I take a deep breath and walk over to Kayla, Avalon, Maggie, and Mercedes. I practiced what I will say to the GGG in front of the mirror countless times last night. I don’t think I could possibly be better prepared. I muster up all of my courage, walk over to the GGG, and I deliver my first “line.”
“Hi, my name is Devyn De La Rosa.” I say, trying to sound somewhat confident.
“Yeah. We know.” Kayla said flatly, rolling her eyes at me.
“We’ve been in your class since, like, the first grade.” Maggie adds, sounding identical to her leader.
“We’re not totally stupid, just in case you’re too stupid to know that.” Avalon adds snarkily. All four girls laugh their guts out. It was just like all of the teenage movies my older sister, Mirabai, watches.
“Well, I, um, was wondering what I have to do to join the Glittery Girls Gang.” I ask patiently.
“Fresh meat,” Mercedes whispers to Maggie loud enough for me to hear. Both girls snicker, and I laugh in my head at their failed attempt to remain inconspicuous about their teasing.
“Just run from the slide to the swing set in under thirty seconds and you’re in.” Kayla says with a broad smile.
“I’ll do it.” I proclaim with determination. The Gang and I walk over to the slide. Kayla puts her watch in stopwatch mode.
“Ready, set, GO!” Kayla yells, and starts her stopwatch. I run faster than I ever have in my whole life. The whole fate of my future social life rests on these thirty seconds. I get to the swing set, out of breath, heart pounding like a cacophonous drum.
“Twenty-eight seconds!” Kayla exclaims.
“I’m in!” I exclaim.
The other girls chortle. “You really thought it would be THAT easy?” Avalon says, barely able to contain herself.
“You are so freaking stupid.” Mercedes says, also guffawing.
“If you think we let stupid people into the Glittery Girls Gang, you don’t know anything. Now run along and get on with your miserable little life.” Kayla says, doing a fake frowny-face.
“SO sad,” Avalon says. And the GGG starts laughing like I was Ellen DeGeneres interviewing a little kid. My vision gets blurry. My eyes get watery. My stomach lurches. I feel a lump in my throat. I tell the recess monitor that I am going to the bathroom. When I get to the bathroom, I lock myself in and cry for the rest of recess. How could I have ever thought that making friends was so easy?