The cheerleading tryouts were on Monday, and Skipper begged me to help her practise over the weekend.
“Skipper, you know I’m meeting up with Ken!” I cry. “We’ve got a concert! I’m sorry, but I just can’t help you.”
“Barbie, I’m desperate!” Skipper looks up at me with dismay. “I need you! I still can’t do one single cartwheel!”
I look at my sister sternly. “Ken and I have been wanting to see The Angels for ages -I’m not staying behind to watch you tumble around on the grass! Perhaps Stacie will help you.”
Stacie tucks her head around the corner and raises her eyebrows suspiciously. “What are you signing me up for now?”
I turn to face our younger sister. What convenient timing! “Stacie, will you help Skipper practise for her cheerleading tryouts on Monday? She needs to learn how to do a cartwheel.”
Stacie snorts. “No way! I’ve got a big basketball game on Sunday. I’m not wasting my time! I’ve gotta practise.”
Skipper sighs dramatically and sinks deeper into the couch. “Barbie, it’s hopeless. I’ll never make the team!”
“Yes, you will! Look -I’ll come to the tryouts and support you. I’ll be your own personal cheerleader!”
“Whatever.” Skipper scowls at Stacie and I. I can tell that she’s not happy that neither of us can help her out, but it’s really not my fault! I agreed to go out with Ken first. I knew that all Skipper needed was a bit of time to practise, and she’d be fine by Monday.
I sit down on the couch next to Skipper and picked up my phone. I open up my favourite new app, Sparkle Blast, and start to swipe away the gems to victory when I got a text from Kayla.
Hey Barbie. I’m bored. Wanna hang out?
To be honest, I was surprised that Kayla had bothered to text me at all. It had been weeks since we’d had a proper conversation, just the two of us. I answer straight away, eager to meet up.
Sure! I’ll meet you at your place in 10?
Kayla also lives in Malibu, just down the road, so I know it won’t take me long to walk there. Before I leave, I make sure to grab the skateboard that I found on the road the other day.
Kayla’s going to love this! I think to myself, as I jog down the palm-tree lined streets of Malibu, skateboard in tow. It was so lucky to have found it!
When I reach Kayla’s house, I don’t even have to knock on the door -Kayla is waiting right outside!
“Hi, Kayla! Look what I’ve got for you!”
Kayla’s mouth drops open. “Is that a new skateboard? For me?”
I nod enthusiastically, handing over the skateboard. “Yep! I found it lying on the road. Nobody was around, so I thought you could have it.”
“Wow, Barbie! Thanks!” Kayla turns the skateboard over in her hands, admiring the brand new wheels and the shiny black deck. “Hey, look! There’s a star on the bottom.”
I look closer. I hadn’t noticed the star before! It was bright pink, about the size of my palm, painted underneath the board itself. “Oh yeah. It looks cool!”
“Definitely!” Kayla agrees. She drops the board onto the ground and skates around her front yard for a moment. “It’s such a good board! Rides so smooth.”
Once Kayla has finished admiring her new skateboard, she props it up against the side of her house and invites me inside.
I’ve always loved going into Kayla’s house -it’s so different from mine. My house is big, with brand-new, shiny floorboards and big windows. Kayla’s house is much smaller, and yet, it’s cramped full with lots of little “trinkets.” Everywhere you turn, there is so much stuff! Who knew that you could fit seventeen ornaments onto one little table?
Kayla has always said that my house is beautiful, and she’s definitely right -if you look closely out the window, you can see the coast in the distance, and my mom always keeps it decorated with the latest furniture. She’s always keeping up with the trends! But Kayla’s house is beautiful too, just in a different way. The walls shine with personality; a reflection of the people who live there.
“So, why did you invite me over?” I ask, taking a seat at the kitchen counter. “Anything special you wanted to talk about?”
Kayla doesn’t meet my eyes. “Yeah, there is something I wanted to talk about, actually…”
Kayla doesn’t continue, so I look up at her curiously. “What’s going on? Has something happened? Have I done something wrong?”
“No! It’s not that bad! It’s just that we’ve been talking… You know, Aimee, Danika, Neko and I. About you. We’ve noticed that you don’t really care about schoolwork that much.”
“So?” I try to stop myself from laughing. Everybody knows that I don’t care about schoolwork! Who has time to study when there’s so many things to shop for? So many nails to paint? And so many new hairstyles to try out?
I can’t believe that the girls have turned this into an issue! Is that why I wasn’t invited to the beach with them?
Kayla continues,”well, it’s just that we all study really hard. We always do our homework, and do the extra-reading, and ask for extra credit assignments, whereas you don’t really do any of that stuff. It’s just hard for us.”
I can’t believe what’s happening here! “Kayla, I don’t mind that you guys are always studying so much! I know that school is important to you, and I respect that.”
Kayla finally looks at me in the eyes. “Barbie, all I’m saying is, can you try to focus a bit more? Like the maths test. It’s like you didn’t even care that you failed! And what happened with Aimee in class the other day -I can’t believe you didn’t bring a pencil! Don’t you come to class prepared?”
I can’t believe that Aimee bothered to tell the others about such a small thing like borrowing her pencil. It’s like they’re all against me! And for such a silly reason, too!
I’m ready to leave, I’ve had enough of this! I get up from my chair. “Barbie, don’t!” Kayla cries out. “Stay here. Let’s talk about something else.”
I swing around to face Kayla. “Did the others tell you to invite me here? Did they tell you to talk about this with me?”
Kayla’s face turns crimson. “Well, uh… They told me to invite you over, and ask you to focus more on schoolwork, yeah… But Barbie! It’s because we’re your friends! We want what’s best for you!”
That’s it. How dare they gossip about me like that? Plan out how they’re going to talk to me? “I’m leaving, Kayla,” I stay sternly. “I’ll see you at school on Monday.”
With that, I leave Kayla’s house. It doesn’t seem as beautiful to me anymore -it just seems cramped. Cramped full of trinkets and lies.
On Saturday, I’m terribly excited for the concert with Ken. I’d do anything to forget about what is happening at school!
For the concert, I’ve decided to really dress up -I’m wearing black jeans with a bright pink shirt, and pink heels. Nothing screams “Barbie” like pink heels! To top it off, I’ve straightened my hair and clipped a pink streak into one side.
Ken has already arrived and is waiting outside my door while I get ready. He taps on the door lightly. “Barbie, are you almost ready? The concert starts in one hour, we’ve got to leave soon!”
I take one final look in the mirror and spin around to get a good look at my outfit. Perfect! “I’m ready!” I cry out, grabbing my purse and some lipstick. “Let’s get going!”
We catch a taxi to the venue so we don’t have to pay for parking, and chat with the driver the whole way. It was so interesting to talk to the man -he has lived all over the world!
“So you were born in Italy, right?” I ask the driver.
“Yes, that’s right,” the driver explains. “My mother is Italian, and my father is from Germany. When I was five, I moved to Germany, so I became fluent in both Italian and German.”
“That’s so cool!” I just love visiting Italy -there are so many cool shops to check out!
The driver continues to tell us his life story. “Then, when I was ten, my family moved to Sweden. I never learnt much Swedish though! I lived there for many, many years, until I met my wife.”
“Was your wife Swedish?” I ask. “It must have been difficult to communicate if you didn’t know much Swedish!”
The driver chuckles. “No, she’s Korean! But she spoke German and Italian, just like me! It was easy to communicate with each other.”
“So you moved to Korea after that?” Ken guesses.
“Yes, that’s right! Just last year, we decided to move to Malibu. So that’s Italy, Germany, Sweden, Korea, and now, the United States of America!”
By the time the driver had finished telling us about all the different countries he had been to, we had arrived at our destination. “Have fun at the concert!” He yells out at us from the taxi.
“Thanks!” I wave at him as we step closer and closer towards the venue. It was time to see The Angels, live in concert! I couldn’t wait.
As expected, the concert was fantastic. Ken and I hurt our throats from singing too loudly, and we were all tired out from dancing so much. When the last song ended, I couldn’t believe it was over -had three hours really gone by that quickly?
“I’m so hungry!” Ken says, rubbing his belly. “I haven’t eaten for three weeks!”
I poke Ken in the stomach. “Liar! I saw you eat this afternoon -right before we left for the concert! You ate an entire bag of crisps in one sitting!”
Ken laughs. “Okay, okay! Maybe not three weeks -more like three hours! Regardless, I’m hungry. What do you say we go and grab something to eat?”
I check the time on my phone, horrified when I discover how late it is. “Ken, it’s ten o’clock! Everything is closed for the night!”
“Oh, shush. There’s so many shops and bars around here, I’m sure we’ll find something. It’s Saturday night after all!”
Eventually, I agree, and Ken and I go walking around outside the venue to find something to eat for dinner. I have to admit -I’m a bit hungry too!
It doesn’t take long for us to find a Mexican restaurant, just next to the cinemas where I go with my sisters sometimes. We order a serving of nachos to share, with extra avocado and cheese on top.
“This looks so good!” I say, dipping my corn chip into the salsa. “Almost as good as the concert itself!”
“I’m surprised you can still talk, actually,” Ken chuckles. “You were screaming so loudly, I thought my ears were about to fall off!”
“Oh, be quiet! You were singing along as well!” We both laugh. Things are always good whenever I’m with Ken -Ken doesn’t harass me about studying more, or borrowing a pencil during class. He’s just Ken, the same funny, sweet boy I met all those years ago.
Suddenly, Ken puts down his corn chip and looks at me. I know he’s not joking around anymore -it’s time to get serious. “Are you okay lately, Barbie?”
I nod, hoping Ken can’t tell that I’m lying. “Sure. I’m fine. No problems at all. Why?”
“I don’t know… You seem a bit different.”
I sigh loudly. How can he always tell when something’s wrong? It’s like he has superpowers or something! “It’s just… My friends aren’t being super-nice at the moment. It’s nothing in particular that they’ve done or said, they’re just treating me like I’m bothering them all the time. They keep rolling their eyes at me!”
“Oh, Barbie, that must be rough.”
I know that Ken doesn’t really understand -he’s a guy! All he does is run around with his friends and play football. He never has problems with his friends, so I know he doesn’t really “get” what I’m going through.
Still, it’s nice that he cares. At least somebody around here does!