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Main Street #9: Keeping Secrets

“Are you going to eat that?”

Nikki Sherman looked up from her plate, which held a slice of unbuttered bread and part of a carrot, to the boy who was sitting across the cafeteria table from her. She assumed Jacob was referring to the bread and not the carrot tip. “No,” she replied. “Do you want it?”

Jacob held out his hand. “Thanks.”

Although Nikki liked Jacob very much, she thought privately that he was something of a human Dustbuster, although she would never have said as much to Olivia Walter, who was one of her best friends—and Jacob’s girlfriend. Nikki passed Jacob the bread. “It has a little tomato sauce on it,” she said.

Jacob waved one hand in the air, his way of saying he couldn’t care less, and used his other hand to stuff the bread in his mouth in one enormous bite. Nikki would have been horrified, except that she had an eighteen-year-old brother, and she was used to watching him eat. When he was Jacob’s age, he could put away three or four helpings of dinner, followed by two helpings of dessert, followed by a bedtime snack of three whole English muffins with peanut butter (translation: six slices). So she wasn’t surprised that Jacob wanted her bread after having finished a rather large lunch. but she still couldn’t get the Dustbuster image out of her head.

Jacob swallowed the bread, and Nikki saw him looking around the cafeteria. His eyes fell on one of the food lines. Was he seriously considering buying something else to eat? He had cleaned his plate and everyone else’s at the table. The lunches at Camden Falls Central High School were pretty good, but still.

Not that Nikki had anything to compare them to except the lunches at Camden Falls Elementary, where she had gone to school until this year. Now Nikki and her friends were seventh-graders at the big central school in Camden Falls, Massachusetts. Switching schools was just one of the many changes they had faced lately.

Jacob scarfed up the lone carrot tip while Flora, Nikki’s other best friend, twirled an apple around by its stem. She gave the apple a vigorous spin, then leaned over and whispered to Nikki, “If Tanya and Melody don’t stop staring at us, their eyes are going to bug out of their sockets.”

“They’re not staring at us, you know,” Nikki whispered back.

“Okay, at Olivia and Jacob, but it’s the same thing. They keep staring over here. They’re making me nervous.”

“Just ignore them. Pretend they’re mosquitoes.”

“I can’t. It’s more like they’re vultures, and it’s really hard to ignore vultures.”

Nikki sneaked a look at the next table, where Tanya Rhodes and Melody Becker were sitting side by side, each burdened by several pounds of silver jewelry and each sporting a newly colored streak in her hair—pink for Tanya, green for Melody. Their eyes were trained on Jacob and Olivia.

“They are kind of vulturelike,” agreed Nikki, forgetting to whisper.

“What?” said Olivia from across the table.

Nikki blushed. “Nothing. I’ll tell you later.”

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