Read on for a super sneak peek of The Rabbit Ate My Hall Pass, book 3 of The Rabbit Ate My . . . Series!
I am studying the half-empty shelf of lunch kits in the school supply aisle at Douglas Bay Drug Mart, trying to decide which one seems the least babyish, when my annoying little sister shrieks behind me.
“Drew! Drew! Look!” Libby says.
I turn around. “What?”
“Doesn’t this look just like Tiny when he was a baby?” She holds up a pencil box with a picture of a bunch of baby animals on the lid. One of them is a caramel coloured rabbit with long ears.
“Kinda,” I say with a shrug. Of course it does, but I don’t want to admit that to her.
“I can get it right, Mommy?” Libby grins up at Mom, giving her the same look she always gives me just before she asks me to do something I just know is going to get us both into a ton of trouble.
“Well, I suppose,” Mom says. “Your old one is looking a bit worn.”
Libby positively beams. She looks like she’s just won a life’s supply of chocolate. “Drew, you should get one, too.”
“I don’t need a pencil box,” I say. As if I’d get a pencil box covered in baby animals anyway, even if one of them does look like Tiny. “I’m starting middle school, remember?” Just saying the words “middle school” puts a giant knot in my stomach. I’m both excited and terrified at the idea of going into grade seven. It doesn’t help that Sam, the girl I met while camping with my grandparents this summer, gave me a bunch of advice about middle school and now I’m more nervous than ever.
“Whatever you do, don’t lose your timetable.”
“Get an upper locker if you can.”
“Don’t get on the vice principal’s bad side.”
“Steer clear of drama.”
I almost wish I’d flunked grade six. But then I’d be stuck in elementary school with my little sister while my friends, Quentin and Tabitha, started middle school without me.
I sigh and turn back to the lunch kits. I pick out a plain blue lunch kit with grey trim. How bad could it really be? I think about the rumours I’d heard floating around class at the end of grade six:
“They make you take a cold shower if you’re late for gym.”
“They give you four hours of homework every night!”
“If you get caught with food in the library they’ll make you scrape gum off the bottom of desks for a whole month.”
“Don't use the bathroom by the gym or the grade nines will grab you and give you a swirly!”
Ugh. If any of those rumours are true it’s going to be bad. Really bad.
I glance up. My best friend, Quentin, is coming down the school supply aisle with his mom pushing his little brothers in a shopping cart.
“Hey!” I say, and hold up the lunch kit. “What do you think?”
“Not bad,” he says. “Black would be better.”
“No black,” I say. “There’s not much left.”
“Blue is okay.” Quentin shrugs.
I stick the lunch kit in Mom’s shopping basket.
“Is that all you need, Drew?” she says, checking the school list in her hand.
“I think so.” We’d bought most of my school supplies in August, but there were a still couple last minute things to get. Like a lunch kit.
“Awesome!” Quentin says. “I’ve got all my stuff, too. Can we go to the Circuitronics in the mall, Mom?”
Quentin’s mom glances at my mom then checks her watch. “I guess for a few minutes.”
“We’ll meet you there. Don’t go anywhere else,” Mom says.
“We won’t!” I say as we’re already run-walking down the aisle to the exit.
At Circuitronics, we check out the cell phone accessories. Quentin’s mom is getting him a cell phone now he’s starting middle school. I wish my parents would get me one, too, but they have every reason why I can’t have one.
“What if you break it?”
“What if you lose it?”
““It’ll be too much of a distraction.”
“If you need to call us, you can use the phone in the office.”
Quentin picks up a phone case. It’s black and has a design like a circuit board carved into it in metallic green. “Cool or not cool?” he says.
“Cool, I guess?” I say.
“Totally not cool,” he says and puts it back.
“Oh,” I say, wondering when he suddenly became so all-knowing about what’s cool and uncool.
I spot one that looks like an old school Game Boy. “Hey, check this one out.”
“No way. Totally not cool.”
“Oh,” I say again, sticking the case back on the shelf. If I had a cell phone, I would totally get a case like that.
“Now this is a cool case.” Quentin grabs another case. It’s black and shiny and has some kind of graffiti skull on it with bullets for eyes.
“Uh, I guess that’s kind of cool.”
“Trust me, it is. Too bad it won’t fit my phone.” He puts it back and turns to me. “So, listen, I’ve been thinking, this is our chance, Drew. New school. New kids. We can finally be cool.” He grins.
Quentin and I have never been the cool kids in class. We’ve managed to get through school so far without getting picked on too much. Except the week he was home sick with the chicken pox. But being cool would make it a lot easier. “You really think so?”
“I know so.” He leans in like he’s about to share some super top secret information. “All we need to do is follow a few rules.”
“Rules?” I raise my eyebrows. “What kind of rules?”
“Just some rules I learned from my cousin, Max,” Quentin says. “He said they totally saved his life in middle school.”
I’ve never met Quentin’s cousin, Max, but he’s always talking about what a cool guy he is. “All right,” I say. “I'm listening.”
“First we need to come up with an awesome nickname.”
“I already have a nickname,” I say. My full name is Andrew Wayne Montgomery, but everyone calls me Drew--except Mom when she’s mad or Libby when she’s trying to blackmail me.
“No, I’m talking about an awesome nickname.” His eyes brighten. “I’ve got it. We’ll call you The Drewster.”
“The Drewster?” I say.
“Yeah. And I’ll be Q.”
I’m not totally convinced. “And this will make us cool?”
“Well, not just the nicknames. We need to follow all the rules.”
“How many rules are we talking here?”
“Not many. Maybe ten.”
“Ten?” My jaw drops. “That’s a lot of rules! I thought you meant two or three!”
“Look, do you want to be cool or not?” Quentin picks up another phone case, looks it over, then puts it back.
“Um, yeah. Of course I want to be cool. This is middle school we’re talking about!”
“Then just trust me. We will be the coolest kids in the school,” Quentin says. “Okay, rule number two: Create a catch phrase.”
“You know, like The Terminator always says, ‘I’ll be back.’ or Obi-Wan says, ‘use the force.’ or whatever. I’ve already got one picked out.”
“Yeah, what’s that?”
“Yeah, I figure I can use it in all kinds of situations. Like if I agree with someone. ‘Gotcha!’ Or if I’m just joking around. ‘Gotcha!’ Or if I don’t understand something. ‘Gotcha?’ See how that works?”
“Here, let’s try it out. Say something.”
“Okay, this is a dumb idea.”
“Don’t you mean ‘The Drewster’?” I say.
Quentin gives me a death stare. “Just pick a catch phrase, okay?”
“Good. All right then. Rule number three: Dress cool.”
“I dress okay.”
Quentin raises an eyebrow. He looks me up and down like a judge on that fashion model television show.
“What? What’s wrong with how I dress?”
“What’s wrong is it’s not cool.”
I cross my arms. “Well then, if you know so much, how do you dress cool?”
“Easy. Don’t dress too casual or too formal and don’t try too hard to stand out.”
“Uh, pretty sure I already dress like that.”
“No, you dress boring.”
“I do not.”
Quentin gives me this look that says I have no idea what I’m talking about. “Look, I’ll help you. But I’m going to need access to your closet.”
“Fine. Whatever,” I mumble. “There’s nothing I wear in there anyway.”
“Well, then your dresser. We need to get rid of the all your uncool clothes.”
I sigh. “Okay, what’s rule number four?”
“So take a shower and wear clean clothes? I already do that.”
“But if you want to be cool, you gotta take it to the next level. You gotta get some Sledge body spray.”
“Isn’t that stuff a bit old for us?”
“No way. We’re starting middle school, remember? You think the other guys won’t have that stuff too?”
“My mom’s picking some up for me today, but I can share with you until you can get your own.”
“All right, all right. Next rule?” I’m almost afraid to ask.
“Don’t smile too much. You gotta be chill.”
I scowl at him. “That shouldn’t be too hard. What’s next?”
“Don’t be early.”
“What? They’ll give you a detention if you’re late!”
“I didn’t say be late.” Quentin shakes his head. “Just don’t be early. Especially for school. You don’t want to look like you care about school. Which is the next rule: Act like you don’t care.”
I sigh again. “I think I can manage that. What’s next?”
“Get a girlfriend.”
“A girlfriend!?” I spit out the word like it's poison. “Nope. No way. I'll stay uncool, thanks.”
“Come on, Drew, it’s middle school. All the kids are going to be getting girlfriends and boyfriends. You don’t want to be left out, do you?”
Actually, I do. I’d rather die than hold a girl’s hand. And kiss her? Gross! “Exactly where did you get these rules again?” I ask.
Quentin looks hurt. “Hey, I don’t make the rules. But if you want to be cool, then you need to follow them.”
I let out a loud sigh. “How many more rules?”
“Just a couple: Start a band--”
“I can’t play an instrument!”
Quentin sighs. “You don’t have to. You just have to start a band.”
“Well, we don't have a band.”
“Sure we do: The Crazy Canaries.”
I gape at him. “The what?”
“It’s my band name. I’m the lead singer. You can be in the band. Or you can start your own. But it would be cooler if we were in the same band, don’t you think?”
“I guess.” I shrug. There’s no arguing with that logic. “So then what’s the last rule?”
“What’s wrong with rabbits?”
“Drew, do you know anyone cool who has pet rabbits?”
“Exactly!” Quentin says.
“Well, I’m not going to lie about it!” If I’ve learned anything in my eleven years on this earth it’s that lying gets you nothing but trouble. Big trouble.
“You don't have to lie. Just don’t mention them. Ever.”
I throw my hands in the air. “Fine. Whatever. I won’t talk about the rabbits.”
“Awesome! We are gonna be so cool, Drew.” Quentin slugs me in the shoulder.
I rub my arm. “Yeah, sure.”
“Drew?” Mom says.
“Quentin, time to go,” his mom adds.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow for our first day of middle school!” Quentin says with a big grin.
“I can hardly wait,” I say, but inside my stomach is sinking into the floor.
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