Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
    “You’ll be sorry next year when you’re living in Fiji and I’m still in Manhattan where I can order food and juice from the bodega at the corner and have it delivered to me anytime I want!” Langston exclaimed.
    I swiveled back around. “Excuse me? What did you just say?”
    Langston pulled the comforter over his head. “Nothing. Never mind,” he said from underneath.
    Which meant it was seriously something.
    “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, LANGSTON?” I said, feeling a Shrilly panic moment coming on.
    Benny popped his head under the covers, too. I heard him say to Langston, “You have to tell her now. You can’t leave her hanging like that once you slipped.”
    “SLIPPED ON WHAT, LANGSTON?” I almost was ready to cry. But I’d decided to try to be less Shrilly for New Year’s, and even though that was still a week away, I felt like I had to get started sometime. Now was as good a time as any. I stood strong, shaking—but not crying.
    Langston’s head re-emerged from underneath the comforter. “Mom and Dad are in Fiji for their second honeymoon, but also to spend time visiting a boarding school there. A place that’s offered Dad a headmaster’s job for the next two years.”
    “Mom and Dad would never want to live in Fiji!” I fumed. “Vacation paradise, maybe. But people don’t live there.”
    “Lots of people live there, Lily. And this school caters to kids like Dad was, who have parents in the diplomatic service, like in Indonesia and Micronesia—”
    “Stop it with all these - esias !” I said. “Why would the diplomatic parents send their kids to a stupid school in Fiji?”
    “It’s a pretty amazing school, from what I’ve heard. It’s for parents who don’t want to send their kids to schools in the places where they’re posted, but also want to not send them so far away as to the States or the UK. For them, it’s a good alternative.”
    “I’m not going,” I announced.
    Langston said, “It would be a good opportunity for Mom, too. She could take a sabbatical and work on her research and her book.”
    “I’m not going,” I repeated. “I like living here in Manhattan. I’ll live with Grandpa.”
    Langston threw the comforter over his head again.
    Which could only mean there was more to the story.
    “WHAT?!?!?” I demanded, now feeling truly scared.
    “Grandpa is proposing to Glamma. In Florida.”
    Glamma, as she likes to be known, is Grandpa’s Florida girlfriend—and the reason he had abandoned us at Christmas. I said, “Her name is Mabel! I will never call her Glamma!”
    “Call her whatever you want. But she’s probably soon going to be Mrs. Grandpa. When that happens, my guess is he will move down there permanently.”
    “I don’t believe you.”
    Langston sat up so I could see his face. Even sick, he was pathetically sincere. “Believe me.”
    “How come no one told me?”
    “They were trying to protect you. Not cause you concern until they knew for sure these things would happen.”
    This was how Shrilly was born, from people trying so hard to “protect” me.
    “PROTECT THIS!” I shouted, lifting my middle finger to Langston.
    “Shrilly!” he admonished. “That’s so unlike you.”
    “What is like me?” I asked.
    I stormed away from the garden rooftop, snarled at poor ol’ Grunt, who was licking his paws after breakfast, andcontinued my storming, to downstairs, to my apartment, to my room, in my city, Manhattan. “No one’s moving me to Fiji,” I muttered as I got dressed to go out.
    I couldn’t think about this Christmas catastrophe. I just couldn’t. It was too much.
    I felt especially grateful now having the red Moleskine to confide in. Just knowing a Snarl was on the other side to read it—to possibly care—inspired my pen to move quickly in answer to his question. As I waited for the subway en route to Snarl’s Midtown destination, I had plenty of free time on the bench at the Astor Place station, since the notoriously slow 6

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