“Don’t you just love Fridays?” Chloe Clarkson asked, taking three cartons of frozen yogurt from the fridge to the kitchen table. “They’re totally the best day of the week!”
“Fridays are definitely good. But the best?” Tara Jordan, one of Chloe’s closest friends, thought aloud as she plucked three spoons from the drawer. “I’d have to say the best days are Saturdays-no school.”
“Absolutely,” said Quinn Reyes, Chloe’s other best friend, agreed. She plopped some napkins onto the table. “No getting up at the uncivilized hour of six on Saturdays.”
“Good point,” Chloe said. “But once you hit Saturday, you can’t look forward to it anymore. That’s one of the best things about Friday-anticipation.”
“Speaking of anticipation…yum!” Tara pried the lid off the banana yogurt. Chloe and Quinn opened their own cartons, strawberry for Chloe, raspberry for Quinn.
Chloe slipped off her beaded flip-flops, propped up her feet, and sighed happily. She really did love Fridays. And what a great week it had been-no bad hair days, an A on her English essay, and a sweet goodbye kiss from her boyfriend, Lennon Porter.
[Chloe: Not goodbye forever, just for one week. Which is way too long, in my opinion, but what can I do? Lennon and the rest of the debate team are at a statewide competition in Sacramento. I’ll really, really miss him. In the meantime, though, there’s a weekend to plan!]
Planning the weekend was another thing Chloe loved about Fridays. Sitting round with Tara and Quinn, deciding what to do-it was practically a ritual. If one of them was sick or busy and couldn’t be in on the plans, it just didn’t feel the same.
We’re like the three musketeers, Chloe decided, smiling happily. All for one and one for all.
“Okay, down to business.” Chloe pushed her long blonde hair back from her face. “What’s up for tonight? How about the mall? We can check out the new Glam and Glitter store. They have great nail polish and makeup.”
Quinn nodded eagerly, her dark hair swinging against her cheeks. “We can check out guys, too,” she said with a grin. “Or at least Tara and I can. Maybe Rick Northrup will be there. Or Doug Weyman. He and Sherry Givens broke up, you know.”
“Get out! When?” Tara asked.
“Yesterday,” Quinn reported, scooping up the last spoonful of her yogurt. “I heard Sherry talking about it today in P.E.”
“They weren’t together very long,” Chloe noted. “What happened?”
Quinn shrugged. “No details. But Sherry said it was mutual, so I guess nobody’s heart got broken.”
“So Doug Weyman is free,” Tara said thoughtfully. “He’s pretty cute. Ooh, and so is Brian O’Keefe,” she added, her gray eyes sparkling.
Chloe tried to picture Brian O’Keefe. “Oh, right. That dark-haired guy in your math class.”
“Mmm.” Tara sighed dreamily. “He’s a real hottie. And he’s totally my type-smart, funny, and adorable, in that Nick Lachey kind of way.”
Chloe laughed. “And that makes you who, Jessica Simpson?”
“I wish!” Tara quipped.
Chloe scraped the bottom of her yogurt carton, too. “Okay, so it’s settled then. We’re going to the mall. You two look for guys, and I’ll look for nail polish.”
“Hey, everybody.” Riley, Chloe’s twin sister, came into the kitchen and made a beeline for the refrigerator. “What’s happening?”
“We are figuring out the weekend,” Chloe told her. “Tonight’s a mall-crawl. Want to come with us?”
“I can’t,” Riley said. She pulled out a bottle of Lime Sparkle and took a sip. “I’m meeting Charlie at the Newsstand later, but first I have to work on the time capsule project.”
“Oh, right!” Chloe said. In just a few weeks the students at West Malibu High, where she and Riley were freshmen, were going to bury a time capsule in the quad. Riley had volunteered to be on the capsule committee.
“Have you decided what you’re going to put in?” Chloe asked.
“Not yet,” Riley admitted. “That’s what I need to work on. I mean, pretend you’re opening the time capsule a hundred years from now. Then picture what you find inside. What really special thing would tell you what we’re all about?”
“Cool clothes,” Chloe said instantly.
[Chloe: I know, that’s not all we’re all about. But I can’t help it. When somebody says special, I think clothes.]
“Music, too,” Tara suggested. “Hey, how about an MP3 player?”
“And a cell phone,” Quinn added.
“Right! We’re the wireless generation,” Chloe said. “In cool clothes, of course.”
“Those are good ideas, but there’s one tiny problem,” Riley said. “I don’t have an MP3 player. And if I did, no way would I bury it and my cell phone in a time capsule.” She frowned. “I guess I could put in photographs of those things. Oh, I don’t know. Listen, while you are at the mall, look for some inspiration, would you? Cool jewelry, movie posters-whatever.”
As Riley hurried out of the kitchen, Chloe turned to her friends. “Okay, tonight’s set,” she said. “What about tomorrow night?”
“Ellie Farber’s party,” Quinn reminded her.
“Boring,” Tara declared.
Chloe had to agree. She liked Ellie Farber, but an Ellie Farber party was one big yawn. She always played outdated music. And she tried to organize everybody into teams so they could play lame games.
“You know, there hasn’t been a really great party in ages.” Chloe said, licking the back of her spoon. “I think we all deserve one, don’t you?”
“Definitely,” Quinn agreed. “Like a beach party. Dancing, playing in water, lots of yummy food and great music!”
“Lots of boys, too,” Tara chimed in.
“This place is perfect for a party like that,” Chloe said. The Carlsons’ home in Malibu, California, was only steps from the beach. “We could set up tables and grills on the deck. And get some really cool decorations, too.”
“And we can invite tons of kids, because it’ll be mostly outside,” Tara added. “Oh, we should definitely invite Brian O’Keefe! He’s probably an excellent dancer.”
“And Rick Northrup and Doug Weyman,” Quinn said.
“Let’s do it!” Chloe exclaimed. “I’ll have to ask Mom, but I’m sure she’ll say yes. We can pool our money for decorations and food and everything.”
“I’m in,” Quinn said. “When?”
“How about next Saturday?” Tara suggested. “Nobody’s having a party then.”
“Well, now we are!” Chloe grinned. “a super, fanstastic, talk-about-it-for-weeks blast!”
“Okay, Pepper, what do you think?” Riley asked. She glanced at the family cocker spaniel, who had followed her into the bedroom she shared with Chloe. “What should I put into the time capsule?”
Riley tossed an armful of tees, short~shorts, and capris onto her bed. They landed next to a plastic box filled with blush, brushes, and eye shadow, which was next to a stack of CD’s, a set of Tolkien books, a school calendar, and dozen of snapshots from Riley’s bulletin board.
“Doesn’t any of this grab you, Pepper?” Riley asked. “Like, does something just scream West Malibu High freshman?”
And am I actually talking to my dog? She wondered.
Pepper yawned and curled up on her red doggie cushion in the corner.
Riley ran her fingers through her straight blonde hair and stared at the mess piled high on her bed. After leaving Chloe, Tara and Quinn in the kitchen, she’d come upstairs determined to figure out her personal contribution to the time capsule.
The problem was nothing seemed right.
“Riley, tell me my eyes aren’t deceiving me!” a Spanish-accented voice suddenly called out. Maneolo Del Valle, the Carlsons’ full time housekeeper/cook, stood in the doorway. He stared at the pile of stuff on Riley’s bed with a gleam of delight in his brown eyes. “Are you truly excavating your closet?”
“I hate to disappoint you, Maneolo, but no. maybe for your birthday,” she offered with a grin.
“What a lovely gift that would be!” Maneolo gave an exaggerated sigh of regret. Then he held up the family’s new digital camcorder and aimed it at Riley. “Say cheese, please.”
“Cheese, please,” Riley said with a grin. “What are you doing?”
“I’ve decided to go into filmmaking,” Maneolo declared. “This one will be called Messy Rooms: A Housekeeper’s Descent into Madness.”
Riley rolled her eyes. “Seriously.”
“Seriously, your mother found herself with time to think, and she had a brainstorm,” Maneolo explained, aiming the camera at the girls’ computer. “She decided it was time to update the insurance policy on the house. She asked me to videotape everything in it.”
[Riley: Mom is always superbusy. When she and dad separated, she took over their fashion design business. Dad wanted a simpler life, and he now lives in a trailer on the beach. Between you nad me, the ‘simple life’ mostly means long walks and lots of meditation. Don’t get me wrong, Dad’s really happy, and Mom’s really happy, and they’re still friends, so that makes Chloe and me happy. Anyway, Mom is always in a fast-forward mode, so when she has even five seconds of downtime, she looks for something to do-like updating the insurance policy on the house.]
“What are you doing, if not cleaning?” Maneolo asked, videotaping her bookshelves. “Having a garage sales? Looking for your other periwinkle leather flip-flop?”
Riley glanced up. “How do you know I’m missing a flip-flop?” she asked.
“Because it’s been out of the back deck all week,” he replied. He reached into his back pocket and tossed the blue flip-flop in question onto the bed. “And judging by the teeth marks,” he said, “I believed a certain cocker spaniel is to be blame.”
Riley ruffled Pepper’s ears. “That’s pair number three,” she said to the dog. “Anyway, thanks, Maneolo. But actually I wasn’t looking for the flip-flop. I’m trying to decide what to put into the time capsule.”
As Maneolo continued to videotape the room, Riley told him about the West Malibu High project. “Everyone on the committee gets to put something in. Got any ideas for me?”
“Hmm…” Maneolo shuffled through the photos on the bed. “Ah! This is a possibility.”
“Really?” Riley asked, peering over his shoulder at the picture of some of her friends. “I took that at the Spring Fling last month. Why that one?”
Maneolo pointed to her friend Rebecca’s high heeled sneakers. “Because future generations need to know what styles should never be repeated!” he said, making a face.
“Or, how about a printout of all your email correspondence?” Maneolo suggested.
Riley gave him a look. He had to be kidding.
“On the other hand,” Maneolo went on, his eyes twinkling, “being longer than War and Peace, that would probably go unread.”
Riley rolled her eyes again. “Very funny.”
“Sorry, Riley, I couldn’t resist.” Maneolo patted her on the shoulder. “I promise you, I will give your project some serious thought.”
Riley knew he would. Maneolo was also the family’s fulltime friend/problem solver. But she didn’t have a lot of time to wait right now. She had to decide on her capsule contribution fast. The committee wanted to know by Monday what everybody was putting in.
Maneolo continued panning the room with the camera. “This little gadget is fabulous!” he declared.
“Uh-huh,” Riley murmured, staring at all the stuff on her bed. Last summer’s tankini? The lightning bolt nail appliqués? Nah. They only said something about her. She picked up the school calendar and started flipping through it. Each page had a college of candid photos of West Malibu High students. That might work, she thought. But it’s still not… exciting.
“It’s so easy to use,” Maneolo went on, raving about the new camera. “Even for a technically challenged person such as myself. Years from now we will still have a true record of the Carlsons household. Including the stupendous mess in this room-which, hopefully will not still be here one hundred years from now!”
“Huh? Wait. A true record!” Riley tossed the calendar back onto the bed and pointed at the camera. “That’s it, Maneolo! That’s what I’ll put into the time capsule!”
maneolo clutched the camera to his heart. “Riley, your mother purchased this only a week ago. And, forgive me for being crass, but it cost a bundle!”
“I didn’t mean the camera itself,” Riley explained. “But I can use it to videotape kids from my class. That way I’ll get everything about us-what we wear, how we talk, what we like and don’t like. I can do interviews and film kids skateboarding or shopping or whatever, and it’ll be on tape-a true record, like you said!”
“It’s an excellent idea!” Maneolo agreed. “Truly inspired… by yours truly!”
“Yeah! I owe you one, Maneolo!” Riley was psyched. Her video was going to be the hit of the project. “And just for giving me that brilliant idea, I’m going to clean up this mess-and organize my shoe trees!”
Maneolo sighed happily. “Caramba! And it isn’t even my birthday!”