MORE INFORMATIONS @ THE GLU AREA! XOXO TPC
Body Alive Dance Studio
Thursday, July 22nd
There were five Skye Hamiltons in the Body Alive Dance Studio. One on each mirrored wall and one in the flesh. As in-the-flesh Skye step-turn-step-plié-step-fan-step-ball-changed, the reflections
followed. So did the nine other girls in Atelier No. 1. Or at least they tried.
A trickle of sweat slithered from the base of Skye’s tightly bunned blond waves down the back of her pale blue leo. She drew her shoulder blades back (even more), trying to pinch the salty snake, not
because she was embarrassed, but because she could. Her body always did what it was told. All she had to do crank up the music and ask.
“And one . . . twooo . . . thu-hree . . . fourrrr . . . five . . . six . . . seh-vuuuun . . . eight.” Madame Prokofiev slow-clapped to the jazzy ooze of Michael Bublé’s “Fever” while scanning her
students for TICS (Timing, Incongruity, Carelessness, and Smiles). As always, her scrutinizing brown eyes whizzed past Skye like two bullets aimed at someone else.
“Too wristy, Becca!” She clapped. “Less chin, Reese.” Clap. “Rollllllll the knee, Wendi. Don’t poke.” Clap. Clap. “And I swear on my tendons, Heidi, if you don’t fix that posture, I’m going to use
you as a throw pillow!”
Chignoned and clad in a no-nonsense black cami with matching flare dance pants, the aging brunette looked like a prima ballerina laced up tighter than a pair of toe shoes. Yet she moved like honey
and stung like a bee.
Skye loved her.
Charged by Madame P’s silent approval, Skye added a turn before the freeze, then came out of it with hands in prayer pose, or rather, a Bollywood Namaste Flower. The routine hadn’t called for it—her
instincts had. She’d downloaded the MIA track from Slumdog, and like some people got songs stuck in their heads, Skye had this one stuck in her body.
“Enough.” Madame P clapped sharply, the frown lines in her passion-wrinkled forehead bunched like loose leg warmers. Had she gone too far with her flower?
All nine dancers stop-panted. But Skye’s heart kept hitch-kicking against her rib cage. Finally, she crossed her arms over her B-minus cups and ordered it to take five.
She lined up with her dance BFFs Missy Cambridge, Becca Brie, Leslie Lynn Rubin, and Heidi Sprout. Like Skye, her besties were blond—two in braids, two with ponies—and wore identical pink balloon
skirts over gray leotards and tights (BADS Anna Pavlova Collection). Skye had added her signature sleeves; today’s were black mesh with five mini sterling silver locker keys dangling from the
holes—one for each of her friends. Every time she moved they jingled, adding a little extra something to the otherwise humdrum musical score.
“Flair, ladies.” Madame P heel-toed to the center of the room, clucking her tongue in disappointment. “Dance is not just knowing the steps. It’s interpreting them.” She winked at Skye, releasing her
from the scold. “So please try to remember. We’re doing Twyla, not Twilight, so stop sucking!”
Briarwood – Octavian Country Day School
Outside the Auditorium
Monday, October 11th
Alicia Rivera speed-walked down the empty, locker-lined hallway toward the auditorium, silently cursing herself for being late; today of all days. She’d lost track of time trying to find the
über-perfect, alpha-worthy outfit for her first post-BFF-breakup assembly entrance. She’d changed her mind more times than Jason from the Bachelor, but had finally settled on option number nineteen:
dark, curve-hugging Blank Denim skinny jeans, a thigh-skimming turquoise silk tank to make her olive skin pop, and her new charcoal gray Theory stretch vest. Caramel-colored riding boots added an
equestrian chic touch to the carefully crafted ensemble.
She slowed as she reached the assembly doors. Maybe being late wasn’t such a bad thing. In fact, casually waltzing through the auditorium after assembly had started could be the perfect way to
advertise just how fine she was without Massie Block breathing down her Angel perfume–spritzed neck. The perfect way to prove to BOCD, and herself, that she could capture everyone’s attention without
Massie by her side. To prove that she, Alicia Rivera, was an alpha in her own right.
Then her stomach did a triple pirouette. It wasn’t that she doubted her ability to rock a solo entrance. Just the opposite. Years of dance training had prepared her for this very moment. She was
ready for the spotlight, ready to drink in the admiration she deserved. It was just that she’d never made an assembly entrance without Massie before. Suddenly thinking about it felt strange. Like
she’d forgotten to gloss before a lip kiss.
“. . . if I should get Jessica Alba bangs or Vanessa Hudgens bangs, and he goes, ‘What’s the difference?’” Huffed a honey-blond seventh-grader wearing a long black skirt, giant white sunglasses, and
a floor-grazing hand-knit scarf.
“How can he nawt see the difference?” squealed her friend, whose giant black sweater coat made her look like death. “Jessica’s are curtains drawn and Vanessa’s are curtains open.”
“I knoooow,” bellowed Long Skirt.
Alicia rolled her eyes. The Mary-Kate Olsen look had just hit the seventh grade, as though it had been stuck at customs for two years and finally made it through. It was hard to believe anyone could
be more behind the trends than her Spanish cousins, but hobo chic was spreading faster than strep this semester.
When Grim Reaper and Long Skirt disappeared into the auditorium, Alicia took a deep, calming breath and got ready to make a fresh start.
“And five, and six, ah-se-ven, eight!” she whisper-counted, bursting through the double doors.
Deafening chatter poured over her like a tsunami the second she stepped inside. Students were milling around the aisles, weaving through the rows of creaky wooden chairs as Principal Burns shuffled
papers at the podium onstage. Dean Don was huddled with Mr. Myner and a few of the other teachers in the front row, whispering intently.
Alicia strategically stepped into the dusty spotlight that poured through the stained-glass windows. This was her moment.
“Heads up!” A guy’s voice rose over the noise. Alicia ducked just in time, narrowly missing getting whacked in the head by a soccer cleat.
“Ehmagawd!” Straightening up, she whip-turned toward the offender. But he was too busy high-fiving his buddies to notice.
Panicked, Alicia considered ducking back through the doors and starting over. This wasn’t working. She should have waited until she heard Principal Burns’s voice over the microphone. But it was too
late; there was no turning back now
Somewhere Over the Mojave Desert
At thirty-eight thousand feet above the desert, Allie A. Abbott tried to GPS her emotional state. It was somewhere between wow and whoa, what have I done!?Her emerald-colored contact lenses flitted around the womblike belly of the personal private plane.
After two-plus hours of flying and crying, her eyes were finally dry enough to take in their surroundings.
Hammered silver coated the convex egg-shaped walls, reflecting prisms and rainbows all over the cabin.
“I’m made from sixty thousand recycled aluminum cans,” the wall announced in a woman’s warm British accent when she ran her fingers over its warped surface.
She Purelled immediately.
Still, Allie never would have known that she was flying “green” if the plane’s automated voice didn’t remind her every time she touched anything. She sank into her womblike
recliner made from recycled tires. Allie liked that everything on the plane used to be something else—everything here had a fresh start, a second chance, and now, thanks to Alpha Academy, so did she.
She took a sip of wheatgrass lemonade, Allie J’s favorite.
“Barf!” she choke-shouted and then dry-heaved. The tart sludge clawed at her taste buds, and then she reflexively sucked her cheeks in.
“Problem with the wheatgrass lemonade?” asked a smooth, motherly voice over the intercom from the cockpit. It was the same voice that had welcomed her aboard. The same voice that
had told her she’d be flying to a discreet location somewhere in the Mojave Desert. And the same voice that had reminded her there was no turning back as the wheels lifted off the runway in Santa
“Nope. The lemonade is perfect,” Allie lied—a skill she’d mastered over the last few weeks. And something that she’d hopefully get even better at once she landed. Because Alpha
Academy had outfitted this plane for a very different Allie Abbot. Allie J. Abbott, to be specific. The girl power poet–slash–eco-maniac songwriter. Not the heartbroken mall model who worshipped pop
culture, pop songs, and Pop-Tarts. No. No one wanted that Allie these days.
Thumbing away another tear, Allie nestled into her ergonomic recliner. It was made of what looked like Bubble Wrap filled with water, and felt like getting a massage from a
hundred different people at once. If her intestines weren’t contracting from the shot of wheat-ass, it might have felt incredible.
“Um, hello? Can I watch a movie?” Allie asked the empty cabin. Maybe the flight attendant was sitting up front with pilot? Suddenly the lights dimmed and an electric cart filled
with organic popcorn pulled up beside her. A hemp blanket slid out of the armrest like a fax and wrapped around her entire body until she felt like a crab hand roll.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Eleventh Hourbegan immediately. “This film will be shown in high definition using patent-pending Smell-O-Vision, a
feature that sprays a scent to match the image on-screen,” the British voice informed her over the intercom. Just then Leo appeared on screen, accompanied by the fresh aroma of jojoba and eucalyptus,
the notes in Fletcher’s Intense Therapy Lip Balm.
Allie’s mouth began to involuntarily pucker, longing for the taste of her ex-boyfriend’s kisses. Serious-leh? If flying on a talking personal jet to the most exclusive academy in
the world while committing identity theft didn’t help her forget him, a lobotomy was the only remaining option.
Allie had first seen Fletcher Barton at the Riverside Palace Mall in downtown Santa Ana. They’d locked eyes on the north escalators—she was going up, he was going down. Her arms
were full of bags. His were full of muscles. Goose bumps sprouted all over her spray-tanned body that had nothing to do with the frigid air-conditioning and everything to do with his leather jacket.
He was tall and fit, with product-enhanced light brown hair and narrow blue eyes. She was the same. For a second, Allie wondered if they were related. Maybe fraternal twins separated at birth. But
their attraction had been too strong for something that creepy.
“Wait!” he shouted, pushing past moms and their kids, taking the steps two at a time as he darted up the down escalator.
They met at the top.
“I’m Fletcher,” he panted, holding out his hand.
Allie immediately put down her bags and stuffed her hands in the kangaroo pouch of her suede tunic. She pocket-pumped some Purell onto her palms and rubbed them together. Not
because she thought he looked germy—in fact, he looked more sanitary than any boy she’d ever seen—but because he had been gripping the rubber rail for at least twenty seconds, and that was more than
enough time for a virus to adhere to his fingertips.
“You want?” Allie extended the clear bottle.
“No, thanks.” He smiled with his entire face. “I’ve got the wipes.” He pulled a square package out of his back pocket, tore it open with his tartar-free teeth, and rubbed. With a
swift toss, the used cloth soared straight into the trash can and Cupid’s arrow straight into Allie’s heart.
From then on they were inseparable, and quickly became known for their combined physical perfection and strong immune systems. Everyone joked that when they got married and had
kids, they would be studied for advancing the human genome. Allie said it too, only she was serious.
And the best part was that her BFF, Trina, who was single, and much less attractive than them, never got jealous or made Allie choose. In fact, she seemed just as inspired by
their beauty as everyone else. Always wanting to be around them and nibble on the by-product of their love. But what Trina lacked in beauty she made up for in artistic talent. She’d even offered to
tag along with the couple to Disneyland for their eleven-month anniversary, and sketch picturesque moments of their enchanted day in charcoal.
“Ha!” A bitter laugh escaped Allie’s waxy Burt’s Bees–coated lips—the natural balm was an unfortunate favorite of Allie J’s.
“Everything okay back there?” the voice asked from the cockpit.
Um, if by okay you mean wanting to shove my bare unpedicured foot up my ex-friend’s butt like a shish kebab skewer, then yes, everything is fine,Allie wanted to shout. But that would blow her cover faster than a DNA sample. So she simply nodded yes and forced a smile in case the omniscient voice could see her from behind
the aluminum wall.
“Good,” it replied, satisfied.
But it wasn’t. Nothing was good. Not since the happy threesome had boarded the yellow-and-blue submarine on the Finding Nemoride. Not
since everything went dark when they had been “swallowed by a whale.” Not since the lights flashed back on and Fletcher’s neck was covered in charcoal fingerprints. And Trina’s lips smelled like
jojoba and eucalyptus. And they both looked more caught than Nemo.
Allie slammed her compact shut without the satisfying click. She just didn’t get it. With puffy O-shaped lips, narrow navy blue eyes, skin that looked lit from within, and a nose
so perfectly sloped that a girl two towns over had requested it for her fifteenth birthday, beauty was her backstage pass. It got her everything she ever wanted. So why hadn’t it been enough to keep
Fletcher? Or rather, how had she lost him to a girl who was a mere 6.5 out of 10 after Photoshop?
She’d asked him that one day after school.
“Alliecat, you’re a hottie, no question.” Fletch leaned back like there was a wall behind him, even though they were in the middle of the basketball court during practice. “But
Trina’s talent is more attractive than being a perfect ten.” He caught the ball and began dribbling it down the court. Allie followed despite the angry coach and his threats to call the police.
Fletcher shot and scored. His teammates smacked him high fives. In the empty stands, Trina speed-sketched the moment. Allie began to cry.
- (I AM SKIPPING A BUNCH OF PAGES AND CUTTING TO ANOTHER PART SO THIS DOESN’T GET TOO LONG)
Word spread quickly about the scandal, and even more quickly about their on-court battle. There was only one thing left to do.
Allie retreated into her room with the intention of never leaving it again. She’d lost her boyfriend and best friend all in one afternoon, and the loneliness and betrayal hurt
more than a lip wax. Her mom came in frequently with all her favorites from the food court. But the pit in her stomach was too deep to fill, even with Hunan Pan’s crispy fried wings and pot
Until two days later, when her lo mien arrived with a heavy gold package.
Allie sat up in bed and asked her mother to kindly close the door behind her.
It’s about time!She sniffled, tearing through the vellum. She wondered if Fletcher would just apologize or actually grovel, and what
kind of gift he was sending to make it up to her. A gold mobile device fell onto her duvet-covered lap along with a letter. It looked like an iPod dipped in glitter. Huh?
Dear Allie J,
Welcome to the inaugural class of Alpha Academy . . .
Allie whipped the letter onto the ground and beat her Tinker Bell pillowcase. It figured Allie J would be hitting a high note when Allie was at her lowest.
Allie had been getting the girl’s fan mail for years. The songwriter had grown up on the Applemay Farm Commune just five miles outside Santa Ana. But ever since she’d left on
some save-the-melting-ice-caps mission in Antarctica, the letters had been coming more frequently. Allie could have notified the post office, but that would have involved forms and post office
people. Both of which were boring and probably covered in germs. Besides, Allie J’s songs had shown up on the sound tracks of three teen summer flicks, and according to a blind item in Page Six, a
certain trio of Disney brothers were fighting over more than her body of work. And who knew what one of them might send. Maybe himself?
Allie lowered her head, succumbing to a new generation of tears. Through salty blurred vision the gold seal of the envelope had caught the light and winked at her from the floor.
Like they shared a joke. Or a secret. Or the need to escape.
Allie raced to her laptop and Google-imaged Allie J. Only three pics came up:
A green eye behind a mess of black hair.
Her thin body photographed from behind. She was onstage, facing the audience at New York’s famed Nuyorican Poets Cafe in a white dress and bare feet.
A grainy camera phone pic of her face with what appeared to be a very large mole.
And that was it.
It was perfect.
Allie raced to the mall for the first time in days.
Hours later, she had black hair, green contact lenses, and a kohl-mole on her left cheek. She told her parents the new look was part one of her heartbreak recovery plan. Part two
was applying to Alpha Academy. They couldn’t quite understand the mole, or how “catalogue modeling and a vast knowledge of mall culture” were talents Shira Brazille valued, but they went with it
anyway. Sure the Academy was intended for artists, writers, and inventors, but Allie had her own gifts. She could remember the lines from any romantic comedy she’d ever seen with the accuracy of a
sci-fi geek memorizing Battlestar Galactica.She could apply makeup like a painter. She was a veritable celebrity historian: She knew the height, weight,
dating history, and clothing preference of every major star. And at least she was eating pot stickers again.
Days later, Allie waved her acceptance letter around (after gold-outing the J) and said goodbye to her supportive parents.
And here she was, a green-eyed butterfly flying toward a new beginning on a top secret mission to Get Over Him.
“Sixty seconds until we enter the communication-free zone. No texting, no phoning, no Internet,” announced the British voice.
“For how long?” Allie asked the speaker above her head.
“Until you return to the mainland.”
What?Allie felt her stomach twirl like the food court’s Jamba Juice machine. If she couldn’t let Fletcher and Trina know how awesome
her life was without them, what was the point? She whipped out her Samsung and began typing.
I’M ON A PRIVATE PLANE HEADING FOR ALPHA ACADEMY. THIS IS THE LAST TIME YOU WILL HEAR FROM ME. TURNS OUT I HAVE TALENT AFTER ALL.
Allie read it over. Did the message imply I am fine without you? I have moved on? I have more talent than Trina?
“Twenty seconds.” A countdown appeared where Leo’s face had been. It smelled like loneliness.
Allie’s thumb hovered over the send button. The text was missing something, something that stung like a thousand tiny slaps. Something that—
“Got it!” Allie half smiled, mindful of smudging her mole, and then added a few final lines.
IN THIS WORLD THERE ARE ARTISTS AND SUBJECTS. YOU KNOW, THE PEOPLE WORTH DRAWING? WELL, I AM A SUBJECT. I ALWAYS WILL BE. CAPTURE ME IF YOU CAN.