TITLE: BAD APPLES
GENRE: Middle grade
Showtime! Saving my announcement until lunchtime wasn’t easy, but this wasn’t just any news. This was big! Bigger than the time I got the lead in the sixth grade play. Much bigger than the boor-ring seventh grade chorus and band performance—even though I did have a solo. By the time they’d posted the picks for this year’s musical leads, nobody had been surprised to see the name Claire Campbell at the top of the list.
But today’s news needed an audience, which was why I’d waited until everyone was together in the cafeteria. My stomach tumbled with nerves as I went through the lunch line. I loved the feeling of near-nausea that hit me before every performance, but just to be safe, I skipped the greasy chicken fingers, and the pasta jumble that looked like the leftovers from all of last week’s meals. I couldn’t take a chance on pizza splatter either, so I settled on an ice-cream sandwich.
The noise in the cafeteria was so loud it was hard to rehearse my lines. Mr. Willard yelled at some boy to stop running, but the kid barely slowed. The science teacher had come back from summer vacation using a cane and limping. Some kids said he’d been in a car accident; others said he was dying from some strange hip disease. I decided he’d been shot while on assignment at a super-secret lab where he was working on a cure for middle school stupidity. The Cooper twins could be his first test subjects.