the Walkerville Middle School Cheer Squad!"
She could have bowled him over with a feather. "Cheerleading? DA, what are you…when did you… how—?"
She smiled up at him shyly. "I didn't want to tell you in case I didn't make it, but now that I have I can! Aren't you proud of me?"
"But DA, Cheerleading?"
"Well you were the one that said that we should try and join some things this year since all we did last year was hang out and do homework. I thought this would be fun."
"Yeah but meant something like chess club or maybe lacrosse, but Cheerleading?"
Her smile vanished and she started to frown. "You've said that three times now Carlos, what is that supposed to mean?"
He ran his fingers through his hair again. "DA have you seen the kinds of girls who are cheerleaders? They're all popular. They hang out with the football players and basketballs stars."
Her jaw tightened. Uh-oh. "So what, are you saying I'm not good enough to be a popular kid? Is that what you're saying Carlos, cause it sure sounds like that."
"No, DA," he started to say but she was already walking away. "DA, wait!" He caught her arm and didn't flinch when she turned angry eyes on him.
His deep brown eyes were serious for once as he looked down at her. She was surprised to see that they were no longer the same height. "DA I only meant that while you are ten times better than any of those other guys, I'm, well, not."
Her eyes softened and she smiled. "Carlos, I don't think you have anything to worry about! Remember what we said at the beginning of middle school? Everything can change, except you and me. I'll always be there."
The bell rang.
She laughed. "Well, except for now. I've got to get to social studies. See you after school?"
He grinned. "Always."
The halls of Walker Middle School were beginning to thin of students as Carlos waited for his best friend. Always late, he thought wryly. Maybe this time she'll have a good excuse. He couldn't wait to see her, but curbed his enthusiasm nicely. It was all part of his image, or at least, the image he was working on. Still a jokester, but now mister cool, cool to the third, cool above everything, cool enough to ask his best friend to go to the dance with him. Or maybe not. Come on, Ramone, he thought to himself. You've got to do it sometime.
He turned and tried not to catch his breath. She looked so pretty. Her hair was longer this year, he knew she complained of it being limp and too thin but it looked just right, as always. The aquamarine skirt she wore was longer than most of the other cheerleaders', but still showed off her long legs. Her clear brown eyes shone into his like two pools of deep milk chocolate.
It's now or never, he thought.
"DA would you—" he started just as she said "Hey, you'll never—". They both stopped.
"You go first," Carlos said.
A smile lit her face. "Carlos, you'll never guess what just happened!"
He grinned. "What?"
"Ralphie Tennelli just asked me to go with him to the dance this Saturday!"
He felt as if his heart had stopped. "What?" was all he could manage.
"Ralphie? You know him, we were in the same class as him all through elementary school."
"The football player?"
"Yeah! Isn't that amazing? I can't wait 'till Saturday. Now, what is it you wanted to ask me?"
His brain scrambled to put itself back together. "Uhhh, um, do you uh, oh, do you have the history assignment? I must have left mine somewhere."
She looked at him a little oddly. "Carlos, I don't have the same history class as you, remember?"
"Oh, yeah! Sorry, my head must be somewhere else today. I guess I'll have to ask Arnold. Well, I'll see you DA! Bye!" He almost sprinted down the hall.
She cocked her head slightly. That was weird.
Carlos spun the combination of his locker almost dejectedly. Ever since the dance DA had been with Ralphie or at cheerleading practice or at one of the games or even with her new friend Ariel. It wasn't as if she was trying to avoid him, but it still hurt. He hadn't had time to tell her about the family meeting that had been called a few months ago, or even about the outcome and what it would mean for the Ramone family. DA didn't even sit with him at lunch anymore. She sat with the popular kids. And even when she did call him or meet him after school all she could talk about was her new boyfriend. And with his father's news…
"Carlos?" He felt his heart almost stop as he heard the voice. He turned.
She was standing there, looking strange in the Lion's colors of red and white. "Hey, how are you?" She asked. "I haven't seen you around much lately."
He bit back an angry reply. At least she was talking to him.
"I just wanted to give you this," she added. She held out a red envelope.
"What is it?"
She smiled and he tried not to let his heart melt. "Open it, silly!"
He slit open the card with his finger and pulled out a card. It read You're Invited! He looked up at her in confusion.
"It's for my birthday party," she explained. "It's the Saturday after next. I hope you can come." She looked over her shoulder. "Well, I've got to go, but I'll see you there, okay? Bye!"
As she bounded off to be with Ariel or Ralphie, he didn't care which, his hands curled around the sparkly card and crumpled the torn envelope to bits. They had been best friends since third grade. Best friends weren't like other kinds of friends. With a best friend you didn't have to call ahead to make sure they were home before coming over. With a best friend you didn't have to ask before borrowing their history book. You had free reign over their fridge. And you were always there for every birthday, without an invitation. He looked at her retreating back with anger, betrayal, and overwhelming sadness in his heart.
"Goodbye DA," he whispered as the bell rang.
It was the day after the party and DA had woken never feeling so mad in her life. It had been a great party, except for the fact Carlos had never showed. It was Sunday morning and as she walked down the still-damp sidewalk her flip-flops made squishy sounds against the dewy walk. Carlos's house was only a short walk from her house, but it was on the other side of some trees.
Where could he have been! She thought angrily. I even gave him an invitation! He couldn't have just forgotten. Well, the sensible part of her brain said, maybe that was the problem. You've never given him an invitation before and he's always been at your parties. Maybe you offended him. You haven't been around very much yourself. Her mood could have shamed a troll. But Carlos wouldn't have let something as stupid as that keep him away. Would he?
She had gotten to his house and tried to stay mad as she looked up at the brown Victorian home, but it was difficult in the face of so many great memories. How long had it been since she had come here?
She steeled herself and then bounded up the steps and banged on the door.
The air was chilly for May, and she shivered. No one came to the door. She tried looking through the window, but the curtains were closed. She frowned. That was odd. Mrs. Ramone always kept the front windows open in the morning to let the sun in. She knocked again, but still no one answered. What was going on today? Dejectedly she trudged down the steps and started walking home.
"Dorothy Ann?" She looked up and off to her left there was a boy about her age standing in the Ramone's neighbor's yard. He had curly orange hair and seemed to be putting out the trash.
"Arnold? Oh hey, I forgot you lived here."
"Hi DA. We missed you yesterday. It was a great party. Carlos seemed really sad that you never showed."
Her face must have showed her confusion. "What party?"
"The going away party for the Ramones. They got off okay this morning, really early. I bet you're really going to miss Carlos, huh?"
Her heart stopped. "The…what?"
He frowned at her slightly. "Are you feeling okay DA? I mean I know you've kind of been busy lately, but surely you knew they were moving? Mr. Ramone got a new job in Florida so they've moved to Orlando."
DA seemed to be having trouble breathing. "Carlos…is gone?"