Here is chapter one of Shruti's story. I decided to call it OVERWHELMED. Hope that's okay, Shruti! Enjoy!
  “Well. . .that sounds all right.” I said, in a very light, liberal voice. “When are we going?” “Next week.” my mother hurriedly brushed her bangs out of her face and continued washing the dishes. “For the summer.”

“The summer?”

“Well. . .yes.” said my mother, looking up at me with a surprised expression. “I thought you'd be pleased.

“But. .” I trailed off. “But Camille and Diana, and Sophie, and. . .and the mall, and shopping, and dances, and sleepovers. There'll be none of that at the beach. I mean, I need a tan, but for almost three months? Doesn't that seem a little.. .overkill?”

My mother laughed. “Sure all that will be at the beach. Come on, we're going to Florida!”

“To a little shack town where no people go to the beach, and where they get drunk on Saturday nights and run wild around the tiny town on their cheap motorcycles, screaming and hollering?” I retorted.

“Where the town will be named something very cheesy and all the restaurants serve smelly seafood and have bars? Where I'll have no cell phone reception and we'll end the summer being eaten by alligators?”

My mother laughed again. “Will you please stop laughing at me?” I said frustratedly.

My mother sobered. “Oh, Carmody. It'll be wonderful. I promise, you and your sisters will have a lovely time.”

“We'll see.” I said moodily. “But I've got to get to school.”

My mother offered a wave as I stepped out the front door to await the bus.


I jerked my head up to see the face of my teacher, Mrs. Able. I turned red.


“Carmody, I don't think you were paying attention.”


“Recite the eighth and ninth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.”

So that was what she had just been teaching about.

“Um, no weird punishments, or too much bail, and, um, oh! Quick trial, or something.”

My teacher walked back up to the front of the class. “Incorrect.”

A slithery hand rose from the seat directly in front of me.

“I can tell you, Mrs. Able.” said a voice so sweet and sugar coated that I nearly smacked the speaker.

The speaker was Margie Ann Ross, and she was the teacher's pet. Everyone else hated her, except for her best friend and also thoroughly annoying person, Marcy K. Hawfield.

Mrs. Able's stand-to-attention expression was broken with a smile at Margie Ann. “Of course, dear. Go ahead and tell us.”

Mrs. Able never called anyone but Margie Ann , 'dear'.

Margie Ann flashed back a fake smile, then stood up from her desk.

The 8th amendment,” recited Margie Ann, “Prohibits excess fines and excessive bail, as well as cruel and unusual punishment. The 9th amendment asserts the existence of unenumerated rights retained by the people.” Margie Ann looked around the classroom with an expression of pride, and looked as though she awaited an applause.

“Oh, Margie Ann!” exclaimed Mrs. Able, “That was wonderful, as always, dear. Come up here and get a lollipop.”

Mrs. Able kept lollipops in her drawer for children who had just done something exceptionally well,and nobody ever got them except for Margie Ann, who of course scored perfectly on every subject.

Margie Ann walked up to Mrs. Able's desk, received a lollipop, flashed some more fake smiles, and sat back down at her desk.

I looked to the desk next to me at my best friend, Camille. We simultaneously rolled our eyes.

“No, Mom. You were supposed to turn right on Heron Road two miles ago.”

“Are you sure?”

“Mom. Of course I'm sure. Turn around!”

“Don't sass, Lindsay.”

Suddenly, my mother jerked the steering wheel and the car swerved, sending Carrie flying across the car and into my lap.

We were on our way to Florida. “We”, meaning my mother, and sisters. Lindsay, who was fifteen, me, at thirteen, Roselle, at eight, and Carrie, at four.

My parents were divorced, and I lived with my mother. I hadn't seen my father since I was two.

So, we were lost somewhere in the Florida Keys, trying to get to our beach, and unfortunately right before we had left our GPS had been taken by a certain four-year-old who had wanted to play register with it, and it had been discovered in the refrigerator, sticky with applesauce. But of course Mom never got mad at Carrie. So we had gotten a map, and apparently it was difficult to use.

“Carrie,” I said, “Get off of me.” I shoved her off of my lap and back into her car seat, and buckled her in. “No, no!” she screamed, kicking the seat in front of her, which happened to be Lindsays. Lindsay turned around, a very angry expression on her face. “Roselle,” she yelled, “DON'T KICK MY CHAIR!” “It wasn't me!” Roselle said. “It was Carrie!”

Lindsay turned to Carrie. “Don't you dare-

“Lindsay!” my mother said, in a shocked voice. “Don't start at Carrie. Just turn around and give me directions.”

Lindsay rolled her eyes, and turned back around. Picking up the map, she continued to guide my mother.

In case you couldn't tell, my family was very dysfunctional .


“What do you mean, I have to share a room with Lindsay?” I huffed. “She's a bratty teenager.”

“Carmody!” my mother said. “Stop it. She's just . . .going through a phase. And yes, you two have to share a room, unless you” -my mother was looking pointedly at me- “Would rather share a room with Carrie and Roselle.”

I shook my head. “No way.”

“Then-” my mother said, “Why don't you go settle in your room. Lindsay's already up there.”

We were at the beach. Our house was pretty, just a little small for five people. It was a small little cottage on the beach. We could walk down the beach to town, and it was about half-a-mile. Also, half-a-mile away was also where all the people were on the beach. Where we were, we were alone.

Our cottage was white, with a wide front porch and lots of windows. It was surrounded by coconut palms and shells littered the front yard. We were about thirty yards from the water. We were surrounded by nature. Nearby canals, rivers and creeks were abundant. There was a forest behind our cottage.

Well, the title says it all. Yay! The Trial is over!!! I just decided to wrap it up into one section. Hope you've all enjoyed it! I can put it all together for you if you guys want it, email me if so.  Also, if you'll notice, I added two pictures to The Trial slide on the right.

 I'm working on your story, Shruti!


  Cleo blinked, unable to speak.

Suddenly, a girl from the table across the room, the smaller one, waved her hand for Cleo to come over there. “Come over here. Sit with us!” she called out. Cleo nodded and hurriedly walked over to the other table.

The girl that had called to her had a shock of long, thin, bright-red hair. Her introduced herself as Sophia Reinhart. “Come along, sit now.” she said cheerfully. “Over there. Next to Elaine.” she said, pointing across the narrow table to a spot next to the girl that her desk was next to in class, with the dark hair and shy manner. Cleo squeezed in next to Elaine, who gave Cleo a wan smile and then turned back to her food.

The girl on the other side of Cleo had blonde hair, cut like a bob, and her name, Cleo learned, was Camden. Camden Shepherd. “Coz' all the people n' ancestors in m' family lived in Cornwall, farmin' till ere' hearts gave out, n' then they moved t' London. No more 'eart problems.” she said in a fluent Cockney accent. Cleo was fairly charmed.

Then, all the girls wanted to know about America, and where Cleo had lived before she'd come. All of them asked questions, except for Elaine.

“Elaine.” Cleo had finally mustered up the courage to speak to her. “Elaine, do you—do you have any questions?”

Elaine turned to look at Cleo. “One.” she whispered. “Well,” said Cleo, “Ask away.”

Elaine took a deep breath. “What are the people like?”

Cleo was somewhat taken aback. “The people?” Elaine nodded. “Well. . .I don't know. Nice, some of them. Some not. We're very modern, though not as much as you Londoners.”

Elaine nodded thanks. “All right.”

Cleo looked at Elaine. “Elaine,” she said, “Would you like to come over after school?”

Elaine stared at Cleo, and nodded very slightly, a very small smile on her face.

Since that point, Cleo and Elaine became very, very close friends. Cleo still emailed Krystal, but then after a while Krystal's emails died off. Soon afterwords, Cleo received news that Krystal had been involved in an illegal smuggling scandal with Adriana Rodriquez.

They had been smuggling in British chocolate.

Cleo had found what Krystal had pressed into her hand at the goodbye, and remembered that she had forgotten to open it. She did so and found a very sweet note, next to a charm bracelet.

She did not wear the bracelet. She set that and the note back in the drawer to leave it be.

After Cleo had been at school for about a year, everyone began to accept her, though Keely Hart was always jealous of her.


Cleo and Elaine were walking around Piccadilly Circus in London. They stopped at the fountain in the middle of the square and sat down. Cleo had bought a cone of hot roasted chestnuts and the girls were going to share them.

“You know,” said Cleo, as she munched on a chestnut, “When I first came here, three years ago, I thought that this place was a hellhole.”

“What do you think now?” said Elaine, tilting her head to the side.

“I think it's home.”Cleo answered, breaking into a grin.

Life had turned out all right, after all.

  Wow! Cleo! OMG you emailed! I so wasn't expecting you too. . .But I'm glad you did. Hey, thanks for the chocolate. It was amazing. You know, I looked up on Google© why American chocolate isn't as good, and I found out why. We Americans—well, maybe not you anymore—but anyway, we put lots and lots of wax in out chocolate. The British only put a little, so theirs is better. So, about the French translation. She said to you, “Sors de mon chemin et être poli. Les gens ne sont jamais si rude en France. Américains inintelligente sont. Assez envahissant.” Well, . .um. .It was sort of an insult. But you asked to know, so I'll tell you. “Get out of my way, and be polite. People aren't so rude in France. You mindless Americans are always invading. . .” But anyhow, you know Adriana? Well, it's too hard to forget her, and I didn't mean that in a sweet way. So, anyhow, do you know what she did? When you left, she went over to your house—it's vacant right now—and she threw a party one Friday! That's illegal! So, she got into some real trouble. You know her dad is a police officer and all. . .Well, she didn't come back to school for four days, and then she didn't speak to anyone and her eyes were all red. So I don't know what happened to her but I don't think it was good. I have to go. . .Email back. Love yah.


“I. . . .I'm Cleopatra. Um . . . .Halifax.” The girl with the black hair gave her a quick once-over. “Why are you here? Oh, wait, you're that new girl, aren't you?” Cleo nodded. “Well, I'm Keely Hart.” said the girl. “People just call me Cleo.” Cleo said, still hung up on introductions. “Got it. Well, if you think I'm going to befriend you then you're wrong. I don't like new people.” said Keely, suddenly. “So leave me alone, and find a desk as far away from me as possible.” Surprised, and a little taken aback, Cleo wandered about the small room, looking for an open desk. She spotted one at the front of the class- room, and walked back there to sit down. “Hey! Don't sit here! It's Janie's seat. She's gone today, but you can't have it.” said a girl with dirty blonde hair and sharp eyes who was sitting at the desk to the right of it. “Oh.” said Cleo. “I'm sorry.” Cleo looked around some more, then finally saw one at the very back of the classroom. She walked back there and sat down. She was next to a girl with long, brown hair. The girl looked away as soon as Cleo sat next to her. Cleo shrugged and looked down at her new desk. It was clearly quite undesirable, as there was no light near it, and it looked old and had scratches in it, made from fingernails. Little messages were engraved all over it. Cleo looked down to inspect some of them.

WhY diD I CoME HerE??
SumMeR SCHool 1981
ThIS DesK iS RottEn.

In truth, Cleo was a bit freaked out. This desk is rotten? Cleo wondered. Well, it can't be a huge mystery. I'm sure it is. She looked towards the shy girl next to her. “Excuse me.” Cleo whispered. “What's your name? I'm Cleo.” The girl looked towards Cleo, her eyes widening in fear. She swallowed and made a slicing motion across her throat, shaking her head vehemently. Cleo's brow furrowed in confusion. “What? Are you not allowed to talk?” When Cleo said this, all heads in the classroom turned back to look at her. The girl next to Cleo bent down to her work. “Were you talking?” said Keely, her eyebrows raising. Cleo nodded, a bit scared. “That's not allowed here. If you do it again I'll tell Ms. Tilden. Then you'll be in real trouble.” Keely turned back her work. All of the other girls follwed her example. Oh, I see, thought Cleo. Keely is the teacher's pet. The spoiled brat. She's like the teacher when Ms. Tilden isn't around.

Cleo waited for Ms. Tilden to come back so she could work on something. When she finally did, she said that Cleo's mother had left. “Now, girls, here is your next assignment.” said Ms.Tilden, handing everyone a sheet of paper. Write a two-page essay on a famous woman who was born in London between 1780-1850, was the heading. Oh, no. Cleo didn't know what to do. “Um, Ms.Tilden.” she said, waving her sheet of paper in the air. “I don't know this.” Ms. Tilden looked up. “Surely you do. You Americans must have learned something of Britain in your history class at home?” “Well,” said Cleo, “Actually, not much.” “You still have to do it. You can think of somebody, surely.” said Ms. Tilden, making it clear that the matter was over. Cleo bent down to her paper, thinking and thinking. Suddenly, reaching inspiration, she headed the page:


By Cleopatra Halifax

Cleo had learned all about Florence Nightingale at home. This would be easy. She took her pencil and started writing hurriedly.

“What do you mean, I failed?”

Cleo stood in front of Ms. Tilden's desk. The other girls had just been dismissed to the lunchroom.

Ms. Tilden folded her hands across the top of her desk. “Miss Halifax, Florence Nightingale was born in Italy. She didn't move to England until the following year.” “B-but. . .” Cleo trailed off. “Miss Halifax, go claim your lunch. I will discuss this matter later, with your mother.” said Ms.Tilden, waving her arm in air at Cleo, as if to shoo her. Cleo nodded—sadly, though—and walked out of the schoolroom.

She followed the smell of food down the hall, and into a room on the left. She walked in. It was small and old-fashioned—and without windows, like the other room—but still nice. There were two large mahogany dining tables in the center of the room, and a polished counter against one of the walls, also mahogany. On top of it was plates, food, drinks, napkins, and forks, spoons and the like. All the other girls were already crowded at the tables, just beginning to eat.

Cleo walked over to the counter, grabbed a tray, and opened a crock pot holding food inside them. As soon as she opened the first one, she shrank back. There was a kind of red, bloody pudding inside. “Ulg. Ew.” said Cleo, replacing the lid and moving on to the next crock pot.

Inside the next one were some green mushy peas. “Well,” Cleo said to herself, “These look all right.” She carefully scooped some out and moved on. There were two crocks left. The next one held a kind of stewed meat, which Cleo took some of. The last one held rice pudding, for dessert, and Cleo took some of that too. She grabbed a roll, a fork and a spoon, and a napkin, and headed off to find somewhere to sit.

She walked over to the first, and largest, table. She stood at the head, contemplating where to sit.

“What are you doing here?” said Keely, moving a book bag on top of the one empty seat at the table. “Go away. You don't belong here.”