Chapter 5: Shoplifters (excerpt)

Alison’s freckles were getting redder and her eyes narrowed to angry slits. Olivia had seen that look too many times. She had to take Alison outside before something really bad happened.

“Okay. Sorry. We’re going.” Olivia said as calmly as she could.

“No we’re not!” Alison didn’t take her eyes off the old woman. “We’re not sorry and we’re not going.”

“Yes we are,” Olivia said in a pleasant singsong. Your father is going to want to get back on the road by now. You know how he is if you keep him waiting.” Olivia put her arm gently around Alison’s shoulder and led her out the door. Alison didn’t shrug her off like she expected.

As soon as they were outside, Alison broke away from Olivia and sprinted through the hazy parking lot toward the minivan. Olivia hurried to keep up.

“Olivia, hur-ry!” Alison commanded in an urgent hiss. “I don’t want my parents to see.” When they were out beside the minivan, Alison stood on the side that faced away from the restaurant.

“See what?” Olivia asked suspiciously.

Alison reached into her purse and pulled out a softball-sized object.

“Is that the snow globe you wanted?” Olivia blinked until she could get her thoughts into focus. “You stole it?” She looked at the two figures. Some kind of monster and…“Is that Moby Dick?” Olivia couldn’t keep her voice from rising. “You’re going to jail for a stupid Moby Dick snow globe?”

Alison shushed her violently and looked nervously over her shoulder, whispering, “Geez, Liv, I don’t think my parents heard you yet. Want to just post it?” Olivia really hated when Alison got all sarcastic at her.

Olivia felt herself tighten. She hated getting into trouble almost as much as she hated when Alison got mad at her. Lucky her. Now she had both. “You promised no trouble on this trip, Allie!” She didn’t whisper.

“Olivia!” Alison hissed. “Seriously. Shut. Up.” The mischievous smile spread across Alison’s face like wildfire. “She deserved it. She was ugly.”

“You don’t get to steal things because people are ugly. Stop being so mean.”

“She was mean,” Alison added. She held the snow globe up, watching the figures inside move and twitch, almost as if they were alive.

“Whatever,” Olivia added more quietly. “You have to bring that back. Your parents will go full psycho!”

“What am I supposed to do, go back in and say, sorry, I stole some crappy crap from your crappy crap store?”

Olivia looked nervously over her shoulder for Alison’s parents “You probably aren’t going to want to say it like that.”

Alison just rolled her eyes. “Forget it. Anyway, she shouldn’t have called us shoplifters.”

“Are you mental? Now we are shoplifters.” We. Olivia knew that it had been all Alison and that she was totally innocent of any of it. But we.

“Oh well!” Alison proclaimed. Her eyes sparkled like diamonds and were just as hard.

“Did you take it before or after she called us shoplifters?”
Alison gave Olivia a look that said seriously?

“You stole it after? When? I didn’t see –”

Alison’s next look said duh.

Alison was pretty accomplished at things like that. Once in the sixth grade, after Mr. Barnes gave her an F on a social studies quiz. Alison snuck his phone out of his jacket, found the principal’s number and texted You’re a jackass and I like little boys. This was all during class. It was really funny when Mr. Barnes got called into the office over the loudspeaker. He cleared it all up, obviously, but they never figured out it had been Alison who sent the text. Mr. Barnes works in a middle school. He should have known better than to leave his phone laying around with no password. That had been Alison’s justification.

To steady her nerves, Olivia took a deep breath just like she did before swim meets. “Okay you took it. Why?”

“I told you. She called us shoplifters.”

Olivia closed her eyes. Alison could be so frustrating sometimes.

“Anyway, I like it. Look how cool it is.” Alison held the snow globe out like some kind of deranged peace offering.

Olivia looked at the strange snow globe and could not figure out why, of all the junk in that stupid gift shop… “What is that thing we’re going to jail for anyway?”

Alison examined the snow globe more carefully. “Look at how the inside doesn’t move right.” Alison shook it.

“So you stole a broken snow globe?”

Alison groaned. “It’s not broken. Just look!”

Olivia stared into the little ball. At first she thought the figurines were motorized. For a second, she thought they might be alive. Anyway, she saw what Alison meant. The whale and the other thing—the monster—did not look like they were just floating. But Olivia couldn’t figure out how it worked. That bothered her. She usually could figure out how stuff worked and that was how she liked it.

“The water moves, but kind of on its own. And the little guys in there don’t really react when you move the snow globe around. Are they motorized or something?” Alison held it up to her ear. I don’t hear anything. Plus, wouldn’t that need a battery?”

“Maybe it’s solar.” Olivia stared into the dark, sparkling water, but she didn’t see anything that looked like a solar cell. “Those figures are so lifelike. They’re kind of creepy. Especially that monster-thing. What is that supposed to even be?”

“Maybe we can show it to Mr. W. when we get home. He knows about all kinds of weird stuff.”

“If he finds out you stole it…” Olivia could not keep the anger out of her voice if she wanted to. And she didn’t really want to.

Alison glared. “Are you going to tell him?”

It stung Olivia. “Why would you even say that?”

“You know you’re not good at keeping secrets.” Alison was so matter of fact about it. Like it wasn’t even important. That didn’t just sting, it was like a slap.
Alison continued her own thoughts. “I’m taking American Lit. next year. That’s when you read Moby Dick.”

“It’s not that bad,” Olivia said, moving on. “Parts are pretty cool.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot your dad made you read it last summer.”

“I had to skim a lot, though.”

Every summer, Olivia’s father had been making her read the classics starting with Little Women in fourth grade. She had to sneak her science fiction novels in between Leo Tolstoy and Charles Dickens.

“Did Michael read it?” Olivia asked. “He took American Lit didn’t he?”

“Read what?” Michael bounded up on them, causing them both to jump. Alison gave a small shriek that decayed into giggling.

“Moby Dick.” Olivia was so used to covering for Alison that it had become instinctive. She moved to block Michael’s view while Alison stashed the snow globe in her purse.

“Hey, we already discussed your potty mouths today, ladies!” Michael’s fake, authoritarian scowl collapsed into laughter. “Why are you guys so weird?”

Alison had the snow globe tucked safely away. “So you never read it?”

“From hell’s heart I spit at thee… Yeah. I read it. Really long. Parts of it were really boring, but some of it was pretty cool. Like when the dude has to fight off the sharks that are eating the whale that was tied to the boat, or when the other dude got stuck inside the dead whale’s head that was hanging upside down and he had to get rescued. That was kinda sick.”

Michael unlocked the car, bounded into the driver’s seat and started the engine while Alison and Olivia climbed in. The air conditioner blasted hot, stale air into their faces.

“Why are you two eggheads asking me about schoolwork? We’re on vacation and anyway, you’re supposed to be the smart ones.”

“We were just talking about things we did in school with Mr. W. in PEP class,” Alison explained. Olivia never stopped being amazed at how smoothly Alison mixed fact and fabrication.

“That smarty-pants geek class you used to be in?” Michael adjusted the seat.

“PEP, Michael.”

Olivia added, “The Program for Exceptional Performance.”

“Yeah,” Michael chuckled. “Even the name is for dorks.”

Alison snapped coldly at her brother, “Just ‘cause you’re too dumb to get in.”

“Woe is me. Or is it I? I don’t know! All I know is they didn’t pick me for nerdapalooza!” Michael mimed a pout and shaped his fingers into a heart with his thumbs making the bottom point. Then he separated his fingers. “My heart is breaking because I was too busy having a life to get into PEP. I’m just sorry that I never got to wear a pocket protector.”

“What are you doing up there anyway?” Alison nodded at the driver’s seat.

Michael adjusted the backrest and then plugged his phone into the minivan’s auxiliary jack. “Dad says I’m driving the rest of the way.” A hypnotic dubstep beat pulsed from all the speakers.

“We’re all gonna die.” Olivia deadpanned.

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