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Trash Can Nights
The Saga Continues
By Teddy Steinkellner
Formats and Prices
Format:ebook $7.99 $9.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around July 15, 2014. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Copyright © 2014 by Teddy Steinkellner
Cover art © 2014 by Michael Weldon
Cover design by Marci Senders
All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.
Book design by Michelle Gengaro-Kokmen
the golden ball of light
1 • Dorothy Wu
Monday, September 3
Today was a day for the scribes to record and the blind bards to sing about. For today I went on a glorious adventure with my perfect prince. We overcame hordes of vile villains, gathered crucial supplies for our greater mission, and strengthened our bond as destiny mates.
Where did we go on our adventure, you might ask?
Is the answer not obvious?
Jake did not arrive at my house until 1:00 p.m., as has been his summer custom. My growing boy likes to sleep in, you see. Fortunately, starting tomorrow, which is the first day of the eighth grade of our lives, Jake will have to see me every day at 7:50 a.m. whether he likes it or not! (He will like it.)
Before we left my dwelling, Jake and I made a list of items to obtain on our grand day out. Jake suggested spiral notebooks and Bic Ultra Round Stic Grip pens. I proposed rulers and multicolored paper clips. Then I added three more things to the list: lances, battleaxes, and dragon tampons.
"What's a dragon tampon?" Jake asked.
"Let us hope you never have to find out," I said soberly.
After finishing our back-to-school shopping list, and then after two games of Mario Kart, and then after a quick canoodling sesh, it was time to depart. We went to the garage to mount our bikes.
The only thing was…there was someone standing in our way. Someone with whom I have done battle many times. Someone whose face is out-smellied only by his feet, which are out-uglied only by his overall physical form, which is out-creepied only by the Specter of Death.
Darrell Wu, pest extraordinaire.
"Da-a-a-a-ad! Da-a-a-a-ad!" he screeched in his baby-bat voice. "Dorothy and Jake are going back-to-school shopping without meeeeeeee! And they are taking my bi-i-i-i-ike!"
I know that hate is a strong word, but I figuratively want flesh-eating wolves to devour my little brother and I literally want him to die.
Because Darrell was acting a lot more like a stuck-up child dictator than a soon-to-be seventh grader, Jake and I were not allowed to borrow the bike without his permission, which he was not willing to give. And because of what happened with Jake last June—Jake getting stabbed, Jake almost dying, me nearly losing my special soul partner, me nearly losing my entire reason for being—because of the many new dangers in this modern, crime-filled world, my father has forbidden me and Jake from taking the city bus through the mean streets of San Paulo.
Which meant my father had to drive us to Staples. Which also meant that Darrell, Demon of Winter, had to come along as well. Which meant that my day was going to be ruined.
Unless, of course, Prince Boyfriend could save me.
All through the car ride, whenever Darrell tried to tease me or poke me or cheese me off, Jake gave me tiny sensitive looks, as if to say, Ignore him and enjoy me instead. When my father lectured me for ten minutes about getting better marks in school this year, and when he said that he was not going to buy me a story notebook at Staples because I spend too much time writing frivolous stories and not enough time doing math, Jake whispered in my ear not to worry, that he would get me whatever notebook I desired. And sometimes, just for fun, Jake simply touched my arm. Not enough for my brother or father to notice, but enough for all of my arm hairs to stand on end, tall and satisfied. What a dream of a feeling. I do not know how I ever lived without Jake as my mate. I must not have been very happy before him.
The split second we arrived at Staples, Jake and I fled from my kin. One moment we were standing with my father and Darrell at the front door, and one nanobreath later we were in the back of the store, playing Bumper Chairs.
"Chivalry is dead!" Jake said as he crashed his executive leather wheelie office chair into my multifunction super task chair, nearly knocking me over.
"Oh, is it now?" I said with playful eyebrows. I looked around, saw no one was in our aisle, jumped onto Jake's lap and kissed him.
"Poison kiss!" I squealed. Jake pretended to choke on his own vomit and die. I burst into chortles.
After that, we had even more funny moments in the math section. Now, I know what you are thinking: Math? Funny?? Dorothy??? Moments???? But really, we had the best time typing taboo messages on calculators. Jake taught me how. He showed me that when you enter numbers on to a calculator screen and then turn the screen upside down, the numbers become letters. It is such a thrill of a treat! You can write the most dangerous words! 55378008 becomes BOOBLESS and 5805 becomes SOBS and 5805 55378008 becomes BOOBLESS SOBS.
(Not me. I am one girl who does not have the boobless sobs. Not after this summer, at least! Thanks, Mama Estrogen!)
Eventually, my accursed brother found me and Jake and told us that Dad said we only had five minutes left to shop, but even that was A-okay because, as I learned, five minutes is still enough time to have a moment of utter romantic perfection.
Jake took me to the notebooks section in the back of the store and asked me which one I would like to have as a secret present, as a do-not-show-my-father story-writing book. But then he said, "Wait. Never mind. I have a guess." And then he walked to the shelf and—would you believe it?—he picked out the exact one I would have wanted.
It is a rainbow-colored notebook, it is a Lisa Frank notebook, and oh, it depicts the most phantasmagorical image. There are two dolphins on the cover, one a blue male and one a pink female, and they are smiling and seemingly engaging in a mating dance, and the shape of their two mating bodies forms a heart. And all manner of seahorses and mollusks are gazing upon them and smiling.
And leave it to Jake to remember that we saw dancing dolphins way back on our first-ever day as friends. Leave it to him to use this gift to bring back that magical memory now that we are so much more than friends. Leave it to Jake to sneak inside my chest and steal my heart away in a burlap sack.
Ah, Staples. The perfect date destination. Would anyone dare disagree?
On our way out of the store, I recognized a few chaps from our school. They were standing outside of the 7-11 that is next to Staples. They were all wearing black football shirts and bestickered hats. Danny Uribe was not with them, but I knew them all to be good friends of Danny's. Where was Mr. Uribe, I wonder? The guys all looked at Jake as we walked through the parking lot. They had cruel looks on their mugs. Jake did not look back at them.
In the car, I whispered to Jake that I was sorry we had to walk past those fellows.
"Yeah," Jake said. He did not say anything else.
I touched his hand and told him that I understood. Jake did not look at me, but he nodded.
Darrell turned around from his place in the front seat, spotted us, and said, "Dad! Dad! Dorothy and Jake are holding ha-a-a-a-ands!"
"Not in my car," Dad said.
"No!" I said. "Darrell is deceiving you! Do not believe his lies!"
Darrell snickered like a female weasel.
When we got back to my house, I told Darrell, "A pox on you!" and I hurt him and I ran into my room with Jake. When Jake is over, there is normally a strict rule that I am not allowed to close my room door to the rest of the house, but today I broke the rule.
"So…what do you want to do now?" I asked Jake after locking my door.
He just sat down on my bed and looked around my room, wordlessly. I knew what was on his mind. It was seeing the Raiders. Seeing them had surely forced him to think about Guillermo Torres, about the stabbing a few months ago, and, worst of all, about Danny. So now he was not in such a joyous mood anymore. Now he would not want to talk to me. Now our perfect date day was ruined.
"I screwed up," I said. "I should not have let us go to Staples. I ruined everything."
Jake then looked at me, shook his head, and smiled. He stood up, went to my desk, picked up my calculator, and walked back to where I was sitting. And then he did something really quite wonderful.
He typed the number 3407 on the calculator. Then he turned the calculator upside down and handed it to me.
LOVE, the screen read. (There is no proper calculator letter for V, but 4 is certainly close enough, methinks.)
Then Jake smiled, pointed at himself, pointed to the calculator screen, and pointed at me.
HOLY SOLID OAK DINING TA-A-A-A-ABLE!!!!!!!!
My heart jumped up in the air, did a three-sixty, and said YAH! My eyes drowned themselves in happy saltiness. I leapt off the bed and I swallowed Jake with my hands and I chewed him up with my hugs.
"I 3407 you too, Jake," I whispered into his ear. "I 3407 you too. But you knew that already, you clever chap."
We made out for close to a half hour until we heard my father's footsteps, and even later this evening, after Jake had to go home, we continued to communicate via phone for many more hours. On the phone, we mostly talked about making out.
Eighth grade, everybody!
School Teams With Police to Increase Security
Tuesday, September 4
Seventh- and eighth-grade students at San Paulo Junior High will arrive on campus today, their first day of school, expecting to find the usual textbooks, homework assignments, and cafeteria lunches.
Yet before the students can even get through the front door, they will have to make it past the metal detectors.
In an effort to drastically increase school-wide security, the San Paulo administration has teamed with the SP Police Department to form the Keep Our School Safe (KOSS) program. Through the KOSS initiative, the school has implemented a variety of safety measures and tactics, including metal detectors, random locker checks, and narcotics detection dogs.
In addition to KOSS, the SPPD has adopted a new "three strikes" system, aimed specifically at curbing gang-related behavior and activity. As part of this county-wide policy, minors will receive relatively lenient punishments for their first two violations of the law along with chances to redeem themselves through good behavior and community service. After a "third strike," however, the punishments become much more severe.
"One, two, three strikes, and you're out," said Officer Craig Shaw, a spokesman for the department.
SPJH Principal Quentin Greene is confident that the school and police department's new safety measures will be effective in reducing school violence.
"Parents called me all summer, worried and scared, insisting that they were going to transfer their children to a new school," Greene said. "But honestly, there's no safer place for a student to be next year than San Paulo. At our school, gangs are a thing of the past."
2 • Hannah Schwartz
Tuesday, September 4
"Mom, what do you think?…Mom. Jeans or skirt?…Mom! Tell me!…Mom. Mom. Jeans or skirt—I need an answer….Mom! Mom! I need you right NOW!"
Look, I know it stresses my mom out when I yell at her on the freeway, but honestly, I needed her today, and seriously, she failed me.
We were on the way to school and we were already pretty late, and yes, I must admit, I was kind of the reason for that. But deciding what to wear to school, and especially on the first day, and especially at a new school—and especially when that new school is a superprestigious private school where everyone is rich and hot and judgmental—happens to be kind of a year-defining decision. And even as we got off the freeway this morning and pulled up to Costa Blanca Preparatory Academy, established 1912, I still hadn't made my decision.
A skirt would make more of a statement, and would certainly capture the eyes of more boys, but a skirt might also draw a lot of judgy attention to my legs, and what girl wants that? Jeans were a safer choice, but more boring too, and potentially dowdier, and jeans would draw too much judgy attention to my butt, and what girl wants that?
"Mom," I said. "What do I do?" I was starting to hyperventilate a little.
"I don't know, Hannah. You're already five minutes late."
"I know, I know, but what do I do?" Now I was hyperventilating a lot.
"I don't know, sweetheart. I don't know. What are the other girls wearing?"
Um…Hello—woman. If I knew the answer to that, do you really think I would've been asking you the question to begin with?
"Well, look. Look, Hannah. See that girl up there? Look. She's wearing jeans."
Mom was right. We could only see one girl from where we were parked, but she was indeed dressed in denim.
"Okay," I said. "Okay."
"You really have to go, sweets."
"Okay," I said.
I gave my skirt a final fleeting look, switched my morning sweatpants out for jeans as fast as I possibly could, grabbed my messenger bag, and flew out of the car. I didn't even look back at my mom as I ran off. I'm in high school now—no time for love.
The Costa Blanca campus is seriously the size of twenty Costcos, plus I had no idea where anything was, so by the time I got to class I was already fifteen minutes late. I stood outside the room took a deep breath, pulled out my compact, checked my hair, made sure my eyeliner didn't run after that car freak-out, looked down at my jeans, and checked my butt.
And then, before going into the classroom, I did one more thing. I pulled out my phone. I tapped the Photos icon. I opened up my Eighth Grade Memories album. And I took another deep breath as I spent a few seconds looking at my absolute favorite picture from last year.
It's me at the Sweethearts Dance, right at the exact moment that I was named Queen of Hearts. I'm in my violet taffeta strapless dress, and I look supertall because I'm wearing three-and-a-half-inch heels, and the picture was taken at such an angle that it almost looks like I have boobs. And my face—I've got this look on my face that's this cross between, Oh my God you guys, I can't believe little old me won the big prize! and, Wassup, yotches—I'm the hottest girl that's ever lived.
And I haven't even gotten to the best part of the photo. The best part isn't me. It's the looks on the faces of everyone else around me.
Kristen and Rachel look supersupportive, as eighth-grade besties should. They're each grabbing on to one of my arms, like they're trying to absorb some of my coolness and hotness and power.
Jamie and Emily are right behind me in the picture, and you can tell they're hella pissed and jealous, but they're clapping too, because they have to pretend to be happy for me, because they totally know what will happen to them if they ever upset me.
Chad Beck is in the shot, and he has this horndog smile on his face, like he just wants to try and get with me even though I'm way too good for him. (Come to think of it, he's probs going to try and get with me this year too—his parents are also sending him to Costa Blanca for ninth grade. U-u-ugh. Moving on.)
Principal Greene is standing in front of me, getting ready to present me with my crown, and he's got the proudest smile on his face, like he's fully aware that in a decade or so, this picture is going to be in an Us Weekly featurette entitled, "Hannah Schwartz: Before She Dominated the World With Her Smile and Incredible Personality."
And Danny's in the photo too. Danny is on the very edge, across the dance floor from me, and he's wearing his prince's crown, and he looks so in love with me—and you know what? I'm not even going to focus on what a monster Danny turned out to be, not right now. Right now, I'm just going to focus on how back in eighth grade, everyone—absolutely everyone—was at least a little bit in love with me.
No one can claim that I did not win at life when it came to junior high. I made people adore me, I made people fear me, and, most importantly, I made it so people will never forget me. And now it's time to move on to bigger and better things.
I'm going to private school this year for two reasons. One is that my parents basically don't trust public schools anymore after the way Jake and I almost got killed by gang cholos last June (honestly, I still don't know how Jake convinced them to let him go back to SP for eighth grade), but, like, even more than that, the reason I'm going to Costa Blanca is because it's something I really want for myself.
I want the challenge of it. I want to go to this school where every single person is attractive and powerful, not just me. I want to go here and I want to fit in here—I mean, I want more than that, obviously, eventually I want to rule this place—but first I want to fit in. I want all of the rich, pretty people to like me. I need them to realize how cool I am, like, the second I walk through the door. I want them all to be my friends. I want friends, period.
God, I hope I didn't peak in junior high.
After looking at my photo for a full couple of minutes, I put my phone away. I closed my eyes and I took one final deep breath. Then I walked into homeroom.
"Hi," I said to the teacher, a short, old, white-haired man. "So sorry I'm late. Traffic was cra-a-azy!"
He pointed toward a seat in the back without saying anything to me and continued his lecture about the Costa Blanca Code of Conduct.
As I made my way to my desk in the last row of the room, twenty heads, most of them blond, looked up at me, and twenty pairs of eyes, most of them blue, scanned me, analyzed me, and judged me.
Especially the girls. The girls who, I noticed immediately, were almost all wearing mid-thigh skirts. Exactly like the one that lay in the front seat of my mom's car at that very moment, driving farther and farther away from me each second. Awesome.
Each girl, every one of them a stranger to me, looked up at me with a certain curiosity, a certain superior smirk. I happen to know the look well—it's kind of part of my brand.
I took my seat next to one blond girl who was, even more than the others, skinniest of the skinny and nose-jobbiest of the nose-jobby. She gave me a little smile with her mouth but not with her eyes, pulled out her iPhone, and started to type something out. Hoping she wouldn't notice me, I twisted my head to try to see what she was writing. A text to her friend, maybe? Something about me, maybe? As I craned my neck, she surprised me by turning her head and making direct eye contact with me. She smirked again. Then she tilted her phone screen toward me.
Nice mom jeans, her message read. Fatty.
She then deleted what she'd written and turned back to the front of the room.
What just happened to me?
Was that girl being for real with me?
Did the jeans really make my butt look that big?
Should I have picked the skirt?
No, no, no.
I couldn't pay attention to that.
I couldn't let myself believe that girl.
Not for one second.
Queens don't listen to things peasants say.
sashaFEROCIOUS228: nice skirt today, slut
tinydancerlexi14: u 2, ho
sashaFEROCIOUS228: way to break dress code
tinydancerlexi14: way 2 make the boys…
sashaFEROCIOUS228: ahhhhhh luv it
PRAISE FOR TRASH CAN DAYS: A MIDDLE SCHOOL SAGA
"Steinkellner skillfully juggles a large cast, giving even minor characters distinctive voices and making their disappointments and growth feel real."—Publishers Weekly
- On Sale
- Jul 15, 2014
- Page Count
- 432 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers