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Prom Baby! – Word count: 6,660

“We still didn’t find out what boobs are for,” Jessica said thoughtfully, chewing on a french fry. “Hey, Liz, aren’t you going to eat that brownie?” She reached over and snagged the fudge-covered brownie off Elizabeth’s tray. “Aren’t you going to eat any of your lunch? Give it here. I’m starving.”
“Who cares what boobs are for?” Lila said. “This class is a major bore.”
“Have you forgotten about that skanky bitch from Big Mesa?” Jessica asked. “Do you want her and all the other a-holes from Big Mesa to think they’re better than us?”
Elizabeth pushed her tray of untouched food toward Jessica. “What are you talking about?”
Jessica filled in her sister and Amy on the run-in they had with the gum-popping, polyester weave-wearing cheerleader from Big Mesa.
“No way!” Amy exploded. “I hate those bitches!”
“I know. That’s why we’ve got to outdo them. They had, what, 137 girls in their pregnancy pact?” Jessica said.
“Seventy-five,” Elizabeth corrected her.
“Oh, whatever,” Jessica said. “The point is, we can get way more than 75 girls at Sweet Valley High pregnant. Even those secondary characters no one cares about. And we have to get started right away.”
“Jessica, we haven’t even finished Mr. Collins’ class yet,” Elizabeth pointed out. “We don’t know how to get pregnant.”
“Aren’t you good at research and boring stuff like that? Just go down to the library and look it up,” Lila said.
Enid dropped her tray on the table and sat down next to Elizabeth. Jessica, Lila and Amy quickly scooted as far away from her as they could possibly get. “Hi, everyone,” Enid said. “How was Mr. Collins’ class?”
“Boring,” said Amy. “Although we get to wear bathing suits tomorrow.”
Enid exchanged a glance with Elizabeth. “Why do you get to wear bathing suits to class?” she asked.
“For extra credit,” Elizabeth explained. “I’m not doing it. I think it’s kind of sexist, like a beauty pageant or something.”
“Well, I’m doing it,” Jessica said, stuffing her face. “I love beauty pageants.”
“I wish I could be in class with all of you,” Enid said. “Lois and I spent the whole period in the library writing dark poetry and cutting ourselves.”
“You’ll have to let me read some of your poetry sometime, Enid,” Elizabeth said warmly. “I’m sure it’s excellent.”
“Are you kidding me?” Lila said. “I can tell you right now what cutter and the fattie’s poems sound like: ‘Darkness surrounds us, drawing closer like a cloak of death…’”
“So, will any of you be helping out on the prom committee?” Elizabeth asked, quickly changing the subject when she saw how pale Enid’s face had become.
Jessica snorted. “Not likely. You do all the work, I show up and take the title of prom queen, remember?”
“Of course,” Elizabeth said meekly.
“And don’t even think about campaigning for prom queen,” Jessica said. “Remember what happened last time.”


Elizabeth was all alone in The Oracle office after school, typing up her latest column for the paper. Eyes and Ears covered all the latest gossip around Sweet Valley High – new couples, breakups, which students were throwing parties – and even though Elizabeth publicly denounced gossip, she enjoyed spreading rumors through her column.
The door swung open, and Mr. Collins entered the office, slightly out of breath. “Sorry I’m late for our meeting, Elizabeth,” he said, turning to lock the door behind him. “I had an appointment with Maria Santelli that took a little longer than I expected.”
“That’s all right,” Elizabeth said, gesturing toward her typewriter. “I’ve just been working on my Eyes and Ears column.”
“Great, great,” Mr. Collins said distractedly. He pulled a chair close to Elizabeth’s and sat down just behind her, resting a hand on her shoulder. “I’ve been thinking about your idea for an article on the whole teen pregnancy thing, and I really think it’s better if we just, ah, don’t mention it in The Oracle.”
“But why not, Mr. Collins?” Elizabeth cried, whirling around. “If it helps one student from getting into trouble, then isn’t it worth it?”
“Mr. Cooper and I spoke briefly about your idea, and I’m afraid we both agree that since a lot of parents – and school board members – rely on The Oracle as their main source of news, it’s really best if we don’t run an article that might let them know a registered sex offender is teaching their kids.”
“What?” Elizabeth asked.
“Nothing,” Mr. Collins replied. “I’m in compliance with the state, so it’s really nothing for you to worry about.”
“Sure, Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth said. “I don’t agree with you, but I guess I understand.”
“I’m glad we’re on the same page, then,” Mr. Collins whispered into Elizabeth’s ear, squeezing her shoulder in a gesture that was eerily reminiscent of the time Bruce Patman had groped one of her breasts. “See you in class tomorrow, Elizabeth.”
“See you in class,” she echoed. But as she watched Mr. Collins leave, Elizabeth couldn’t help but feel a little bit of resentment toward her favorite teacher. I won’t let him censor me or stand in the way of my preachy article on teen pregnancy, she vowed. I won’t.

* * *

“Thanks, everyone, for coming out to talk about the teen pregnancy prom,” Elizabeth greeted a group of Sweet Valley High students who had turned up at the Dairi Burger, a local restaurant famous for its stomach-churning cheeseburgers and milkshakes and a popular hangout for the Wakefield twins and their friends.
Sitting at the table were Enid; Maria and her boyfriend, super-nerd and mediocre comedian Winston Egbert; Olivia; Roger Barrett Patman; Nicholas Morrow, who liked to hang around with high school students, even though he was an adult with a full-time job; and Todd Wilkins, Elizabeth’s boyfriend.
Todd and Elizabeth had had their share of ups and downs, breaking up every other week over Elizabeth’s continued infidelity or a misunderstanding that would get blown out of proportion. Recently, Todd had come out of the closet to Elizabeth, professing his love for Sweet Valley High’s quarterback, Ken Matthews. Elizabeth had agreed to continue dating Todd as his beard.
“I’m really glad to be here,” Enid said. “Anything to help you out, Elizabeth.”
“Uh, yeah, all right, let’s get started,” Elizabeth said. “Olivia, do you have any ideas for decorations?”
“I’m thinking about creating a giant art installation to put in the middle of the dance floor,” said Olivia, sketching her idea on a napkin and pushing it across the table to Elizabeth. “It’s going to be a seven-foot-tall fetus.”
“It sounds great,” Elizabeth said sincerely. “You’re such a good artist, I just know you’ll do a great job.”
“Winston and I will sell tickets at the door,” Maria offered.
“I’m also planning on telling dead baby jokes,” Winston added.
“This is really good, guys,” Elizabeth said, taking copious notes. “Anyone else?”
“I can make the crown for the queen,” Todd said. “The prom queen.”
Elizabeth nodded. “I think we should book The Droids,” she said, referring to Sweet Valley High’s hottest band. Their three-song catalog would keep the party going all night long.
Just then, the door to the Dairi Burger swung open with such force it hit the wall behind it. In the doorway stood three heavily pregnant girls with ratty hair.
“They’re from Big Mesa,” Enid gasped.
“Big Mesa students – what are they doing at the Dairi Burger?” Todd said in a low voice. “And who is butchering their hair?”
A few tables away, Bruce stood up and threw on his leather jacket emblazoned with a large white X across the back. The jacket was from his days as leader of Club X, a boys-only club focused on crazy dares like driving without headlights on, and he wore it whenever he felt he needed to compensate for his small member.
“No wonder you all go to Big Mesa,” he said loudly, sauntering over to the girls. “You’re all pretty big.”
“We’re just here to fulfill a craving for grease,” one of the girls said. “We don’t want any trouble.”
“Todd, Bruce is going to beat down a bunch of pregnant girls,” Elizabeth whispered. “Do something!”
“Oh, hell no,” Todd hissed. “I’m not getting involved.”
One of the girls made a move toward a booth in the front of the restaurant, but Bruce blocked her way. “You and your two ugly friends need to get out of here,” he growled. “I wouldn’t give you a red wine and roofie cocktail in a paper cup, and that’s saying a lot.”
“Come on, Leah,” said one of the girls still standing in the doorway. “We don’t want to eat in Sweet Valley, anyway.”
“That’s right,” Bruce called after the girls as they turned to leave. “Go back to Big Mesa.”
Elizabeth slowly let out the breath she had been holding in. She had a terrible feeling that the trouble with Big Mesa was far from over.

* * *

By the time the girls of Sweet Valley High had finished their third class on reproductive health, they still hadn’t learned anything but just how many boys Annie Whitman had “dated” and how many girls Mr. Collins had “advised.”
“This is going way too slow,” Jessica complained to Lila as they headed to Ms. Dalton’s French class. “At this rate, we’re never going to be able to compete with Big Mesa.”
“Oh, who cares about Big Mesa?” Lila asked, admiring her reflection in one of the large windows that spilled light into Sweet Valley High’s hallways. “Have you noticed they’re all getting fatter by the day?”
“I care,” Jessica said hotly. “One of them called me uptight. Me! If they were talking about Elizabeth, they’d have a point. And did you hear that Bruce nearly had to lay the smack down last night at the Dairi Burger?”
“Bruce Patman is all talk,” Lila said, tossing back her hair. “Ugh, he’s so old money.”
“We need to find out the details,” Jessica continued, lost in thought. “I’ve got it!”
“Another genius idea from Jessica Wakefield,” Lila said dryly. “What is it this time?”
“Well, Enid would do anything for Elizabeth, right?”
“Yeah, she’s so far up Elizabeth’s asshole, it’s creepy,” Lila said.
“So, I’ll pretend to be Elizabeth and ask Enid to find out exactly how someone goes about getting pregnant,” Jessica said. “It’s perfect!”
“Why go to all that trouble? Just ask Elizabeth – she’ll do anything you tell her to,” Lila pointed out. “You’ve got her totally whipped.”
“What, and get my way without some kind of unnecessary scheme? Where’s the fun in that?” Jessica asked. “Here, hold my books for a second.”
“Jessica, I’m not hired help,” Lila said. “I don’t even hold my own books.”

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11 2009

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