Karla trusts anyone who will befriend her. This is just the way she is. But should she really be so trustful in this Teen Contemporary about deceit and being taken advantage of?
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Karla has lived in the same home since she was born. She has a fit when she learns that her parents have made the decision to move to a new town without consulting her. She figures that she should have a say in matters since she is in High School.
Her parents tell her that this move has her best interests at heart and they are sure she will make new friends. The school she is to attend is about three times the size of her old school and it can hold many new opportunities for her.
At Brantwood High, she meets Carol Bower, who helps her find her first class. She invites Karla to eat lunch with her and is introduced to her clique of friends.
In her history class, Karla meets her first crush. He is one of Carol's friends. He is also the football captain of the varsity team.
They invite Karla to her first teen party. But first, she must convince her parents into letting her sleep over Carol's.
She begins to feel she is about to be a victim of hazing. Karla starts to have second thoughts about going to this party and hanging out with Carol and her friends.
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.
“We wouldn’t have to do this if you had gone out and gotten a job as I asked you to.”
“I looked for a job. I went out twice a week filling out job applications. Don’t make this out to be about me,” Mrs. Centon argued.
“Well it is about you. Had you spent less money on booze and more on the bills, this would never have happened,” Mr. Centon replied.
If you were a bird sitting on the branch next to the bedroom window, you would have heard the whole argument. However, just like Karla, you did not hear the entire conversation. She only overheard the part about spending less money on booze, and nothing about her mom needing to go out and find a job. As far as she knew, only her dad was the one who needed the new job. He had been out of work for about three months before finding the one in Brantwood.
Looking out the bedroom window, you would have seen the street pocketed with potholes. It passed right in front of the house, giving the home a small front yard. A grove of pine trees clustered the front right side of the ranch style home.
If you wandered around in the yard, you would have smelled the freshly cut grass which covered the ground in the yard, waiting to be raked. More trees led around the boundary of the three quarter-acre lot stopping on the other side of the house where the small driveway began.
Taken a walk up the rural street and you would have seen how it lined with similar homes mirroring each other up and down the street. About ten homes made up the housing development. Each house sat close to each other, all with large back yards.
A for-sale sign slowly swung back and forth in the yard close to the road. The sign beckoned passer-bye's with its sold sign hanging below the real estate name. Time showed its passing on the sign with the dents, chipped paint and rusted sides. It had seen better days.
A strong breeze cut the sticky humid air from the west. It was one last hot day before the end of the summer. Labor Day weekend had begun with school starting on the coming Wednesday, and Karla would be missing the first few days of school. She needed to help her parents with the packing and moving. Her dad had already taken care of transferring her into the new school.
Karla did not understand why all the rushing. Nevertheless, her mom had always been this way. Rush – rush – rush – that was her way of doing things. The only thing Karla could think of to explain why her mom always rushed about everything was so she would have plenty of time left to have that drink.
She hated it when her mom was drinking, which was almost every day. She was sure her dad was not happy with her drinking either. He just never seemed to make a big deal about it, at least not in front of Karla. But then again there were times he seemed never to be home. Before he lost his job, he was always working long hours. He said they needed the money. Karla was sure it was to avoid being home, so he would not have to deal with her mom’s drinking problem.
Karla frowned as she packed another box and began to think about her friends Sarah and Jody.
She had been in the same school with the same classmates ever since first grade. Now that she was in tenth grade she was entering a different school system for the first time in her life.
Karla felt uneasy about moving and attending a new school. She was not terribly popular in this school, and she was afraid she would not fit in the new school, either. “But then again maybe,” she pondered.
Karla downright hated moving away from her friends, Sarah and Jody. The three of them would hang out in her back yard under the old chestnut tree. Her dad had hung a tire swing from the sturdy branch when she was five. That same tire swing was still there with lots of knots in the rope it hung from. She had to add another knot every time she grew another foot.
Sometimes she and her friends would even take off and go hang out down the street at the pond. It had a small sandy beach they sometimes went to to wade in the water along the shore to cool off on a hot summer day. After hearing the pond had bloodsuckers, they did not dare go out any further than their waists.
She was tired of packing and simply needed to talk to her friend Jan.
Karla peered out her bedroom window waiting for her friend to return home. She watched the driveways, which twined each other side by side with a small patch of grass separating them from each other.
A small red Honda pulled into Jan's driveway.
The tall driver slowly stepped out of the car and walked to the rear, opening the hatchback to remove several items from the car. She left the hatch open and made her way to her steps leading to the side door into her home.
Karla looked away from the window feeling glum about her task. She had a mess in her room.
Empty boxes littered the floor of Karla's bedroom. She pushed them aside with a kick of her foot, sending a bunch of boxes sliding across the wooden floorboards. She opened her bedroom door, stepped out into the short hallway, and closed the door behind her. She passed a stack of unmade boxes, stacked against the wall.
Her parents’ bedroom was at the very end of the hallway. The bathroom was across from her bedroom. In the other direction, the hallway led into the kitchen with the small dining room off to the right. Light flooded into the dining room and kitchen from the sliding glass patio door leading out to the small back porch.
Karla quickly passed through the kitchen with its piles of packed boxes. The living room looked bare. The pictures that had hung on the walls all packed, leaving shadows where the pictures once hung.
She burst out the screen door letting it slam shut behind her with a bang. Grabbing the short railing, she made her way down the concrete steps and ran to greet the older woman, Jan.
Mrs. Centon yelled at Karla from the open screen door. “Karla, get back in here. I know you're not done packing, and we have to be done by Monday, and Sunday is the cookout. This all needs to get done… now.”
“Yeah... Mom,” Karla yelled back over her shoulder. “I'll be just a few minutes. I have to talk to Jan for a bit. I'll be right back.”
She glared back at her mom. She did not understand why her mom would not let her have a break she was tired of packing.
“Make it quick then,” Mrs. Centon shouted and retreated into the house.
Karla had planned to ignore her anyway.
The thirty-year-old woman had lived next to the Centons’ for quite some time. She had been Karla's babysitter when she was a toddler. Later on, she grew into a close family friend.
Whenever Karla needed to talk to someone about things, things that kids don't want to talk to their parents about, she would always go to Jan.
Like that first boy in elementary school, she had liked. She was afraid her mother would pick on her about having a crush on a boy in her class. Therefore, she went to Jan about it. Karla always trusted Jan's opinions without fear of any negative criticism.
The blonde haired woman walked down her steps with empty hands to retrieve the last batch of parcels from the hatch of her car. A smile formed on her face as soon as she saw Karla.