When we moved to the tiny town in Rhode Island, I didn't care what it was called. All I cared about was finding a new girlfriend after Lulu cheated on me. Oh yeah, and a new best friend after I found Cory making out with Lulu. My life was not going well. I was hoping to find less drama in this tiny town. But what I got, I certainly didn't bargain for.
"Welcome to Iviesberg!" My mom exclaimed in an annoyingly chipper tone.
"Home of the world's greatest ivy." My dad finished.
"And the world's greatest headache." My sister said. "Why can't you guys shut up?"
Elani's life had been going as well as mine had been horrible. The last thing she wanted to do was move. She had great friends, and a great, loyal boyfriend back in California. But she didn't have them anymore.
"Where's our house?" I asked, trying to avoid the awkward silence that usually followed one of these exchanges.
"The blue one." My mom said.
"They're all blue." Elani shot back.
It was true. Every single house looked exactly the same. They were all the same baby blue with white shutters on the windows, white doors, and a white roof. It was the perfect story book neighborhood.
I looked around to see if I could find any girls worth looking at. They all traveled in a pack, with ludacris smiles on their faces. Every female under the age of 18 wore a pressed white jumper, with a white shirt underneath. They wore back Mary Janes and white knee socks. I hadn't seen girls in outfits like that since I helped Lulu at her job in the daycare center. I wondered why they were all dressed that way.
The car pulled into the driveway and we all got out. As I walked toward the door, I noticed one of the white-clad girls smiling at me. I shyly smiled back.
"Hello," she said, still smiling widely, "Welcome to Iviesberg, home of the world's greatest ivy. You must be Brian. I understand you'll be starting at Ivy High with me on Monday, as a sophomore."
"I'm Claudia, and I'll be your Welcome Buddy. If you follow me, I'll take you on a tour of the school."
"Okay, um, cool."
I turned around to tell my family, but Elani had her own Welcome Buddy, which I guess was good after her boyfriend's 'I can't do long distance' speech, and my parents were walking toward some apartment complex down the street.
"Let's just go." I said.
We began walking toward the red brick school down the road.
"Our school has been in operation since 1956, when our town was called Westburg."
"Why did you change it?"
"We got the world's greatest ivy, of course."
"Interesting. And, uh, where is this ivy?"
"You'll see it when you go to school Monday." Her smile faltered. "Just like all the other cute ones."
"Oh, nothing." The creepy grin was back.
But it wasn't nothing to me. She thought I was cute. She might be pretty without the outfit and peppy ponytail. And I could tell there was a real person behind that ponytail, one that I wanted to get to know.
"Why don't we go out to the lake together sometime?" I asked, trying to sound smooth.
"No." She said it immediately, fear flashing through her eyes. "See you on Monday."
She ran away, faster than I would've thought she could.
"What about the tour?"
"I can't. I forgot I have to be somewhere."
"Maybe I could walk you there!" I yelled after her. But she was gone.
I ran as fast as I could away from Brian.
"Why don't we go out to the lake together sometime?" He'd meant that. He wasn't just hitting on me because Ivy thought we were compatible. If he kissed me, I wouldn't lose my conscious mind.
But Ivy hadn't kissed him yet. His sister was still wearing jeans. His parents didn't live in the Adultment Complex. He wouldn't be running to volunteer to carry Ivy's books, or make her breakfast, or feed her grapes, or wash her feet. He was still a normal guy. And he liked me.
I got to my house. My brother was home, so I plastered on that stupid smile that all the intoxicated girls wear. As I walked in, I saw that he was on the living room couch with Brian's sister, Elani. I sighed. It was only a matter of time before she was wearing jumpers and knee socks.
Elani laughed at something Brett had said. I groaned silently. He would kiss her. She would be helpless to the Ivy toxens. She'd wear the stupid clothes and the stupid smile. She'd travel in the Girl Pack. She'd forget her old life, and she'd never leave Iviesberg. She'd have been kissed.
It happened to every girl in Iviesberg. Ivy would recruit one of her boys to woo the new girl. The guy would kiss her and run straight back to Ivy. The girl would turn into one of the pack, and stay in Iviesberg until she moved into the Adultment Complex. But Ivy never got old. She'd be 16 forever. And Iviesberg would be like this forever.
Why wasn't I like the other girls? I'd never been kissed. Everyone thought I had. I pretended I had. But I still had a conscious mind.
But Brian wouldn't. He was the first guy to like me without Ivy's influence, but he wouldn't for long. On Monday, Ivy would kiss him and he'd be just like everyone else, except Elani.
I glanced into the living room to see how she was doing. The sight made me want to cry.
Correction: Brian would be like everyone else, including Elani.