Title: Sweet Valley Twins: Friendship is Magic
Summary: All the trouble started right after Lila saw the purple Unicorn in her backyard.
Dedication: For Raven and @buffywatcher23
Timeline: Factory reset, just like almost any book.
Notes: This won’t be as aggressively meta as my last NaNo, so if you were anticipating me leaning so hard on the fourth wall that it falls over, I’m sorry. This still will be a bit sassy, but honestly, I peaked with the Hunger Games crossover. Wait. No, I lied. I couldn’t get past the first page without doing my usual thing.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
2,210 / 50,000 words. 4% done!
“With Mother’s Day around the corner, we are doing a very special project in class. Each of you will pair up and interview your partner’s mother. On Friday in the hall, you will each give a short presentation on what you have learned, and the mothers will be invited. Your topic title is: ‘Mothers: Everyday Heroes’,” Ms. Arnette announced.
As Ms. Arnette began listing the pairs she had assigned, Elizabeth Wakefield sat up straighter and beamed. This was exactly the kind of project she liked. It honed her investigative skills. When Elizabeth grew up, she wanted to be a writer of some kind, and she was already editor of the sixth-grade paper, The Sweet Valley Sixers, which she had founded with her friends.
“Jessica Wakefield and Ellen Riteman,” Ms. Arnette announced.
“All right!” Across the aisle, Jessica, Elizabeth’s twin sister, turned in her seat to smile at Ellen Riteman. “This project will be a cinch!” Jessica said.
“I should hope so,” Ms. Arnette said severely. “Your last project was nothing to crow about.”
Jessica flushed with embarrassment and squirmed in her seat while Elizabeth withheld a smile. It was typical of Jessica – and the complete opposite of Elizabeth. Though the twins were identical – from their sun-kissed blonde locks, to the adorable dimples in the corner of their mouths when they smiled – their personalities were as different as night and day.
Elizabeth took her studies very seriously, and was borderline boring. Her outfits reflected her abhorrence for fun, as did her friends: Amy Sutton, a person whose only function was to react to Elizabeth, and Julie Porter, who… well, even Elizabeth didn’t know too much about her. She mostly just made up the numbers when they had lunch.
Jessica, on the other hand, lived for fun and excitement. She loved to be surrounded by her friends and wear the hottest fashions – all in purple, the official color of the Unicorn Club. The Unicorn Club was comprised of the prettiest and most important girls in Sweet Valley Middle School whose sole function was to bully any new girl to the point of suicide. And also talk about boys.
Despite the fact that they had almost nothing in common, the twins were the best of friends, and no matter how many times Jessica took advantage of Elizabeth, they both knew their bond was unbreakable.
“Elizabeth Wakefield and Tammy Amerson,” Ms. Arnette said, favoring Elizabeth with a smile that seemed to say, “I know you’ll do a good job on this project, even if your sister won’t.”
Elizabeth picked up her books and moved to a desk near Tammy. Elizabeth didn’t know much about her, other than she had moved to Sweet Valley very recently. She hadn’t made any friends so far, and had kept to herself. She had a look that seemed at odds with the rest of Sweet Valley Middle School; her head was shaved, she wore dark baggy clothing, and was a few pounds overweight. Elizabeth often thought to herself that Tammy must have some kind of problem that made her choose to look that way, and she had been looking for a way to get to know the new girl and fix her life. This project was the perfect opportunity.
“Hi, I’m Elizabeth Wakefield.” As she sat down, she gave a friendly smile to Tammy, who glanced up briefly and gave a token smile in response, but didn’t say anything.
“You can tell which one I am because I usually have my hair in a ponytail or parted with barrettes – but in a pinch, if I’m wearing a wristwatch, I’m Elizabeth.”
Tammy gave her an incredulous look. “And you can tell which one I am because of my grey t-shirt. Do you usually patronize everyone you meet like that?”
Elizabeth was taken aback by Tammy’s sassy tone, then she realized that Tammy hadn’t noticed she was one of the Wakefield twins. That in itself was odd. Although there was no reason for it, she had come to expect that everyone knew about her and Jessica. “I’m an identical twin,” Elizabeth said. “My twin is called Jessica, she’s over there. Some people get us mixed up.”
Tammy looked up again. “Oh. Oh, I hadn’t noticed. Sorry, I thought you were talking to me like I was stupid for no reason. Sorry.”
Tammy twirled a pen between her fingers. “I was thinking, why don’t I write up my report, you write up yours and then we’ll swap and give a presentation. Might be easier that way.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened. Surely Tammy wasn’t asking her to take a shortcut on an assignment? She took a deep breath before replying. “I think that we really should do it as Ms. Arnette outlined.”
Tammy sighed and rolled her eyes. “Ok, fine. I’ll interview your mother, and you can interview Rita. She’s not free tonight, she’s working late. But tomorrow after school.”
Elizabeth leaned forward, “You call your mother Rita?” she asked in amazement.
“No, I call my foster carer Rita, because that’s who I live with, and that’s who you’ll be interviewing.” Tammy said the words quickly and firmly and in a tone that invited no further questions.
Elizabeth nodded thoughtfully. So that was the reason that Tammy looked the way she did. She was estranged from her real parents. Clearly Tammy didn’t want to talk about it in a class full of strangers, but maybe if she and Elizabeth spent some time one-on-one, Tammy would feel comfortable about opening up, and they would become the best of friends – until Tammy’s issue was resolved, obviously. After that Elizabeth would go back to Amy Sutton.
“Well,” she said, as inspiration struck. “Why don’t we come up with some questions during class, and then you can come to my house after school and meet my mother?”
Tammy shrugged. “Eh, why not?”
That afternoon, Tammy and Elizabeth settled down in the living room to finalize their questions for Mrs. Wakefield. Elizabeth got them each a glass of juice and some cookies and they got to work.
Working with Tammy was a lot like working with Amy. She didn’t seem to have much imagination, and let Elizabeth take over the writing of the questions. Occasionally she asked, “Are you sure you want to ask that?” but for the most part deferred to Elizabeth’s lead.
“You’re really going to like my mom,” Elizabeth said. “She’s a really great mom, she works part time, but she’s always there for us. She’ll be home any moment.”
Tammy smiled politely and replied in a very even tone. “And I’m sure you’ll like Rita.”
Elizabeth faltered. Nothing in Tammy’s tone or statement invited any further discussion. She wanted desperately to know why Tammy was in foster care – she was certain that she could fix their problems, after all, she had experience in this area. If only Tammy would open up to her. She opened her mouth to ask if Tammy missed her real family but was interrupted by Alice Wakefield stepping through the door.
“Hi girls, I’m home! Elizabeth, could you put these groceries away, and then start dinner – oh, and set a laundry load going too, Ned needs clean shirts – and I’m going to have a lie down. Work was very busy today. I had to look at curtain fabric for four hours straight!”
Elizabeth beamed. “That’s my mom,” she said proudly. “I’d better stop her before she goes upstairs for a nap before dinner.”
She and Tammy headed into the kitchen, where Alice was leaning heavily against the counter, rubbing her temples. Elizabeth wondered if her mother was coming down with another virus that could be mistaken for cancer. “Hi, Mom,” she said. “We were hoping to interview you for our school project.”
Alice looked startled. “Is it about the kid I hit on the way home, I swear I wasn’t drinking! And he’s fine!”
Elizabeth smiled, her mother was such a kidder. “No, it’s for our project, ‘Mothers: Everyday Heroes’. This is my friend Tammy. Tomorrow I’m going to interview her mother.”
“Foster carer,” Tammy corrected.
“Oh, ok then, go ahead.” Alice took a seat on one of the stools by the counter and continued to massage her temples.
Tammy glanced down at her notes. “Mrs. Wakefield, what is the most rewarding part of motherhood?”
“Well, with Elizabeth around the chores practically do themselves!” Alice met Tammy’s dead-eyed stare and gave a small titter. “Of course I’m joking. Um… well, of course… the children themselves. Every time I look at them, I think to myself, ‘gosh my kids are beautiful’ – and Elizabeth’s smart too!”
Elizabeth preened at the compliment.
“Mrs. Wakefield, did you always want to be a mother?”
“Wait – I had a choice?” Alice gave another laugh. “I’m joking again. Of course I did. Almost everyone in my family looks identical, and have a high proportion of twins, so once I gave birth to a clone of Ned, everyone was curious – would we get twins? Would they look like me? So curiosity won out. I’m kidding again.” Alice’s eyes glazed over. “Of course I wanted children. They are the light of my life.”
To Elizabeth’s annoyance, Tammy raced through the rest of the questions, asking them in a flat tone, and not giving any time for follow-up questions.
With half a page of notes on her notepad, Tammy shut it with a snap. “Ok, I think we’re done here. Thank you for your time, Mrs. Wakefield. I’m going home now to write it up.”
Elizabeth stepped forward. “Why don’t you stay for dinner? We could write the report together?” And you could open up to me, she added silently. I know you’re hurting, I can fix you.
“No, thank you, but I appreciate the offer,” Tammy replied. “I’m going to get dinner ready for Rita. She’s always tired on Tuesdays because she works late.”
With that, Tammy gathered her books and went on her way, with Elizabeth staring after her.
“She… doesn’t look like the rest of your friends,” Alice commented.
“I know,” Elizabeth said earnestly. “I think she has some real issues and it makes her choose that style to punish herself.” She smiled at her mother. “But I’m sure this Mother’s Day project is going to bring us closer together so I can help her.”
Alice reached over and patted her daughter on the shoulder. “That’s my girl. You’re always getting things done, aren’t you?”
“How come you never say things like that about me?” Jessica asked from the doorway where she was standing.
“Because you don’t get things done, Jess!” Elizabeth replied with a laugh. “Think about all the things you’ve started and dropped so far this year: ballet, being open minded about disability, ithig, school council, musicals, the trip we wanted to take to see Great Aunt Helen, baby-sitting, makeovers, acting, singing, running a newspaper, being a big sister, acting again, and being clever, to name but a few.”
Jessica glared at her through narrowed eyes. “I told you last year that listing all of my failures to pad a word count is both lame and obvious!”
“Even so,” said Alice. “We all know that Elizabeth is going to finish this Mother’s Day project, and you’re going to come up with a silly excuse that will get you grounded, and then we’ll forget all about your grounding before your next big adventure!”
Jessica crossed her arms over her chest. “Fine! Make fun of me! Just for that I won’t tell you the most incredible news I’ve ever heard!”
“What is it?” Elizabeth asked.
“No, you’ll just make fun of me!”
Elizabeth threw up her hands. “I’m sorry, great and powerful Jessica, do tell me your most incredible news!”
Jessica allowed a small smile at her sister. “Lila Fowler claims she’s got a purple unicorn.”
Elizabeth shrugged. “So what? You all have unicorn posters, and t-shirts and all sorts of things with unicorns on them. Why is this big news?”
“It’s a real live unicorn!”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “And you believe her?”
“I believe that Lila Fowler can afford anything she wants in the world. And she’s invited me to go see it.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “I’ll tell you now, Jess, if there’s really a real live purple unicorn walking around Lila’s backyard, I’ll do your chores for the rest of our lives.”
Jessica reached forward and shook Elizabeth’s hand. “Deal!”