The Almost Unperfect Family of 28 (Excerpt)

  Chapter 1

The Peapod Girls

Ding-aling-aling! Mother Endina rang the bell for dinner. Carter, Jenna, and Imogen ran before me. I saw a flash of purple and pulled her aside.

“Imogen,” I hissed at my fashionable friend. “Your scarf! If Endina sees that, she is going to whip you until your behind is redder than her lipstick!”

Imogen made a face at me and took off her scarf.

“Now we better skedaddle, or her face is going to be more purple than your scarf!”

We ran all the way to the dining hall, my red hair flying in my face. The bang of the dinner gong told Imogen and me that we were too late. Nothing to eat until morning, which was when we got something Endina called oatmeal, but was more like half-cooked glop of brown mushy thing, after we did all our chores.

“Wanna raid the extra food jar or pull a prank on Endina? I have a truck full of chickens and some sand. Can you say ba-rilliant!” Imogen exclaimed.

I shrugged and yawned. I was tired. “How did you pay for all that stuff?” That was a question I knew there would be no good answer for.

Imogen put on a sneaky smile. “Let’s keep this secret safe and say I used Endina’s credit card. But if she asks, I am now Carrie, I was born in Ohio, and I have no memory whatsoever. And she bought the chickens and sand and painted my nails green.”

I laughed, shook my head, and ran off to my room, Imogen at my heels. We saw Emily, Grace, and Dora walking, purple bags under their sad eyes. I told Imogen to hang on a minute and walked over to them. The minute they saw me coming over, they got a scared look in their eyes.

At the same time, they all squeaked, “Delia! What are you doing here?”  

I swear those girls are like three peas in a pod. “Don’t worry! I was just coming over to ask if you wanted to have some of our extra food we keep hidden. You look like you missed dinner.”

The girls looked at eachother, then at me, then at Imogen in the background. They nodded their heads.

Grace whimpered, “Is that your friend? I mean, is she coming with us?”  

I looked behind me to where they were pointing. “Imogen? Oh yeah. She is the one who started the food jar. Why?”

Dora whispered something into Emily’s ear, then Emily whispered it to Grace. Dora said, “Well, Imogen has never really been nice to us.”

Emily interrupted her by pouting, “When we first came, she called us an embarrassment to the orphanage.”

Then Grace interrupted her by saying, “And cowards. And even a kaleidoscope. Like she was looking at one person but there were three of us.”

I was shocked at hearing all of this. Imogen had always been so nice to me, I guess I just thought she was nice to everybody. “Hang on just a second girls. I am going to talk with her.” I stomped over to where Imogen was standing.

She was wringing her hands looking guiltily at the floor.

“So its true, then. You told them that they were embarrassing kaleidoscopes that were cowards. I cant believe you of all people would be so mean.”

Imogen finally looked up at me. “I’m sorry, Delia! Mother Endina had just whipped me. I was angry and annoyed. They kinda just came up to me and asked me to show them around. I was grumpy.”

I shook my head. “I’m not the one you should be apologizing to.”

Imogen nodded. Grumpily, she walked over to the peapod trio. (Don’t tell them I called them that.) She started saying something to them, and with each word she said, it looked like they became more and more scared, and she became more and more annoyed. With one final foot stomp, she walked back over to me.  

With a blank look on my face, I walked over to Emily, Dora, and Grace. I asked, “What did she say to you?”

Emily burst into tears. Dora ran over to comfort her friend while Grace explained, her lip quivering, “W-well sh-she sa-id, th-that w-we n-ne-never got a-any b-better. W-we w-were alwa-ways a p-pain.” Then Grace burst into tears along with Dora.  

I nodded my head and walked back over to Imogen. “Never any better, always a pain? Really, Imogen. I’m coming with you to go apologize to them.”

She nodded her head, and both of us walked over to them. As we approached them, they turned to me as if to ask if it was okay that she was walking over to them again. I nodded and raised my eyebrows. When I saw that she had gotten ahead of me, I ran in in my long gray dress and slippers to catch up with her.

“Imogen would like to say something to you. Imogen?” I raised my eyebrows at her as she looked at the dark-gray floor that we pretend to sweep but actually never did.

“Emily, Grace, Dora, I am very, very, very, very—”

I looked down at her fingers and toes to make sure she wasn’t crossing anything. No crosses.

“—Very sorry I called you embarrassing, cowardly kaleidoscopes that were always a pain and didn’t get any better. Oh, and for calling you a peapod trio.”

I thought it was kinda funny that she called the peapod trio the same thing I secretly called them, but then Emily said something.

“You never called us a peapod trio.”

Imogen looked like she was caught in the act. “Oh, I didn’t? Then never mind. So, you want that food?”

Just then, a gong rang, and kids started pouring out of the dining hall. First Amilia, followed by Carter, Penelope, Jenna, Zach, Mary, Ginger, and Piper. I felt bad for Sophia, Rose, Amber, Charlie, Olivia, Logan, and Austin. They were stuck in the dining hall doing the dishes.

“RUUUUUUNNNNNNN!!!” someone yelled.

The five of us ran and jumped into Rose, Amber, Imogen, Piper, and my room. We all curled up onto Imogen and my bunk bed, and I pulled out the jar.

“Here it is. Now, before we eat, there are some rules. The food comes in four levels, Best, Medium High, Medium Low, and Low. You can take up to three best, six low, four medium high, and five medium low.” Imogen gestured to the different jars as she described them.

I was bored of hearing her explain, so I said, “Three, two, one dig in!”

All five of us started grabbing things from the four different jars, not really knowing what we were getting. When my hands were scraped, bruised, and many of my nails had gotten chipped, I stopped and leaned back. In the next five seconds, everyone did the same. I looked down at my pile of loot and counted two Skittles packages, one piece of bubble gum, and one bag of lime potato chips from the medium high. I also ended up with a cotton candy DumDum, some popcorn, and a package of pop rocks, from the best, an apple, two corn nut containers, a thing of Pirate’s Booty, and two Nerds packages from the low, two Twizzler sticks, a corn dog, a Twix, and a package of gummy bears. I ripped open the potato chips and tossed one up into the air to try and catch it with my mouth. Epic fail. It fell to the ground with a crunch. I tried it three more times. One out of the three chips made it into my mouth. The rest bounced off my forehead and landed on Piper’s bed. Everyone was having fun until we heard the click clack click clack click clack and occasional yelling of the evil Mother Endina coming to give us the night inspection. All five of us froze in horror, completely forgetting that with each step she took, the closer she would get to where we were.

As if a bell rang, we all started hiding the food anywhere we could think of. Under the mattresses, behind the windows, in our slippers, up our shirts, in the pillow cases, and behind the blinds. The peapod girls jumped off of Imogen’s bed through the hole in the wall that connected our two rooms, and stuffed a pillow over it so Endina couldn’t see it. Imogen and I stripped off our gray day gowns, plunged them into the soapy water tub to wash, pulled on our green nightgowns, and jumped into bed. Amber couldn’t find her green gown, so she had to sleep in her gray one. The click clacking got closer and closer, until it came to an abrupt stop. I had shut my eyes so I didn’t see Mother Endina staring at us with her cold gray eyes.

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