Famous in a Small Town(4)

“No sweat,” Terrance had said, back when Acadia was preparing their audition for the parade and we first joined the committee—my sophomore year, Terrance’s freshman. “We only need to sell like twenty kidneys if we get picked. There are over a hundred of us. Twenty people should be willing to give up one measly kidney.”

“I mean, you and I would definitely have to step up,” I said. “As student leaders.” I was very into being an official member of MPASFC. It would look good on my college applications, and anyway, I loved the band. I wanted to help however I could.

“You know, if we pick the most hydrated people, we could probably get better prices. Like maybe only ten kidneys, if they’re super-high-quality kidneys.”


“Marcy Keane is always chugging those bottles of fruit water.” She was, and she insisted on referring to them as fruit infusions, which made it insufferable. “You know she has some high-quality kidneys.”

“She makes Matt drink the infusions too.” Her boyfriend at the time.

“There we go. That’s like forty-k worth of kidneys right there.”

Kidneys didn’t come up in the booster club meeting this evening. What did come up was the candy sale that just finished up (it raised about what was expected, but not as much as was hoped), and our fundraising strategies for the coming months: the Fourth of July barbecue in conjunction with the Lions Club (a quarter of all proceeds from food sales would benefit the band, and the members would be responsible for cleanup), the school-wide garage sale, the formal dinner, half a dozen car washes, and, of course, the fall festival.

“So twenty percent of fall fest concession and ten percent of games will go toward fundraising,” Mrs. Benson said.

Next to me, Terrance tapped his pencil absently against his notebook as Mrs. Benson talked about concession logistics. Tap tap tap. It started to take on a rhythm—tap tap TAP tap, tap tap TAP tap.

Mrs. Benson paused for a second to glance pointedly in our direction, and then resumed speaking.

Terrance looked over at me, brown eyes full of mirth, and then tapped again.

I grinned.

I had known Terrance my whole life—our moms were both teachers at Acadia Junior High. My mom taught language arts, and Terrance’s mom taught science. They had been friends themselves since high school, had gone off to college together and later came back to Acadia—first my mom, then Mrs. Cunningham, who we called “Aunt Denise.” A plastic-framed photo hung on our fridge showing the two of them in college, posing together wearing matching denim jackets, each with their hand on their hip. My mom had bangs teased to an impressive degree, while Aunt Denise had gorgeous box braids. This is a genuine moment in time right here, Aunt Denise would say when she was over, tapping the picture on the fridge. No, this is a genuine betrayal, my mom would reply, seeing as you never told me how terrible I looked with that hair. Aunt Denise would just laugh.

Mrs. Benson continued about the fall festival: “And then we’ve got the Megan Pleasant contest. Fifteen bucks to enter, but we’ll keep ten and five will go toward the prize.”

I watched Terrance print MP contest in his notes.

It was a tradition—every fall festival for the last eight years had featured a Megan Pleasant talent competition. It was lean the first couple of years, when she only had a few songs out. You’d end up hearing “Blue Eyes” or “Make Your Move” a dozen times or more. But now there were three albums’ worth of material to work from, and you could sing any Megan song you wanted, or lip-sync (though you’d never win if you lip-synced), or dance, or do an instrumental cover. The grand prize was a cut of the entry fees, and we’d take the rest for the fundraiser.

So many people entered that it was one of the highest-earning parts of Fall Fest. There would be guaranteed at least two hours of Megan Pleasant–themed content to sit through, and the town ate that stuff up. She was by far the most famous person to come out of Acadia. In fact, she was pretty much the only famous person to come out of Acadia.

I guess Brit was a little famous in her own right—the fastest high school girls’ runner in the state. They put her name up on the sign at the town line—BRIT CARTER, IHSA CLASS 1A 100M RECORD HOLDER. But that wasn’t remotely like having your own fan site, or arena tour, or feature in Rolling Stone.

Terrance and I walked home together after the meeting. He toed a rock on the ground, and we kicked it back and forth as we walked.

“Party at Tegan’s on Saturday,” he said as we neared my house. “Should be fun.”

I nodded. I was thinking about Mrs. Benson’s parting words—This won’t be easy, but we just need to buckle down and focus and we can make it happen. It was encouraging, until after a moment’s contemplation she added a second This won’t be easy.

“Obviously, I’ll see you before then, but like, don’t forget,” Terrance said, bumping his shoulder into mine.

“You mean, don’t forget to tell Flora.”

I wanted Flora and Terrance to be together, with the same spirit that I would smoosh my dolls’ faces together when I was little.

His lips twitched. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”


“I genuinely—No idea.”

“Sure,” I said, heading up the steps to my front door. “Good night.”

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