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Prom Baby! – Word count: 32,067

“Oh, hi, Enid,” Elizabeth said, laughing nervously. “You’re home. I wasn’t expecting you to actually pick up. Oh, wow, this is awkward…”
“It doesn’t have to be awkward, Liz,” Enid said quickly. “I’ll do anything you want me to. Anything.”
“Then don’t fight with anyone from Big Mesa,” Elizabeth said desperately. “Please, Enid.”
“Why would I fight with anyone from Big Mesa?” Enid asked. “I’m not fighting with anyone. Except you. Unless you let me touch your boob.”
“OK, Enid, this is getting weird,” Elizabeth said. “I was just kidding about the boob thing. This isn’t slash, you know?”
“What?” Enid said.
“I mean, the whole boob thing, it was just a trick,” Elizabeth said. “To get you to pick up the phone.”
“I can’t believe you, Elizabeth Wakefield!” Enid cried. “Why must you toy with my emotions? I may be a crackhead, but I have feelings!”
Elizabeth winced as Enid slammed down the phone. “So much for that tactic,” she said with a sigh.

* * *

“Only two more days until the prom!” Jessica squealed, cutting her French toast into thick slices. “I can’t wait!”
“Jessica, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about those boxes in the garage,” Mrs. Wakefield said, stirring some half-and-half into her coffee. “They’re leaking some sort of fluid. And they smell.”
“Elizabeth will get rid of them,” Jessica said, waving her fork in the air. “I don’t need them anymore.”
Elizabeth pursed her lips but didn’t say anything.
Her father sat down at the table and unfolded the paper. Elizabeth gasped when she saw the front page.
“Mr. Collins!” she exclaimed, snatching the newspaper right out of her father’s hands.
Quickly, she skimmed the article. Mr. Collins had been arrested following an anonymous tip that he had been having inappropriate relations with his students in violation of the sex offender registry act. The article was accompanied by a picture of Mr. Collins being led out of Sweet Valley High in handcuffs.
“Dad, you’ve got to do something!” Elizabeth cried. “The trial is tomorrow, and he doesn’t have an attorney.”
“Oh, I’m not a criminal defense lawyer,” Mr. Wakefield said, shaking his head. “And there’s no way to win that case. Anyone could tell you that guy’s a pervert. He calls here for you four, five times a week, wouldn’t you say, Alice?”
“At least,” said Mrs. Wakefield, nodding and taking a sip of her coffee.
“But he’s the best teacher at Sweet Valley High,” Elizabeth said. “And we can’t put out The Oracle without him.”
“I don’t know about that,” Jessica said, licking a string of maple syrup off her fork. “Penny Ayala’s kind of a hard ass. Especially since she got preg– I mean, fat.” She reached down and rubbed her shin where Elizabeth had kicked her.
“I’ll see what I can do,” Mr. Wakefield said. “But I can’t make any guarantees, Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth nodded gravely. She hoped someone could save Mr. Collins, before it was too late!


The entire school was abuzz with news of Mr. Collins’ arrest, as well as the previous afternoon’s brawl with Big Mesa.
“I just know it was those Big Mesa assholes who called in the ‘anonymous’ tip on Mr. Collins,” Jessica said to a group standing in front of the auditorium.
“To be fair, it could have been Suzanne Devlin,” Elizabeth said. Suzanne was some dumb bitch who had come to Sweet Valley on some sort of bunk-ass exchange program and accused Mr. Collins of grabbing her ass. Everyone in Sweet Valley was surprised when it was discovered that Mr. Collins was, for once, innocent.
“I can’t believe they’d stoop so low,” Jessica exploded.
“I can,” Bruce said grimly.
“Let’s not jump to conclusions,” Elizabeth warned. Her baby kicked in response, as if agreeing with her.
“Elizabeth’s right,” said Roger. “We don’t know what really happened.”
“We’d better go in and sit down,” Elizabeth said. “Mr. Cooper’s about to start the assembly any minute now.”
The group filed in and took seats in the front row. Todd sat next to Elizabeth and squeezed her hand. “I know Mr. Collins was special to you,” he whispered. “If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.”
“Thanks, Todd,” Elizabeth whispered back, her eyes welling up with tears. “You’re a good friend.”
“Settle down, kids, settle down,” Mr. Cooper said, taking the stage and raising his hands for the students to be quiet. “As you probably already know by now, Mr. Collins was arrested this morning on suspicion of having inappropriate relationships with his students. While I’m sure Mr. Collins has conducted himself with the utmost professionalism during his tenure at Sweet Valley High, I need any students who believe otherwise to come forward so the school board can pay you off to keep quiet.”
Every female student in the auditorium raised her hand. “Christ, all of you?” Mr. Cooper exclaimed. After a minute, Bruce reluctantly raised his hand as well.
“Mr. Cooper, if I may?” Elizabeth asked, standing up and gesturing toward the stage.
“Of course, of course, Elizabeth,” Mr. Cooper said, stepping aside.
“Fellow students of Sweet Valley High,” Elizabeth began, her voice ringing out across the auditorium, “we know that what Mr. Collins did to us was sometimes wrong. But he’s the best teacher Sweet Valley High has got! Ken, remember when you turned in my paper for your English assignment and you never really got into any trouble? Well, you can thank Mr. Collins for that. And Emily Mayer, remember when you were being abused or something at home, only it wasn’t really that bad? It was Mr. Collins who reported your stepmom to child protective services. And Tom, remember who gave you a really creepy speech on how we’re at a really weird age when it comes to our sexuality and it’s OK to experiment with the peen? All right, bad example. My point is, Mr. Collins has helped each and every one of us when we’ve been in trouble. And now it’s up to us to help him!”
Elizabeth left the stage to thunderous applause. Bruce even gave her a standing ovation and a playful smack on the ass.
“Way to go, Elizabeth!” Winston yelled from the back of the auditorium.
“Yeah, way to go,” Jessica said sarcastically. “Are you sure you’re not just doing this to snag the title of prom queen?”
“Jessica!” Elizabeth exclaimed, shocked that her sister would even suggest such a thing. “Mr. Collins’ life is on the line here!”
“Oh, they’re not going to put him to death,” Jessica said breezily. “Cut off his genitals, maybe.”
“That’s what we should do to those Big Mesa freaks!” Bruce cried with glee.
“We are not cutting off the genitals of Big Mesa students,” Elizabeth said warningly.
“But you practically called for some sort of drastic action in your speech,” Jessica said as they left the auditorium.
“I called for justice for Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth said. “Not the continuation of a war with Big Mesa.”
“How do we get justice for Mr. Collins?” Roger asked. “It’s not like he’s actually innocent.”
“That’s true,” Jessica said. “We’d better hope the school board doesn’t perform a paternity test on all of our babies. I, personally, don’t have anything to worry about. But I know half of the girls in this school couldn’t find anyone better than Mr. Collins.”
“Jessica, I’ve told you before – Mr. Collins’ is an expert at the withdrawal method,” Elizabeth said. “There’s got to be some way we can prove he’s not a threat to any of us.”
Jessica snorted. “Good luck with that!”
“Well, I’m skipping school for the rest of the day and going down to the Sweet Valley Jailhouse to see Mr. Collins,” Elizabeth said. “Maybe there’s something he can tell us that will help get him out of there. Now, who’s with me?”
She was greeted with silence.
“I’m, uh, Robin and I have a very important cheerleading routine to teach the squad,” Jessica said. “Everyone’s center of balance is kind of off these days…”
“Chemistry test,” Roger said, apologetically. He slung a friendly arm over Elizabeth’s shoulder. “If anyone can help Mr. Collins, it’s you.”
“I got a date rape scheduled for noon, man,” Bruce said, hurrying off down the hall.
“Todd?” Elizabeth asked.
He shook his head. “I’ve been creeped out by the jail ever since I got thrown in there for repeatedly punching that guy from Palisades, even though the cops told me to stop,” he said, shuddering. “Brings back bad memories.”
“Fine, then!” Elizabeth said, now fueled by anger. “I’ll go by myself!”

* * *

“Enid!” Jessica called, hurrying down the hall toward her sister’s best friend. “Enid, wait up!”
“What do you want, Jessica?” Enid said witheringly, turning around to give Jessica the evil eye.
“Elizabeth’s in trouble,” Jessica said breathlessly, running to catch up with Enid. “It’s those guys from Big Mesa!”
“What guys from Big Mesa?” Enid asked sharply.
“Just some guys from Big Mesa,” Jessica said. “You know she thinks they’re the ones who called in the ‘tip’ about Mr. Collins, right? Well, she’s gone to Big Mesa to confront them!”
Enid shook her head. “That doesn’t sound like Elizabeth,” she said.
“I know,” Jessica said, clutching Enid’s arm. “But this whole thing with Mr. Collins has got her really upset. You know how much she admires him.”
“Loves him is more like it,” Enid said glumly.
“What’s wrong with you?” Jessica asked, suddenly intrigued.
“I’m in love with Elizabeth, Jessica,” Enid said. “I told her last night, but she didn’t take it very well.”
Jessica laughed raucously. “Of course she didn’t take it very well,” she said. “Enid, Liz isn’t gay!”
“I can’t help the way I feel,” Enid said, looking Jessica straight in the eye. “And if you weren’t such a bitch, maybe I’d try to get with you to feel as if I were with Elizabeth.”
Jessica quickly removed her hand from Enid’s arm and stepped back. “Look what I have,” she said, trying to change the subject. She pulled a small plastic baggie from her purse. Enid’s eyes lit up as she tried to snatch the bag out of Jessica’s grasp. “Ah, ah, ah,” Jessica said, pulling the bag up above her head. “You can have it when you’ve rescued Elizabeth from the big, bad boys of Big Mesa.”
“She won’t want me to rescue her,” Enid said, now shaking at being so close to her drug of choice.
“She does, deep down,” Jessica said. “I can sense it through our twin bond. And, if you rescue her and take out as many Big Mesa students as you can, I’m sure she’ll fall in love with you.”
“You really think so?” Enid asked eagerly.
“Of course,” Jessica said. “Now, go get as many of those Big Mesa assholes as you can!”

* * *

Mr. Jaworski had replaced Mr. Collins as the teacher of the reproductive health class, Lila noticed as she took her usual seat in Mr. Collins’ room. Jessica hurried in just as the bell rang and threw herself into the desk next to Lila, turning to give her friend a thumbs up.
Lila, who had no idea what Jessica was so wound up about, shrugged and opened up her notebook. Maybe Mr. Jaworski would give them some useful information today. Like what to do if your baby stays up all night, crying, she thought, lightly patting the bags under her eyes. I hope Daddy gets this baby mix-up straightened out soon.

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11 2009

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