September Piper

September Piper

For all of the people who love fall.

My First Chapter
The sound of dead leaves whisking down to the ground and flying off the roof made an eerie swishing sound that made me shiver and huddle even deeper into the pile of quilts.
       It’s fall again, I thought to myself, glancing over at the plaid shirt, jeans, and sneakers lying on top of each other on the old Victorian chair by the door. 
          That pile of clothes was what I was planning on wearing tomorrow. And maybe I’d add in a sweater, too. Unlike the other girls my age, who were busy wearing designer clothes, makeup, applying nail polish, and checking their phones, I was busy throwing on clothes so that I could just get on with my day, pinching pimples when they invaded, washing off dirt that seemed to just love to hide underneath my nails, and checking my email about once a week.
       Even though I was almost fourteen—turning fourteen on the 29th of September—I’d never had a phone in my entire life. Sometimes it was kind of weird to see little seven year olds walking around and talking in “like” language (i.e. oh my gosh, like, the other day I was like, “Mom, are you kidding?! You’ve like got to buy me this!” and then I was like…yeah, you get the picture) when I didn’t even like to answer my parents’ cell phone.
        That was another thing. While most people were switching over to cell phones, the only person my family who had a cell phone was my dad, and that was for work purposes only (though sometimes the family members got a hold of the number and tried to call us while we were away). Otherwise we had a landline phone that I was always freaked out to answer.
         I shivered again, goose bumps running up my arms. My long slender fingers could feel them on my legs, too. It was like this night was the curse of the goose bumps.
         I glanced over at my clock. It read 10:03, but my clock was early, so I supposed that it was around 9:45. I know what you’re thinking—why on earth is a girl of my age going to bed at around nine o’clock? That’s like crazy! But, really, it’s not. I’m always running around to places and doing stuff, so I’m usually always tired at night.
       But not tonight. Because in the morning was my first day of school.
       OK, OK, I know. September 4th is way too late to be starting school. But, seriously, that’s when the school started. Don’t look at me, genius.
       My parents (OK, my dad) originally wanted to homeschool me, and he got his wish for the first eight years of my life. But then our family needed more income to keep our house, so Mom went to work. She could’ve gotten off when I’d turned ten, but her work at the library was just too much fun for her that she didn’t want to quit.
        So now here I am, thirteen year old eighth grader Piper Leap going into my last year of middle school at Applegate Middle School of the town of Applegate.
         Ah. It’s not that bad, I suppose. On the bright side, I’m going to school again with my best friend Casey, and I have lots of “other” friends that I at least know. Hopefully no new kids though. Though who’d want to move to Applegate, Virginia, the smallest town on earth? I have no idea.
         Casey Whittier and I had been best friends ever since we’d met at our elementary school’s yearly achievement track meet. We’d never really seen each other in school before, but we saw each other a lot after that.
      About five foot tall, skinny as stick, with frizzy blonde hair and sparkling brown-blue eyes she wasn’t easy to forget. Not to mention that she was totally bouncy and energetic, and hilariously funny sometimes.
          I rolled over and glanced at the clock—10:30. Was the clock serious?! Ugh! Why couldn’t I just fall asleep!? This was so annoying. I glanced over at my backpack, plaid brown, red, and blue. I glanced back over at the clock. Still 10:30.
        Was I ever going to get to sleep? It didn’t seem like it.
         My eyes trailed around the room, going from the wooden dresser with the stuffed animals, jewelry box, and old tea-set on top, to the closed closet door with the horse calendar on it, to the open window with the plaid curtains fluttering softly in the night breeze, to the Victorian chair with the stuffed pillow, to the table right next to it with the titled stack of books from the library, and finally resting on my desk that was underneath the window.
         I’d missed it on purpose last time because I hadn’t really wanted to think of school. Math, I knew, was probably going to be better this year. I mean, seriously. I hated Geometry, but Algebra couldn’t be that bad.
        I say I hated geometry, but I’d never actually taken it before. Call it whatever you like—pre-algebra, pre-geometry—but I was still doing pre-geometry in that math course that I’d taken in seventh grade.
        English was a horror. Who cares what that word is? Can’t we just use it to write or something?! Not to mention that I was going to have Ms. Alexandrina this year. Ugh. Everybody who’d ever gone through her class knew that it was the worst class. EVER.
          Science was the most confusing glop in the universe, not to mention that everybody at the school were evolutionists. My parents and I were Christians through and through, and sometimes the evolutionist theories just made my blood boil. And it’s like they’re always changing their theory, so how can it be right…?! Yeah, anyway, so that was also bothersome. Whenever I had a problem, thankfully, Mom would always help me.
        History wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was actually pretty interesting. My favorite things were like studying pirates or explorers (OK, those are sometimes kind of boring) and the Revolutionary War.
        Sam Harper made sure to tell Casey and I that the French Revolution was his favorite because so many people lost their heads. I’d stared with my mouth open and Casey had replied that she thought it was a horrible time period. Sam just laughed. (Ugh.)
         I was pretty sure that Mom had signed me up for some kind of art classes this year or something. I couldn’t remember. She’d gone off by herself to go and sign me up for the classes while I’d been busy outside collecting things for my nature scrapbook. (The only people to have ever seen it are my parents and Casey.)
        And then, slowly, I felt my eyes starting to droop…

My Second Chapter
I woke up with a siren beeping its mouth off in my ear. OK, I’m exaggerating a little bit. But just a little. I seriously have no idea how on earth I, of all people, ended up with the most annoying alarm clock in all of Virginia.
        I slapped my hand on it and finally—FINALLY—it stopped its horrible noise. I threw off the covers before I could close my eyes and fall back to sleep again.
       Throwing on the clothes that I’d set out, I slipped on my sneakers and pushed my brown hair back into a ponytail, slipping on a headband. I was almost lost if I didn’t wear a headband. I loved headbands and wore one almost every day. Casey said that I should change it once in a while, but I answered her why on earth should I?
      Anyway, so I quickly grabbed my backpack with all of my supplies and started down the stairs. I had about fifteen minutes extra time, so I didn’t have to rush as I got myself breakfast—microwave oatmeal—and then brushed my teeth.
       Since Mom worked in town anyway, I didn’t have to go on the bus. She took me herself and just dropped me off early so that she’d have time to get on over to the library.
          “Piper?” Mom called from the top of the stairs. “Is that you down there? Are you ready for school?”
         “Yeah, Mom,” I called back, grabbing my wool coat, scarf, and hat off the rack and slipping them all on. Glancing out the window by the door, I knew that the day was definitely going to get nippy.
          Mom came down the stairs completely bundled so that the only thing I could see that was really her were her eyes. She had either had breakfast already or was skipping breakfast because she announced,
      “Come on, let’s go.”
      We walked out the door and towards our minivan. Though it was just us—Dad, Mom, and I—we still had a minivan. I suppose it’s because they always supposed they’d have more children. They were almost heartbroken when they were told they couldn’t have anymore children. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have siblings, but mostly I just go on with life and don’t think about it.
        The minivan coughed to life and we sputtered down the road. My eyes strayed out the window, watching the harvest fields full of tractors, the tall trees with the changing leaves, and the wild, blowing grasses pass on by.
        “I love September,” I announced, not turning from the window. “I don’t see how anybody could think that September is a horrible month. I think it’s gorgeous.”
        “That’s just because you like it,” Mom chuckled. “You don’t like summer, do you?”
       “It’s too hot,” I agreed.
      “But what about getting out of school?” Mom’s eyes twinkled.
        “Yeah, well, that’s the only plus for summer,” I answered, folding my arms and leaning back in my seat. “Other than that I get to see Casey every day.”
      “You still get to see her every day,” Mom pointed out with a smile.
      “Which is why fall is best,” I grinned.
       Mom only shook her head and chuckled as we went off down the road. We pulled up to Applegate Middle School and I quickly hopped out, starting for the doors.
       “Have a great day!” Mom yelled out after me.
       “You too!” I grinned, and quickly headed inside the doors.
        Paper leaves were strung along the tops of the hallways and over doors, while pretty posters boasting fall were plastered all over the walls. Somebody had gone and placed leaf stickers on all of the lockers.
         I quickly checked out my locker—the one that I’d chosen just a few days before—and saw that it’d definitely need to get renovated. Casey and I would have to meet after school to get our lockers done up properly. It wouldn’t be hard, since our lockers were right next to each other.
            “Piper!” shrieked the well-known voice that ran up to me and wrapped her little arms around my stomach, squeezing the life out of me.
     “Hey, Casey!” I laughed, pulling out of the hug.
    Casey was done up in a white shirt and fashionable plaid scarf. Her hair was pulled back in a peppy ponytail held by bobby pins, pair of dark jeans, and fur boots.
         “Wow!” I cried, feeling my face plastered into a big goopy, gushy smile as my heart fell right down in a pit by my toes. “You look great! Like awesome great!”
      “Really?” she giggled. “Thanks. I bought this scarf for myself with my Christmas money from last year since we’re…” Casey gulped and quickly covered over it. “I mean, just because!”
      I didn’t trust her. What did she mean, since we’re what? I wanted to know exactly what was going on, but for the first time in my entire life I was speechless scared. What on earth was she going to say?
       “I’ll tell you about it later,” she promised in a whisper. She pulled back, smiling, and took off down the hallway, not looking back. I noticed she said hello to Bailey Williams, the most popular girl, before she went an disappeared inside of one of the classrooms.
       Since when did Bailey and Casey ever talk?  I’ll tell you when. Never. Something was going on, and I think it’s called Bailey-steals-Piper-Leap’s-best-friend-as-her-own. Not a fun game.
        But Casey was my best friend, and I wasn’t going to assume anything. I quickly turned away from my locker and started towards where my first class was.
        Don’t think about it, Piper, I urged myself. Don’t think about it.

My Third Chapter
My classes went at normal speed—speeding up at the fun classes like art, and slowing down to a horribly sluggish pace during the classes like English and science.
      Casey was in all of them, as usual, but she had a few extra classes. I knew from Bailey’s bragging that Bailey was in all of them. Thoughts threatened to push themselves into my brain but I pushed them back. If Casey wanted to have other friends, what concern of mine was that?
        Since Casey was pretty much ignoring ME, I decided that I might as well not really seek her out or anything. Sometimes I felt that yearning—especially at lunch—but I pushed it away, finding a secluded table in the corner that was always empty anyway. But I couldn’t help but look up and see Casey and Bailey sitting together. This definitely wasn’t right.
      I was about to head out the door to wait for Mom to pick me up at the end of school when Casey finally (at least seemed to) came to her senses and stopped me.
      “Hey, Piper!” she cried, running up behind me.
      I quickly turned around, managed a smile. “Oh, hey, Casey.”
      “I was wondering…” she hesitated, glancing everywhere but my eyes. “Well, maybe if, you know, I could come over to your house right now or something?”
        I was so surprised and happy that I didn’t think about having to ask Mom and blurted out right away, “Of course! That’d be great. Come on—Mom’s almost here.”
       I grabbed Casey’s hand as if we were still in sixth grade or something and pulled her out the doors with me. I hoped that maybe she’d explain all of the her-and-Bailey stuff.
           Mom didn’t question me as Casey and I piled into the van. I guess it was because I didn’t usually ask her really for anything. And since I was her only child, I was especially special to her (I guess. I mean, that’s what she always tells me. Sometimes, I wonder if that’s just Mom-talk. You never know).
          “Thanks so much for the ride, Mrs. Leap,” Casey smiled prettily as we got out of the minivan. “I really appreciate it.”
       “Oh, no problem, Casey,” Mom shrugged it off. “Now you guys go right on inside. Piper”—she turned to me—“there’s some hot chocolate in the pantry and part of an apple pie in the fridge if you guys want some.”
       Was there even a question?
       Awhile later, settled on my bed with our steaming mugs of hot cocoa and our plates full of microwave-heated Mom’s special recipe apple pie, Casey stopped right in the middle of eating.
      “Piper,” she started, sounding uneasy and suddenly quite like she was going to puke her guts out.
    “Are you OK?!” I cried. “Do you need to get to the bathroom? Do you want me to call your mom? Don’t move, Casey! Just don’t move! And…and if you have to puke, please don’t puke on my bed…”
      “Piper.” Casey’s voice got a little stronger. “I’m OK. I’m not going to puke. Just relax.” She grabbed my arm and plopped me back down on my bed. Her eyes were perfectly serious. “We have to talk.”
         I sighed. This was starting to unfold like in one of those movies where the kid does something bad and the dad gets mad and says “we have to talk”. I reviewed the last few days in my mind—nope, I hadn’t done anything to offend Casey. At least, not that I could think of. I couldn’t help but wonder what was going to come out of my best friend’s mouth in the next few minutes.
        “Piper…” Casey paused, caught her breath, and then blurted it out. “We’re moving.”
       “MOVING?!” I shrieked.
      “Don’t freak out!” she begged, her eyes pleading. “Please. I’m seriously already freaking out as it is.”
      I was dumbfounded. “Well…well…well WHERE?” I sputtered.
     “We’re moving to New York,” she admitted, twiddling the ends of her hair nervously. She glanced up, her face apologetic. “That’s why I’ve been with Bailey lately. I thought maybe she could kind of help me with the transition. She’s been really nice about it.”
        “So, wait.” I held up my hands. Hurt was on my voice. Tears were definitely not far from my eyes. “So you went and told Bailey Williams—Bailey Williams—before you even told me?” The tone of my voice betrayed my hurt.
       “I’m so sorry, Piper.” Tears flowed out of Casey’s eyes. “I didn’t mean anything against you. I…I just couldn’t bear to say goodbye to you…and…and I knew you wouldn’t want me to go…and…and…” Finally, she fully burst out crying.
     Now I totally felt like a bad guy. I quickly wrapped her in a hug and rocked her back and forth like mom always used to do to me (and only sometimes did now) when I got hurt by somebody (last time it was because somebody yelled at me that I was ugly. But that was from Michael Spearmeyer, and he’s the ugliest kid I know, so I really shouldn’t have been that offended, but I was).
       I just held her, whispering over and over (and over and OVER), “It’s OK. Shh, it’s going to be OK,” until I was sure I’d be murmuring it in my sleep.
      But I didn’t mind. She was my best friend, and I cared a lot for her. I found myself crying, because I realized that in how many days until she was leaving, she wouldn’t be there anymore. And we’d be separated. For like forever.
      “How did you find out?” I finally whispered.
       Casey sniffed and wiped the tears off her face with the back of her hand. “I…I overheard Mom and Dad talking yesterday night about it. They said something like, ‘It’ll be so hard on Casey for her and Piper to be so far apart,’ and, ‘Casey’s going to miss Piper so much’ and that’s when I realized that we were moving.” Casey’s tears continued as she managed to go through with the tale. “Then they started talking about New York and how we’d still be able to see each other during visits and all this other stuff.”
        “So they haven’t told you personally yet?” I whispered, mostly in surprise.
         Casey shook her head, her eyes darting. “And now I’m scared to ask them. I don’t want them to know that I was eavesdropping. And I don’t want to move. I don’t want it to be true!” she bawled in despair.
      “It won’t be the end of the world to admit to eavesdropping,” I pointed out. “It happens to everybody. I really highly doubt that you meant to eavesdrop.”
      By the look on her face, I knew that she had meant to eavesdrop.
     “Ooo-kay,” I sighed, running a hand through my hair. “But remember—God forgives all sins. Just relax. I’m sure they’ll break it to you soon.”
        “But that’s just it, Piper,” she pointed out. “What if they don’t? What if they don’t tell me until like a week before because they didn’t want me to worry?”
      I snorted. “What would the use in that be? Then you wouldn’t even feel like you had time to say goodbye. If your parents are smart—which I know they are—then they won’t do that to you. Just relax. I bet you’ll get home and they’ll break the news—whatever it is—to you.”
        Casey smiled, wiping her nose with her sleeve. “Thanks, Piper.”
        I smiled and pulled her into a hug. “Anytime, Casey.”
        “I suppose we should go and do something,” Casey pointed out, pulling out of the hug. “Otherwise your mom’s going to want to ask what we were doing and everything.” Her eyes were big. “You won’t tell her, will you?”
        I shook my head. “That’s for your parents to share with my parents. It’s none of my business.”
      Casey grinned. “I knew I could count on you. Thanks so much, Piper.”
       I nodded.
       “So…” Casey’s eyes trailed around the room. “What do you want to do?”
        I chuckled. “We could do research about New York City and everything and find out more about getting you to fit in.”
      “I suppose all of my clothes will have to be Hollister and American Eagle,” sighed Casey. “I’ve got some Aeropostale shirts, but I doubt that’s going to be enough for New York City, for goodness sakes.”
      “You’re not going to…you know…wear makeup, are you?” I questioned hesitantly.
       Casey burst out laughing. “Piper, I already wear makeup.”
      “You do?!” I cried in surprise. I leaned forward, inspecting her face. “I was wondering where all of your pimples went! You little cheater!”
       By now, Casey was giggling hysterically. I couldn’t help but join in, and soon both of us were laughing so hard that we were pushing tears out.
        We finally ended up looking up New York City online and looking at pictures of things like the New York Public Library and the Statue of Liberty. I was so relieved that Bailey wasn’t playing the friend-stealing game.
       “Hey, Piper,” started Casey, twiddling her hair between her thumbs. “Remember that time when Sam Harper told us that his favorite time period was the French Revolution because of all the people that lost their heads?”
        I snorted. “Yeah. How could I forget? I was scarred for life!”
       “The other day he came up to me and told me he was sorry,” she admitted. “I’m surprised he didn’t come up to you.”
       “Naw,” I shrugged. “He wouldn’t dare. He knows I hate his guts.”
       “I suppose it would rather be like suicide for him,” chuckled Casey. “I suppose I’d do the same thing if I was a boy your age, Piper. You send off vibes.”
       I glared at her. “What do you mean by that?”
      “Nothing,” she shrugged off. “Come on—let’s get some more hot chocolate.”

My Fourth Chapter
The next day at school, I wasn’t a bit jealous when I saw Casey and Bailey walking together, because I knew that Casey was just learning more things about what she’d need to know to survive in New York.
       I was just walking down the hallway when I heard somebody wildly yelling my name—“Piper! Piper! Piper!”
        I turned to see who was flagging me down and saw the most unexpected sight. It was Jess Penderwick, a boy from my old homeschool group that I used to be apart of. When we were younger, we used to be really good friends.
        With his gangly body, large eyes behind glasses, and messy hair, he wasn’t quite the right person to be representing homeschoolers. But then again, why on earth was he even here? The reason we hadn’t really been friends anymore was because I’d been shipped off to the public school because of Mom’s job.
      “Oh, hey, Jess,” I smiled. “What’re you doing here? Is there like a play going on or something?”
       Jess had always been one of the main stars in our homeschool plays. I liked drama, too, it’s just I was usually too shy to try out for anything. Jess, though bumbly, could not be described as “shy” by any means.
        “Nope.” He grinned. “I got enrolled this year. My parents always planned in putting me in the school system when I was a freshman, but then I remembered that you were here, so I pleaded to go my eighth year, that way I’d have a year for you to show me around and that way I could be the top of middle school.” Jess’s face burst into a smile.
       I realized he was waiting for me to offer to show him around and fumbled for my words. “Oh, uh, yeah, sure. I’d love to show you around, Jess.”
      Other than being really dramatic at times, Jess could also be hilariously funny. He was also innocent, but full of light sarcasm. That was one of the main reasons we’d been good friends—he loved to make people laugh, and I loved to laugh.
      “Thanks!” Jess’s face lit up. Then he glanced around. “So,” he started, “where’s my first class?” He shoved a piece of paper under my nose.
     I pushed it away and read it carefully. It was his schedule, which I’d soon have to help him get used to. We were in several classes together, including the Algebra class. I’d been surprised to find out that Algebra in middle school is advanced, but I’d been pretty proud of myself. Apparently, Jess was just as smart as me.
      “I’m in most of your classes, except for this drama class and this computer class. But I have tech time during the drama class, so I should have some extra time to show you the room. As for the computer class? I think I know a few kids who might be able to help you out.” I smiled. “You know Casey Whittier, right?”
     “Uh, pretty short?” he held up his hand to about half his height. I nodded. “With frizzy blonde hair?” I nodded again. “Oh, yeah, I know her. I’ve seen her around a few times.” He shrugged. “She’s kind of cute.”
       I nearly gagged. “Uh, well, she’s like my best friend.” Jess blushed. “And she’s in the computer class, too. Maybe she could show you to that class.”
      Jess looked away. “Oh, yeah, sure. That’d be great.”
     “Here she comes now,” I pointed out as Casey came walking down the hallway with Bailey.
       “I thought you said that you were her best friend,” Jess hissed out of the corner of his mouth. “And if you are, then who on earth is that other girl?”
       “That’s Bailey,” I whispered back, “she’s the most popular girl in the school. She’s one of Casey’s other friends.”
       Jess nodded. “Ah. I see. She’s not half as pretty as you guys.”
       “Uh, thanks,” I managed.
        “So should I introduce myself?” Jess wondered out loud. He glanced at me. “Or were you going to do that?” As he said it, he licked his hand in an attempt to push back some of his unruly hair. Mission failed.
        “Oh, uh, sure, I’ll introduce you guys.” I fumbled with the books in my hands and started to walk towards Casey.
        When Bailey saw me coming, accompanied by Jess, she gave us a horrified look, said something to Casey, and walked off as quickly as her fashion high heels could take her.
        “Hey, Casey.” I eased up beside my friend. “This is Jess. He’s one of my friends from the homeschool group I used to be apart of. Listen, he’s new, and he’s having some trouble finding some of his classes. I’m in all of his classes except two, and I’ll have time to take him to one of the classes. But I know that you were in that computer class. Well, so is Jess. So I was wondering if you would show him the classroom when it’s time.”
        Casey glanced from me to Jess and then back at me. She cracked a smile. “Oh, sure. I’d love to, Piper.”
       I grinned. “Great. See you later,” and then walked off as quickly as I could.
      Jess followed. “So I guess it’s settled then, huh?” he thought out loud.
       “Yep,” I nodded. “I suppose so.”

My Fifth Chapter
“You did that on purpose!” Casey insisted, grabbing one of the pillows off my bed and throwing it at me. She glared. “Now I’m going to be stuck leading Jess Penderwick around to his computer classes for the rest of my life!”
      I burst out laughing, grabbing the pillow out of the air before it hit me. “Relax,” I chuckled. “It’s not like it’s the end of the world. And Jess’s a really nice kid.” I shuddered. “Not like that Sam Harper!”
      Casey rolled her eyes. “He’s really not that bad.”
     “I knew you would warm up to Jess,” I grinned.
      She frowned. “Not Jess, Sam! Are you kidding?! Jess’s so…so…so…”
       “Intelligent,” I offered.
       “Dramatic,” I tried.
        “Sheesh, I was only trying to help, Casey!” I laughed.
        “He’s so nerdy!” she finally burst. “And you weren’t helping.” Here Casey glared at me. “But, seriously, Piper. That kid looked like he was about to fall over. His eyes were glazed over, too.”
       I sighed and rolled my eyes. “It’s just because he has a crush on you.”
       “WHAT?!” Casey burst off my bed, eyes horrified. “Piper Leap, I hope you have solid evidence for that! And if you do…eww…oh my word, I’m to die, Piper! What do I do? What do I do?” she started to pace the room.
      I snorted. “Well, he called you cute. Obviously he likes you.”
      “I’m going to be sick!” she announced.
        I rolled my eyes. “His crush won’t last the semester with that attitude, Casey. Just relax. Mom’s talked me through this whole thing. Don’t worry.”
       Casey looked at me, horrified. “You told your mom that Jess likes me?!”
      “No,” I sighed. “She was just explaining about…”
      “Oh, good.” Casey wiped her forehead. “And you’re forgiven.”
        “Thanks,” I muttered.
        “Now,” she started, “we should start working on the New York thingy.”
        “Wait.” I grabbed her arm before she could pull her laptop out of her bag. “Just a sec. Before we do any of that, there’s something else we were going to do.”
        Her face was blank. I sighed.
        “You know? The Bible reading?” Her face was still blank. “Casey!” I burst. “You promised! You said that when you came to my house that we could read the Bible.”
      “Oh, uh, yeah.” She shrugged it off. 
       Her family was “religious” and everything, but I was almost positive that Casey wasn’t an actual Christian, though I was sure her parents were. I sighed and went over to the table beside my bed, grabbing my Bible.
      “Now,” I started, “I thought we could start by reading the Psalms.” I smiled. “They’re one of my favorites, because they’re so beautiful to read.”
      “My brother said they’re like poems except they don’t rhyme,” pointed out Casey.
      “Well your brother doesn’t know everything,” I pointed right back, plopping down next to her. “Now,” I started, “since you forgot your Bible”—or left it on purpose—“you’re going to have to share with me.”
        “How long’s the first chapter?” she questioned, peeking over my shoulder.
       I glared at her and started to read. “ ‘Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,’” I read, “ ‘or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But he delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
         “ ‘Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.’” I glanced over at Casey. “Do you understand what it’s saying?”
       “I admit I was a little confused by the thing about the wicked not standing in the judgment,” she answered. “I mean, aren’t we all going to be judged? And wouldn’t the wicked even more so stand to be judged?”
        I opened my mouth to answer but before I could I heard Mom’s voice downstairs calling us. Casey jumped up immediately and disappeared out the door.
       I glanced back down at my Bible. That part was a little confusing, I had to admit, though I supposed it was talking about the judgment where the Christians came and were together. That’s what I would’ve told Casey.
        I glared out the door. But the moment had gone, because Mom had called. I wondered faintly if this was one of those times that Mom sometimes talked about—when Satan tried to thwart good things happening.
        God, I prayed, is reading with Casey something that you want me to be doing?
       It had seemed like such a great idea when I’d come up with it on Sunday. And now… Casey! Why do you have to be like that?!  I shook my head and put my Bible down, starting down the stairs before Mom started yelling up at me to get down there and entertain Casey.

My Sixth Chapter
After Casey left, I knew I just had to get away. Throwing my sweater, scarf, and knitted hat over my plaid shirt, I slipped on some rubberboots and headed out the door.
     “I’m going to the South Field!” I yelled over my shoulder to Mom. “I’ll be back around suppertime!”
     “OK!” came Mom’s muffled voice from the living room, where she was no doubt reading the latest book that they’d just received at the library. Even if it was considered a “kid’s book”, Mom still enjoyed getting them, because she detested most adult fiction and liked the innocence of a kid’s novel.
       I kind of had that thought, too. While other girls were out reading the next teen novel, like the Twilight books and The Hunger Games, I was downstairs in the kiddie section reading Narnia and The Secret Series.
      The wind nipped my nose as I jogged through the backyard, nimbly jumping over the wooden fence that separated our house from the rolling fields that belonged to our neighbors. They were a nice, elderly couple who didn’t mind if I ran around their property all the time.
         I rushed through the empty field full of tall grass that had once upon a time been the main meal of the cows that had stayed here until our neighbors had started getting too old to take care of them.
       Mr. and Mrs. O’Malley, our neighbors, were what I’d call an inspirational couple. Both were deep-hearted Christians, and I loved them dearly. If I ever got married, I wanted my marriage to be exactly like theirs.
        With so many marriages being broken these days by divorce, I was practically proud of them for keeping together. It was a rare thing, almost, in this world to find people still together. All in all, I loved them.
        I jumped the other fence on the far side and entered the South Field. I hadn’t named it that, trust me. Mr. O’Malley had. Back in the days when Mr. O’Malley’s fields had still been populated with cows, and I’d been around seven or eight, Mom used to get really worried about me and call Mrs. O’Malley.
       Since they always knew that the South Field was my favorite place, she’d just laugh and answer her, “She’s in the South Field, of course.”
        Back then, I didn’t know the name of the place, but I’d been calling it Lily-the-lay. I really have no idea why. It sounds kind of silly now. But back then it sounded so awesome. But when Mom told me about it being called the South Field, well, the name kind of stuck for me.
        My boots crunched on the leaves as I entered the forest. Mr. O’Malley hadn’t really ever had cows in this place because of the forest, so that’s mainly why I’d picked this particular pasture as my play-place.
      I weaved through the trees, making it to my tree house. I’d made it mostly by myself. OK, I admit it—Dad and Mr. O’Malley had done wonders with it. You’d think that they’d made it for an army of kids, not just one little girl named Piper Leap.
      I scrambled up the ladder and pulled it up after me so that I wouldn’t be disturbed. I then glanced around the place. Spiral stairs left up to a loft, from where was a ladder that led up onto the roof where a telescope was, hiding underneath an overhang onto which Dad and Mr. O’Malley had piled leaves to help hide it.
       On the walls were all of the books I’d ever gotten, with a few old books that had belonged to my great-grandparents and stuff that were mostly just thrown in for the looks.
       When I was younger I’d collected old bottles and bean cans and put all sorts of things in them like acorns and leaves and bark, which were on shelves all over. All of my other “stuff” that I’d collected and put here over the years were on shelves, too.
       There was a round table with little round seats that sat in the middle of the room. I’d been really proud of it, and thought it was really awesome.
        I pulled out my secret diary that even Casey didn’t know about and quickly recorded my incident with Casey. After I was done, I carefully placed it back on the shelf, hidden behind all of the other books.
       I walked carefully over to the old computer. This place was so much like a house, that Dad had allowed me to put the really old computer that I’d gone for my birthday a few years ago in here. This way, I wasn’t disturbed.
        I logged on and then clicked on Explorer. I was planning on going to Casey’s blog, to see if she’d went and told all of her bloggie buddies about her move to New York.
       I was pretty sure it was called Heart Secrets—the reason I wasn’t really sure is because I was barely ever on there—and thankfully Explorer had gotten the web address memorized by now. Thank goodness. I wouldn’t have remembered that by myself.
       Her blog was pretty cool. The design was super awesome, done by some person called Storyteller. (Why were they named Storyteller if they did designs is what I wanted to know. Why not something like Design? Or Designer? Or Designer3000? Or…)
        She didn’t have anything about it, just this little post about your heart’s secrets and stuff. I logged in on my Gmail email account that I barely ever used (except, of course, to check my email once a week).
       In the blogger world, I’d chosen to use a fake name instead of my real name like Casey had. My fake name was Fall Girl because, well, I couldn’t think of anything better and it seemed to describe me pretty well. I was pretty sure that if I ever got a blog it would be called like “Falling Leaves” or “The Leaves that Fall” or “Fall Scarf” or something equally “fall”.
        Casey had like 500 followers (I mean, she had been on blogger for like five years), and I almost couldn’t believe it. I had a feeling that if I ever got a blog, I’d have like two followers—her and myself.
      I suppose it’s because she’s so interesting. And she has this like “meet my family” page, which I suppose opens more readers since they practically know everything about her and what her family looks like and what all of her pets look like (I’m serious). She did have a “kind of” picture of me, but it was only a silhouette of me in a tree looking towards the sunset.
       (It was a picture from this photo-shoot that she wrangled me into doing with her. She’d asked my parents if she could put the photo out, and they’d agreed since you couldn’t see my face and everything. So now there was a shadowy figure out of a girl on her blog that she called, “My best friend whose name on blogger is Fall Girl”.)
        She had talked endlessly to me about me getting a blog, too, but I wasn’t sure I knew how to use all of this bloggie stuff. And I’d want to post about my life, which I wasn’t sure I could totally reveal. (Though I definitely wouldn’t want this page full of pictures of my family and I. A little creepy.)
        Seeing as there was nothing about her move to New York, I clicked off Explorer, turned off the computer, and lounged around the tree house for awhile.

My Seventh Chapter
I jumped out of the car the next morning, running through the doors of the school. I was grateful when I got inside. My nose was burning from the cold as I moved through the noisy hallway towards my locker.
      I’d brought a few things to “freshen it up”, as Casey and I liked to call it. Mostly it meant putting in natural fresheners like dried flowers, and what I called “the essential”—flashlight, change of clothes, sweatshirt, shoes, trail bars, coat, scarf, hat, extra bag, compass, and a few other things.
       The “freshen it up” had been Casey’s idea. When she’d seen all of my survival stuff, we’d made an agreement—we’d do both the freshen and the essential. And so the deal had turned into a pact.
      “Piper!” Casey ran up to me. “Piper, you won’t believe what Mr. Patterson told us!” tears were starting to stream out of her eyes.
      I frowned. “You mean your computer class teacher?”
      She nodded vigorously. “He said that Tommy Jackson had dropped out of the class, and now there’s not enough kids to continue! He said that if another kid doesn’t sign up by the end of the day that they’re going to quit the class!”
      “That’s horrible!” I cried.
      “I know!” Casey nodded. “And now I need you to save the day!”
      It took me a moment to realize what she was saying. And then it started to sink in.
      I glanced up at her. “Wait, so you’re saying you want me—me, Piper Leap—to take that computer class?”
       “Of course!” she cried.
       “This isn’t a ploy just to get rid of showing Jess the classroom, is it?” I questioned suspiciously.
       Her face went blank. “I hadn’t even thought of that,” she admitted, “but that’d be a good point, too.”
        I sighed. “Casey…I don’t know. I mean, I have that class on nature during that time…”
        Casey frowned. “Didn’t you see? That class got canceled, too. It happened at last night’s school board meeting. But there’s still time to rescue the computer class!”
       I sighed. “I’ll ask Mom.”
       Casey thrust her phone into my hands.
       “I guess right now,” I muttered to myself, dialing Mom’s number.
        Amazing, she was all green lights. I closed the phone and handed it back to Casey, whose face was excited.
       “She said yes, didn’t she?”
       “Yeah,” I replied.
       “YES!” Casey squealed, jumping up and down and freaking out a couple of sixth graders.
      Casey started to race off down the hall.
      “Wait, Casey!” I yelled.
       She turned. “Yeah?”
       I sighed. “Never mind.”
       She just grinned. “See you in that computer class!”

As far as I could see, this was one of the most horrible things that could ever—and would ever—happen to me. Sure, I was creative. Sure, I “kind of” understood computers. But taking a whole class? Bleh.
        And on top of that, I had to walk up to the office and tell the ladies there about it. They were all really friendly and everything, but it’s like one of those times that you “get sent down to the office” and your hands start sweating because you’re scared you’re about to get detention.
      Of course, I was coming in there on my own accord, but still. The place kind of creeped me out because of the thought of getting sent down there. I had never, ever, ever been sent down to the principal’s office. Casey? I’m not so sure.
         I trudged down the hallway towards the class. I heard footsteps behind me as somebody ran towards me. I didn’t stop or anything, thinking it was probably just some kid late to a class. (Maybe even the computer class. And on second thought, maybe it was Jess.)
       I was expecting the person to either stop or turn out to be Jess or Casey. Apparently, there was an option C that I hadn’t known about, and it wasn’t “all of the above”.
       “Hey, Piper!” Sam Harper caught up with me, slowing down.
       “Oh, uh, hey, Sam,” I managed, wondering why on earth he was even talking to me.
        “I heard you joined the computer class,” he started. I just nodded. “That’s so cool, ‘cause I’m in it, too. See, we had this other kid in there, so there was four of us—Casey, me, the other kid, and then that new kid that’s rumored was a homeschooler. And they said it was barely enough, and then Tommy went and dropped out…” he trailed off.
        “Yeah, uh, Casey talked me into it,” I admitted. “I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. Computers aren’t really my thing.”
       “I love computers,” Sam replied. “They’re so awesome.”
        I saw the classroom up ahead and my escape…wait, errgh, that was his destination, too. Well, it wasn’t as if I had to worry. Casey totally hated Jess, and I totally hated Sam, so I doubted that we were going to get paired up for anything.
       Sam and I entered the classroom. Casey and Jess were already inside. There were only two tables, since there weren’t that many students. Casey and Jess were at opposite tables, with Casey on the farthest side from Jess and Jess closet to Casey.
        Either way, it wouldn’t have been bad to sit with either of them, because Casey was my best friend and Jess was really nice, but I quickly nabbed the seat next to Casey.
       Mr. Patterson was at the front of the room. He was in his early thirties, with a head full of curly chocolate brown hair and tanned skin. It was rumored that he was half Mexican, but I really had no idea.
        “Hey, Piper,” Mr. Patterson smiled. “I’m glad to see that you joined us.”
        I nodded and did a little wave. “Glad to be here.”
       “So,” continued our teacher, “for the last couple of days we had been planning to do blogs for this semester, right?”
       Casey, Jess, and Sam nodded. I felt totally out of my element.
      “And since Thomas dropped out, Sam, Piper will have to be your new partner.” Mr. Patterson turned to some papers on his desk. I was glad. Otherwise he would’ve seen my nearly-gagging, after which Casey elbowed me in the stomach.
       Mr. Patterson glanced up again. “Hey, guys, I’d like all of the partners to sit together.” Jess got up to move over to Casey’s table, but I didn’t move. Mr. Patterson sighed. “Come on, it’s OK. It’s not like you’re dating if you work on one little project together.”
        I felt really embarrassed but got up and moved over to Sam’s table.
       “Since Piper hasn’t been here, let’s have the rest of the class time be in discussion of the blog,” offered Mr. Patterson. “If you guys have any questions, just come up and ask.” Then he sat down at his desk.

My Eighth Chapter
“So,” I started, “what was your and Tommy’s blog’s name going to be?”
       Sam frowned slightly at me and then opened up a notebook that had been lying idle on the table. “Well,” he said, “we hadn’t really thought of that yet.”
      “What kind of blog source are we going to use?” I wanted to know.
     “Blogger,” Sam explained. “See, we’d both be authors of it. We design it and do everything to it and update it, and then when the semester’s over we can just dump it.” He glanced at me. “If we want.”
       “Back to blog names,” I suggested.
       “We could call it ‘Middle School Life’,” Sam shrugged.
       I shook my head. “Naw.”
       “ ‘Sam and Piper’?”
       “Yuck! No!”
         “Oh, uh, sorry…”
         “Anyway… ‘Samwise Gamgee’?”
         “Ha-ha, very funny, this is not going to be a Lord of the Rings blog.”
        “ ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’?”
        “Do I look like the pied piper of Hamelin?”
        “OK, sorry, no.”
        “We could name it ‘New York’ or something. You know, just something random.”
     “Well,” started Sam, “what if we split jobs or something?”
       I frowned. “What?”
       “Like I know more about computers, so I could design the blog, and then you could update it,” explained Sam. “And then it would seem more like your blog, and then you could name it whatever you wanted.”
       “Oh, uh, sure,” I shrugged. “Whatever. I don’t really care.”
       “OK, then.” Sam rubbed his forehead. “Let’s see…”
      “Why not just name it ‘The Life of Piper’?” I suggested. “It’s really simple.”
        “Naw.” Sam shook his head. “It’s just that—too simple. I don’t like it.”
      I sighed. “Well, can you come up with anything better?”
      Sam snapped his fingers. “I’ve got it!”
      I paused hesitantly. “Um, so, what?”
      “September Piper.” He was grinning. “Isn’t it perfect? Everybody knows that you pretty much love fall and everything, and September’s one of the prettiest months. And it is September.”
       I shrugged. “Sounds good to me, I guess. And I do like fall designs.”
       “OK,” nodded Sam, running a hand through his hair, “it’s final. Our blog’s going to be named September Piper.” He quickly wrote down something in his notebook.
        “Do…do you remember that thing in history?” I questioned. “About the French Revolution and everything?”
       Sam looked up, grinning. “Of course I remember that.”
      I chuckled. “You’ve disgusted Casey for the rest of her life.” I shrugged, thinking about the last part—and made me loath you for all eternity, as Jane Austen would put it.
         “That was kind of the point,” pointed out Sam. “Though I was kind of hoping that you’d get disgusted, too. But you just ended up hating me.”
      “I…didn’t…” I stopped. Well, I DID hate him, so I couldn’t lie.
      “There’s no use denying it,” he shrugged.
       “So,” I started, eager to change the subject. “Is the blog already done?”
       “Obviously not,” snorted Sam. “We didn’t even have a blog name, remember. I think that Jess and Casey’s blog is already up, so we could put it up anytime.”
       “So are we going to do that together?” I wondered. “Like in the school library or something? Or would you just put it up and then invite me to the blog?”
      Sam shrugged. “Just whatever you want to do.”
      “Let’s set it up together,” I suggested. “Right after we get out of class.”
        He nodded. “Sounds good.”
         “I guess,” I muttered as he started to scribble in his notebook again. “I guess.”

My Ninth Chapter
Just as we were leaving Mr. Patterson’s room, I saw several girls pinning up a huge sign on the big blank wall outside the library with huge block letters.

Come one! Come all!
Applegate Middle School’s Medieval Day on September 29th, hosted by the town of Applegate. Everyone and their families invited! Bring a friend!

“Oh, wow,” I whispered.
      “Wow, look at these events!” cried Sam. “Come here, Jess!”
       Jess shot a grin over at Casey and than ran over, his gangly body nearly falling over himself as he came to join Sam, who was reading the small print at the bottom of the huge poster.
       “Hey, Piper.” Casey came up next to me. “That’s your birthday, right?”
       Sam glanced at me. “Your birthday, huh?”
       I nodded. “Yeah. I turn fourteen.”
       “I had my birthday back in August,” he shrugged, glancing back at the words.
       “What,” chuckled Jess, “so now you’re finally thirteen like the rest of us?”
       Sam glared his way (obviously he was already fourteen), but Jess was already snorting with laughter. Casey rolled her eyes as if to say “boys are SO immature, and I should know”.
       Since it was obvious the boys weren’t going to read it out loud for our benefit, I made them move over and started to read the words, too.
Jousting – Food JestersKnights Ladies Dancing And much more!

“Awesome!” cried Casey, reading over my shoulder. “It sounds like so much fun! Hey, look”—she pointed to even smaller words that read “talk to Mrs. Daily about getting a costume if you don’t have one”—“they’re even handing out free costumes!”
       “Well, I’ll definitely have to get one,” I sighed. “I’ve always wanted a medieval costume, but, well…yeah. I’ve just never really gotten one. Know what I mean?”
       Casey shrugged. “I have a medieval costume. I might even have a peasant costume, if you want it, Piper.”
       “Um, no thanks,” I managed, feeling that she was really was trying to help me. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by sounding snappish or anything.
       Casey shrugged.
       I leaned towards her and whispered, “Casey, what if you leave to New York before then?”
     Her face paled. “Oh, no.” She glanced over at me. “That reminds me that I have to keep on preparing to go.” She paused. “Will you help me?”
      “Of course,” I whispered back.
      “What’re you guys talking about?” asked Sam, suspicious.
       “You,” snorted Casey sarcastically, rolling her eyes. “Sam, it’s none of your business.”
       “Maybe they’re talking about the joust,” shrugged Jess. “I think that they’re opening it to students with parental permission, and maybe even handing out mounts and rubber jousting poles.”
       “Really?” Sam looked impressed. “That’s pretty cool. If they are opening the joust up, I might just have to go and enter or something. You know.” He shrugged.
         “Come on, Sam,” I urged. “Let’s get the blog done. My mom’s going to be here to pick me up soon, and I want to be waiting for her like usual.”
      “Yeah, just a sec, Pipe,” Sam answered, reading more of the words. (Actually, I was pretty sure that he was just reading them over again to stall and annoy me.)
      “OK,” I shrugged, “but I’m going to the library to set up the blog.”
      “So you guys found a name?” queried Jess.
       I nodded. “Yeah. We decided on September Piper.”
      Casey burst out with a snort. “Sorry,” she managed. “It’s just…well…it’s a two-person blog and you’re naming it after Piper?”
       I glared. “For your information, I’m going to be the one updating it. Sam’s just going to be designing it. Right, Sam?” I glanced around, but he was already off down the hallway, about to go into the library.  I rolled my eyes. “See you guys later.”
        I ran off after Sam and caught the door just as it was closing shut. I saw Sam seated at one of the computers and walked over, taking a chair beside him.
       “So this is it?” I glanced at the screen that had popped up with the words “Blogger: Create Your Free Blog”.
       Sam nodded. “Yep.” Faster than lightning he put in his email and his password before I could even read his email. (Though of course I wouldn’t have been able to read his password.)
         It popped up with something about profiles. My head was already dizzy, but Sam went through it easily like a breeze. We ended up on a “blogger dashboard” of some kind. Sam quickly clicked “create your blog”.
        For “title” he put in “September Piper” (which, amazingly, was open) and then for the web address put in “meetseptemberpiper”, after which they automatically added the “” onto.
        “ ‘Meet September Piper’?” I read with a frown. “Why on earth would they want to meet me? That’s kind of weird.”
       Sam shrugged. “True, but it works.”
        The first thing he did after he created the blog was to click on this thing at the bottom called “settings”. Then he clicked all of this other stuff until I was totally confused.
        “I need your email,” he said finally.
          I told him it, and he entered it in. Then he turned to me, smiling.
        “When you get back,” he announced, “you’ll have an invitation in your inbox. Accept it, and then I’ll make you an admin and you can start posting!”
        “Goodie,” I said. “OK, let’s go.”

My Tenth Chapter
“So what else do you need to know before you move to New York?” I wondered out loud, flipping idly through the pages of Casey’s computer class notebook.
       Casey sighed. “Well, first of all, I don’t want them to think I’m a country-bumpkin.”
        I snorted. “Casey, you live in Virginia, not Tennessee. Relax.”
        “But they’ll probably think I’m a nut!” she pointed out. “Please, Piper,” she begged. “Just sympathize for a moment.”
       I sighed, shutting her notebook and looking up at her pleading eyes. “OK, fine. Go on.”
       Casey grinned. “So, first of all, I’ve got to improve my speech. Everybody in New York talks with ‘like’ all the time and uses things like ‘totally’ and other stuff, so I’ve got to learn to use those more, too.”
        “I use it like not at all,” I joked in a high-pitched girly voice. Then I rolled my eyes. “Whatever you say, Casey.”
         “OK.” She took a deep breath. “Give me a sentence, and then have me say it with the likes in it.”
        I paused. “It stinks that you’re moving to New York.”
       “It, like, totally stinks that you’re, like, moving to, like, New York,” Casey tried.
        I glanced up at her. “Oh, uh, that wasn’t the sentence. I was just randomly saying that.”
        She looked surprised. “You were?”
        I nodded. Because it did stink.
        “But your likes were good,” I praised her. “You actually sounded pretty normal. At least to me. And definitely more like Bailey.”
        She grinned. “Well that’s good.”
        “What’s next on the list?” I sighed, running a hand through my hair.
        “I guess we could try and see what to do with clothes,” Casey mused, glancing around her room.
       After school, Casey had hitched a ride with us and then Mom had dropped us both off at Casey’s house. Casey made the excuse “best friend time”, and I wasn’t about to contradict her. I just hope that her parents told my parents soon. Really soon.
       “You mean like using ‘normal’ clothes and making them look more fashionable?” I wondered.
       She shrugged, nodding. “More or less, I suppose. Come on—let’s see what I have.”
         I sifted through the clothes, pulling out what I knew to be more fashionable and putting it in a pile, and then pulling out “just OK” clothes and making another pile. I wasn’t even going to attempt to do Saturday clothes.
       Casey pulled a cute scarf out of the “just OK” pile and put it with a pretty white shirt that was in the fashionable pile. (It was mostly in the pile because it was Aeropostale.)
        “That’s cute,” I admitted. “And don’t you have those new pairs of fall boots?”
        “Yep,” Casey nodded. “There’s a fur pair and a leather pair. My grandparents gave them to me.”
      “OK, Casey.” I held up my hands. “If you’re not wanting to be thought of as a ‘country-bumpkin’, you might want to lose the ‘yep’.”
       “Oh, of course.” Casey blushed deeply.
       “It’s OK,” I assured her. “I just thought of that as you said it. I think ‘yeah’ is more New York than ‘yep’.”
        “I agree,” she nodded.
         I paused. “So have your parents even tried to talk to you about moving?”
        Casey shook her head, turning away and crossing the room, hugging herself. “I just don’t understand,” she whispered, tears on the edge of her voice. “Why wouldn’t they have already told me by now?”
       “Maybe you’re moving later than you thought,” I offered. “Maybe you’re not even moving at all, and this was all just a misunderstanding? Wouldn’t that be cool?”
       Casey sighed and collapsed on her bed, her hair falling all over her face. “I suppose so,” came her muffled reply.
       I chuckled and jumped onto the bed next to her. “Is it me,” I started with a smile, “or was somebody actually kind of excited about getting to move to New York?”
         Casey flew up to a sitting position, her eyes big. “You can’t really believe that, Piper,” she whispered.
     “So you’re not excited? At all?” I mean, of course I could understand it—the last place on earth I didn’t want to move to was New York. (Except for maybe L.A. or Chicago.)
        Casey shrugged, a small smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. “I don’t know. It’s all kind of confusing. One moment I’m stricken with grief at leaving, and then the other I’m feeling like maybe it’d actually be OK.”
       “We could still email,” I pointed out.
       “It wouldn’t be the same, though,” she sighed. “I’d really miss these times that we’ve had together.” Casey looked up at me, our eyes locking.
        “And I would miss you, too,” I promised her, giving her a small hug.
        “I suppose we should get back to preparing,” Casey finally allowed. She paused. “So how’s your blog going, by the way? Do you have it all set up?”
       I shrugged. “Apparently I’m getting an invitation in my inbox, so I’ll have to go and check it when I get home.”
        Casey grinned and pulled out her laptop, doing the eyebrow wiggle. “Or you could just do it here.”
        I chuckled. “OK. Hand it over.”
        Casey set it up and got the internet on for me, so I just went to Gmail and logged onto my account. There was the invitation, which I quickly accepted. It took me to my dashboard, which looked the same as it did when Sam had created this blog in the first place.
       The first thing I did was change my name from “Fall Girl” to “Piper” so that there wouldn’t be any confusion on the blog. (Besides, the people on there would probably still think it was a fake name.)
        Then I went to go and check the blog out. So I already had one follower, and when I hovered, it said “Sam Harper”, so I realized that Sam had just followed himself.
       “Can you follow yourself?” I asked Casey.
       “Oh, yeah, of course,” she nodded. “And by the way, I’ll come and follow your blog, too. And I’ll go and get Jess to follow, too. And we’ll put your button on our blog, and I’ll put it on my own personal blog, too. You’ll soon have lots of people coming!” Casey grinned and then peered at the screen. “Hey, it’s actually pretty cool! I like Sam’s design.”
       “It is pretty cool,” I admitted.
       “Very fall-ish,” Casey agreed with a grin. “I like it. I’ll have to make sure to tell Sam that next time we see him.”
       I hadn’t really paid any attention to like to the mini dashboard when I’d gotten on, I’d just gone to go and look at the blog. The next time I went to my mini dashboard that read “September Piper” at the top, I had a whole bunch more options.
      “What just happened?!” I practically shrieked.
      Casey laughed. “Obviously Sam’s on, because he just made you an admin of the blog.”
        I sheepishly scratched my head. “Oh.”
        After we’d done a first post, I logged out and then we talked more about all of this New York stuff. I wanted to offer a Bible verse, and I was about to, when all of a sudden Casey’s mom’s voice came up from downstairs.
      “Piper! Your mom’s here to pick you up!”
        I glanced regretfully at Casey, said goodbye, and left.

My Eleventh Chapter
I told Mom all about the Medieval Fair, and she agreed that it’d probably just be best to get some clothes for it from Mrs. Daily. I decided that I’d talk to my teacher the next day when I got to school.
      Meanwhile, I managed to get away to my tree house, away from mean boys and weird blogs and disturbing news about friends moving away to New York City.
       Amazingly, the one that trailed me all the way there and perched itself on my shoulder the whole time as the thought of Casey having to move to New York City.
        As I sat in one of the chairs downstairs and looked around the room, the thought crept up on me—what am I going to do without Casey? The thought was just horrible. I almost couldn’t stand to think about it. Mostly because I didn’t know what I’d do.
        The options didn’t look very good:
1)   Stay home all day and cry.
2)   Forget about her.
3)   Be lost forever without her.
     Yeah, now you understand my situation. I mean, seriously. What was I going to do? I just couldn’t think about it, because when I did, I found myself slipping into a spirit of moodiness. And I didn’t like to mope around all the time.
        I was so dejected that I felt I just had to do something to get my mind off it. So I logged on to my computer and then got logged onto September Piper. Maybe making a blog post would make me feel better.
       When I got on, we already had three followers. I check it out. It now had Sam and Casey, and somebody else called “The Hunter”. I frowned, and then thought of something.
       I clicked on Casey’s icon. It popped up. Under her links were “Heart Secrets” and another blog called “We Rule the School”. I nearly burst out laughing, realizing that this was Casey’s and Jess’s blog name.
       I clicked on it and it took me to this blog that had this notebook as the background and this header that looked all school-ish with the words “The School” with “We Rule” slapped on just before it sideways in a red bold font.
      I looked for the authors and saw that “The Hunter”, sure enough, was one of the authors. I nearly burst out laughing. Jess, the Hunter? How hilarious was that?! Apparently, he’d wanted to impress Casey. Nothing going.
      I went back to September Piper and thought for like half an hour about what to write. I finally managed to think of something.

Hey, guys!
I’m called Piper, and this is my blog. Welcome! I really hope you enjoy everything that I post. I’m not the most interesting person or anything, but I hope to make this interesting and fun to read. And why on earth did I make this? I made it, with the help of a certain person named Sam Harper, because of a school project that I’m having to do. But maybe I’ll keep it up even after I’m allowed to stop doing it. Who knows? Hope you come along for the ride! Adios!

I nodded in satisfaction and published the post. (It was definitely better than the first post that I’m made at Casey’s house, which said, no joke, “Hey, this is Piper.” Yeah…) I wondered if I was going to get any comments, and if I did if it was just going to be from Casey or Jess or somebody.
      I went back to the dashboard and saw, to my surprise, that there was these orange words by “September Piper” that read “1 Comment Awaiting Moderation”. Sam had put up comment moderation? That was good. At least if anybody used bad language I’d be able to delete it before it got onto my blog.
       I clicked on it and it took me to this place where it showed me this comment. Somebody by the name (or blogger name) of Connie had commented.
       OK, I admit it. I was pretty much ecstatic! I mean, hello! Somebody from the internet had just commented on my blog! Somebody who I would probably never meet! Somebody like all of those hundreds of people on Casey’s blog! One of those computer people! One of those people who could be about anywhere in the world! Maybe even somewhere like Ireland or Russia or Australia or anywhere at all! How exciting was that?!
      I quickly read it.

Hey, Piper! I got over here by Casey’s blog, Heart Secrets. I love it already! I’m following!

Well, that was nice. Sure enough, we already had four followers. Then I reminded myself that I could follow my own blog, too. When I did that, I had five followers. It didn’t bother me that Casey had like 495 more followers than me. This was just plain awesome!
      I logged out, and that’s when I remembered again the horrible truth.
      Casey was moving to New York.
      I banged my fist against the wall. “NO!” I banged harder, and cried, “Ouch!”
     I slipped out of my tree house and started for the house.

My Twelfth Chapter
I rushed into school the next day. I wasn’t sure if I was getting the extra energy from the fact that it was freezing cold outside or the fact that I was feeling horrible that Casey might’ve been moving to New York the next day.
     I was fumbling to get my locker open when I sensed somebody standing beside me. I glanced up and saw Ewan Kramer, who I mostly only knew him because when we’d been in elementary school we’d played soccer together.
       I’d quit soccer, but he’d continued, and was one of the best players on the middle team now. He was pretty much assured a spot on the high school team next year.
      “Hey, Piper,” he smiled.
       “Hey,” I managed still fumbling with my lock. I finally got it off, but then it fell on the ground.
     How people mostly remember Ewan’s name was the fact that he shared the same name as Ewan McGregor, the guy who played the young Obi Won Kenobi in the Star Wars movies and the guy who played Alex Rider’s uncle in the movie Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker.
       (At this point I admit Ewan McGregor’s only in the Alex Rider movie for about ten minutes, but hey, he still made an appearance in the movie, right? I will also add the fact that after those ten minutes he was killed.)
      It was rumored that Ewan (the guy in my school, not the actor) was actually born in Ireland, but that’s just a rumor. I think. Well, I’ll say this—I haven’t heard it from Ewan’s mouth that he was born in Ireland. But maybe he is. Who knows?
    (Well, Ewan, of course, but anyway…)
    “So,” started Ewan, “are you going to go to the Medieval Days?”
      “Oh, yeah,” I nodded. “In fact, I’m picking up my costume from Mrs. Daily today. Are you going?”
      Ewan nodded. “Yeah.”
      We paused, and I managed to wrench my locker open. I grabbed a few things out and then put them in my backpack, closing my locker again. By that time, Ewan managed to find his tongue.
       “Actually,” he started, “I need some help, and I was wondering if maybe you could be the one to help me.”
      I frowned. “What do you mean?”
      “Well…” Ewan paused, and then he blurted, “You know my twin sister, Laura?”
       I nodded. “Yeah. She was on our soccer team, too, if I remember correctly.”
      Ewan nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Well, she’s mad that I scared off her boyfriend—who, trust me, is a creep—and so now she won’t speak to me.” He put his hands on his pockets. “I know you guys were pretty good friends, so I was wondering if you’d…you know…go and talk to her.”
      “Well…” I considered it. If I did, maybe I’d get to share Christ with Laura, and then in turn tell Ewan about God, too. Maybe this was actually a good idea. “OK,” I consented.
      Ewan grinned. “Thanks so much, Piper. You don’t know what this means to me.” Then he started off the hallway.
       “Wait!” I called. “Where…” But he’d already disappeared. Ugh.
       Casey was waiting for me by the door of my classroom. When I had explained the whole situation to her, she didn’t seem too surprised. In fact, she looked like rather excited.
       “Laura’s boyfriend left her?” She then squealed in excitement. “Hallelujah!” Casey glanced at me, a little embarrassed. “Sorry,” she whispered. “But that Brandon kid was a total creep and no mistake.”
     “Wait.” I held up my hands. “So he really is a creep?”
    She snorted. “Oh yeah.” She patted my shoulder. “I think it’s so sweet that Ewan asked you to help.”
      I rolled my eyes. “Thanks.”
      We got through class and I looked around for Laura. I asked around for her, too. But it wasn’t until the end of school that I finally found out where she was. The soccer field. How amazing.
       I ran out there ASAP so as not to miss Mom when she came to pick me up. I saw the tall, willowy figure of the blonde Laura on the far side of the field, dressed in a soccer uniform and kicking balls willy nilly, about 3% of them making it into the goal.
     I jogged up to her. “Hey, Laura.”
     “Hey.” Kick!
     I cleared my throat, and then managed in a whisper, “I’m sorry about Brandon.”
     “What’re you sorry about?” Laura kicked another ball, and this one went flying to hit the top of the goal and bounce back at her. She sidestepped and it flew past her.
      “I’m…I’m just sorry about the whole situation,” I answered, choosing my words carefully. “I want to be able to be there for you.”
      She turned to me. “Are you serious? What are you—counseling?”
     “Of course not,” I laughed. “I just want to help.”
    “Brandon was good guy,” Laura replied. “The only thing wrong about it is that Ewan’s my brother.” After that statement she kicked another ball. It went far left.
       “Ewan just wants to protect you,” I explained. “He wants to make sure that you’re going to be safe. He doesn’t want you to get hurt, Laura.”
      She turned to me. “So now you’re taking my brother’s side? Sheesh, you’d think that nobody was on my side.”
       “We’re not talking about me, we’re talking about you,” I came back with one of Mom’s most famous lines—EVER. “We’re talking about what happened, and how I can help you.”
       Laura glared at me. “Look,” she started, “I don’t like you and I don’t need you. Now go away.” She kicked another ball, but this one swerved off towards the right. She yelled in frustration and stomped the ground.
       “Well,” I sighed, “if you do need any help…” I started to sidle off the field.
       “Wait,” Laura called.
        I turned. “Yes?”
        She hesitated. “I…maybe I do want to talk to you.” Laura glanced around. “But not here. Maybe later, after school tomorrow or something.” She glanced at me sideways. “Could you do that?”
      I smiled. “Sure. I’d love to, Laura.”
      Then she went back to kicking. I supposed that was my cue to leave, and I took it.

My Thirteenth Chapter
I’d forgotten to grab my costume, and Mom was already at the door. I explained the situation about Ewan and Laura, and she told me that she understood. And she also told me that I’d better hurry up and grab my Medieval Days costume if I wanted to go.
       I rushed inside and ran into the Office, where Mrs. Daily was just handing out a costume to a girl named Selena. She was Mexican, and laid no claim whatsoever to Selena Gomez. (I was rather proud of her.)
      She was just going out as I was going in, but she stopped to say, “I saw you talking to Laura. She’s my best friend, see.” She paused. “Thanks, Piper. She won’t listen to me.” Then she walked off.
     This was getting strange.
     I walked over to Mrs. Daily, who was sifting through a humongous trunk full of medieval clothes. A surcoat flew past my head and I managed to catch it with my foot before it hit the floor.
      “Mrs. Daily?” I called, placing the surcoat on one of the office chairs.
      Mrs. Daily turned around. She reminded me of a parrot, what with her little glasses, beak-like nose, and bright colors that she always wore. It was kind of funny—she was over fifty, and still wearing the fashionable clothes that a twenty year old would wear. (It was sometimes embarrassing.)
       “Ah!” she cried. “Piper! Let me guess—you need a costume, too?”
       “Yes,” I nodded.
       Mrs. Daily’s hands flew back into the trunk. “I’ve got just the outfit for you, Piper. I saved something extra special for you. It’ll be just perfect!”
       “Well, uh, thanks,” I managed. “You didn’t have to go to all of that trouble.”
       Mrs. Daily poked her head out of the trunk. “Young lady,” she started, “some people might not notice all that you do, but I certainly do.”
       “I don’t know what you mean,” I admitted.
       “Well,” she started, “for instance—you arranged to help that new kid that’s been homeschooled. Poor guy didn’t know where his classes were. Also, I know that Casey’s your best friend, but you don’t get all dramatized over it when she’s been spending time with Bailey. And I saw you talking to Laura just today. Everybody knows she’s been dating that horrible Brandon dude.” She nodded. “You’re doing helpful things, Piper. And don’t you forget it.” She touched the side of her nose and nodded. Then she dove back into the trunk.
      I waited until she finally yelled, “Ah ha!” and emerged again from the sea of clothes like the Loch Ness Monster rising from the lakes of Scotland to again scare the populace.
      “Here we go!” she held up an outfit that I was completely stunned by.
      I’m sorry to inform you that, no, it wasn’t a peasant’s outfit like you’d probably been thinking. It was, in fact, the most dazzling medieval outfit I’d ever seen.
      It was a blue dress with gauzy, draping sleeves lined with silver with silver rosebuds holding the gauze where it met with the rest of the dress. It was long and draping, with a silver belt. It came with a nice hairpiece that wasn’t horrible at all.
      I loved it already.
      “Thank you so much, Mrs. Daily!”  I cried, gathering it up in my arms. “It’s perfect!”
       Mrs. Daily carefully took it back and put it in a paper grocery bag from the local grocery store. “Here.” She handed it to me again. “This way it won’t get all dirty, eh?”
     “Thank you so much!” I blurted again. “I won’t forget it!”
      I rushed off down the hallway and was about to go out the door when Laura Kramer came through the door, still in her soccer uniform. She glanced suspiciously up the mostly abandoned hall and then leaned forward towards me.
       “Could we talk tomorrow morning before school?” she whispered.
      “Sure,” I murmured back. “Or you could come to my house after school.”
      Laura hesitated, then shook her head. “No thanks. Besides, Ewan would start getting suspicious.”
     I wasn’t going to tell her that Ewan had set me up to all of this. Definitely not. Then my goose would definitely be cooked, and I wouldn’t be able to help Laura at all, and she’d probably go and date somebody just as creepy as Brandon again.
       “OK,” I nodded. “See you then.”
       When I got out to the car I filled Mom in on the plan. She told me that she’d be happy to drive me in early. (I wondered faintly if she just agreed to it so that I’d have to get up earlier. But, hey—I loved waking up early. So it wasn’t such a big deal.)
       When I got home, I took off for the tree house to get some homework done and then to start coming up with a plan about how I was going to help Laura.

My Fourteenth Chapter
“Hey, Laura.” I slid into one of the seats right across from Laura on the cafeteria table. I glanced towards the kitchen, seeing the cooks already starting everything up.
       “Hey.” She self-consciously pushed a piece of blonde hair behind her ear.
      “So…” I paused. “Want do want to talk about?”
      “I…I know that Ewan sent you to talk to me,” she whisper, leaning forward. “And…and at first I just wanted you to leave. But then you didn’t. And…well…” Laura looked away, tears in her blue eyes.
      “It’s OK,” I whispered.
      “That’s just it,” she sniffed, wiping her eyes with the sleeve her American Eagle long-sleeved shirt. She looked up at me, her face red from crying. “You’re the only person who really seems to want to help me. Who really seems to care about me.”
      “Ewan cares about you,” I said automatically.
      “Yeah,” she snorted, still wiping off tears, “but he’s my brother. That doesn’t count. And, besides, he’s a guy. He doesn’t understand about girls.” She let out a long, shuddery sigh. “I don’t really have any friends. There’s just Ewan, and then sometimes I have a boyfriend.”
       “I’m your friend,” I told her. “And there’s Selena.”
      Laura sighed. “I mostly just think she’s my friend because of Ewan.”
      “Well, I’m your friend because of you,” I answered.
       She smiled through her tears. “Thanks, Piper. I really appreciate it.”
      We just sat there for several moments. Finally, Laura let out another shuddery sigh.
     “I thought…maybe, you know…you would want to come and play some soccer some time,” she shrugged. “I know Ewan and some of his friends are playing on Saturday, at the old field by the park. He said I could come, but of course he doesn’t think I will.”
      “I’d love to come,” I told her.
      “Because of Ewan?” she guessed.
      I poked her. “No, because of you.”
      She smiled. “Thanks, Piper. I’d love to have you come.” She shrugged, pushing hair behind her ear. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’m not sure that Ewan would really want to have any of your other friends come. I’ve never seen any of them play sports.” She shrugged. “Besides, he hates Sam Harper’s guts. He hasn’t told me why, but I just know he does. I don’t know why. The kid’s a geek, and there’s no mistaking that.” She glanced up at me quickly. “No offense to you, Piper.”
       I shrugged. “They’re probably all busy, anyway.”
     “Well,” started Laura, “also, I was wondering if maybe you’d help me a little bit with my soccer moves. I know you didn’t continue on with soccer, but I remember that you were really good.”
       I smiled. “I’d love to. Maybe I could get there early and help you a little bit before the practice game.” I hesitated. “Of course,” I started, “I’ll have to ask my mom if I can go.”
     Laura’s face fell.
     “But she’ll probably say yes,” I assured her.
     “I’m glad,” admitted Laura. “I’ve kept people away for so long, that it’s kind of nice to think of having you as a friend.” She grinned. “Especially you.”
     “I’m glad that you’re my friend, too,” I smiled.
      Laura smiled back at me. “I can’t say how much I just want to thank you, Piper.” She paused. “You’ve saved my life.” And then she got up and walked off.
      Saved her life? She had been considering suicide? I gulped and left the cafeteria, too, heading towards…well, I didn’t know where. Just somewhere.

My Fifteenth Chapter
After school, I headed back home, did my homework, threw on a scarf, hat, and boots and ran out to my tree house, where I logged onto September Piper.
      Sam and I now had 8 followers and 3 comments waiting moderation. Man, Casey’s button-switching (whatever THAT was) seemed to be working.
      I quickly moderated the comments and replied to them. Two were from Casey and another from this other girl who, no surprise, said that she’d gotten over here from Heart Secrets.
      The new three followers were two people that I didn’t know and then the girl who’d commented on my welcome post. Sam had already added a whole bunch of stuff onto the design, too.
      I click “New Post” and started to think up ideas of a post. Finally, I came up with this:

Dear Readers,
Hey, it’s Piper. Thanks so much for following and for the comments! It means a lot. <3 Anyway, so, if you couldn’t guess, I love fall. A LOT. It’s my favorite time of the year, even though school’s going on during the fall.
      Anyway, so like I said before, I created this blog because of an assignment in my school. But I’m thinking maybe I might just keep this blog after we’re allowed to shut it down to record my thoughts. I’m not quite sure. Sam and I (the guy I made this blog with) are going to have to talk about it.
      Anyway, so, as you’ve probably guessed, I’m way new to this blogger thing. And I was wondering—are any of you guys from like Ireland or Russia or England or something? If you are, could you tell me? Because that’s way awesome! Thanks. =)
      I’ll catch you later, fall-lovers.

Well, I thought it was pretty good. I published the post and then logged off, grabbing my diary off the shelf and recording the events of the day and all about Laura. After I was done with that, I grabbed my Bible and settled down, getting ready for the long day ahead. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I just wanted to be prepared.

The next day, I threw on my clothes, rushed through breakfast, and was waiting by the door right as Mom came out, all ready to go. She looked kind of surprised, but just said, “Let’s go, then.”
      We got in the car and she dropped me off at the middle school. I hopped out and hurried through the doors. I grabbed what I needed from my locker and then took off for my first class.
      I wasn’t sure why I was hurrying. Was I just trying to get away from everything that was pressing around me? Was I trying to avoid someone? I didn’t know. I just felt an urge to hurry. I just wanted the day to be over.
      I was just coming out of the class right before my computer class when Marissa Daniels, who was notorious throughout the middle school as being the worst bully—EVER—walked up to me.
      “Hey, Piper.” She punched my shoulder lightly. “What’ve you been doing lately?”
      I was almost frozen in surprise. “Err, I, um, well, uh…” I stammered, finally managing, “Not much.”
      She smiled slightly. “Ah, me neither. Hey, I heard what you did for Laura.” She actually did smile. “That was a good thing, Piper. I’m proud of you.” Then she walked off.
      Marissa Daniels was proud of me?! I couldn’t believe it. I watched the big girl walk off, and saw something in that walk that I’d never noticed before—a sadness.
      Before, I’d always seen Marissa as everybody else did—the big bully. But now? I saw her as a child who just wanted to be loved. Who was glad to see somebody else who she’d been friends with getting loved.
      And it showed that she could care.
      She cared for Laura.
      I smiled faintly after her, telling myself that I was going to be praying for her daily. Never again would I forget to pray for Marissa Daniels. She probably needed more than I could ever give her.
      “Help her, Lord,” I whispered.
      Then I hurried off to my computer class.

My Sixteenth Chapter
“Is this the right place?” Mom pushed on the brake, skidding beside the curb outside of the park.
      I glanced across the park to the old field, catching sight of a whole bunch of kids playing soccer. I smiled, and nodded. “Yeah, this is the place.”
      I hopped out of the car, waved goodbye to Mom, and then sprinted across the park to the others. I spotted Laura, Ewan, and Selena, and they were mostly the only familiar people to me.
      I waited until they noticed me. Ewan glanced over and smile at the sight of me. Yelling to the others to pause the game, he jogged over.
      “I’m glad you could make it, Piper,” he told me. He turned towards the others. “OK, Piper’s joining the game. She’ll be on my team.”
      There were some yells of protest, but Ewan wasn’t budging. Laura was on the other team and, like me, she was wearing soccer shorts but a slightly nicer T-shirt than mine. She grinned at me and winked.
      They continued the game. It was just backyard ball, so we didn’t have any assigned positions. I ran to the front of the pack, and Ewan kicked it to me. Using my speed that I’d been famous for in elementary, I took the ball down the field and scored.
      By the time we’d finished playing, my team had one five times and Laura’s team had won three. We’d been going to fifteen points both times.
      As Ewan disbanded the group, they gathered around him and all started talking. Panting, I stayed by the goal, glancing towards the curb for the van. I didn’t see Mom coming along yet.
      “Hey.” Laura was there. “I’m glad you could make it.”
      I smiled. “Me, too. It was a great game. You played really great.”
      She grinned broadly. “Thanks. I had Ewan help me.”
      Well, at least they were speaking enough for Laura to actually ask him to help her with her soccer moves. I had to admit that she’d improved a lot since Ewan had started helping her. Or maybe she just always missed shots when she was angry.
       Mom beeped the horn of the old van. I smiled at Laura, said, “Goodbye,” and then sprinted across the park and jumped into the van.
      “So,” grinned Mom. “How’d it go?”
      “Great,” I smiled back.
      She paused. “You know, Piper, I’m just so proud of you, helping Laura and everything. I suppose it might’ve been kind of scary at first having to talk to her.”
      I shrugged. “A little bit. But I like Laura.”
      “I’m just proud of you.” She leaned over and gave me a big hug. She gave a shuddery sigh and then pulled away. “So,” she began, starting up the van and going down the street, “your dad’s going out with some of his buddies out to dinner tonight.” She smiled at me. “So I was thinking maybe you and Casey could have a sleepover!”
      My face burst into a smile. “Really?! Can I call her and invite her right away?!” I paused. “Err, could you call her? You know how I hate phones.”
      She burst out laughing. “Sure. I’ll call her as soon as we get home, and you can start getting stuff ready.”
      Apparently there was no doubt for Mom that Casey wouldn’t be allowed to come over. I grinned. I was glad that Casey was getting to come over. Then we could talk more about her moving to New York. And, as far as I knew, it might be one of the last times that I ever saw my best friend.
      The second the poor old van shuddered to a stop, I threw open my door and ran into the house. I straightened up my room a bit, grabbed a whole bunch of pillows and blankets, and started down into the family room.
      By the time I’d dumped all of the pillows and blankets on the couch, got the DVD player set up and several of our favorite movies out, several board games at the ready, and had headed into the kitchen to search for snacks, Mom was just getting off the phone.
      “She’ll be here in a few minutes,” Mom told me with a grin.
      I shrieked happily, jumping up and down like a ten year old. Then I controlled myself, grabbed a bag of chips, some soda, and a box of gold fish and then ran back into the living room. It looked like a well organized mess.
      I was ready.
      It seemed to take Casey forever to get to my house. When I heard the knock on the door, I jumped like a foot in the air and then rushed to the front door before Mom could get there and threw open the door.
      The embarrassing part?
      It wasn’t Casey.
      You heard me.
      IT. WASN’T. CASEY.
      I stood frozen.
      “Hey, Casey,” Sam smiled uneasily. “I, uh, was wondering if you could re-invite me to our blog.” He gave a wry smile. “I accidently clicked myself off adminship.”
      “Oh, yeah, uh, sure.” I fumbled for the words and finally got them out. “Bye.”
      Then I shut the door before he could say anything else. I leaned against the door, groaning. WHY had he had to come RIGHT when CASEY was about to show up?! Now he probably thought I was a total nut!
      “Who was that?” Mom called from the other room, where I could hear the sound of her pen scratching paper. She was probably filing books or something for the library.
      “Just a schoolmate,” I groaned.
      “Doesn’t sound like you like this certain schoolmate,” Mom laughed.
      “You read my mind!” I told her, going back into the other room and sitting back down on the couch again to wait for Casey.
      When the doorbell rang again, I got up more slowly and cautiously checked the window by the door. When I saw my frizzy-haired friend, I opened the door faster than before and startled Casey so much that she nearly fell over.
      “CASEY!” I wrapped my arms around her, nearly squeezing the life out of her.
      Mrs. Whittier laughed. “Well, I’d say that’s a nice welcome.” She smiled kindly at me. “I’ll see you girls later.” Then she turned and walked off to their car.
      I pulled Casey, her bags hanging around her neck and a pillow in one hand, into the house and closed the door. We chatted non-stop while she took off her shoes.
      I pulled her into the other room and our sleepover began.


My Seventeenth Chapter
I was sitting at lunch the next day when this girl with large blue eyes and black hair walked up to my table right across from me and sat down. There wasn’t anybody sitting by me—Casey was pumping information out of Bailey, and Jess wasn’t leaving her side—so it seemed kind of strange.
      “Hey,” she smiled.
      “Hey,” I said.
      “You’re Piper?” Her knee jiggled nervously and moved the whole table.
      “Yeah,” I nodded. “Piper Leap. And you’re…?”
      She smiled brightly. She could’ve been a movie star. “I’m Andrea Martin.”
      “Nice to meet you,” I managed to get out before I stuffed more of my sandwich in my mouth.
      She just stayed there. She didn’t have any food with her. And she was just staring at me. It was the weirdest thing ever. I was about to take another bite when I looked up and saw that she was still staring.
      “Excuse me,” I started, “but is there something that I could help you with?”
      Andrea hesitated. “Well, I heard what you did for Laura.” She leaned closer and whispered, “And I thought maybe you could help somebody I know, too.”
      “Who?” I questioned, kind of suspicious.
      Andrea leaned back into her normal sitting position and folded her hands in front of her on the table. “His name’s Felix Haggardy,” she whispered. “He and I are really good friends, but lately he’s just been acting really…I don’t know…moody.” She brushed her hair behind her ear, obviously confused.
      I said the first thing that came to my mind—“Are you friends with another guy?”
      “Well, yeah,” she admitted.
      “Have you been spending a lot of time with him lately?” I pressed.
      “Yeah,” she again admitted.
      I couldn’t believe I’d already gotten this figured out. “I’m pretty sure that Felix’s jealous,” I explained. “He’s jealous of you and that other kid, because he obviously really likes you.”
      Andrea frowned. “Are you sure?”
      I shrugged. “Just ask him about it. Maybe he’ll open up to you.”
      She smiled. “Thanks, Piper. I never thought of that.” She started to get up to leave, and then stopped and told me, “You know, you’re as good as Ewan said you were.” Then she walked off.
      What the…?
And so started the career of Piper Leap the emotion-handler. I’m joking. Well, about the emotion-handler part. But I’m not joking about my “career”. It seemed almost daily kids were walking up to me about all of these problems, asking me to help them.
      And, the even more amazing part?
      I was able to help them.
      I even got to talk to a lot of them about Christ. Most of them were kind of like, “Oh, great she’s a Christian?”, but some of them actually opened up to me.
      And the best part was that on that Sunday I saw Ewan and Laura and their family at our church. I was so excited I nearly burst off the pew and hugged them. Mom smiled and gave me a thumbs-up.
      With all of my helping everybody, I almost went and forgot that Casey was moving to New York. And several other things, too—September Piper the blog and the Medieval Fair which, like my birthday, was nearing faster than I could imagine.
      But not quite.
      Not quite.

My Eighteenth Chapter
“I’m so way psyched about the Medieval Fair,” Sam announced to me, Jess, and Casey at lunch. “I asked some of the teachers about it, and they said that they were actually letting kids joust! Of course they have to sign this big paper about how the school can’t be blamed if they get hurt and blah, blah, blah. But, really. It’s just rubber sticks, basically. And you’re not even hitting each other. You just have to hit a target.”
      “That kind of defeats the point of the joust,” snorted Casey.
      I chuckled. “You really think that they’d have a full-out joust? Somebody would definitely get hurt.”
      “I don’t know,” shrugged Jess.
      I glanced at him. “So, if somebody suggested that you actually have a real live joust, where you’re using the rubber sticks and running at somebody else while riding on a galloping horse…you would actually do it?”
      Jess fidgeted nervously. “Well, not exactly.”
      “Like I said,” I snorted, “it’s dangerous.”
      “Hey, Piper!” somebody yelled across the cafeteria. I smiled and waved. The faces were starting to blur.
      Sam chuckled. “Another of your many fans, I see.”
      “You should start hanging up posters,” Casey teased. “Everybody loves you. You’ve done so much for everybody.”
      “Yeah,” I said, “and I didn’t even know I had it in me.”
      “I knew you did,” Jess told me, trying to look all cool.
      “Right,” I laughed.
      “We’re not believing you,” snorted Casey. “There’s no way. I mean, you knew her back in the homeschool group and everything, but…” she trailed off, giving him the raised eyebrows look.
      Jess rolled his eyes. “OK, come on. I knew her character was good.”
      “Thanks,” I chuckled.
      Sam was being awfully quiet on the other side of the table. We usually didn’t talk that much. I mean, with our blog, he was just responsible for the design. And we didn’t talk basically at all other than about the blog. And like right now.
      “What’s up, Sam?” I questioned.
      “Yeah,” snorted Casey, flipping her hair over her shoulder. (She must’ve spent like three hours this morning straightening it, because there was no way that it naturally looked that perfect and straight.) “Like, usually you’re about to blow up with all of your energy.”
      Sam shrugged. “It’s nothing.”
      “Hey,” laughed Jess. “You’re sitting right across from the girl who can help you with anything that’s plaguing you. Come on, tell us. At least tell Piper.”
      I glanced over at Sam. “It’s OK if you don’t want to share.”
      He silently got up and left the table. Jess looked at us.
      “What’d I do?”
      “Nothing,” whispered Casey with a frown. Then she turned towards me. “Sam’s acting weird.”
      “Yeah,” I agreed.    
      “I think he needs a little cheering up,” Jess announced. “So let’s arrange a surprise part for him.”
      Casey snorted. “A surprise party?”
      “Yeah,” Jess nodded. “A surprise party. It always makes me feel happy when my parents keep my birthday part a surprise, so it should make Sam feel happy.” He looked at us. “Right?”
      Casey’s mouth had fallen open. “You still have birthday parties?”
      “Come on,” snorted Jess. “Casey, Piper, you guys have got to have had a birthday party before.”
      “Yeah, like when I was five!” she cried.
      “I’m not sure that’s the best cure for Sam,” I admitted. “But we’ll keep it open.” Hey, I couldn’t just like break the poor kid’s heart. He was already embarrassed that Casey thought he was weird for having a birthday party still. Though it was kind of strange.
      “OK,” he sighed, “well, what can you come up with?”
      “Maybe we should do a surprise party,” I whispered. I glanced up, excited. “We could do it at the medieval fair. We’ll tell everybody about it, and then we’ll totally surprise Sam!”
      “Great idea!” grinned Casey.
      “See?” Jess was smug. “It WAS a good idea.”
      “You were talking about birthday parties,” Casey pointed out.
      Jess glared. “Yeah, well…”
      “Wait.” Casey glanced up at me. “That’s your birthday, isn’t it?”
      “Well, yeah…” I admitted. “But so what? Sam’s the one who needs the encouragement, obviously.”
      “OK, new plan.” Jess pushed away the cafeteria trays to either side of us. “I say that we ditch the surprise party plan and one of us goes and talks to him and finds out what’s going on.” He glanced over at me. “I elect Piper.”
      “I second it,” Casey said quickly.
      “Hey!” I cried, exasperated.
      “You’re elected,” Casey pointed out. “There’s no backing down.”
      I glared. “I could chose not to except it.”
      “Yeah,” she complained, “but you’re like Sam’s partner in the computer class. So you should have to do it.” Then she gave me a look like “hey, you made me take Jess to the computer class EVERY SINGLE DAY, so you should have to go and talk to Sam.”
      I sighed. “Fine, fine, OK, I’ll do it.”
      “Right now,” Jess suggested.
      I glared. “Give me time. I’ve got to let my juices flow freely.”
      “Wait.” Casey’s eyes were big. “You can’t just use your powers on demand?!”
      I burst out laughing. “You goober!” I lunged over the table to tickle her but she darted away. I sat back into my seat, laughing as Casey disappeared out of the cafeteria.
      “She’s so great,” Jess announced. “She’s my best friend.”
      I sobered down a bit. “Yeah, she’s mine, too.”
      Jess grinned. “I hope that everything always stays like this.”
      “Like what?” I whispered, my mind immediately thinking of Casey moving.
      “Like this.” He sighed and looked right at me. “Piper, when I first got here, I was so scared. But then I saw you here, and then there was Casey, and then Sam. It’s like I’ve just melted in. There’s other Christians here—like you and Sam—and it’s like…I don’t know…we’re just like a circle of friends,” he finished. Jess’s eyes watered. “I want it to always be like this.”
      A lump rose up in my throat, and suddenly I was fighting off tears. I got off the bench and slowly started to stagger out of the cafeteria, Jess’s scared, “Piper?” trailing after me.
      I stumbled down the hallway and finally made my way into the girls’ bathroom. I dropped to the floor, my back against the wall. And then I started crying. Crying because I didn’t want to Casey to leave. Because, like Jess, I wanted everything to stay as it was now, with my own little circle of friends.
      “Why, God?” I whispered. “Why?”
      I didn’t get an answer.

My Nineteenth Chapter
I found myself staring at the computer screen. My eyes traced the empty page of the new post I was attempting to try to think up for September Piper. But no inspirations were coming.
      I’d been posting for awhile now, and had about fifteen followers. I suppose I was pretty proud of myself, despite the fact that Casey had like 500. (And counting.)
      And now? I couldn’t think of anything.
      Nice, Piper. Not only are you failing Casey by not thinking of way to keep her here, but you’re also failing your followers by not posting. Great person you are.
     “Be quiet!” I hissed.
      I got up from the computer and pulled out my journal, but I realized that I couldn’t get myself to write about Sam walking away, me being elected to talk to him, Jess’s and my conversation…I just couldn’t do it. I knew that I’d break out in tears. And that was the last thing that I wanted to have happen.
      I just wish I could get away, I suddenly realized. Everything’s just pushing me, tearing me apart from the inside out. Casey’s leaving; September Piper; even helping the kids. There’s too many worries. I just can’t handle it anymore. I should have peace, but peace has been far from me for a long time. I should have faith, but it seems to have fled from me, hiding somewhere in the leaves that I love. I should have hope, but my future seems bleak and without promise. I don’t have anything. I’m empty—an empty thirteen year old Piper Leap, a girl who lives in Virginia. I’m nothing.
      I shook my head, getting up and clicking off the post on September Piper, and then logging out of the computer. I jumped down from my tree house and took off running across the field.
      I was about to go to my house when I stopped, nearly falling on my face in the field. And that’s when I realized something—I need to get away. Mom was busy inside and Dad didn’t get home for a couple of hours. Neither of them would miss me if I disappeared for awhile…
      And I needed to disappear.
      If not just for a day, if just for an hour.
      I needed to get away from all of this pain and strain that was just pressing down on me. I just couldn’t have that anymore. I just needed to get away.
      I turned, running, not looking back as I sprinted across the field.
      I wasn’t even sure where I was going. The woods? Casey’s house? No where? Who knew. My feet just kept on moving. I really didn’t want to go anywhere with people. I just wanted to get away. I just wanted peace.
      By the time I stopped, I was in the middle of the forest. I blinked through my tears, trying to figure out where I was. But I was kind of lost. No worries. I was sure that I could get myself home.
      “God, why is all of this happening?” I whispered, my tears tasting like salt on my lips as I spoke. “Why? Why does Casey have to move? Why’s Sam acting so strange? Why is anything of this happening?”
      I started walking, this time in the direction that I was pretty sure was my house. The tears were gone. Inside was a new feeling. I wasn’t sure what happened out in the woods that day. But whatever it was, it was good. It was something that I wouldn’t be able to describe to anyone. It was just something between me and God. It was something that said, “Yes, Piper, you’re going to have hard times, but that’s just life.” It was something between the two of us—between me and God. Something that nobody else could ever begin or hope to understand. It just was.
      I stared out across the field at the edge of the woods. I held my head up high, and whispered, “My name is Piper Leap. And I don’t give up.”

My Twentieth Chapter
It was the next day after school. Sam had been avoiding all of us, me especially, and Casey had looked like she’d spent the whole night awake. Jess was as hyper as a squirrel. I just breezed through the day.
      Now I sat at the computer in my tree house. I logged into my Gmail account and, just as I’d hoped, I found that Casey and Jess were both on their Gmail accounts. I quickly clicked up a chat with Casey and then invited Jess into the chat.
      I smiled and started writing the chat.

Me: Hey, Casey, Jess! I really need to talk to you guys.
Casey: PIPER!!
Jessup: Hey, Piper. What’s up?
Me: Is your real name seriously Jessup?
Jessup: Uh, yeah. Can we please stop talking about that?
Casey: It’s kind of a cute name.
Jessup: Really?
Me: Guys, I really need to talk to you!
Jessup: sorry
Casey: Sorry, Pipe. Go ahead.
Me: OK, so, I know that Sam’s all depressed and whatever, and then Casey’s moving to New York.
Jessup: ??!!!!!!!?!
Casey: PIPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: Oh, Casey, I’m so sorry!!!!!
Jessup: What do you mean you’re moving to New York?!
Casey: It’s a long story. Go ahead, Piper. But no more about that!!!!!! ^_^
Me: OK, OK, sorry. So, anyway, I think that we really do need some kind of party. At the Medieval Fair. I could arrange it all, and call everybody, and make sure that everything’s perfect.
Casey: I thought you hated calling people.
Me: I know. I just need to do it, though.
Jessup: You’re sounding brave. I’ll make some of the calls, if you want.
Me: I need you to send out emails. Who has everybody’s emails???
Jessup: Sorry, Piper, I sure don’t. I mean, I’m the homeschooler, right? How am I supposed to have everybody’s emails?
Me: OK, OK, I’ll think of some way to get everybody’s emails that we’re going to need tomorrow, and I’ll send them all to you. OK?
Casey: Who’re you going to talk to and why?
Me: Students and teachers. I know lots of people because of my “business”. =P
Jessup: Really??? JK! =D
Me: OK, so we good? I’ll call and get the emails to Jess, and then he’ll email everybody.
Casey: What about me?
Me: I don’t know. What do you want to do?
Casey: I don’t have phonephobia like you. Let me make the calls.
Me: Uh, OK. I’m not sure I have everybody’s numbers…
Casey: I have a whole bunch. And I’m sure Bailey can help.
Jessup: Is she going to help with the emails, too? Really, Casey, why do you hang out with that girl? She’s a total jerk, especially compared to Piper.
Casey: *see above comment about me moving to New York*
Me: Yeah
Jessup: Seriously?
Me: Look, guys…
Casey: OK, it’s all good—I’ll get emails and numbers, Jess will email, I’ll call, and Piper? You’ll organize. Deal?
Me: Deal.
Jessup: I’m totally in! This is going to be seriously sweet!
Me: I’ll tell you guys all of the details in school tomorrow, OK?
Jessup: Alrighty.
Casey: Oky-dokey, boss.
Me: ???
Casey: Don’t ask.
Me: OK, well, then, bye! See you guys tomorrow!
Jessup: OK! Bye!
Casey: Bye, Piper! =)

I clicked off the chat, but it popped up again a few seconds later as one of the two wrote something else, too.

Jessup: I wonder what’s she’s really got up her sleeves.
Casey: Who knows? But I’ve got an idea…

I personally didn’t want to know the idea. I clicked off the chat again and then logged out of my Gmail account.

My Twenty-First Chapter
I sat in my bed on Saturday morning, doing crazy scribbles all over the notebook paper. My list wasn’t very long about what to bring. I frowned and wrote something else down. I smiled. Yes, this was more like it.
      The Bible was perfect. I decided that not only was I going to get a new Bible for Sam (I supposed he already had a Bible…I mean, he was a Christian…) but I was going to get Bibles for Jess and Casey, too. I could add notes to each of them to make each present unique. I smiled.
      And then I thought of something else.
      I quickly wrote it down.

Casey: Hey! How’re the preparations going?
Me: Sheesh, you freaked me out with that ding!
Casey: haha yes, I’m so freaky. =D Goober.
Me: Please don’t start that. I’ve got work to do. =P
Casey: So are you ready for our awesome party for Sam/you/whatever to unfold?
Me: haha yes ;D
Casey: I’M SO HYPED FOR THIS!!!!!!!!!! I made sure to call everybody. As far as I can tell, it’s a go. Of course all of the teachers were ecstatic. They already like you, so when I told them it was your idea, they were like “oh yeah, we just love Piper, what can we do to help?!” haha it was pretty funny. =D
Me: haha
Casey: I should really like try to learn some of your skills haha =D
Me: So have your parents told you about the move yet?
Casey: *sigh* no. Not even as much as a peep!
Me: I’m so sorry. I’m sure they’ll break it to you soon. Just be patient.
Casey: As long as they don’t say we’re leaving on the night of the party, I’m good. Besides, we’d still be able to see each other sometimes, right? And we still have chat and blogs.
Me: Yeah, of course.
Casey: It’ll still be hard, though.
Me: Definitely. How are the “Bailey” lessons go?
Casey: *groan* are you kidding? They’re awful. All Bailey ever likes to talk about is Ewan Kramer. *puke*
Me: haha =D I didn’t know she liked Ewan.
Casey: Yeah, he’s super popular. I’m surprised that he was talking to you. JK! =D
Me: Hey! We were on the soccer team together. And I’m not total dweeb!
Casey: No, no, you’re not a dweeb at all, don’t worry. ;D
Me: yeah, yeah
Casey: No, seriously!
Me: Thanks =P
Casey: *sigh* I’m seriously serious, Pipe.
Me: *sigh* I’m seriously serious, Case.
Casey: Case? Really?
Me: Uh, yeah
Casey: And why on earth did you just copy me?
Me: =D
Casey: Goober!
Me: We’d better get back to party planning, huh? ;)
Casey: *glare*
Me: What????
Casey: Fine.
Me: Sheesh, sorry…
Casey: haha JK! =D
Me: You goober!
Casey: And you were getting at me for calling YOU goober? ;D
Me: urgh
Casey: haha
Me: OK, little miss smarty pants, I’ll see you tomorrow. And make sure that Jess knows about the script that I sent to him.
Casey: Oh, he already told me about it. He was like chatting to me this morning FOR. FOREVER.
Me: bahahahahahahaha
Casey: It’s not funny, Pipe.
Me: Yes, it is.
Casey: Yeah, well, then Sam likes you.
Me: ????????
Casey: Don’t give me that!
Me: Uh……….
Casey: Do you seriously…?
OK, never mind. =P
Pipe, you there?
Piper Leap!
Me: yes, yes, I’m here. I’ll see you later, OK?
Casey: haha OK =D

I clicked off the chat.
      “Now,” I whispered, “time to get some blogging done.”
      I logged into blogger and clicked on the “create new post” button right on the dashboard. My fingers flew as I came up with the new post.

Dear Readers,
      Hey, this is Piper! =) I’ve been really busy lately with school. At my school, there’s going to be this joust/medieval fair thing, and the even cooler thing? It’s on my birthday! =) I’m really excited about it. I got this really awesome blue medieval lady’s outfit. Just looking at me it makes me feel excited. We’re almost there…almost there…I just can’t wait. =)
      I suppose I should tell a little about myself, huh? Yeah. Basically all you know about me is that I’m called Piper and that I love fall. (And that I started this because of school. Yeah… =P) But here’s more about me.
      I’m a Christian, a beloved Daughter of the King. I’m pretty bad with computers, but I get around. I love being outdoors and making scrapbooks with things that I find and collect. I love fall and everything that comes with it—plaid shirts, leaves of changing colors, apple cider, apple pie, scarves…everything. It’s like a part of who I am.
      I was homeschooled for the first eight years of my life, but now I’m public schooled. I don’t know which one I like better. My best friend, Casey, (maybe you know her from Heart Secrets??) is public schooled, so that makes me lean a lot towards the public school. =D But sometimes it’s kind of hard to be in the public school, because I don’t find that many Christians. :/
      Anyway, I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about me. =) I’d love to hear about you, too! Please tell me all about yourselves.
      Keep loving fall,

I smiled as I posted it. Yes, this was good. You got to admit, I was getting pretty good at this blogger thing. (Though I still had no idea what on earth Sam was doing with the blog design… Like now whenever I went on there was like music…? Anyway…)
      I logged out and started out of the tree house, my head full of ideas for the party. It was less than a week away. I just couldn’t wait. Casey, Jess, and I were going to be putting on such a party that the people in Applegate would be talking about it years afterwards. Of that I was sure.
      I just couldn’t wait to put it into action. Casey had already called the teachers, who’d gone and told her that they were making an entire medieval like restaurant thingy just for our party. (Casey made sure to tell me that the first thing she told them was, “Hey, I’m Piper’s best friend, and Piper wants to have a surprise party”. I was like, “thanks”.)
      I wasn’t sure what kind of a restaurant this was supposed to be, but if it was anything like a tavern (which is what I imagined) then I supposed it was probably going to be really hot and dark.
      I rushed across the field towards the house, my thoughts stuck on the party. Would it work? Would it be awesome? Would Sam go back to normal? And, the most pressing thought—would Casey still be around here for the party?
      “She’s got to be,” I whispered to myself, my eyes looking ahead to where my house was looming before me, “she’s just got to be.”
My Twenty-Second Chapter
“Oh my word I’m so excited!” Jess squealed excitedly the next day.
      “You seriously did not just do that,” snorted Casey.
      Jess looked at her self-consciously. “Do what?”
      She gave him a look. “That squeal thing? I’ve only ever heard immature girls do that.”
      Jess blushed deeply and stared at his tennis shoes.
      You do that,” I laughed.
      It was her turn to blush.
      “Do you really think it’s going to work?” Jess asked as we walked through the school towards our lockers.
      “Are you kidding?” chuckled Casey. “Everything’s going to go great. We’ve got this whole thing just planned out perfectly. It’ll be awesome.”
      “Hey, look,” whispered Jess. “There’s Sam.” He pointed towards where our friend was taking some books out of his locker.
      “You’re right,” I nodded.
      “Go and talk to him,” Casey urged.
      I stared at her. “But…but I might give something away about the party!”
      “Oh, come on,” she urged. “You’re not that type of person. I’m that type of person. Now get going!”
      “Yeah,” Jess agreed. “Maybe he’ll go and spill the beans to you.”
      “Gee, thanks,” I snorted.
      Feeling slightly nervous, I started to cross the hall. Sam’s attention was still stuck on his locker. As far as I could figure out, I’d walk up, managed a nice, friendly, polite, “Hello”, and just talk to him about his day. I smiled. Yeah, that was it. I started to move forward. Almost there. Almost…
      “Hey, Piper!”
      I cringed as Ewan leaned up against the locker right in front of me—and just a few lockers in front of Sam. I groaned inwardly. Why did he have to do that?! I watched over Ewan’s shoulder as Sam walked off down the hallway.
      “Hey, you OK?”
      I looked up to see Ewan waving a hand in front of my face.
      “Oh, yeah.” I shook my head to clear it. “Sorry about that. How’s Laura doing?”
      He smiled. “Oh, she’s doing great. She’s already got a new boyfriend, even.”
      “Really?” I managed. “Who?”
      “Sam Harper.”
      I stared at him, horrified. “WHAT?!”
      He looked a little disappointed, and laughed nervously. “Hey, chill, Pipe. I was just kidding. Laura’s dating Conrad.”
      Pipe? Why on earth was he calling me PIPE?! That was like what Casey was allowed to call me. And maybe Jess. And even more maybe Sam. But EWAN KRAMER???!! What was WRONG with the world?! There were a few more awkward moments before Ewan again broke the silence.
      “Conrad’s…a pretty good guy…” Ewan hesitated. “Piper, are you OK?”
      “Yeah, I’m fine,” I managed. “Hey, are you going to be at the Medieval Fair?”
      “Actually,” he started, “I was wondering if…I don’t know…maybe you wanted to go with me? Like a date or something?”
      I came up with a million excuses—I can’t because of the surprise party that I’m sure you’ve heard about, I’m really busy…
But then I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to shoot off the big “I don’t date because I’m a Christian thing” that I’d been practicing for like forever. I stared into Ewan’s hopeful face, the words running through my head. I’d always been afraid something like this would happen to me. (Strange things usually do.) I had just been hoping that it wasn’t going to be this soon.
      “Well…um…” I fumbled over my words. Then I took a deep breath and started over. “Thanks so much for the offer, but I don’t date.”
      “Because you’re a Christian?” he said immediately before I could add the rest of my speech.
      Caught a little off guard by being interrupted, it took me a few moments to answer, “Well, yes. I believe that I’m too young for this sort of thing yet, and right now I’m focusing on thinking of every boy just as a brother in Christ.”
      Ewan’s blue eyes flickered. “I know why you won’t go with me.”
      “Um…well, I did just explain it,” I pointed out. “And I could…”
      “And I understand,” he interrupted. “You like Sam.”
      I felt ready to puke. “What!? Of course I don’t! We’re just really good friends!”
      “Then why’d you look sick when I told you that he was Laura’s boyfriend?” he demanded. “And why won’t you go to the fair with me?”
      “The reason I looked sick is because I was feeling sick because…I don’t know…I guess I didn’t see Sam as the dating type,” I admitted. “And I already explained why I can’t go with you, Ewan. I’m so sorry. But it’s really what I believe.”
      “I don’t even want to know why,” he spat. “I thought we were friends.”
      “And we still are,” I assured.
      Ewan glared. “Not anymore.”
      Then he stalked off.
      Oh, great.

My Twenty-Third Chapter
“What on earth was Ewan talking to you about?” Casey questioned as we walked through the lunch line together.
      I groaned. “He hates me because I told him what I believed about dating.”
      “He asked you?!” she squealed.
      “Well, yeah,” I admitted. “But of course I said no.”
      She looked at me, horrified. “Why on earth?!”
      “Because, Casey,” I sighed. “I don’t believe in dating. You know that. I believe that all guys are just brothers in Christ, and dating and being engaged is for when I’m older and everything. I want to marry a Godly guy, not just some every day off the street. I want my first marriage to be my only, God-centered marriage.”
      Casey snorted. “Going with Ewan to the Medieval Fair doesn’t mean that you’d get married to him.”
      I turned suddenly to face her. “But you know what, Casey? This whole dating thing that’s taken over America is like practicing marriage when you’re younger. When you break up, it’s just like a divorce. I don’t want that.”
      “You’ve got it all wrong,” she declared. “It’s totally not like that.”
      “Yes, it is,” I muttered. I spoke up louder. “And you’re not going to change my mind on the fact.”
      “Look,” she sighed, “the reason that I’ve never had a boyfriend is…well…”
      “You always told me it was because you didn’t want anything getting between us as friends,” I pointed out.
      I glanced over my shoulder at her. Her eyes were looking guilty.
      “Casey?” I whispered.
      “OK, fine,” she sighed. “The reason is because I’ve never really been asked.” Tears came to her eyes. “And now you’re talking about Ewan Kramer asking you as if it’s nothing. I’d kill for him to ask me.”
      “That’s scary,” I pointed out.
      She glared. “Yeah, well, not literally. But you know what I mean.”
      “It’s really important to you?” I asked.
      Casey hesitated, and then nodded. “I’ve always felt ugly,” she whispered.
      I looked at her. “Whoa, you’ve totally gone and got it wrong. You’re not ugly!”
      “Then why hasn’t anyone ever asked me?” she hissed.
      I didn’t know what to say.
      “It’s because I’m ugly,” she went on. “And I stink at sports. And I can’t do anything right.”
      “No, Casey,” I told her. “You’re a beautiful young woman blessed by God.”
      “God?” Tears dribbled down her cheeks. “He…He’s not even real.”
      “Yes, He is,” I whispered. “He’s the most amazing thing ever.”
      “You’ve been trying to make me a Christian my entire life,” she hissed. “It’s not… I don’t have to be one, OK?”
      “Casey…” I trailed off. I wanted to tell her so much. I wanted to tell her that if she wasn’t a Christian, that she was going to hell. I wanted to tell her about God so much, just like I’d done, over and over again over the years. I wanted to her of His love for her. But I didn’t. Because I’d been pushing it on her our whole lives. I just couldn’t do this to her now.
      “Just…just give me a little time to cool down, OK?” Casey whispered. “I just… Piper, I’m going to miss you so much when I move to New York. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had in my whole life. Just…just promise me that you’ll stop trying to evangelize me, OK? I can’t stand it anymore.” Her eyes pleaded with me. “Please promise?”
      I hesitated, but then shook my head. “Casey,” I whispered, “I can’t. That’s who I am.”
      “Well, let’s at least stop talking about it for today,” she begged. “Please, Piper.”
      I realized that she wasn’t open, and it saddened me. What if she died in a car crash on the way home from school? I shook my head as we continued down the lunch line. I couldn’t have done anything else. Casey was going to have to make her own choices. It had been my job, in my opinion, that she know that God loved her that He was always there for her. Now it was up to Casey to make her own decision about her faith.
      “I can’t stop her,” I realized as I walked to my lunch table. “I can’t stop her.”

My Twenty-Fourth Chapter
Dear Readers,
      Today’s the day. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen until it already has, but I’ve got something planned. And I hope it’s going to change lives.
      Today at our school there’s going to be a Medieval Fair. I know, like awesome, right? Anyway, so I got this really awesome costume which I’m really excited to wear.
      And that’s only it.
      Today’s September 29th.
      My birthday.
      Now I’m fourteen. It’s kind of weird. It doesn’t really feel any different than being thirteen. I just can’t imagine what it’s going to like being like twenty or something. haha =D
I’m really excited about today. And it’s not just because of the fair and my birthday with the presents and everything. (they were really awesome =)) But there’s something else that I’m planning.
I’ll make sure to tell you guys all about it after it’s over. =)
Keep loving fall,

I quickly published the post, hoping that Sam wouldn’t read it and catch on that something other than normal was behind my words. Of course, I was pretty sure that he didn’t read my posts anyway. I mean, I hadn’t gone a comment from him. (Though why would he comment? I mean, it was his blog…)
      I quickly checked my messages on mail and, seeing that there was a new one from Casey, quickly clicked on it. I used to not think myself as very computer savvy, but I felt like I was getting better.

To: Piper Leap <>
From: Casey Whittier <>
Dear Piper,


Casey :)

I smiled and started to write her one back.

To: Casey Whittier <>
From: Piper Leap <>

Dear Casey,

I know, right?! =D By the way, I never asked you this before, but why on earth is your email KC.W???


I clicked send, and then a chat box popped up, nearly scaring me to death.

Casey: Hey!!!!! J
Me: Oh, hi!
Casey: I saw your email. You’re going to feel really stupid in a few moments.
Me: ???
Casey: Sound my email out.
Me: OHHHHHHH!!! Like Casey KC?
Casey: yeah haha =D
Me: Yeah, you’re right, I feel really stupid =P
Casey: Hey, look, Jess’s on! I’ll invite him to the chat.
Me: OK, sure.
Jessup: Hey, guys!
Me: haha
Jessup: What?
Me: Sorry, it just looks so funny to see Jessup. =P
Me: Hey, Jess, are you doing the joust thingy?
Jessup: Yeah. Sam and I were planning on signing up together, but he wasn’t really around, so I just signed up myself. I think I saw Ewan on the sign up, too.
Me: ????
Casey: I told him.
Me: Told him what??
Jessup: That Ewan asked you out on a date. Thanks for saying no.
Me: CASEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How could you?!
Casey: I’m really sorry! It’s just that Jess asked so I just went and told him.
Jessup: Yeah, and why wouldn’t you tell me?
Me: Maybe because that’s private?
Jessup: Well it’s obvious you were horrified. Did you get to throw the Christian dating line at him?
Me: ??????
Casey: Yeah, she did. =P
Me: Gee, thanks for not telling everything that happened… =P
Casey: You’re welcome.
Jessup: I think she was being sarcastic, Case.
Me: CASE?!
Casey: Don’t freak out!
Me: About what?
Casey: I just said that Jess could call you Case.
Me: Yeah, well, it was just reminding me of when Ewan called me “Pipe”. *gross*
Jessup: bahahahahahahaha
Me: IT WASN’T FUNNY!!!!!!!
Casey: Right. I wish I’d been there with a camera!! =D
Jessup: You can say that again!!
Me: You two are just cruel.
Jessup: What a blow.
Casey: Sheesh, we were just kidding. =D
Me: I know
Jessup: Hey, I’ve got to go. Talk to you lovely gals later!
Me: Yeah. Bye!! :)
Casey: Bye, Jess!!!!!!!! =)
Me: I should probably get off, too. See you later:)

I quickly logged off, then got up and climbed out of the tree house. I took off running for my own house, my thoughts on my awesome medieval dress and on all of the things that we’d planned for this day—my fourteenth birthday.
      And, hopefully, the day that we salvaged our friendship with Sam.

My Twenty-Fifth Chapter
“Piper!” Mom yelled up the stairs. “Are you ready to go yet?”
      I quickly put down the curling iron long enough to yell, “Yeah, Mom!” before quickly putting a few more curls in my hair.
      “Really? Then why aren’t you down here?”
      “Just a few more seconds!” I pleaded, quickly turning off the curling iron and rushing into my room.
      I quickly grabbed my bag and then hurried down the stairs, slipping into some flats and a plaid jacket. The jacket didn’t really go with the beautiful medieval dress, but it was going to have to do since it was going to get chilly tonight.
      I was just rounding the corner to rush out the door when Mom surprised me by grabbing me by my shoulders, a big smile on her face, bright like Christmas lights.
      “You look beautiful, Piper,” she told me with a smile. “I’m proud of you.”
      I smiled back. “Thanks, Mom.”
      “For everything that you’ve done,” she added, her voice quivering slightly. “I’m so, so proud of you. I’ve just really seen your heart over the last few weeks—how you’ve cared for Laura and all of those other kids, how you’ve made such good new friends… Just everything.” Mom’s eyes locked on mine. “I’m proud to call you my daughter, my beautiful, talented, graceful Piper Leap.”
      I smiled away tears that threatened to break through. “Thanks, Mom,” I whispered.
      “Now,” she started more briskly, “I believe that I’ve got to get you to the Medieval Fair.” She paused. “Piper, I’ve got to tell you something. Your father and I…”
      At just that moment, the phone rang. Mom groaned and walked over, going to answer it. I sighed and then walked out to the minivan, climbing in and fastening my seatbelt. The car was already on, so I turned on the radio.
      Mom finally finished her call and got into the car. She looked like she wanted to say something, but the radio was up pretty loud, so she didn’t. I frowned and just tried to ignore it. Besides, why would Mom really want to talk to me about something? I mean, it wasn’t like I’d gotten in trouble at school or something lately. And hadn’t she just told me how proud of me she was?
      I shrugged off that weird feeling that was following me around about Mom’s looks and just tried to relax, reviewing how I was sure the evening would go—I would arrive, got to the party, get it all perfect, and then have Jess go and find Sam and bring him in. Then we’d surprise him, I’d make my speech, hand out the Bibles, and then we’d just spend the rest of the night the greatest of friends.
      Yeah, well, that’s what I supposed would happen. But who knew? I leaned against the door. What if everything backfired? What if Casey got sick and Sam wasn’t there and Jess hurt himself and…?
      …And what if Ewan kidnapped me?
      OK, that was a little over the top. Ewan hardly seemed like the type of person to kidnap someone else. I was pretty sure I knew him a little better then that.
      I glanced out the window and realized that we were already at the school. The soccer fields were covered in medieval tents of all shapes, colors, and sizes. I smiled. We were here. But there was also a lurch in my stomach.
      The second the car stopped, I hopped out of the car, my hand on my bag. Medieval music filled my ears, and delicious smells drifted over to me. I smiled and started towards the tents, hoping to spot a familiar face already among the crowd that was everywhere among the tents.
      “Piper…!” I heard Mom yell.
      “I’m going to go and find Casey,” I shouted back at her over my shoulder. “I’ll catch up with you later!”
      Clutching my bag, I ran into the crowd, fueled by nervous energy. My brown eyes swept over the crowd as I rushed through them, trying to spot the tavern place where Casey had gotten for our little party.
      “Piper!” Somebody grabbed my arm and nearly made me fall on my face.
      “Oh, Casey, hey!” I smiled at my best friend.
      “This is the place.” Casey smiled brightly and pointed.
      I gasped.
      I couldn’t believe it.
      There was a small like hut and a spit with a pig roasting on it—being turned by Mr. Patterson—by lots of wooden tables with benches, all built in a kind of outdoor café style. At the front of the tables was a dais—a.k.a. like a medieval stage—with a mike set up. Hanging on wires over the tables were Chinese lanterns—I wasn’t quite sure they were medieval, but they were definitely pretty—and there were lots of balloons halfway hiding behind the food hut.
      “Isn’t it great?!” Casey squealed excitedly. “I think it’s perfect!”
      “I…I can’t believe it!” I admitted.
      “It’s good, right?” Casey asked, all of a sudden anxious.
      I glanced at my best friend. Dressed in a deep red gown, her blonde hair pulled back elegantly, she looked beautiful. Her face was eager and bright. I smiled. I wanted to always remember her looking like that.
      “It’s perfect,” I whispered, nearly choking on tears.
      She hugged me tightly. “It’s going to be the best night ever. It’s all going to work out perfectly.”
      I pulled out of the hug, laughing. “Well, we can always hope, right?”
      Casey smiled. “Yeah. We can.”
      Jousting over in the main arena!” someone blasted out over the loud speakers that were set up on stands all around the fair.
      “Jousting?” I smiled.
      “We do have time,” Casey winked.
      “Let’s go,” I grinned.
      Both of us took off running through the crowd. It wasn’t hard to find the “main arena”—a cleared out spot in the middle of one of the soccer fields—what with all of the people with horses and rubber sticks running around.
      Casey and I quickly pushed our way through the crowds and into the soccer bleachers that had been moved over for the “arena”. We took a place pretty close to the front, like the second or third row. There were several targets set out. Mrs. Daily was sitting by a microphone, several piles of papers sitting by her.
      “Welcome, everyone,” she spoke into the mike, “to Applegate Middle School’s first Medieval Fair! I’m proud to be announcing the Jousting events that will take place here tonight.” Then she went on to talk about the kids and how they could possibly get hurt, and how you couldn’t sue the school, and so on.
      “Can they just hurry up and get to the point?” Casey hissed.
      “Our first contestant,” Mrs. Daily finally said, “is James Jones!”
      The kid, on a really tame looking old gelding, came out with one of those really fake looking rubber sticks and trotted over to one of the targets. Even though he was trotting, he still missed it. The whole crowd groaned. I personally felt bad for him.
      After awhile of watching some kids trotting, some kids cantering, some kids galloping, some kids missing, some kids getting close, and some kids actually hitting the target, I started to just kind of tune out.
      Until I heard, of course, that fateful name.
      “And next up, we have Sam Harper!”
      “Sam?” I must’ve said it be pretty loudly, because the kid in front of me turned and gave me a weird look.
      “Wasn’t Jess great?” Casey gushed. “I think he did an awesome job.”
      “Jess went?” I queried absentmindedly.
      She glared at me. “You missed it?”
      I shrugged. “Sorry.”
      She elbowed me and pointed out onto the field. I looked up to see a kid dressed in what looked like pretty authentic armor. I’d seen several other kids dressed up in what looked like armor, too. He looked strong and confident, and his horse was prancing and high strung.
      “Sam,” I whispered.
      He took off galloping for the target.
      He got it.
      I stood up with the rest of the crowd and cheered wildly.
      “That was pretty amazing, wasn’t it?” I smiled to Casey.
      She gave me a look. “Yeah. Sure.”
      I frowned. “What?”
      “That’s the most animated I’ve seen you all night,” she pointed out.
      I shrugged. “So?”
      “So never mind,” she grumbled.
      There were several kids, but I kept on thinking about Sam. And the fact that he hadn’t signed up with Jess, like they’d planned. And about his surprise birthday party that I was still hoping would be a success. Until, of course, I was thrown out of my thoughts by yet another familiar name.
      “Up next, we have Ewan Kramer.”
      Everyone cheered loudly as Ewan, dressed in black armor and on a black horse, trotting into the arena. I was kind of surprised. Like Sam, the other guys with armor had just had normal armor. Not black armor. He smiled at the crowd, and then slipped on his helmet. I frowned, holding my breath slightly as he galloped recklessly towards the target.
      He hit it.
      The crowd went wild.
      “How come you didn’t cheer for him?” Casey demanded. “I mean, he’s like popular and he’s nice to you.”
      I just shrugged.
      I continued to watch, and I found myself smiling again and again as Sam kept on beating the other kids as they kept on competing against each other to get the best points by hitting the target just right. Lots of kids were eliminated, but not Sam. Even Jess got eliminated, after awhile.
      Finally, it was just down to Sam.
      And Ewan Kramer.
      “Oh, great,” I whispered.

My Twenty-Sixth Chapter
“Now,” Mrs. Daily started, “before we go on with our final championship, I must point out that the winner of the junior joust will get to pick the Lady of the Joust. That is, he will pick one special young lady”—here several girls giggled—“to wear this crown, and be titled Lady of the Joust.” She held up a beautiful, real-life looking tiara.
      “I hope I win it,” Casey whispered with a smile.
      “I’m sure you will,” I told her, though I wasn’t really sure why either Sam or Ewan would give her a crown, even though Sam was still apart of our little circle of friends. I mean, I guess I supposed that her and Jess had always just been good friends, and then of course her and me, and then Jess and I had been friends with everyone, and then Sam had just been more friends with Jess and me.
      “…Ewan Kramer!”
      I shook my head to bring myself back to the moment. Ewan rode back out on his black horse—I supposed it was a stallion, but I wasn’t quite sure—and rode towards the target again. He again hit the target, just as perfectly as he’d been doing all night.
      “So,” started Casey, “if Sam can get just a little closer to the center of the target, he’ll win.”
      “I thought Ewan was on the center,” I pointed out.
      She gave me a look. “Do you need glasses? Because it was pretty obvious to me that Ewan was at least a little off. It was sloppier then his earlier hits.”
      I shrugged. “I thought they looked the same.”
      Ewan rode out, and then Sam was announced and came in. This time, Sam didn’t have his helmet on. Sam’s face was covered in sweat, his curly dark blonde hair wet. His hazel eyes seemed to be searching the crowd. That’s when they locked on me.
      Before I could think, Sam turned and flipped his helmet on. He lifted his jousting pole and took off towards the target. I held my breath the whole time. Every hoof beat of Sam’s horse seemed to echo inside of my mind. Every jolt of Sam’s body made me cringe with fear. There was a splintering crash. And then…
      The crowd was roaring with approval. I almost couldn’t believe it.
      Sam had won the joust.
      “Congratulations to Sam Harper!” Mrs. Daily shouted into the mike. “Winner of the junior joust!”
      Sam trotted his horse over to the judges’ table where Mrs. Daily sat. He leaned over and she handed him the tiara for the special lady—the Lady of the Joust. Sam turned and started to joust his horse around the arena.
      I glanced around for Sam’s mom, supposed that he would give it to her. I was so busy looking for her and so preoccupied that I nearly yelped and fell out of my seat when I heard the voice.
      My head flipped up. Sam’s eyes locked on mine. The kids sitting in front of me moved aside. Awkwardly, I got out of my seat and walked down into the aisle, gripping the railing right in front of me, separating me from the arena.
      Sam had a smile on his face as he leaned over in the saddle and…settled the tiara on my head. I glanced up at him again. The smile was still there.
      “Happy Birthday,” he whispered.
      Then he galloped off.
      I was stunned.
      To say the least.
      “Congratulations to Piper Leap, Lady of the Joust!” Mrs. Daily’s voice burst out.
      Everyone started cheering wildly, but I tuned them out. I watched as Sam disappeared from the ring. I stayed there, gripping the rail, even as the bleachers started to empty.
      Why had he acted so mad this whole time? And how could he have remembered my birthday? That was just so…nice. I couldn’t believe he would do that for me. That anyone would do that for me. Let alone Sam Harper.
      “I forgive you for the gross story in history,” I whispered.
      I nearly fell over. I turned and saw Sam sitting on the bleachers behind me, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, unlike the other people in the crowds all wearing medieval clothes.
      I laughed. “Yeah, well…you’ve got to know that I never really forgave you for that.”
      “I thought you said that it was Casey I scarred,” he pointed out.
      I shrugged. “I guess you kind of scarred me, too.” I hesitated. “Sam, thanks.”
      He tilted his head. “For what?”
      “For remembering my birthday,” I whispered.
      Sam smiled. “That’s what friends do.”
      I stared at him for a few moments before asking, “Why have you been acting so weird lately?” He cringed at my words, but I kept on. “I mean, really. We’ve been thinking that you hate us now.”
      Sam got up and stood beside me, staring out into the arena.
      “It’s not your guys’ fault,” he told me.
      “Then why?” I queried. “We’ve been…I mean…” I sighed. “Sam, we thought you hated us. We even decided to make a surprise party tonight so that you would forgive us.”
      He smiled at me ruefully. “So that’s why you just told me about it?”
      But I wasn’t feeling like it was a time to joke. “I…I guess I sensed that you weren’t mad at us,” I admitted seriously. “If you were, you wouldn’t have given me the tiara.”
      He shrugged. “True.”
      “You know…we had this whole plan.” I chuckled. “I guess it sounds kind of weird. We were going to have this huge ceremony. And I was supposed to make a speech.”
      “Aren’t you still going to do it?” he questioned. “I’d love to hear it.”
      I glanced over at him. “Well, I suppose we should go and get over there.”
      Sam hesitated. “Yeah, I guess.”
      I noticed that he was tearing up. “Sam,” I whispered, “what’s wrong?”
      “You want to know why I was avoiding you?” he queried.
      I frowned. “Don’t you mean why you were avoiding all of us?”
      He glanced over at us. “You were mostly always together. But it was you I was avoiding.”
      I frowned. “Why?”
      Sam sighed and looked away. “Because.”
      Suddenly I felt sick. “Wait…you don’t like…you know…like me, right? Because…yeah.”
      “No,” he laughed. “I mean, I like you as a friend, but for me, you’re just my sister in Christ.”
      “And you’re just my brother in Christ,” I assured him, filled with relief. I paused. “So then, what is it?”
      Sam glanced over at me. A tear slipped down his cheek. “I…I, um… Well, I guess I’m not supposed to know this, but, um…” he trailed off, his hands clutched together. “You should’ve told us,” he whispered quietly.
      “What’re you talking about?” I wondered.
      He glanced over at me. “Piper, why didn’t you tell us that you were moving to New York?”
      I reeled backwards.
      My heard like crazy.
      My heart pumped wildly.
      My eyes blinked crazily.
      My mouth was dry.
      He frowned. “You mean…you mean you don’t know?”
      “I’m…I’m not moving to New York.” I sounded more like I was trying to convince myself then to convince Sam. “I’m not moving to New York. It was Casey who was supposed to be moving to New York!” I turned to Sam. “See, Casey told me that she heard her parents saying that she was going to move to New York, and…”
      “Wait, wait, what?” Sam looked totally confused. “No, no, it’s you who’s moving to New York, Piper. Remember that day when I came to your house? Well, um, I was at the ice cream shop across the street afterwards, just for a quick ice cream cone. Well, I was leaving, and then I…um…well…I accidently heard your mom talking on the front porch as I was coming out the door. I admit it, I was kind of wondering why she was looking so worried and whatever, so I walked onto the other side of the street.” He glanced over at me. “And you know what I heard her say? She said, ‘We’re moving to New York early October, hopefully soon after Piper’s birthday.’”
      It all made sense. She would’ve been talking with whoever she was talking with while I was distracted with Casey with the sleepover. While we were watching movies and goofing off, Mom was talking about New York.
      I felt my stomach tighten. “After my birthday? That’s today.”
      He nodded. “Yeah. Well, I thought you just hadn’t told the rest of us.” He glanced down at his feet. “And I felt like you’d betrayed us. Betrayed me. I never guessed that you didn’t know.”
      I felt terrible. “But…but Casey was sure that it was her that was moving to New York. Could it be possible that both of us are moving to New York and neither of our parents have told us about it?” I glanced over at him.
      That’s when I realized something.
      What Casey had heard went through my brain.
     “It’ll be so hard on Casey for her and Piper to be so far apart.”
“Casey’s going to miss Piper so much.”
She’d never heard that she was the one who’d been moving to New York. She’d just obviously thought it was her.
And all along it had really been me.
Piper Leap.
Age thirteen now fourteen.
Eighth grade at Applegate Middle School.
Fall freak.
“Why?” I whispered.
“What?” frowned Sam.
“It’s been me the whole time,” I explained. “It was always me that was moving. Casey just immediately thought it was her that was moving. I mean, she was eavesdropping, after all, so it’s not like they would tell her that they were the ones the moving.” I just couldn’t believe it. “I’m actually moving to New York.”
Sam shook his head. “I don’t want you to move.”
“Me, either,” I whispered. “Not ever.”
“So what’re you going to do about it?” he asked me.
I glanced at him. “I don’t know.” I stared out into the arena. “I just don’t know.”


My Twenty-Seventh Chapter
“Piper! Sam! There you are!” Casey ran up to us. “Where on earth have you two been?!”
      “Here,” we both said at the same time. We looked at each other.
      “Piper,” Casey hissed. “The party?”
      “Oh, right!” I jumped to my feet. “Sam, come on. We’ve got to get to your party.”
      Sam chuckled. “Right.”
      We all took off running through the crowds. Dark shadows were taking over the light of day as we raced towards Sam’s party. In my mind I tried to rehearse the speech I was supposed to make, but I kept on having this one thought just keep on butting in—my parents didn’t tell me that we were moving.
      Why wouldn’t they? They’d always told me stuff like this before. This wasn’t like them. They were always telling me reasons for things. They were always like that. They didn’t like keeping things from me.
      We arrived at the café out of breath from running the whole. Jess had been nervously pacing back and forth, and sighed in relief at the sight of us.
      “Where have you been?!” he cried, grabbing my arm. “Come on! You have to do your speech!”
      He pushed me through the crowd of people assembled at the tables, some of them eating, some of them just talking. Jess pushed me up onto the dais and then walked off.
      I stood, sweaty-palmed, facing the audience. And suddenly the worst thing in the world happened to me.
      I totally forgot my speech.
      “Um…uh…” I felt sick.
      Come on, think, Piper!
      God, please help me.
     “Welcome!” I managed with a forced smile. “My name’s Piper Leap. Thank all of you for coming tonight.” I was pretty sure that was part of the speech, but which part, I didn’t remember. “Tonight was a special party planned by me and my friends, Casey Whittier and Jess Penderwick, in honor of a great friend of ours.” I smiled and pointed towards Sam, who’d taken a seat with Casey and Jess at a table in the middle of the café. “The champion junior jouster, Sam Harper!” That was obviously not part of the original speech.
      Sam waved as everybody clapped. That’s when Casey pushed him up towards the front.
      Oh, stink.
      I knew that this wasn’t part of it.
      Sam awkwardly made his way onto the stage.
      “Jess, Casey, and I,” I continued hurriedly, “have really enjoyed Sam as a friend and wanted to do something really special for him tonight. This night’s for you, Sam!” I smiled.
      I knew the speech stunk, but it was the best I could do off the top of my head. Sam just kind of smiled and waved again as everybody continued clapping. Then he did something that was definitely off the program.
      He walked towards me and I had two choices—move out of the way so that he could have center stage, or get hit by a kid who was just crowned champion junior jouster. Of course I moved out of the way.
      “Thank you, Piper,” Sam smiled. “You, Jess, and Casey are also very special friends. I’m honored and blessed to have you as friends. God bless you all!”
      Everyone clapped and cheered loudly. Sam smiled at me, and we walked off the dais. I was still so shook up from having forgotten my speech in front of everybody that Sam practically had to lead me back to the table where he’d been sitting with Jess and Casey and sit me down in a chair.
      “You did great,” smiled Casey.
      “Agreed,” grinned Jess.
      And that’s when I looked up.
      And saw Mom and Dad staring at me.
      I gulped.

My Twenty-Eighth Chapter
“Casey,” I hissed urgently, “I’ve got to tell you something.”
      She frowned. “What?”
      I leaned even closer so that Sam and Jess, who were engrossed in a conversation with another kid at the table next to us, wouldn’t hear. “It’s about New York.”
      Casey shrugged. “It’s OK. You don’t have to say anything else.”
      “No, listen to me,” I urged. “I just found something out.” I took a deep breath. “Casey, you’re not the one…”
      “Piper.” Mom was suddenly standing right next to me, a rather forced smile on her face. “Your father and I need to talk with you.”
      I gave Casey a look like “HELP!” and then got up from the table and followed my parents away from the happy people at the café. I gave one more look at the roasting pig and the Chinese lanterns and then didn’t look back until we were on the outskirts of the happy party.
      “I already know,” I started, “I already know that we’re…”
      “Piper, please just listen,” Dad begged.
      I sighed. “Alright.”
      Mom’s cheek was twitching nervously as she spoke. “We know we should’ve told you,” she whispered, “but we just wanted you to enjoy your last few days here…you know…just like normal. We didn’t want you to have to worry about anything, to keep on dreading the day that we’d have to leave.”
      If I hadn’t known what they were going to say, I might’ve said something like, “Leave? Where are we going?” or maybe even, “What’re you talking about?” But no. I bit my lip and kept silent, feeling tears filling my eyes.
      “Honey,” Dad started, “we’re moving to New York.”
      “Tomorrow,” Mom added.
      “WHAT?!” I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t stop myself. Sam had said like maybe a few weeks after my birthday. Not the day AFTER my birthday!!!
      “Please don’t freak out,” Mom begged. “We didn’t want you to worry.”
      I couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe that they’d put me through this. They expected this to be better? I would’ve much more appreciated being able to just say goodbye to Applegate, to my school, to my friends, to my tree house, in my own simple way.
      Not all of these lies. All of these hidden secrets. How could they do this to me?! I wasn’t some baby! I was fourteen years old! I was old enough to understand this sort of thing. But nobody was too young to be lied to.
      I looked up at him, anger filling every particle of my being. “How could you?” I hissed. “How could you?!”
      “Piper, please…” Dad’s face was full of anguish.
      “Why didn’t you just tell me?” My tears choked me. “Couldn’t I have understood? Couldn’t I have been old enough to understand this? But…but telling me the DAY BEFORE?! Are you crazy!? My things aren’t even packed!”
      “Don’t worry,” Mom assured. “Tomorrow’s just a two day trip, so that you can go and check out the apartment. We’re having our things shipped to us in a few days. There’s still time tonight and tomorrow morning to get stuff ready for a small trip like that. And, besides, I’ve actually sent a lot of stuff ahead of us. You just didn’t notice.”
      “You’re…you’re horrible!” I yelled at them.
      “Piper,” Dad glared. “Don’t talk to us like that.”
      “I can’t believe this!” I spat.
      I turned on my heel and started walking quickly away, my heels flashing out from underneath my medieval dress.
      “Piper!” Mom yelled after me.
      “Just go away!” I shouted back, taking off at a run.
      I didn’t look back. I didn’t want to look back. As I ran, I realized I wanted to outrun everything—Mom, Dad, New York, moving…everything. I wanted to outrun everything wrong that was happening to me. I just wanted to outrun it. I was sure that if I went fast enough, I could just leave it behind. I left the school and took off through the streets of Applegate. I went past our house, raced through the field towards the tree house. I reached the woods, but I kept on running. Running, running, running.
      I didn’t look back.

My Twenty-Ninth Chapter
I don’t know how long I ran. My dress was torn around my feet, my legs burned like fire, my cheeks were wet… The tears wouldn’t stop coming. The sobs wracked my body. I tried to stop them, but I couldn’t. I was getting exhausted by running and crying, but I couldn’t stop either. I kept on going. Forest flashed past me. I was again in a field. In another forest. I didn’t know where I was, but for some reason I didn’t care.
      Why, God?
     The question that everyone asks. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I felt so lost. I wanted to stop, but I found myself going on and on. My thoughts were jumbled and confused. Tears blinded my eyes. I kept on running, tripping over sticks, leaves crunching underneath my feet.
      I kept on running.
      So many pictures flashed through my head—Casey, Jess, Sam, us together, in computer class, September Piper, Sam and I working on the blog together, being with Laura Kramer, the soccer game with Laura and Ewan, the faces of each and every kid that I’d helped throughout September… It was all there. All of those memories.
      And they were all in Applegate.
      How would I be able to survive in New York City? I didn’t think I could. I would be forever haunted by memories of Applegate. Whenever I’d thought of Casey leaving, it had always been a little bearable. At least then I would’ve still been here with Sam and Jess and the familiar town with my tree house and all of the beautiful fall weather.
      And now? I was going to be stuck in a city with skyscrapers and muggers and nine foot floor Macy’s. What was the point? That was no place for me. No place for September Piper. No place for anyone from Applegate.
      I collapsed from exhaustion in a pile of leaves, crying my eyes out. I couldn’t stop. The thoughts kept on running wild in my head. I was tired, I didn’t want to get up. I wished I could stay forever in those leaves, hiding—those leaves of September. Of that girl, that girl called September Piper. But I couldn’t. I got up and kept on running. But I couldn’t see.
      And I definitely didn’t see the gully coming up.
      And then I was tumbling—falling down the gully, hitting stones and rocks, leaves flying wildly around me, my eyes flashing in and out as my head was banged, again and again. And then I stopped. It was done. I was at the bottom of the hill, tired, broken, hurt, and scared.
      “I just want it all to stop,” I whispered.
      I couldn’t move. I couldn’t keep on running. I was stuck. And so I stayed there, crying my eyes out. I didn’t really have a choice. In my mind I was still running—outrunning everything that I had ever wanted to. I was still going, I was still winning the race. But whenever I opened my eyes, I was still hurt at the bottom of a gully somewhere in Virginia.

      The call was faint. And then I heard it again.
      And again.
      Each time it was a different voice. And they kept on calling.
      All of these different voices. All calling for me. My eyes flickered open. Who were they? What did they want? Were they coming to rescue me? I tried to get up, but pain shot up my leg from my ankle. I cringed and let myself back down.
      “Piper!” That one was closer this time.
      “I’m down here,” I called. But in reality it was only a small whisper. I tried again. “I’m down here!” That was a little better.
      “I’m here!” I yelled as loudly as I could get my tired lungs to do.
      “Hey, guys, I think we’ve found her!”
      There was a scrabbling sound, and yells and shouts. And then somebody was kneeling right beside me.
      “Piper, speak, Piper. Are you OK? What’s wrong?”
      “My…my ankle,” I managed to croak out. “My right one. It…hurts.”
      “It’s going to be OK.”
      It seemed like lots more people showed up. Somebody picked me up and carried me out of the gully. My eyes were closed. I was too tired to open them and try and see who was carrying me, hopefully towards Applegate, Virginia, and my own bed.
      The last thing I remembered was somebody whispering, “It’s going to be alright, Piper… It’s going to be alright, September Piper.”

My Thirtieth Chapter
When I opened my eyes again, I almost couldn’t believe them.
      Warm quilts were bundled around me. The old Victorian chair was by the door. The alarm clock by my bed read 10:46 in the morning. I shook my head in disbelief.
      “I’m…I’m home,” I whispered.
      “Well, I’m glad that you can at least recognize this place,” came the snort.
      I jumped and stared at the end of my bed. Casey was sitting there with a smile on her face. Her face looked tired and worn, though, and her braid was frazzled.
      “How’re you going?” she questioned.
      “Pretty good,” I whispered.
      “We didn’t get you checked out by the doctor,” she grinned, “but we’re pretty sure that you just went and severely sprained your ankle. Apparently you’re going to be OK. Why on earth did you go and run away?” She playfully punched my arm. “What would I have done without you?”
      I managed a smile. “I don’t know.”
      She held up a black book. I couldn’t believe it. It was the Bible that I’d been planning on giving her but had forgotten.
      “Where…where did you get that?” I whispered.
      Casey shrugged. “Yeah, well, when your parents came back and told us that you went and ran off, of course I went and grabbed your bag. It just so happens that I was overly curious why it was making me puff and huff like a hippo the whole search.” She winked. “That’s when we got back and I checked. It had my name on it, so I supposed I wasn’t causing any harm.”
      “You’re…you’re reading it,” I said bluntly, in disbelief.
      “Of course,” she chuckled. She leaned forward and whispered, “I’m a Christian now, after all.”
      “You are?” I couldn’t hide my surprise.
      She nodded. “Sam helped me. And this time, it was my choice.”
      I sighed. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to force it on you.”
      Casey smiled. “I know.”
      We were both quiet for a moment.
      “So I guess I’m still going to New York, huh?” I whispered.
      Casey sighed. “Yeah, I guess so.” She glanced up at me. “Gosh, I can’t believe that it was really you that was moving to New York. And all of this time I thought I was the one going.”
      I nodded. “It’s kind of a weird thought.”
      “Hey,” she started, “don’t you want to know what happened?”
      I frowned. “What?”
      “You know,” she chuckled. “Like last night?” She suddenly got serious. “When we found you, you looked like you were knocked out or something. I was afraid that you were dead.”
      “You were there?” I questioned in surprise.
      She nodded. “Yeah, like the whole school was. When you first ran off, your parents were too stunned to do anything. Then they ran back and told everybody what had happened. And then just like everybody volunteers to help look for you. We searched for like three or four hours until we finally found you in a gully right outside of Deer Creek.”
      I’d made it all the way to Deer Creek?!
      “I…um…” I didn’t know what to say.
      “It was Sam who found you,” Casey admitted. “Jess and I were with him. He kept on insisting that he’d thought he’d heard something. And that’s when all of us heard you. We went down, and then your dad came and picked you up and took you back to Applegate.” She smiled wanly. “Back home.”
      We were both quiet for a moment.
      “I…I suppose I should thank him,” I whispered.
      Casey smiled. “Yeah, I guess so.” She paused. “And you know what? I used to like Sam better then Ewan, you know? But now? I see that Sam’s a way better person.”
      “Yeah,” I whispered. “I guess he is.”
      “Anyway,” she continued, “I was supposed to stay here and tell the others if you woke up, so I suppose I should go and tell them, huh?”
      I laughed. “Yeah, I guess so.”
      Casey smiled and then got off my bed, walking out the window. The second she closed my door, I leaned over and grabbed out from underneath my bed one of my secret fall scrapbooks. I opened the cover and looked at the leaves spread over it. I stared at it for awhile. I realized that when Mom and Dad came up, I was ready to apologize for running away. Maybe they would even apologize for not telling me about our move to New York City. I didn’t know, I didn’t care. But I knew what I was going to do. And that’s mattered. Because I could only control myself. And I was ready. Because I knew what I had to do.
      “Wherever I go,” I whispered, glancing out the window and out into the beautiful Virginia countryside, “I’m always going to be the same Piper. September Piper.”

My Thirty-First Chapter
That’s not quite the end of the story, though it does sound like a great place to end it. Mom and Dad decided to postpone our move to New York for several weeks so that I could get healed—and say goodbye.
      Goodbye to Applegate, goodbye to the school, goodbye to my friends, goodbye to my tree house, goodbye to my home, and goodbye to Virginia.
      I couldn’t even begin to think about what life would be like without Jess, Casey, and Sam. But after I made Sam promise to start posting on September Piper—or at least get his own blog—I was at least assured to be able to communicate with all of them through blogs.
      I almost managed to get Sam’s email, since I already had Casey’s and Jess’s emails. Like the other two, he had a Gmail account, so I was looking forward to chatting with the three of them together in a group chat.
      I managed to come up with a speech and did a big thank you to the whole school, who had mostly all gone to go and search for me. Afterwards, I found myself with a lot more pen pals that I had promised to write to.
      I also made sure to give Jess and Sam their new Bibles. (Since Casey had already grabbed hers…) Both of them were super excited about them. Sam promised to get me an ice cream cone sometime in the future. Jess just gave me a big brother hug.
      And then I decided to do something that I never thought that I’d ever do.
To: Casey Whittier <>, Sam Harper <>, Jessup Penderwick <>
From: Piper Leap <>

Hey guys,
I have something to give to you. Please meet me at my tree house (Casey knows the way) today after school.

I smiled as I sent it.
      And yet I was sad, because I knew what I was doing was going to be something hard.
      I was in the tree house long before I needed to. By the time Casey, Jess, and Sam showed up, I was pretty wired.
      “Please,” I urged. “Sit. I have something for each of you guys.”
      They all gave me strange looks, but sat down in a circle with me in my tree house. Then I pulled them out, and set one in front of each of them.
      My fall scrapbooks.
      “Are you…are you sure?” Casey whispered. “I mean, you love these things.”
      I nodded. “I want there to be something for you guys to remember me by.”
      “Don’t worry,” Sam smiled. “Nobody’s ever going to forget you.”
      I smiled appreciatively. “Thanks, guys.”
      We had a group hug.
      I knew I would never forget these guys.

Dear Readers,
      Hey, this is Piper. And I just want to tell you how glad I am that you’re here today. And I just want to tell you something. Something that’s important.
      Whoever you are, wherever you are, know this: if you have friends, you’re blessed. Friends are the people who care for you when you’re down. Who’re always there for you. If you have good friends, then you can’t believe how blessed you are.
      So next time you see your best friend, I want you to give them a hug, and to tell them how much they mean to you. Because who knows? Maybe you’re leaving tomorrow. You don’t know. Enjoy the time you have. It’s not forever, but it’s a long time.
      God bless,

To be continued


  1. Awesome!!!! It seems like all of your stuff ends in to be continued. Ugh! Haha.


  2. This is really cute:D I love it!!!


  3. It's so good, Storyteller! I mean really really really (and a thousand more) good! Please more soon!!!!

    1. Thanks, Autumn!!! :) I'm working on the second one... ;)

  4. Hey I read this long ago... but it was so good I thought I would come back to say how much.
    I think this was your best work yet! It is my favorite of all your stories!

    1. Thanks so much!! :) It's been one of my favorites, also... Piper, I think, is almost my favorite character that I have ever created. :)


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