"Lilianna!" Her mother bellowed up the stairs, over Sophie's wailing and Ginny's squealing.

Lilianna glanced up from the book she was reading, Pride and Prejudice, and heaved a heavy sigh. She wearily tumbled out of bed and locked the door to her room.

"Lilianna!" Her mother screamed, her voice going up an octave.

Lilianna still ignored her. She yanked open her closet with a bit more force than necessary, flinging through her small pile of clothes for something decent to wear. She found a cute blue flowered tee and some jean shorts to wear with it. She quickly threw them on, grabbed her blue and black backpack and flung open her window.

"LILIANNA JADE MCKENNON!" Her mother stormed up the steps and banged violently on the door. "GET YOUR BUTT-"

Lilianna didn't wait for her to finish. She swung herself out the window and nimbly climbed down the hidden ladder she'd built there when she was twelve. Her best friend Darci was waiting for her with her prius as she reached the grass. Darci revved the ignition and Lilianna jumped eagerly into the car and yelled, "Go!"

Darci pressed down on the accelerator and the tires let out a long shriek.

"So," Darci asked, simultaneously turning the wheel and smearing on lip gloss. "What's up?"

"The usual," Lilianna sighed. Darci nodded understandingly. "I forgot shoes. Do you have any cute sandals I can borrow?"

"Of course," Darci was used to this by now. "I also brought makeup and jewelry too."

"Thank God!" Lilianna said gratefully, scooting in the back to strap on the sandals and apply makeup. The shoes were cute; brown wedges with pretty ankle straps. "I didn't even have time to brush my teeth. Don't look too disgusted though, I brought my tooth brush and tooth paste. I can brush them at school."

Darci gave her a troubled look, her thin eyebrows scrunched together and her full lips in a sorrowful little pout. "Was it really that bad this morning?"

Lilianna tried to shrug nonchalantly, but she couldn't fool Darci. They had been friends for too long. "Sophie had thrown up on the rug and Ginny and Garrett were fighting. Daisy also insisted on wearing a leotard to school but my mom didn't have the time to stop her. She was too focused on cleaning up the vomit before it started to smell. She only remembered I existed once Tristan spilled a whole box of cheerios on the floor and she needed help cleaning it up."

Darci flashed a sympathetic smile. Her animated blue eyes studied Lilianna carefully, trying to measure how upset she was. "I'm sorry. I can't even imagine what it must be like to live with eight younger siblings."

Lilianna averted her watery brown eyes and started to fiddle with the radio. "It's like being invisible." She spoke so softly that Darci wasn't even sure if she had meant to say it aloud.

She reached out to comfort her but Lilianna shrugged her off. Darci took the hint, plastered a playful grin on her face and changed the topic.

"So, do you think that Aaron is finally going to ask you out?" Darci raised her eyebrows and her aqua eyes sparkled excitedly. When she smiled, Lilianna couldn't help but smile back.

"I don't think so," Lilianna laughed, glad to move on to a lighter topic. "I think we might just be friends."

"Please, he's totally into you. Don't tell me you haven't noticed. You two have been flirting since you met last semester in bio." Darci looked at me disbelievingly.

"Okay, so maybe he likes me," Lilianna admitted, blushing slightly, "but he's too shy. He's never going to actually ask me out."

"Then you ask him out," Darci suggested, with a little wave of her hand. "Problem solved."

Lilianna smiled charmingly and rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Did we have math homework?"

"Yeah. Lots of it. We had, like, ten problems." Lilianna sighed sharply and bit her bottom lip nervously.

Darci gave her an admonishing glance. "Let me guess. You didn't do any of it?"

"I didn't have time! I was watching my siblings while my mom worked. It doesn't matter though. It's not like I'm going to be a mathematician or anything." Lilianna fired back defensively, yanking a brush through her hair. After a moment of awkward silence she asked, "Should I braid my hair or leave it down?"

Darci heaved a wistful sigh but dropped the subject. "It's going to be hot today, I would braid it."

Lilianna snorted. "It's always hot in California." Darci chuckled and turned sharply onto the narrow road leading up to the school.

The car skidded to a stop in front of a large, grimy, white sign welcoming them to Washington High School. It had a peeling yellow smiley face in the left corner and there were several dents in it.

Lilianna finished up dabbing on rose pink lipstick and mascara as Darci pulled into a parking spot. She cut the engine and turned to face Lilianna. "Ready?"

Lilianna made a face and Darci made a face back. "Yeah, I know. School sucks."

Lilianna smiled softly and whispered, "Show time."

With that Lilianna and Darci opened the car door and strutted towards the school with all the confidence of a movie star. After all, they had an image to keep up.