Lisa stood on tip-toe to reach into the back of the jeep. “Tablecloths?”
“Clear container, with the paper and plastic stuff.” I slid out of the driver’s seat to circle around and help. “Not there, over here.” I reached over her shoulder and hefted out the clear plastic container packed to the brim with necessities.
“That looks really heavy.” Lisa took the container and set it down in the high school parking lot. “I hope we sell everything. Your cupcakes look amazing!”
“Hopefully they taste that way too.” I wrestled out the assorted cache of cupcakes. “Where are we setting up?”
“On the corner.” She pointed, then squinted. “Wait. Don’t lug those. That looks like Dean and Steven. They’ll help.”
“Are you sure-?” I winced at the sound of her shrill whistle. “Lisa!”
She smiled sweetly. “They’re coming.”
I continued to unload the jeep, bringing out the necessary supplies for setting up our booth for the school’s famous annual charity bake sale. This was my first year participating, since I’d only moved here at the start of the school year.
Lisa was rather like a people magnet. She stuck herself to people and didn’t wander off until you knew you belonged next to her on the refrigerator. Which was probably how I’d been volunteered for this disaster in the first place. Or something like that.
“Dean!” Lisa waved. “Help us move stuff to the sidewalk?”
“Stuff?” Steven appeared around one corner of the jeep and peered in the back, curiously. “That’s a lot of stuff? Why didn’t you back up to the curb?”
“It says no parking, silly.” Lisa pulled him back. “And Officer Davis is watching. Kimmy doesn’t need citations. If you guys help, we’ll give you brownies.”
Dean gulped. “Sounds dangerous.” He reached for the boxes, dodging the smack that came his way.
“Hey! Kimmy baked these.” Lisa made a face. “They’re edible. Mine just need practice.”
“A lot of practice,” I said, dryly.
Lisa scooped up the wrapping paper and decorative gift bags, starting off for the corner at a jaunty march. “Fall in line!” She began to whistle, cheerily with Dean trailing behind her, carefully balancing two big boxes.
Steven threw me a friendly smile. “We’ll probably won’t need to make two trips.” He started to stack things together. “Thought you guys were working with the astronomy club, though. Don’t see any of them here.”
“I think something came up.” I closed the back of the jeep and bent down to sort out what I could carry. “I’m sure they’ll turn up.”
“Not likely.” He snorted. “They usually don’t. Not in the years I’ve been here, anyway.” Steven hefted up a box, balancing it. “Doesn’t matter who’s the president. Put those on top of this.”
“Can you carry all that?”
He scoffed. “Yeah.”
I hurriedly stacked the cookies and cupcakes on top of his box. “What years?”
“Not the first time they’ve done this. Lisa’s good at keeping things together. Someone probably asked her to pick up the slack again.”
“Yeah. She always finds the right person for the right job, it’s freaky.”
I fell into step beside him as we started walking. I could remember mentioning that my mother’s new bakery was worth the trouble of moving to a new town. I could also remember complaining about what a waste it was to have an SUV when I could ride my bike, since I was always alone.
Overnight, Lisa found a remedy. Now I paid for gas with carpool money from Anita, Susan and Lisa.
In the center of my new life, Lisa stood to my right.
Steven’s chuckle made me stare at him. He wore a fond smile and slowed his step so I could keep up. “Just realized it, huh? She does that. Fits into your life to make you understand that you belong, that we’re all friends.” He offered a lopsided grin. “Does it every year.”
“Helps students who need it. She was worried when you missed a few days that first month. It’s just who she is. I bet you’ll meet a lot of new people today. New faces, new friends.” He smiled. “So stop holding her at arm’s length, ‘kay?”
“Welcome to Tarinth High, Miss Kimberly Nason.”
“…you know my name?”
“Kimberly, not Kimmy.” He said. “You’re one of us now, so I figured you deserved a fair warning.”
“We always take care of our own.” He shrugged. “Expect it.”
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