Prom Baby! – Word count: 26,421


Lila finally got around to opening the box that had been dropped off the previous day. The truth was, she’d forgotten all about the orphaned child she’d ordered from Africa, and the box had sat, untouched, in the foyer of Fowler Crest. It has air holes poked in it, Lila thought. I’m sure he’ll be fine.
Still, despite her lack of enthusiasm at opening the box, Lila couldn’t wait to show off her latest purchase in the halls of Sweet Valley. “I love imported goods,” she said, slicing the packing tape off the box with glee.
As she unwound the layers of bubble wrap that surrounded the baby, Lila paused to pop a few of the bubbles, but quickly tired of it. Still, she loved dragging out the suspense of unpacking a new item.
Tossing the bubble wrap aside, she peered into the box and extended her arms, waiting to hold her new baby. “I’ll be just like a star,” she said, grasping one of the baby’s wriggling hands. “I told Jessica all the celebrities are doing it.”
She pulled the baby out and stared at it. He looked back at Lila with big brown eyes, blinked and smiled at her. “What the hell?” she said. Lila set the baby down on her four-poster bed and rummaged around in the box some more, looking for a packing slip or something.
“There’s got to be some sort of mistake!” she cried, tossing the bubble wrap up in the air and looking underneath it, as if she would find her explanation there.
Angrily, Lila picked up her powder blue princess phone and dialed the number of the hotel in Paris where her father was staying.
“Daddy!” Lila exclaimed furiously. “Daddy, they screwed up my order. … Yeah, well, I don’t care if it’s one o’clock in the morning there. … No, I checked. …We need to get this fixed right away. The prom is on Saturday! … Well, the baby is – he’s the wrong color.”

* * *

“So, Lila, I can’t wait to tell you my big news,” Jessica said into the phone. She was lounging on the floor in her bedroom and painting her toenails a hot pink color called “Super Slut.”
“I don’t really care, Jessica,” Lila said glumly. She eyed the baby on her bed, who was giggling and blowing spit bubbles.
“Guess who is pregnant with Jamie Peters’ baby?” Jessica said, charging on without listening. “And Brandon Hunter’s. And Jeremy Frank’s. And Eric Parker’s.”
“I don’t know,” Lila said. “Who?”
“Me!” Jessica said with glee. “Enjoy your mail-order baby of unknown ancestry.”
“How did you manage to get pregnant with four babies by four different men?” Lila asked. “Four different – and highly famous – men?”
“I have my ways,” Jessica said mysteriously. “Besides, anyone will put out for a Wakefield twin!”
“I highly doubt that,” Lila said. She reached out and caught the baby before he rolled right off the bed.
“Oh, you’re just jealous, Lila,” Jessica said. “I can hear it in your voice.”
Lila smiled bitterly, her lips pursing in a thin line. “I am not jealous,” she said in a measured tone. “It’s your vagina that’s going to get destroyed, not mine.”
“Oh, they don’t get destroyed,” Jessica said breezily, although she really had no idea how exactly the process of childbirth worked. She would cross that bridge whenever she came to it, Jessica had decided. “So did you get your baby yet? Is he cute?”
“I – I got him,” Lila said, placing him on his back in the middle of her bed and pointing a finger at him. “Stay,” she said firmly. “Stay.”
“What? Who are you talking to?” Jessica asked. “God damn it, I just smudged my nail polish.”
“The baby,” Lila snapped.
“Ooh, why haven’t you invited me over to see him yet? We can take him shopping – I’m sure Lisette’s has some jewel-encrusted onesies or something,” Jessica said. “Or maybe we could take him to the beach. You’ll probably want him to be nice and tan for the prom.”
“I haven’t invited you over to see him yet because he’s – he’s a surprise,” Lila said. “I don’t want anyone to see him before he makes his big debut at the prom.”
“You’re no fun, Lila,” Jessica said, pouting, even though her friend couldn’t see the gesture through the phone. “Just let me come over and see him. I won’t tell anyone how cute he is. Please?”
“I said no,” Lila snapped. “And you can quit pouting. I can hear it all the way from here.”
“Have you named him yet? I think you should name him something elegant, like Drake or D’Artagnan,” Jessica said.
“I haven’t come up with a name I like yet,” Lila said, eyeing the baby suspiciously. At least he was quiet.
“But that’s the most important part of being a mother!” Jessica cried. “Naming them and dressing them in tiny little designer clothes.”
“I have a feeling they could be a bit more trouble than that,” Lila said. “Fortunately, I can just pass him off to Eva whenever I get sick of him.”
“Oh, how much trouble could they be?” Jessica said breezily. “Oh, by the way, did you hear Rick Andover and Sally Larson are dead? Rumor is some Big Mesa whores got to them.”
“Well, apparently, Sweet Valley was crawling with Big Mesa students last night,” Lila said. “I guess while we were out there waiting for them, they were out here waiting for us. So much for that little plan you and Bruce cooked up.”
“Bruce is an amateur when it comes to scheming,” Jessica agreed. “I knew I shouldn’t have listened to him.”
“Bruce is an amateur when it comes to a lot of things,” Lila said.
“I can’t believe he got Elizabeth pregnant,” Jessica fumed. “That really makes me mad.”
“Bruce is the father?” Lila said, then started laughing so hard she snorted. “Good one, Jess.”
“Of course Bruce is the father,” Jessica said. “It makes sense, doesn’t it? He once sort of date raped her. And there’s always been this weird sexual tension between them.”
“If you say so,” Lila answered.
“Have you noticed how fat she’s gotten lately? Definitely size 8,” Jessica said. “For sure.”
“Hmm, I bet she’s also overeating as a response to the stress of planning the prom,” Lila said, frowning at the baby, who was now giggling at her.
“Are you kidding me?” Jessica asked, stretching out one perfectly tanned leg so she could admire her newly polished toes. “Elizabeth’s got Enid running around like a chicken with her head cut off. If anyone should be stressed, it’s Enid.”
“Enid’s such a bore,” Lila said, yawning so Jessica could hear.
“I may have been – only slightly – wrong about Enid,” Jessica said. “Remember when she ran over and killed that kid while she was on a bender?”
“Well, that is the most exciting thing she’s ever done,” Lila said.
“Rumor has it that Enid’s out for blood,” Jessica said. “Big Mesa blood.”
“So we’re sending Enid out to do our dirty work?” Lila guessed. “You know she’ll screw that up. We might as well send Winston Egbert in. He could bore them to death with his lame jokes.”

* * *

Elizabeth sat at her typewriter, a blank sheet of paper in front of her. She had meant to set aside time to write her big article before now, but between planning the teen pregnancy prom, throwing Rick Andover’s body into a dumpster and actually getting pregnant, she’d had little time to devote to it. And now that she actually had time, she couldn’t think of a single word to say.
“Maybe I’ll get out my journal,” Elizabeth said out loud. “That always helps me clear my mind.”
From the back of her desk drawer, Elizabeth pulled a small leather-bound volume. It had been her best friend through some of her most trying times – when she was kidnapped by a crazy orderly who just wanted to brush her hair and feed her pancakes; when she fell in love with an actual werewolf; when an insane look-alike tried to kill her and take over her life. Elizabeth turned to page 10,898 and began to write.
I just have such a hard time believing some people – like Jessica – actually want to be pregnant, she scribbled. For me, this is the worst thing ever! Not only am I being bruised from the inside because of all the hideous kicking going on in there, but now I actually have to eat to sustain this life form. And now, not only do I have to be responsible for my own baby, I have to plan the prom, save mankind from the end times and uphold the high journalistic standards of The Oracle, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up having to take care of Jessica’s baby as well.
I can see it now: Jessica and Lila will be at the beach, tanning and checking out the faint outline of boys’ junk in their Speedos, and I’ll be taking care of both of our babies. And probably Lila’s, too.
I told Mr. Collins he should start a day care at Sweet Valley High. He said he’d think about it. Maybe I’ll start a day care at the school and pressure everyone else to volunteer there. I can publicly shame them if they refuse. I’m sure Mr. Cooper will go along with the idea.

Through the bathroom door, Elizabeth could hear Jessica giggling and talking on the phone. “So much for getting some work done tonight,” she muttered out loud. Her sister could be a distraction sometimes. Elizabeth got up from her desk to shut the bathroom door so she could concentrate. With her new size – Elizabeth seemed to be growing bigger by the day – she could barely make it out of the chair without getting stuck.
But in shutting the door – and meddling in her sister’s affairs in the hopes that she could offer some unwanted advice – Elizabeth overheard Jessica’s end of the conversation.
“Bruce is an amateur when it comes to scheming,” Jessica said. “I knew I shouldn’t have listened to him.” She paused while Lila responded. “I can’t believe he got Elizabeth pregnant. That really makes me mad. … Of course Bruce is the father. It makes sense, doesn’t it? He once sort of date raped her. And there’s always been this weird sexual tension between them. … Have you noticed how fat she’s gotten lately? Definitely size 8. For sure.”
Elizabeth turned away from the door, crestfallen. She had been trying to keep her pregnancy a secret, and here was Jessica, yapping away about it. And speculating that Bruce Patman, of all people, was the father!
“I knew I couldn’t trust her to keep a secret,” Elizabeth said through clenched teeth. “It’s not like she’s ever done anything like this before – oh, wait. Never mind.”
She heaved a great sigh. Oh, well, that’s just how Jessica is, she thought to herself. Frequently betraying her own twin sister’s confidence is part of her charm.
Elizabeth stood at the door for a few minutes, staring off into space, her hand lightly grasping the doorknob. She faintly heard Jessica’s chatter as if it came from far away and didn’t even notice when Jessica had hung up the phone.
“Liz? What the hell are you doing?” Jessica’s voice snapped Elizabeth back to reality.
“I was just – writing,” she stammered, blushing and looking down.
Jessica raised an eyebrow. “Writing? While standing at the bathroom door, staring off into space?”
“All right, I was eavesdropping,” Elizabeth said. “Why are you telling everyone that I’m pregnant with Bruce’s baby?”
“I’m not telling everyone,” Jessica said sweetly. “Just Lila. And it is Bruce’s baby, isn’t it?”
“No, it’s not,” Elizabeth said hotly. “I’ve eliminated him as a possibility.”
“Besides, everyone in Sweet Valley knows you’re preggo already,” Jessica said. “I don’t know what the big deal is.”
“I think I’ve done a very good job of hiding it,” Elizabeth said with as much defiance as she could muster.
“Liz, Mom and Dad are about the only two people left in Sweet Valley who are brain dead enough to not get it. You’ve really packed on the pounds,” Jessica said. “It’s so obvious.”
“Quit saying I’m fat!” Elizabeth exploded. “Not that I care about my looks as much as you do, but I don’t even eat!”
“See, I totally don’t get that,” Jessica said, pulling a chocolate bar from the back pocket of her denim short shorts and peeling back the wrapper before stuffing it in her mouth. “Food is so good.”
“It’s a control thing,” Elizabeth snapped. “I’m a perfectionist. You obviously wouldn’t understand.”
“That reminds me, Lila was saying that she read in Ingenue that there’s this thing called pro-ana, like, these girls get together and don’t eat,” Jessica said. “It sounds like a total bore, so you’d probably love it.”

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11 2009

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