“Hey aunt Yenn, can I talk to you for a moment?”
Yenn looked up from her book. After glancing at Carly, she put it aside altogether. Judging by her niece’s face, this was a situation that required her undivided attention.
“Sure, what’s up sweetie?”
“I just… don’t know if high school is for me.”
“Would you rather be homeschooled?” Yenn asked.
“I don’t know. Ideally, I’d like to turn back time.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Everything’s wrong. Nothing’s the same again…” Carly said with a deep sigh. “You know when Vito and Sera had that massive fight on our very first day of school?”
Yenn nodded. “You and Louis were both worried it would turn everyone at school against Sera.”
“Yeah… well truns out, we didn’t need to worry after all…”
“Quite the opposite happened. Sera got popular. Like, she almost immediately became a part of this group of really pretty girls, you know, the cheerleader types that boys like.” Carly blushed.
“And that’s not all… she’s pretty much their ringleader, or whatever you’d call it, now.” She shook her head. “I don’t understand. We thought people would hate her. Maybe they’re scared of her. I don’t know.”
“Well it’s nice that she has some friends now, isn’t it?” Yenn tried to be encouraging.
“Not just friends! She… she has admirers! As I said, boys flock to that whole group of girls…”
“So that’s how she started talking to Mark.”
“And then soon after, Marvin noticed her in PE and basically hasn’t stopped badgering her since.”
“Long story short, the both follow her like puppies now. It’s ridiculous. They’re like Beavis and Butthead…”
Yenn laughed. “Would you like your own Beavis and Butthead following you around?”
“Of course not!”
“So is it about that other boy that was interested in Sera, then?” Yenn gave Carly a conspicuous grin. “The one who sits with you in algebra?”
“Ralph? Well, he sure still is interested in Sera, and is very clear about letting her know.” Carly shook her head.
“But it’s definitely not mutual. I think he grosses her out, to be honest. I mean, I did try to help him, but it’s not like Sera would ever take my advice… So I just help him with algebra instead. Well, help. More like do it for him…”
“Anyway, I don’t want to talk about him. We’re not really even friends. He just kind of… shows up, from time to time.”
Yenn studied Carly’s face for a moment, but she didn’t make any comments. “Ok then, what would you like to talk about?”
“So far we’ve only talked about Sera.”
“Yeah. Well, Vito and Louis have become pretty popular too, but in a different way to Sera. They’re always with this group of cool, edgy alternative types.”
“Hallie does too, actually.”
“But you know Hallie, she pretty independent. Either DJing…”
“Or hanging out with that friend of hers, Larobb. I mean, they’ve only known each other for a month and they’re pretty much inseparable.”
“So she’s usually in the sidelines. Not Vito, though. He loves being the centre of attention. And they all seem to love him. Especially the girls.”
“Thank plumbob he has Louis to keep him at least a little grounded.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, they all practically worship him. Especially now that he’s gotten into photography and can do really nice photos for the girls. They all think he’s the bomb.”
“And he thinks so too. It’s all getting into his head.”
“Hallie’s pointed that out too, you know? But she mainly just laughs at him, together with Larobb.”
“Those two practically have their own language by now.”
But they all talk to you, right?” Yenn seemed concerned.
“Well, Sera doesn’t. But she doesn’t really talk to any of us since that first day of school…”
“I remember,” Yenn frowned.
“But yeah, they talk to me, of course. I’m not lonely or anything. Besides, I’ve got other friends too. It’s not like I’m the only one who hasn’t made any friends at the new school…”
“It’s just… I guess I just miss the times when we were little, and it was us against the world. We were all so close! I mean, Sera was Sera, of course, but even she was on our side. Now everybody’s doing their own thing. Which is normal, I guess.”
“Well, it is normal for you to have your own friends and interests, but you shouldn’t feel tossed aside,” Yenn said, her voice sounding serious. “Do you want me to talk to your siblings?”
“No, no, it’s no big deal, honestly,” Carly replied quickly. “I just wanted to vent a bit, that’s all. Joys of being a teenager, you know.”
“I still remember it, believe it or not,” Yenn smiled. “It’s not easy, figuring yourself out. And my brother and sister and I also had some differences when we were your age. Especially Booker and I. But we worked it out. Because that’s what family’s for, looking out for each other.”
“You would tell me if things were really wrong, wouldn’t you?”
“Of course!” Carly stood up. “Seriously, it’s no big deal… Anywho, I’ve got to go, don’t want to be late for school! Thanks aunt Yenn!”
The girl hurried out of the room. Yenn’s watchful eyes followed her. There was definitely something going on. Yenn was worried. She was all up for personal space, but Pauline and Leo had always been a bit too hands off with their parenting.
Yenn sighed. She was probably reading too much into it. But she’d keep an eye on Carly. Just in case.