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Hat trick, p.1

Hat Trick, page 1


Hat Trick

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Hat Trick



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  Steven and I went sailing across the screen of Zoe’s laptop, swaying to the music.

  “Oooooooooooh, Devin,” Jessi said, and poked me in the ribs.

  “Oooooooooooh, Jessi,” I teased back, pointing at the computer screen as Jessi and Cody came dancing into the camera’s view. Jessi and I were huddled together with Zoe and Emma on Zoe’s bed, watching the video from Zoe’s bat mitzvah the week before.

  “Oh my gosh!” Emma shrieked. “I think it’s gonna happen now!”

  All of our eyes widened as we watched the screen, waiting for the moment that we hadn’t been able to stop talking about all week.

  Jessi and Cody glided among the other dancers, steps away from me and Steven. It was a slow song, and just as it ended, the deejay immediately launched into a fast-paced number by Brady McCoy, a new pop star who had a hit song called “Believe in Me.”

  As the song started, shrieking filled the air, and Emma burst through the dancers.

  “This is my jam!” she yelled in the video as she jumped excitedly to the middle of the dance floor. But instead of stopping, she lost her balance.

  “Whoa!” she yelled, her long, shimmering emerald-­green party dress tangling up around her legs. Emma waved her arms wildly in the air for a moment, but nothing could stop her from falling. She toppled over, knocking into Jessi and Cody, who in turn bumped into me and Steven, and we all ended up in a big pile on the floor.

  Zoe and Frida came running into the frame. “We’ll save you!” Frida cried. But just as they reached us, Jessi and Steven untangled themselves and got to their feet, colliding with the rushing Zoe and Frida. Jessi and Steven went down again, this time with Zoe and Frida toppling too.

  Lying on the bed, we all shrieked with laughter as we watched ourselves flopping around on the dance floor. In the video, Zoe was laughing so hard she had tears running down her face. We were all hysterical and went into even harder peals of laughter when Zoe’s mom and my mom came up to us on the video, concerned. They tried to help us up, but we were laughing so hard, we couldn’t move.

  “That was so awesome!” Zoe said as we watched ourselves carrying on. “It’s one of those perfect party moments you can’t plan.”

  “Perfect party moment?” Emma asked in disbelief. “I thought I had ruined your perfect day!”

  Zoe shook her head. “No way. Those are the memories I’ll never forget. And I’ll always start laughing when I think about the dance floor pileup!”

  My own smile turned to a frown. “I wish Frida could be here with us to see it now. She would have loved it. The drama!”

  “I wonder what’s going on with Frida,” said Jessi. Frida was our actor friend and soccer teammate on the Kentville Kangaroos. We called ourselves the Kicks, and we had just finished a pretty good season of soccer.

  We all shrugged. Frida could be dramatic, and she had sent a mysterious text this Saturday morning, right before we were all supposed to meet at Zoe’s house. It read: Sorry, but something big is happening. I can’t make it today. And I can’t say why—yet. We’ll talk soon.

  “You know Frida,” Emma said, smiling. “Maybe aliens ate her homework or she had to save the world from an army of evil wizards.”

  Frida had started out as a nervous soccer player, until she’d figured out that if she pretended to be someone else on the field, it helped her to calm down and focus. We all helped by coming up with ideas for her. It was always a lot of fun to try to think of different parts for Frida to play.

  “At least something exciting is happening,” Jessi complained. “With the fall soccer season over and all the planning for Zoe’s bat mitzvah finished, I’ve had too much free time on my hands. I’ve been so bored. I’ve even been looking forward to doing my homework every night.”

  “That is serious,” I deadpanned, as Emma and Zoe burst out laughing. At one point Jessi had avoided doing her homework so much that her grades had gone down, almost getting her kicked off the Kicks! She’d turned it around and had gotten her grades way up, but we had never heard her say she looked forward to homework before.

  Jessi laughed along with them. “It’s true.”

  “I get it,” I said. “I’ve been in serious soccer withdrawal myself.” The Kicks had made it to the first game in the state championship tournament but had lost. We had come so close. I kept going over the game in my head, knowing I could have done things better. I was itching to get back onto a soccer field to put what I had learned to use. But it was only November, and the Kicks wouldn’t play together as a team again until February, when practice would start back up.

  Suddenly Jessi leaped off the bed. “I’m such an idiot!” she yelled, startling us all.

  “What are you talking about?” Zoe asked, her eyes wide.

  “The winter soccer league,” Jessi said, the words coming out in a rush. “I totally forgot. And the tryouts are coming up soon. Maybe we missed them!”

  “Wait. What?” I asked, my excitement growing. “There’s a soccer team we can play on until the Kicks are back together?”

  Jessi reached for Zoe’s laptop. “Can I?” she asked, and Zoe nodded and handed it over. Jessi began typing furiously. “You know, Devin, when you first got here, the Kicks were in bad shape. It was just for fun to play on the soccer team. I never thought about playing it seriously, which is why I never really considered the winter league. But now everything has changed!”

  Jessi squinted at the computer screen. “Got it!” She clicked, and a screen came up for the Gilmore County U14 League. “Tryouts are this Monday! We haven’t missed them.”

  “Jessi, that’s awesome!” I leaped off the bed and hugged her. We began jumping around the room together.

  “I’m in too.” Zoe jumped up and joined us.

  “And me too!” Emma sailed off the bed and collided into us like a bowling ball knocking over pins. Once again we were a pile of people on the floor. After we all managed to stop laughing and get untangled, we sat back on Zoe’s bed.

  “So Maisie won’t be the only one in the family playing soccer this winter,” I told them. “She joined her elementary school’s program. Her practices start next week.”

  “Oh, how cute!” Emma said. “Little tiny soccer players.”

  I rolled my eyes. Sometimes my little sister, Maisie, could be adorable, but mostly she was just annoying. Although, I had to admit she did have some soccer skills. I had kicked around the ball in the backyard with her the other day, and she’d showed the potential for some pretty good footwork.

  Now I heard a car horn toot outside. I looked at the clock. “That must be my mom,” I said. “Gotta go!”

  When I walked outside, I smiled as I saw our family’s familiar white van. It had traveled with us when we’d moved from Connecticut to California this past summer. Maisie called it the Marshmallow. As I climbed inside, my phone beeped, letting me know I had a text message. I figured it was Jessi, all excited about the travel team. But instead it was a text from Frida sent to all of us.

  BIG NEWS! it said, followed by a bunch of emoticons of firecrackers, smiley faces, and clapping hands. We need to video chat ASAP!

  Wow! I wondered what was going on. Before I could even tell my mom about Frida’s text or the winter soccer league
, Maisie let out a wail from the backseat.

  “Bad news!” she yelled before bursting into tears.

  “Maisie,” my mom said, gently yet firmly. It was a voice I’d heard her use many times with my little sister. If I were being totally honest, I’d heard her use it on me too, every once in a while. But not so much lately. After all, I was in the seventh grade now. “It’s okay. Take a deep breath and then tell Devin what is upsetting you.”

  Maisie hiccupped as she inhaled loudly. I knew she was only eight, but I thought she was getting too old for all that crying. I started to text back to Frida, but my mom put a stop to that.

  “Devin, no phone right now. Maisie needs to talk to you.”

  Maisie nodded as I slipped my phone into my pocket. Her face was less red, and the tears had stopped pouring out of her eyes.

  “The soccer program at the elementary school . . .” Her lower lip started trembling, and I thought she was going to burst out crying again, but she didn’t. “It was canceled. I’m not going to be able to play soccer.”

  “It was canceled? Why?” I asked, shocked. I was suddenly way more sympathetic to Maisie. If our school did away with the Kicks, I’d be crying too.

  “No money,” Maisie said sadly.

  My mom sighed. “Budget cuts,” she said, shaking her head.

  “Aw, Maisie, that’s too bad,” I said. “Maybe they’ll have enough money next year.”

  “I want to play now!” Maisie said, sounding on the verge of tears again.

  “I know you want to play,” I said gently, mimicking Mom’s voice. “But I didn’t know you wanted to play this bad. You used to hate getting dragged to my soccer games.”

  “Yeah, but when I saw you and the Kicks go to the championships, it made me want to play too,” Maisie said. “Plus, I liked sending all that princess energy to Frida while she was on the field.”

  Frida had recruited Maisie during the championships into acting a role during a soccer match. Maisie had gotten way into it, playing along in the stands.

  “Awww, Maisie, that stinks,” I said as I looked into her big brown eyes. She nodded back at me sadly.

  As soon as we pulled into our driveway and got out of the van, she was right by Mom’s side, tugging at her sweater and asking for cookies to cheer her up. My mom was a real health-food nut, but she did keep a hidden stash of sugary and salty snacks in case of an emergency. Maisie was milking the cancellation of her soccer program for all she could.

  I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and saw I had texts from Jessi, Emma, and Zoe, too. They were all meeting online to video chat at four p.m., which was only about fifteen minutes away. I texted back that I would see them soon, before I headed inside. I popped my head into the kitchen to let my parents know I’d be using the computer to talk with the Kicks.

  “Hi, Devin!” Dad said cheerfully. He was at the counter, chopping up some veggies for dinner. Maisie was pouring herself a big glass of milk to have with the cookie in front of her on the table. Maisie, 1; Mom, 0. “Did you have fun at Zoe’s?” he asked.

  “We did. We got to see the video from the bat mitzvah and all the photos,” I told him. “But Jessi had some big news. Gilmore County has a winter soccer league. Tryouts are this Monday. Can you or Mom take me?”

  “Devin, that’s great news!” My dad beamed. “I know you were going through some serious soccer withdrawal. And it’s only been a week. I can’t imagine what you would have been like waiting for the spring season to start. Probably you would have turned into a soccer zombie.”

  My dad put the knife he was holding down on the cutting board, put his arms out in front of him, and got a glazed look on his face. “Soccer, soccer,” he moaned as he dragged himself around the kitchen, pretending to be a zombie.

  I laughed while Maisie spit out a mouthful of milk. At first I thought she was laughing too, but she got all red in the face again.

  “How come Devin can play soccer and I can’t?” she complained.

  Oh boy. I felt bad for Maisie, but I did not want to miss Frida’s news, no matter what. As Dad turned to Maisie, I quickly said, “Jessi, Zoe, Emma, Frida, and I are video chatting in a few minutes. Is that okay?”

  “Yes, but when I call you to dinner, you have to say good-bye and come down right away,” Dad reminded me as he grabbed some paper towels. I told him thanks and then headed up the stairs to my bedroom.

  I shut the door, turned on my computer, and opened up the app the Kicks used to video chat. I was the first one online, so I invited the others to join me.

  Jessi came first. She had removed the usual headband from her black hair, which was now a beautiful riot of loose dreads cascading down her shoulders. She stopped chewing her gum long enough to blow a bubble, which filled the screen before it exploded onto her face. We were both cracking up as she was peeling the gum away when Emma came into the chat room. Emma’s long, thick black hair was cut into bangs straight across her forehead. Since we were video chatting, you couldn’t tell it at the moment, but Emma was the tallest of us all. She was the Kicks’ goalie, and her height came in handy.

  Zoe logged in next. She was our fashionista, with her strawberry-blond hair cut in a stylish pixie. I wore my own light brown hair in a ponytail, as usual.

  I waved at them and said, “So where’s Frida? And what’s her big news?”

  Jessi rolled her eyes. “Leave it to Frida to be late for her own video chat so she can make a dramatic entrance.”

  “I’m all about the drama, darling.”

  We heard Frida’s voice right before her face popped up on the screen. She looked pretty glamorous, with her dark red hair styled in long, loose curls.

  “Frida!” Emma screamed. “What’s going on?”

  We all started talking at once.

  “Why weren’t you at Zoe’s?”

  “What’s the big news?”

  “Tell us, tell us!”

  “Silence!” Frida shouted over us.

  She said it superdramatically, but it was effective. We all grew silent, waiting for Frida to speak. She cleared her throat, and then announced: “I got a part in a TV movie starring Brady McCoy!”

  Emma shrieked so loudly that I thought my computer speakers were going to blow up. Then she dropped out of view of the camera. It looked like she fell right out of her chair!

  “The Brady McCoy?” Jessi asked in disbelief. “The ‘Believe in Me’ Brady McCoy?”

  Frida nodded, her eyes shining. “The one and only.”

  We heard Emma panting hard as she came back onto the screen, climbing back into her chair. Her bangs were a tousled mess, and she had a glazed look in her eyes. “If you are joking, so help me, Frida . . .” She trailed off.

  Frida held her right hand up and twisted her middle finger over her index finger. “I swear,” she said solemnly. “It’s called Mall Mania, and it’s about a group of kids who get locked in the mall overnight. There will be singing, dancing, and a crazy subplot about a group of thieves who are trying to break into a jewelry store while we’re all trapped inside. We have to figure out how to stop them. I’m playing Brady’s younger sister. It helps that we have the same hair color.”

  We all congratulated her. I had a friend who was going to be in a movie. Wow! Things like this hadn’t happened when I’d lived in Connecticut.

  Emma’s camera once again left her face. This time she was walking around her room with her laptop, showing us all the Brady McCoy photos she had hanging up.

  Her face popped back up, her brown eyes looking sad. “Why, oh why, am I not an actress? Maybe I could have been in the movie too. And my trailer could have been next to Brady’s. And then one morning we’d both be leaving at the same time, and I’d trip down the trailer stairs. And Brady would come rushing over to help me, and when he helped me up and looked into my eyes, he’d fall instantly in love with me. And I’d be Em
ma Kim McCoy.” As she was talking, she got this faraway look in her eyes.

  I laughed. “Figures you’re clumsy even in your dreams!” I teased.

  “She’s going to be in dreamland for a while,” Zoe said. “We might as well get the whole story from Frida while we wait for Emma to return to Earth.”

  “Right. So when does the movie start filming? Will you be in school?” Jessi asked Frida.

  Frida shook her head. “I have to be on set starting this Monday. It’s really exciting. They are going to have a tutor for all the kids.” She frowned for a second. “This is a dream come true, but I will miss you guys.”

  “Shoot.” Jessi sounded disappointed. “We’re all going to be trying out for the winter soccer league on Monday. I guess you won’t have time for that, either.”

  “No. I’ll be filming the entire month,” Frida explained. “I didn’t even know there was a winter soccer league!”

  “Jessi just remembered today,” I told her. “It’s a county league. It will give us a chance to play soccer until the school team starts up again in February.”

  This reminded me of Maisie’s problem.

  “Maisie is pretty sad,” I told them. “She was all set to start playing soccer with her school’s program. But it was canceled because of budget cuts.” I made a sad face.

  “Aw, poor Maisie,” Frida said.

  “Maybe we can come over and coach her or something,” Emma suggested, finally coming out of her Brady fog.

  “She’d like that, Emma,” I said.

  “Hey,” Zoe chimed in. “Frida, maybe you can get Brady McCoy to play a little soccer with you on your downtime.”

  “I read somewhere he’s a big pro soccer fan!” Emma exclaimed.

  We all laughed at the thought of Frida kicking a soccer ball with Brady McCoy on a movie set.

  “Can we meet him? Can we visit you on the set?” Emma asked eagerly.

  Frida shrugged. “I don’t know if I can have visitors or not yet. But if I can, of course!”

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