I used to be like Heather. Have I changed that much in two months? She is happy, driven, aerobically fit. She has a nice mom and an awesome television. But she's like a dog that keeps jumping into your lap. She always walks with me down the halls chattering a million miles a minute.
My goal is to go home and take a nap.
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Yesterday Hairwoman yanked me from study hall and forced me to make up my “missing” homework in her room. (She made fluttering noises of concern and mentioned a meeting with my parents. Not good.) Nobody bothered to tell me that study hall was being held in the library today. By the time I find it, the period is almost over. I'm dead. I try to explain to the librarian, but I keep stuttering and nothing comes out right.
Librarian: 'Calm down, calm down. It's OK. Don't get upset. You are Melinda Sordino, right? Don't worry. I'll mark you present. Let me show you how it works. If you think you're
going to be late, just ask a teacher for a late pass. See? No need for tears.'
Find out what happens in our Chapter 25 summary for Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This free study guide is stuffed with the juicy details and important facts you need to know. Free Speak study unit worksheets for teachers to print. Comprehension by chapter, vocabulary challenges, creative reading response activities and projects, tests, and much more! Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also received the 2009 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and Laurie was chosen for the 2009.
She holds up a small green pad--my get-â€‹out-â€‹of-â€‹jail-â€‹free cards. I smile and try to choke out a “thank you,” but can't say anything. She thinks I'm overcome with emotion because she didn't bust me. Close enough. There's not enough time for a nap, so I check out a stack of books to make the librarian happy. I might even read one.
I don't come up with my brilliant idea right then and there. It is born when Mr. Neck tracks me through the cafeteria, demanding my “Twenty Ways the Iroquois Survived in the Forest” homework. I pretend that I don't see him. I cut through the lunch line, loop around a couple making out by the door, and start down a hall. Mr. Neck stops to break up the PDA. I head for the Seniors' Wing.
I am in foreign territory where No Freshman Has Gone Before. I don't have time to worry about the looks I'm getting. I can hear Mr. Neck. I turn a corner, open a door, and step into darkness. I hold the doorknob, but Mr. Neck doesn't touch it. I hear his footsteps lumber down the hall. I feel the wall next to the door until I find a light switch. I haven't stumbled into a classroom; it is an old janitor's closet that smells like sour sponges.
The back wall has built-â€‹in shelves filled with dusty textbooks and a few bottles of bleach. A stained armchair and an old- fashioned desk peek from behind a collection of mops and brooms. A cracked mirror tilts over a sink littered with dead
Speak Laurie Halse Anderson Activities
roaches crocheted together with cobwebs. The taps are so rusted they don't turn. No janitor has chilled in this closet for a very long time. They have a new lounge and supply room by the loading dock. All the girls avoid it because of the way they stare and whistle softly when we walk by. This closet is abandoned--it has no purpose, no name. It is the perfect place for me.
I steal a pad of late passes from Hairwoman's desk. I feel much, much better.
Not only is the Homecoming pep rally going to spring me from algebra, it will be a great time to clean up my closet. I brought some sponges from home. No need to goof off in filth. I want to smuggle in a blanket and some potpourri, too.
My plan is to walk toward the auditorium with the rest of the crowd, then duck in a bathroom until the coast is clear. I would have made it past the teachers with no problem, but I forgot to factor in Heather. Just as the Escape Bathroom comes into sight, Heather calls my name, runs up, and grabs my arm. She is bursting with Merryweather Pride, all perk and pep and purple. And she assumes I am just as happy and excited as she is. We troop down for the brainwashing and she can't stop talking.
Heather: 'This is so exciting--a pep rally!! I made extra pompoms. Here, have one. We'll look great during the Wave. I bet
the freshman class has the most spirit, don't you? I've always wanted to go to a pep rally. Can you imagine what it must be like to be on the football team and have the whole school supporting you? That is so powerful. Do you think they'll win tonight? They will, I just know they will. It's been a hard season so far, but we'll get them going, won't we, Mel?'
Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson
Her enthusiasm makes me itch, but sarcasm would go right over her head. It won't kill me to go to the rally. I have someone to sit with--that counts as a step up on the ladder of social acceptability. How bad could a rally be?
I want to stand by the doors, but Heather drags me up into the freshman section of the bleachers. “I know these guys,” she says. “They work with me on the newspaper.”
The newspaper? We have a newspaper?
She introduces me to a bunch of pale, zitty faces. I vaguely recognize a couple; the rest must have gone to the other middle school. I curve up the corners of my mouth without biting my lips. A small step. Heather beams and hands me a pom-â€‹pom.
I relax an eensy bit. The girl behind me taps me on the shoulder with her long black nails. She had heard Heather introduce me. “Sordino?” she asks. “You're Melinda Sordino?”
I turn around. She blows a black bubble and sucks it back into her mouth. I nod. Heather waves to a sophomore she knows across the gym. The girl pokes me harder. “Aren't you the one who called the cops at Kyle Rodgers's party at the end of the summer?”
A block of ice freezes our section of the bleachers. Heads snap in my `direction with the sound of a hundred paparazzi cameras. I can't feel my fingers. I shake my head. Another girl chimes in. “My brother got arrested at that party. He got fired because of the arrest. I can't believe you did that. Asshole.”
You don't understand, my headvoice answers. Too bad she can't hear it. My throat squeezes shut, as if two hands of black fingernails are clamped on my windpipe. I have worked so hard to forget every second of that stupid party, and here I am in the middle of a hostile crowd that hates me for what I had to do. I can't tell them what really happened. I can't even look at that part myself. An animal noise rustles in my stomach.