30 Days Of No Gossip
Oxford English Dictionary definition of “gossip”:
/'gsIp/ Easy, unrestrained talk or writing, esp. about persons or social incidents.
Maddie Evans’s definition of “gossip”:
/'gsIp/ Information people want to know, in order to keep everyone aware of what is going on. Information is given by someone who is “in the know”—and that someone is me.
The key to being a good gossip is timing. You have to get the story before anyone else and tell everyone you can before it becomes news.
I’m always the girl who knows first. As editor of the Troy Tattler, Troy Middle School’s unofficial gossip newsletter, I consider it my job. I get the scoop, write it up, and hand it out in front of the cafeteria before school. My BFF, Vi—short for Vivienne—thinks I’m just asking for trouble. She prefers to stay to herself. But I can’t help but notice she always sticks around whenever I have news to report.
“Kelsey is mad,” I said at lunch. Sydney and Jessica were hanging on my every word. Vi was spooning applesauce into her mouth while pretending not to listen. “Kelsey told Emma in secret that she likes Aiden, but now everyone knows.”
“Wait,” Jessica said, setting down her roll. It landed on her tray with a thunk. “Who likes Aiden?”
“Emma,” Sydney interjected. She rolled her eyes and turned back to me. “Go on.”
“Actually, Kelsey likes Aiden,” I continued. “Emma told everyone. That’s why Kelsey’s mad.”
I didn’t add the words “keep up” because that would be rude, but sheesh. Did I have to draw a road map for these people?
Ooh, what a great idea! I grabbed my pen, opened my notebook, and hastily jotted an idea for a cute drawing in the next issue of the Troy Tattler. Maybe it could even
become a regular thing. A gossip cycle. I could draw arrows and cartoon stick-people to illustrate the whole “Kelsey likes Aiden who likes Sarah who likes Trevor” thing. I’m not a very good artist so I might need to get someone to help—
That was Sydney, calling me back to earth. I slapped my notebook shut, set my pen on top, and turned my attention back to my tuna sandwich. We were allowed only thirty-five minutes for lunch, so I had to make it count. That meant I had to squeeze at least one piece of gossip in between each bite of sandwich.
Today I’d have to take smaller bites.
“So what’s the deal with the field trip?” Sydney prompted.
Oh, that. I chewed as quickly as I could and swallowed. I needed a drink of water, but I had to get this one little bit of info out first.
“It’s still on, but Kelsey’s sitting at the back of the bus.”
Vi shook her head. I saw it out of the corner of my eye. She had to do that, though. It was her job. I gossiped and she played the disapproving best friend. It had been like that since elementary school.
That, in a nutshell, was why Vi and I were so good together. Our moms were neighbors at the hospital when we were being born. I guess the whole thing bonded our moms
to each other because they became BFFs in the way moms become BFFs, which basically means they get together every weekend and talk about mom stuff while telling us to go outside and play so we can’t hear what they’re saying.
Anyway, Vi and I ended up being like sisters. So even though she’s quiet and shy and not at all into being part of the whole gossip thing, she’s still the best friend I’ve ever had. Besides, being friends with me means she gets to hear everything that’s going on before anyone else.
“How on earth do you find out all this stuff ?” Jessica asked. I could hear the awe in her voice.
I shrugged. “I’m good” was all I said. That’s all they needed to know.
The truth was, all I did was listen. You’d be amazed what you can find out just by watching and listening. Most of the time people are surprisingly unguarded about what they say, especially when they are upset. I could stand at my locker and overhear six juicy conversations without even trying.
“So.” Vi broke in, drawing everyone’s attention to her end of the table. “Is everyone ready for the math midterm?”
Midterms. The very subject I didn’t want to talk about right now. It was the biggest exam so far that year and I’d done my best to study. But I’d also been working on
the Tattler, which meant splitting my attention between studying and writing gossip. So, the answer was no. I wasn’t ready.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Sydney said. “I want to know what Kelsey thinks sitting at the back of the bus on the way to Four Cedars Park will do. Aiden will be in the front with Sarah—”
“And Emma,” I broke in to say.
“But Aiden likes Sarah,” Sydney corrected.
Vi was the one who said that. We all turned to look at her.
She sighed and set her sandwich down. “Sarah’s going out with Trevor Finn.” She looked at me. “Remember?”
Of course I remembered. It was the first piece of gossip I’d delivered to the school at large. It was the very thing that had given me the “queen of gossip” title for which I was now unofficially known.
I’d found out about Sarah and Trevor the same way I found out about everything: I paid attention. It was at the spring social, where everyone was more interested in what kind of ice cream was being handed out than what was going on in the bleachers just a few feet away. But I was watching. Toward the back of the bleachers, I saw Sarah
and Trevor talking and holding hands when they thought no one was looking. By the next morning, thanks to me, Sarah Dooley and Trevor Finn were officially a couple.
I consider it a favor, really.
“Can we get back to the exam?” Vi asked, even though she had to know none of us would want to talk about math when the subject of Trevor Finn, the number-one cutest guy in seventh grade, was so much more interesting.
“I say we get on the bus before Trevor does and get a seat near him,” Jessica suggested.
“How can we do that?” Sydney asked. “He’s not on there yet, so we won’t know where he’ll sit. Right?”
She looked at me for that last word. I should have an answer for that. They’d expect me to know some dirt on Trevor at this point. I didn’t have anything on him. I made a mental note to try to catch up with him after fifth period to see if I could overhear anything.
“Easy,” Vi said.
Again, we all turned to look at her. She was chattier than usual today. I figured this time she’d start talking about math again.
“Maddie and I have been riding the bus with him since first grade,” Vi began, frowning at her sandwich before setting it down, folding her hands in front of her, and looking
at us. “Based on his past behavior, he’ll sit in the front two rows. We’ll be safe by staying in the third row. The second row would be too far forward.”
After a long, awkward silence, Jessica took a deep breath and continued. “So what’s the deal with Travis Fisher?”
That loud gulp we all heard came from Vi’s direction. Jess and Syd turned to look at her, but I kept my gaze firmly planted on the two of them. They weren’t supposed to know Vi liked Travis. It was the one secret I’d been pinky sworn to since third grade, when he’d rescued her lunch sack from the hands of a couple of bullies and become her real-life superhero. I had a feeling Jessica and Sydney had figured it out, though. The way Vi was always staring at him all moony eyed when he passed, they’d have to be blind not to have noticed.
“I don’t know anything about Travis Fisher.”
They both turned and looked at me. Hey, at least I’d taken their attention from Vi. Now I had to scramble to come up with something else to say.
“I heard he might be kicked off the football team.” Jessica shrugged. “He has to pick his grades up in history or he’s—”
“History,” Sydney added. They both giggled.
I glanced over at Vi. She was good at disguising what she was thinking, which was completely the opposite of me. People could read my thoughts right on my face. Kimberly Browning had told me that about Travis in first period, but I’d been keeping it to myself. My goal had been to tell Vi at the right time, but I guess it was too late now. Jessica and Sydney had delivered the bad news in their own cutesy way.
At the end of lunch, Jessica and Sydney took off ahead of us out of the cafeteria, giving me a few much-needed minutes alone with Vi. I had to get a feel for what she was thinking before I rushed off to my next class; otherwise, it would be bugging me for the next hour.
“You okay?” I asked as we tossed our trash into the nearby garbage and wove our way through the exiting crowd.
She broke into a smile and nodded.
I stopped walking and turned to stare at her. “Wait, you’re happy?”
She nodded again, this time even more enthusiastically. Maybe there was some other piece of news I’d missed. I waited for her to clarify. In typical Vi style, though, she just kept walking with that big cheesecake-eating grin on her face. I’d have to dig it out of her.
I chased after her, following her through the cafeteria
doors and out into the hallway. If there was one thing I could do well, it was dig information out of people. But Vi wasn’t like ordinary people. Vi was secretive.
All the way to her locker, I tried to get it out of her. She was still smiling, but not talking. I tried guessing, begging, and reminding her that I was her best friend in the whole wide world. Finally it became clear. I’d have to go for bribery.
“Fine,” I snapped, crossing my arms over my chest and leaning against the locker next to hers. “I’ll help you with your room.”
I knew that would do it. Vi lit up. She turned and looked at me, her eyes all sparkly.
“Really? You’d do that?”
She seemed to realize what she’d have to do to get me to do that and deflated a little. Not completely, though.
Decorating was important to Vi. You could say it was her hobby, like the Troy Tattler is my hobby. She somehow turned decorating into smart stuff, though, carefully calculating every square inch of her bedroom and drawing exactly what she’d be doing with that inch. It meant so much to Vi, helping her with her room would be like her writing a column for the Tattler.
I felt a little stab of guilt that I was only offering to help
Vi to get some info out of her. But, seriously. We’re talking weeks of listening to words like “geometric design” and “optimized space.” Compared to other people, I was average, but compared to Vi and her ten-ton brain, I was completely clueless.
“Okay,” she agreed. “I’ll tell you. But you can’t tell anyone.”
There was a reason Vi said things like that. One of the downsides of being the gossip queen of Troy Middle School was that sometimes I got the feeling that people didn’t want to tell me things. Actually, it wasn’t even a feeling. People stopped talking when they saw me walking by, and even my friends—the people who were supposed to trust me more than anything—would start to say something, look at me, and clamp their mouths shut.
Which is why I had to be extra good at eavesdropping.
“I don’t tell anyone anything you tell me,” I told Vi. That wasn’t entirely true and she knew it. I just hoped she wouldn’t point out the time I let it slip in front of everyone in gym class that she still slept with her childhood teddy bear.
Luckily, she was too caught up in her excitement to worry about that. She closed her locker and leaned in close to tell me her secret.
“I figure it’s like this.” Vi’s voice was barely above a whisper. “Travis is off the football team, right?”
I nodded, even though we weren’t sure about that. Sometimes you just had to go with a rumor.
“If he’s off the team, I might have a chance,” Vi said. From the look on my face, she probably got that I wasn’t following. “He might like me back.”
I looked around. The halls were crowded, reminding me just how hard it was to stand out around here. It didn’t help that Vi was so shy. She barely talked to anyone but me. Any friends I had became friends of hers, too.
There was no way Travis would just start noticing her, even if he was off the football team.
Which was silly, because Vi was pretty. Even a popular guy like Travis Fisher would like her. If only he knew she existed.
It was like a lightbulb went on inside my head. That is my job. As her friend, it was my duty to get through to Travis for her.
I knew she’d freak out if I told her I planned to say something. But I could already imagine the look on her face when I told her he liked her too. At that point, she’d forgive me for giving her secret away.