Green hills of Thaila, a very good setting. Mush-mush for breakfast, a big orphanage. A bridge to walk across, a big roaring fox. A lonely girl… with no parents. A…

“Please, Miss!” begged Thaila. “I need a spoon! I cannot eat without silverware!!!”

“No, you shan’t!” Miss Bellie replied. “NO FOOD!!!”

Thaila begged some more. “Please miss, please…”

“Hey, Thaila, come sit next to me!” Bamboo Face begged Thaila. “I need somebody to come join me…”

Thaila went over to sit by Bamboo Face. “What can I do, Bamboo Face? Miss Bellie would never think of giving me food in a million years!”

“You’re right,” admitted Bamboo Face. “But I’ll help you.”

“Great, that’s what I want to hear!”

But then Miss Bellie announced: “EVERYONE, LISTEN UP. LISTEN CLOSELY HERE, ORPHANS.”

It was silent.

“BAMBOO FACE IS SICK OF WHOOPING COUGH, SO YOU MUST NOT GO TOO CLOSE TO HER.”

Miss Bellie especially glared at Thaila on that one.

“SO I’D STOP SITTING NEAR HER. JUST A WARNING.”

And then, in a jiffy, Miss Bellie excused herself and went back to her stupid room.

Thaila scooted away from Bamboo Face. “You have whooping Cough?”

“Well, yeah,” admitted Bamboo Face. “But… please still talk to me”—tears swelled up in Bamboo Face’s eyes—“just a little away!”

Thaila patted her. “It is okay, Bamboo Face. I’ll still talk to you of course!”

Bamboo Face felt relief rush over her. “Oh, thank you!”

BAMBOOOOOOO FACEEEEE!” called Miss Bellie: you could hear her from her balcony room.

“Coming!” Bamboo Face replied, as she raced up Miss Bellie’s stairs, looking puzzled.

She whispered one last thing to Thaila: “I wonder what this is all about?”

“Me, too…” had been Thaila’s reply, and then Bamboo Face had raced up the stairs.

                                    ~~~

“What?” Bamboo Face asked. “What is this about? I won’t go too close to people, just to let you know, because of that cough.”

“Good,” Miss Bellie said. “But that is not what this is about. Bamboo Face, let me tell you this”—she paused for a second—“tell me your story. I haven’t heard it.”

“Well…” Bamboo Face said. “It’s sort of long…”

“Go on, child.”

“Well, I was born in Tanzania,” said Bamboo Face. “And, well, yes, I was a tan, brown-haired child. And then, well”—she looked uncomfortable—“my mommy died when I was only two. So then, my father took me to travel to all sorts of places… Antarctica, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Mexico… and then something terrible happened again.

“When, I was four, my father died. I didn’t know what to do. I was in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle, swinging on a vine above a terrifying waterfall. What was I to do? And then, next thing I knew, I fell down the waterfall. That’s why I’m called Bamboo Face… because my face is now covered with bruises and scars. Anyway, yeah. But my mom died when I was two, then my dad when I was four, so then when I fell down the waterfall, I plopped down on a slimy wet rock.

“Then, I felt hands… and a bouquet of flowers in another hand picking me up. I didn’t know who. And, then, in a heartbeat, I was in this orphanage, where a tall, stern lady”—she gestured at Miss Bellie—“picked me up and let me in, treating me like a caretaker. Then, I lived at the orphanage for two more years, so when I was six, I realized I wasn’t learning anything. So I ran away to a… a daycare, and they were very surprised to have a six-year old but treated me nicely. Then I used up all the cents and money I had to buy a silver bike, and so I rode that back to the orphanage… and so I’ve always been here, and now I’m eleven.”

“Interesting story,” observed Miss Bellie, who had been quiet the whole time. “You may go back downstairs. Hold on!”

“What?”

“Take this.”

Miss Bellie handed Bamboo Face a bottle of red liquid, with medicine labels on it.

“Medicine?”

“Yes, for your whooping cough.”

“Thanks.”

And then Bamboo Face raced back downstairs to tell Thaila.

When she had finished explaining, Thaila’s mouth was hanging open. “I never knew that!” she exclaimed.

Bamboo Face smiled weakly. “Please don’t tell anyone.”

Thaila nodded. “I won’t.”

“Good.” Bamboo Face paused—but then Thaila immediately asked, “What’s your real name, then?”

“Bamboo Face.”

“That’s what your parents officially named you?”
“As far back as I can remember.”

“Oh.”

And then the conversation ended.

                               ~~~

“Bamboo Face, sit by me! Sit by me!” Everybody was hollering because they wanted Bamboo Face to sit with them so they could get the whooping cough and be asked to tell their story to Miss Bellie… and go into her wonderful room. Bamboo Face only grinned weakly and sat down at the “Sick” table. Miss Bellie entered the room and sat down next to Bamboo Face, though not too close.

“Hello, Miss Bellie,” Bamboo Face said. “Good morning.”

“Are you enjoying your oatmeal with medicine in it?” Miss Bellie asked.

Bamboo Face shrugged. “Not too good, just bitter, but I feel happy inside when I think about how I know it will make me not-sick…”

“Right,” agreed Miss Bellie. “That’s quite right. You are an extremely smart young lady, Bamboo Face.”

“Thanks.” Bamboo Face’s stomach started to growl a little bit, and she felt sickness coming inside her again, and then…

Blah!

Bamboo Face vomited into her silver plastic bowl. Miss Bellie was patting her back.

“That’s quite alright, Bamboo Face, quite alright,” she comforted her. “Everyone does it; especially when they’re sick.”

Bamboo Face nodded and coughed. Her throat was sore. She croaked like a frog, vomited, coughed, and she had whooping cough! What was she to do?

“Dear,” Miss Bellie said, “where would you like to sleep tonight? You may sleep anywhere.”

“Oh, I really don’t mind,” croaked Bamboo Face. “You’re the owner… you pick…”

Miss Bellie was pleased with herself to be called the owner. “Oh, dear, you may pick. Even though, yes, I am a wonderful owner…”

Miss Bellie snapped out of her proud face and attitude. “Bamboo Face, is the medicine working?”

“Yes,” croaked Bamboo Face. “A little… better…”

She was starting to choke and gag again. Miss Bellie patted her back once more.

“Calm down, dear one, calm down,” Miss Bellie told her.

“Would you, Bamboo Face, like to sleep in my bed?”

Bamboo Face gasped. “No, Miss, that’s your bed, not mine…”

“Oh, come on, I wouldn’t mind!” exclaimed Miss Bellie.

Bamboo Face shrugged, her eyelids drooping. “Please…carry…me…to…my…bed…that…I…usually…sleep…in…not…yours—”

And then Bamboo Face passed out, right there in Miss Bellie’s arms. She felt Bamboo Face’s forehead. It was extremely extra hot.

“Oh, no,” muttered Miss Bellie. “Now she has a fever as well…”

And so Miss Bellie kindly obeyed Bamboo Face and carried her to her room. But then Miss Bellie hesitated and thought again: no, if someone was this sick they deserved a bigger, comfier bed. So she carried poor Bamboo Face up the stairs, to her big fancy room.

For a few hours, Thaila felt lonely. Was Bamboo Face sleeping or something? But where? In Miss Bellie’s bedroom…? That would be strange, but she heard snoring from up there on the balcony…

“Miss Bellie.” Thaila called.

“Yes, Thaila?”

“Do you have food?”

“Well, no. Bamboo Face has food stuffed in her mouth because she’s sick.”

Oh.”

Thaila looked away from Miss Bellie so she didn’t see her tears streaming down her face. Thaila was so darn hungry… she hadn’t eaten so much in a long time! And Bamboo Face got all the food instead?

“I’m hungry,” Thaila thought. “I AM HUNGRY!”

But she couldn’t do anything about it except one thing. She had to steal it from Bamboo Face!

                                  ~~~

Zzzz… zzzz…

Bamboo Face’s eyelids fluttered open. She had just had a terrible dream about her best friend Thaila stealing her own food from her! But Bamboo Face knew that was just a dream, and that it would never happen, right? Of course it couldn’t…

“Aha! So you’re sleeping in here, in a cozy warm bed with all the food!” exclaimed Thaila as she jumped inside her room. “Give me some of your food! I am h-u-n-g-r-y, too, you know! You can’t just steal it like that!”

Bamboo Face was startled. “Hey, you have food. All I have is disgusting oatmeal with medicine inside!” she protested annoyingly.

Thaila raised an eyebrow. “Then where’s all the food?”

“In my stomach.” Bamboo Face pointed.

“Oh, your stomach, eh?” demanded Thaila angrily. “I am hungry, and I declare food!”

So Thaila grabbed some of Bamboo Face’s lettuce and water and tomato salad and chips on a plate next to her bed and marched downstairs, extremely pleased with herself.

Whereas Bamboo Face was shocked: why would her Best Friend Forever do that to her? Thaila knew she was sick! She knew she had food, too! And she knew…

Knock, knock, knock.

“Come in,” Bamboo Face said weakly.

It was Miss Bellie. “Are you doing alright?”

Bamboo Face shook her head. “Thaila stole my food and…and…”

“What?” asked Miss Bellie, startled.

“I’m dying, that’s what,” Bamboo Face said. “I don’t know why… but my fever’s gotten darn really bad…”

“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!” exclaimed Miss Bellie. “What shall I do to save you, dear girl? I cannot let you die like this!”

“I do not know,” Bamboo Face replied. “But just let me die in peace.”

But over the next few days Bamboo Face actually got better. Miss Bellie was overjoyed. “Yes!” she jumped up and down. “Let’s celebrate!”

Most people were excited, too, as they ate their lunch; but Thaila was crossing her arms, ignoring Bamboo Face. But then Bamboo Face tapped on Thaila.

“Hey, Thaila,” she whispered. “Can you meet me in the hall tonight?”

“No.” Thaila turned away from her. “I will not.”

“Are you sure?” checked Bamboo Face, who sounded and looked sort of heartbroken. “I… I was planning something really fun”—she turned away to not let her see the tears—“and, um, yeah, that’s fine if you don’t want to…”

And she ran away, tears dropping out of her eyes every second it happened. Thaila sort of felt bad now. Poor Bamboo Face was only trying to invite her…!!

“Miss Bellie.” Thaila turned to the owner of the orphanage. “Since Bamboo Face is better, can I plan a surprise party with you?”

Miss Bellie nodded silently. “Yes, of course. I’ll get candy, treats, balloons, new dresses for her to wear…”

“Great,” Thaila said, nodding. “I’d really appreciate that. Thank you.”

“No problem,” muttered Miss Bellie as she walked away.

“Wait.” Thaila mumbled heartily to herself. “What if…?”

She thought something that was very puzzling to herself: “Who was who? A dog with a ribbon… tied to a fence…save him, you must.”

Who must? Thought Thaila. What was this all about?

“HELLO, GUYS,” announced Miss Bellie, who always made daily announcements in the eating giant room. “THE NEWS TODAY IS… BAMBOO FACE IS BETTER! AND SO, I WILL GIVE SOMEBODY THE DUTY OF SAVING A DOG CHAINED UP WITH A RIBBON ON ITS TAIL TO GIVE TO BAMBOO FACE.”

Everyone moaned, but Thaila knew that was normal. She raised her hand, squirming in her seat.

“Me, Miss Bellie, me!!!” she exclaimed, jumping up and down. “I’m Bamboo Face’s best friend! I should do it! Don’t you agree – oh, don’t you?”

Miss Bellie smiled down at Thaila, but continued, “I’m sorry, Thaila, but I’m going to pick somebody she can get to know better: Beatrice, you go find the dog and… give it to Bamboo Face. I’ll prepare the surprise party.”

So Beatrice briskly ran out the door and set off to find a dog.

                                                    ~~~

Roof! Roof!” Beatrice heard barking from somewhere. She ran down the nearest block and found a fence, where a dog was tied up. The dog, apparently, was a grey-hound with a silver ribbon tied to him.

“Hiya, Lee!” Beatrice said. “Yes, I’ll name you Lee!”

Lee barked happily and let Beatrice untie him. “Great! I’m going to bring you to a wonderful girl named Bamboo Face that will take care of you.”

Suddenly Lee whimpered and leaned down some more, not barking.

“What?” Beatrice. “Oh, no. A monkey won’t be taking you. That’s just her name. She’s not a monkey, she’s just like me!”

Lee started barking enthusiastically again.

“Come on, Doggy, Doggy!” Beatrice ordered. “Follow me!”

Lee followed Beatrice all the way down the street back to the orphanage.

“Here, Miss Bellie, here!!” exclaimed Beatrice when she got there.

She pointed to Lee. “This is Lee, the grey-hound!”

“Nice.” Miss Bellie grinned. “LET…THE…SURPRISE…PARTY…BEGIN!!!”

Lee barked and barked. Miss Bellie told him to snap his jaws shut. Bamboo Face came down her stairs quickly to see what this was all about. She heard some suspicious barking… what was a dog doing here? She wondered. Then, as she reached the bottom step, she heard: “HOORAY BAMBOO FACE! WE GOT YOU A SURPRISE PARTY!!!!”

Bamboo Face gasped, “Thank you, thank you!”

Beatrice handed her the dog.

“A doggy-pie!”

Lee licked Bamboo Face’s face. Thaila came right on over to Bamboo Face.

“Why, hello, Bamboo Face,” Thaila said crossly. “This was all my idea, you know.”

“Oh, well thanks!” exclaimed Bamboo Face, hugging the cross Thaila.

“Yeah, you’re welcome,” Thaila replied sassily.

Suddenly Bamboo Face’s turned into a worried face. “What’s wrong, dear friend?”

“I thought you didn’t like me anymore,” replied Thaila, making a face at her.

“Oh, of course I love you!”

“I love you, too.”

“Wait… where are your parents?”

“They ran off and I never found them again, so I ended up staying here.”

“Oh.”

“Yes.”
Thaila nodded. “That’s my story.”

“Well…” Bamboo Face said. “Thank you so, so much for this party, but I’ve got to leave.”

What?!” Thaila was outraged.

“I’m sorry,” Bamboo Face admitted. “I know you put this all together for me, but I’ve got to do something very important. But thank you so much!”

“Fine, go off and do the stupid thing that you wanted to do.” Thaila stormed away, pouting, arms crossed, and went to sleep, tucked in her bed. Bamboo Face knew that she could’ve stayed – but she told herself that this was truly important.

Bamboo Face tried to calm herself. She could do this. She could, she knew it. Okay, thought Bamboo Face, first, I go outside. Bamboo Face hopped on her silver bike, and rode down to the city, with her headlights on. Everyone was asleep, she told herself, no one will notice. As she peddled some more, she came to an abrupt stop.

“Oh my gosh.” She gasped.

Because there, in front of her, was her daycare she had went to: but not the daycare, the lady who worked there. Her name was Lizzie.

“Darlin’, what you doin’ out in da’ night?” she asked. “Everyone’s sleepin’, dear! Do ya’ need a bed?”

“I’m eleven,” spat Bamboo Face. “No, I can do this myself.”

“What are you doing, Liza?” Lizzie asked, who refused to call her Bamboo Face but to call her a name that was just like hers.

“I am Bamboo Face, and I don’t need help!” cried Bamboo Face, trying to peddle away from Lizzie, but she clasped her bike.

“Now, dear, I’m only trying to help ya’,” she explained. “No need to get angry with me, now, girl… it’s all fine.”

Lizzie shrugged and gave Bamboo Face her favorite snacks – crackers and cheese – and walked away.

“Thanks so much!” Bamboo Face explained.

“Oh, eat it, you dumb girl,” Lizzie cried. “No one cares anymore! Just eat your greedy food!”

Bamboo Face’s assignment was done. She had gotten her crackers and cheese from Lizzie, her old caretaker. And now she knew for sure that Lizzie liked her—giving her favorite snack counted, didn’t it?

Then Bamboo Face’s mind thought about something; nothing else. It darkened on this one thought: Thaila. Just Thaila. Was Thalia still mad at her?

As Bamboo Face thought about this some more, she peddled faster so Lizzie was soon way behind and she couldn’t catch up. Suddenly Bamboo Face’s negative thoughts turned into more positive ones. Thaila was her best friend. She was recovering. She was not dying. She was okay! Lizzie still cared for her, and she had her silver bike. Miss Bellie liked her. So did Beatrice.

Soon Bamboo Face hid her silver bike behind a pine tree and entered Miss Bellie’s orphanage. She strode down the long aisle where the lunch-tables were and headed up the stairs to Miss Bellie’s fancy bedroom.

“Greetings, Miss Bellie,” Bamboo Face said politely, bowing. “I apologize greatly for not being able to attend the party.”

“Nah, it’s okay,” Miss Bellie said, smiling. “Want a cracker?”

Bamboo Face smiled at this. “Thanks.”

“Do you continue feeling sick?” Miss Bellie asked.

“I suppose so,” Bamboo Face admitted. “But not too bad, you know.”

Just then a barking noise started. It was very loud. But it sounded sort of familiar.

“Lee, quiet down!” Miss Bellie said, laughing out loud because she couldn’t help it.

“Oh, that’s Lee?” Bamboo Face realized. “Oh, of course that’s Lee! Did he miss me?”

“Indeed he did, my sick one,” Miss Bellie said. “Now settle into my bed and got to sleep.”

Now it was a daily routine, sort of, Miss Bellie always let Bamboo Face sleep in her bed, even though she wasn’t that sick anymore. But, it counted, Bamboo Face was recovering so nice Miss Bellie let her sleep in her fancy bed.

In the morning, Thaila was exhausted from all the partying and the confetti and Lee barking madly…it all seemed so overwhelming. At least it was Sunday today, the day of rest, Thaila thought. Then she thought: Bamboo Face. How could she forget Bamboo Face? She wondered how she was. So she decided (it was 7:00 A. M.) to creep upstairs to Miss Bellie’s room and check on her. After all, Thaila had been angry, but Bamboo Face had been sick and anyway, Thaila had gotten over her angriness and Bamboo Face was her best friend!!!
When Thaila entered the room, Lee was sleeping on the carpeted floor next to Miss Bellie’s (Bamboo Face’s) bed.

Thaila stepped over Lee and went to her best friend’s side. Best friend, thought Thaila. Bamboo Face. BF! She realized. Bamboo Face! It totally worked, Thaila thought. Bamboo Face was meant to be her BFF.

“Hey, Bamboo Face,” Thaila whispered kindly and softly. “It’s your best friend—Thaila.”

Bamboo Face twisted and turned and seemed to mutter something in her sleep. She twitched and Bamboo Face woke up.

“Oh—hi,” Bamboo Face said. She wasn’t like herself: she had just woken up from a dream. She wasn’t prepared for this. “Where is Spider and Joe? They shall be fixing tea for 3:00, eh? And Grandma won’t be too late I don’t think.”

Thaila giggled and patted Bamboo Face’s head. “I think someone is having some weird and confusing dreams.”

“I should leave you be,” Thaila added, gave Bamboo Face’s head one more soft pat, and left the room.

Thaila headed back to her orphanage bedroom, which was a nursery-sort-of-room with skinny beds sprawled all over the room. They were split into rows against the walls so there was an aisle to walk down. Miss Bellie had put name-tags on top of each mini bed. Thaila’s said:

“THAILA”

She snuggled into her bed and tucked herself in. She turned out her night-light and pulled the covers over her, and soon she was fast asleep.

Bamboo Face woke up in Miss Bellie’s bed. She was confused. “Where is Spider?! You must tell me, O Grace!” she said.

Then she shook herself out of it and dressed out of her pajamas and got the orphanage uniform on. As she walked down Miss Bellie’s stairs to the Orphanage Lunch Room, she sat down at the “Sick” Table. Even though she was recovering, she still had a nasty cold so she sat at the Sick Table just to be safe. It was good advice from Miss Bellie.

To her surprise, Thaila was waving at her from over at a random lunch table. She was sitting next to Beatrice, the girl who had set off to find Lee.

Bamboo Face smiled gleefully and waved back at her best friend.

The rest of the morning, Bamboo Face took her red medicine that Miss Bellie had given her. It made her throat less sore and cleared the snot from her head. But she was still sick so she continued sleeping in Bellie’s bed, and continued sitting at the “Sick” table and took her medicine. She was a good girl to follow Miss Bellie’s directions, because they were actually wise directions.

Thaila’s thoughts swirled around in her head as she tucked herself into bed. She was so tired that her eyelids drooped. She was glad to be going to sleep, though. Once again she thought about Bamboo Face as she did every night. She was glad Bamboo Face was getting better but then something dawned on her.

Where was Bamboo Face?

Bamboo Face peddled faster on her silver bike as she made her way on the sidewalk to The Day-Care Watch Center.

Then she saw the sign:

MORNING, AFTERNOON, AND EVENING DAY-CARE WATCH CENTER

OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY—(AND NIGHT)

She watched as a group of tired toddlers got picked up by their mother and father. Oh, I wish that was me, Bamboo Face thought sadly. But then she thought of the Orphanage and Miss Bellie and Thaila and Lee and Beatrice and how lucky she was and she grew happier. Sometimes it feels good to just dwell upon positive thoughts.

She entered the Day-Care Center. Lizzie and Karri were changing diapers on some babies and changing them into their clothes.

Bamboo Face waved. “Hey, Liz!” she said. “It’s me, Bamboo Face!”

Karri, who never knew Bamboo Face that well, turned around and gave her a puzzled look.

Then Karri turned to Lizzie. “Her name is Bamboo Face?”

“Yes, it is,” Lizzie replied. “It’s the name that’s on her birth certificate, I think. Um…”

Lizzie grew embarrassed from saying so much. Her cheeks were bright red from blushing so much.

Lizzie gestured at the baby boy and girl she was changing.

“These are twins,” she said, gesturing at the boy. “This is Tom; and the girl is Kelly.”

“Nice,” Bamboo Face said politely.

“Yes…Kelly, oh Kelly, I just changed your diaper!” Lizzie exclaimed. “Don’t do your thing again…oh please don’t…”

“Sorry to bother you,” Bamboo Face said quickly. “I see you’re having troubles. But I’d like to ask…can I borrow some sort of…um…toy for older children?”

“Sure,” Karri butted in before Lizzie could answer. “It’s some bowling pins? That good?”

Bamboo Face beamed and gasped at the same time. “How…how did you…?”

But she thoroughly expected the bowling pin set and bowed with appreciation. “Thank you so much, Karri…”

And she set off with the bowling pins strapped to the back of her bike back to Miss Bellie’s Orphanage.

Thaila woke up in the morning and lumbered over to a lunch table in the lunch room. She sat next to Beatrice and Hector, her two sort-of friends. But Bamboo Face was her best friend, of course.

Thaila waved over at Bamboo Face, at the “Sick” Table.

Bamboo Face wasn’t there.

Bamboo Face fumbled with her feet muttered to herself as she got out of Miss Bellie’s bed: “Where is Spider, Jon? You must tell me! O Joseph, ye cannot stand thee…”

She shook herself out of it by taking her meds. See, she always had these dreams about “Ye Joseph” and “Thee Spider” and so on, and she got convinced they were real but these meds made her come back into reality. She popped one into her mouth. Then she took the liquid red medicine for her nasty cold.

She looked at Miss Bellie’s alarm clock. It read: 9:30! Boy, she was late sleeping and everyone, like Thaila, would be wondering where she was!

Bamboo Face leaped out of bed and sped downstairs, still in her pajamas. She didn’t care if Hector, Beatrice, and Thaila and Miss Bellie saw her in her pajamas. She was l-a-t-e.

Bamboo Face watched as a wave of relief swept over Thaila’s face as she entered the lunch-room.

“Sit by me, ooh, do sit by me!” Thaila called, waving her hand in the air.

Bamboo Face smiled weakly and muttered “I wish” and sat down at the “Sick” Table as usual.

 ~~~

In a place where Thaila and Bamboo Face and all the orphans and Miss Bellie and Lizzie and Karri and Tom and Kelly did not know about, a girl named Spider was being tortured. And a boy named Joseph was trying to help her.

That explained Bamboo Face’s dreams.

Oops! Sorry! Bamboo Face was just dreaming about this. Not real!



Bamboo Face grabbed her silver bike the next day at early sunrise, as usual, and rode off to the Day-Care Center.

When she got there with mush-mush (oatmeal) in her mouth from the Orphanage, she gasped. The Day-Care Center, which was a shack with a porch, was now gone. Completely gone.

There were no clues of where it had been moved to except for one: Kelly and Tom. Those two babies were lying on their backs on the grass, confused and tired. Bamboo Face immediately felt bad for the two little things and scooped them up into her arms.

“Don’t worry, darlings,” she said, kissing their little blond heads. “It’s going to be okay. I’m going to find out where the Day-Care Center was moved to.”

And she put Tom and Kelly in her bike basket and peddled back to Miss Bellie’s orphanage.

Miss Bellie was full of questions as Bamboo Face informed her about what had happened. (They were talking privately in Miss Bellie’s bedroom.)

“But…who would have moved the shack?” Miss Bellie wondered aloud. “And where could it be? And what about Lizzie and Karri? That’s weird.”

(Bamboo Face had told her about Lizzie and Karri, too.)

“I know, I wish I knew the answers,” Bamboo Face said sadly. “But… I don’t.”

Miss Bellie smiled suddenly. “I think I know someone who would love to solve mysteries. She never told you, I bet, but she’s always loved mysteries. I bet if you asked her she’d be gleeful to help. She’s very good at solving things, too.”

“And who would that be?” Bamboo Face asked.

“Beatrice,” Miss Bellie said. “Beatrice: the one who found you your dog, Lee.”

“Oh?” Bamboo Face said. It was all she could think of to say.

“Yes, “oh”,” Miss Bellie said. “Oh—go ask Beatrice and I’ll bet she’ll say “of course, ma’am”.”

So Bamboo Face left and thanked Miss Bellie. She went down to the lunch-room, where all the orphans were enjoying their lunches. She spotted Beatrice and gestured for her to come over. Beatrice joyfully approached Bamboo Face.
“Hey, Bamboo Face!” she said. “What’s up?”

Bamboo Face got right to the point. “Do you like solving mysteries? And are you good at them?”

Beatrice nodded, not saying a word. Then she burst out: “I’ve read all the Nancy Drew books and I’m a real good detective!”

“Great,” Bamboo Face said. “Well—see, I went on my silver bike to the Day-Care Center, where I used to be taken care of before I moved here. I peddle there everyday. Lizzie and Karri work there. And I when I got there, the shack of a place was not there! Only these 2 twins”—she pointed at the two babies cuddled in her arms—“were there. Who’d ever leave these poor babies behind? They were, like, the youngest there!”

“I know,” Beatrice agreed sadly. “But, yeah, I’ll help you for sure! You want to find out where the Day-Care Center and everyone is, right?”

Bamboo Face was stunned of Beatrice’s cleverness. She knew the mystery right away and everything…

She raced up the stairs to Miss Bellie’s room. She dropped Kelly and Tom gently on Miss Bellie’s bed for them to rest. She tucked them in with covers.

“Miss Bellie, Beatrice would love to!” she burst out, and told her everything that had happened.

“Hey…hey…” she stuttered to say the word. It was so hard! How could she possibly say it? She never was good at saying “IT”.

“Hey…hey…” Bamboo Face tried again. “Thaila.”

She sucked in a deep breath of relief. She said it: Thaila. So now she wouldn’t have to say “hey, hey” so much.

“What?” Thaila asked. “BFF?”

Thaila called Bamboo Face “BFF” because, #1, she was her best friend forever, and #2, it was short for BAMBOO FACE. “BF”.

“Well…” Bamboo Face didn’t know how to say it to her. “Beatrice…you know Beatrice? She’s gonna help me solve a mystery…a mystery…um…about how the Day-Care Center disappeared and everyone with it except Kelly and Tom, these 2 babies that are up in Miss Bellie’s room.”

Bamboo Face said this in one big breath and very fast.

Okay,” Thaila said. “And Beatrice and you and me are all gonna have a good time on this mystery quest?”

“No—no—not a fun mystery quest,” Bamboo Face said. “Um…it’ll be Beatrice, not you…”

Thaila sat in her bedroom that night that she shared with all the other orphans except for sick Bamboo Face, who slept in Miss Bellie’s room until she got better.

She thought: Bamboo Face…dark skinned girl…brown haired girl…skinny legs…clever mind…kind heart…

Then her heart almost stopped as she remembered.

Bamboo Face… the girl who betrayed her. She was not going on the quest.

And then Thaila’s heart stopped again and her brain was working up a plan at full speed every second.

In the morning, Thaila’s room was dark. No sunlight filtered the room because the curtains were shaded over the giant windows in the back corner of the room. There was a posted note on the little drawer next to her bed (that every orphan had next to them for things to put on it) from last night. It was scribbled in a pen with Thaila’s handwriting. It was her ideas of how to come with Beatrice and Bamboo Face [and Miss Bellie if she was coming] on the trip/mystery thing.

So far, her ideas were either: #1, she acts very weird and doesn’t talk to Bamboo Face and then she’ll ask if it’s about the trip, and she’ll say “well…I suppose you could come…” and then she would be able to come.

#2, she just convinced Beatrice or Miss Bellie or Bamboo Face. (Three B’s. Bellie, Beatrice, Bamboo Face!)

And…number 3… she didn’t go on the trip/mystery. That was the least choice.

(Clever, clever Thaila.)

 

It was lunch-time. The clock read “1:34”. All the orphans, including Somanaro, went to sit down at their lunch tables.

Thaila sat with Hector and Beatrice, as usual, and poor ol’ Bamboo Face sat at the “Sick” Table.

“Hey, look!” Thaila said, pointing at a girl who was lonely at one lunch table. She was gloomy and munching on a sandwich and everyone was ignoring her.

“Who’s she?” Hector wondered aloud.

“Yeah, who’s she?” Beatrice asked.

“Don’t ask me!” Thaila said. “I’m gonna find out.”

So Thaila ran over to the girl’s table and sat down next to her. The girl’s tan face immediately turned into a smile. She had a black ponytail.

“What’s your name?” Thaila asked, full of friendliness.

“Oh, me?” the new orphan said. “I’m Somanaro. My parents died of some disease that was spreading around. I’m only 11 now. It happened yesterday and I came here from Tanzania. Um…yeah. So I’m here now.”

Thaila clapped Somanaro on the back. “Hey, it’s not so bad. Bamboo Face”—she gestured at Bamboo Face at the “Sick” Table—“came from Tanzania, too, and her parents both died when she was 2 and 4. I’m so sorry about your parents dying, though. Mine left me. It was pretty sad.”

“Oh…” Somanaro nodded sadly. “I’m really sorry. Is this a nice place?”

“Oh…oh yeah,” Thaila said. “It sure is. It’s pretty fun—except for this mush-mush/oatmeal for breakfast. But for lunch we get sandwiches for treats sometimes, so that’s good. And the owner, Miss Bellie…she…she’s pretty nice. When I first came here, she wouldn’t give me food, but then she got over it…”

“Oh, that’s good,” Somanaro said.

She seemed to have a habit of saying “oh” before every sentence. Thaila liked it, though.

Bamboo Face, who was sitting at the “Sick” Table, noticed Thaila talking to a strange new girl at an empty table.

Bamboo Face got the girl’s attention and waved at her and Thaila—but she didn’t come over because she was sick, which she explained to them.

The girl and Thaila waved back.

Bamboo Face was glad about that.

“Hey, what’s your name?” Bamboo Face yelled.

“My name’s Somanaro,” the girl called back.

“Welcome to Miss Bellie’s Orphanage, Somanaro!” Bamboo Face said welcomingly.

Bamboo Face was a nice person.

That night—Bamboo Face was very tired. She slept until 4:00 in the late afternoon!!!!

Thaila was worried that Bamboo Face had gotten sicker, but she was wrong.

Bamboo Face finally woke up at 4:22 P. M, and she lumbered down Miss Bellie’s stairs and went to lunch-room (well, dinner room right now.) The orphans always had dinner early because Miss Bellie requested it so that they could get to bed early.

“BAMBOO FACE!” Thaila literally yelled at the top of her lungs. “Get on over here, Girl! You had me worried sick! Me, girl, I don’t care if you was sick right now! Come sit by me RIGHT NOW, Girl!”

Bamboo Face ignored the yelling and sat down at the “Sick” Table, thinking of a plan—when should Beatrice and her go on the trip thing? And how would they know where to go? They had no idea where the Day-Care Center was!!!

So Bamboo Face called Beatrice over, though not too close. “Beatrice…” she said. “We should talk to Miss Bellie because she will tell us when to leave to go on the trip to find the Day-Care Center and Lizzie and Karri and everyone…”

“Sure,” Beatrice said, and let poor Bamboo Face stay at the “Sick” Table, and she ran up to Miss Bellie and asked her.

“Miss Bellie—when do we leave?” Beatrice asked. She didn’t have to say “to go on the trip” because Miss Bellie already knew what she meant.

“Um…5 days,” Miss Bellie said. “Got it? Today’s August first, 2011. Well…we’ll be going on August 6th, 2011. Got it?”

Beatrice nodded and went back to the dinner-room to tell Bamboo Face.

Bamboo Face was sort of relieved. 5 days was definitely enough to get ready.

Thaila stole Bamboo Face’s silver bike the following day (the 2nd) and rode down to a big beautiful bridge in the middle of a garden where a big roaring fox lived. It was her favorite place, like the Day-Care Center was Bamboo Face’s favorite place—well, other than Tanzania, which she could barely remember.

She got her breast plate on and her armor on in case an animal suddenly appeared and attacked her. She sneaked in her big pocket knife in her pocket, too, just in case.

When she got to the garden, she parked Bamboo Face’s silver bike outside the garden, by the road. She did not lock up the bike.

Meanwhile, Thaila was having a great time. One on her favorite friends, the big roaring fox, walked across the bridge with her. The frogs in the pond jumped with her, and she fed chipmunks and squirrels and pigeons and other animals and a hedgehog sat on her lap and then crawled off.

Then she said good-bye to the animals and left. She left Bamboo Face’s bike there without thinking.

The next day (the 3rd) Bamboo Face went out to fetch her silver bike and…

It was gone.

She grew very panicky. She told Somanaro and Hector and Miss Bellie and Beatrice and Lee…and they all told her they hadn’t seen it. (She didn’t bother asking Kelly or Tom.)

But she had forgot someone. Thaila.

“Thaila, have you seen my silver bike?” Bamboo Face asked.

Thaila gasped, remembering the time. “Um…er…”

Bamboo Face gave Thaila a very firm and fierce look. “You need to tell me, ma’am,” Bamboo Face said with a hard note in her voice that Thaila had never heard before. She was completely unlike herself.

And then Bamboo Face, the lonely orphaned girl from Tanzania, got up and hit her best friend as hard as she could on the cheek.

Thaila wailed loudly. The scar and the blood on her face felt like it was on fire. She couldn’t stand the pain; so she hit Bamboo Face as hard as she could back, also on the cheek. But Thaila hit harder than Bamboo Face had hit her. Bamboo Face’s face filled up with tears, but not angry tears: sad tears. Now Bamboo Face had a long, long red scar from her left cheek, across, on her nose, all the way to her right cheek. And then it turned into a fight, and Thaila and Bamboo Face hit each other as hard as they could and they both ended up bruised and terribly bloody and had scars and cuts all over. Miss Bellie was outside fetching a pail of water, so they kept fighting. Then—suddenly—the most strange thing happened.

Somanaro stepped in between them and said: “Strike each other; I won’t allow it. I will only let you scar me.”

So Bamboo Face and Thaila scratched up Somanaro, and then Somanaro did a twisting flip and landed on the table. She was bloody, now, too, and she sprinted out of the room.

“Look what you did to the new kid!” Hector shouted impatiently. “LOOK WHAT YOU DID! Stop the fight! You’ll have to do a lot to get me to not stop you!”

Thaila was stronger and fatter than Bamboo Face; Bamboo Face was way faster and flexible than Thaila.

“Sure, try is!” sobbed Bamboo Face, and Hector kicked both of them as hard as he could in the shins.

“Beat that—Green hills of Thaila, both of you!” he screamed, and the fight ended.

The next day—fourth day—Bamboo Face set off to find her silver-bike, and she found it. She still had the giant red scar across her face, and many people asked her why she got it and she shouted: “Talk to the hand!” and they stopped pestering her about it.

When Bamboo Face got back to Miss Bellie’s Orphanage, Somanaro was greatly admired. They called her “The PeaceMaker”. And they all begged her to do the flip again. So she did, but finally she stopped because she said she needed a break.

Then it was the fifth day.

Bamboo Face brought Lee along, but kept him on a leash, and Beatrice came, too. Then she suggested she brought Somonaro, who could be very helpful. Miss Bellie wished them good luck and they set off.

Kick her?” Somanaro asked. She was riding on the handlebars of Bamboo Face’s bike.

Ke, and Bamboo Face was peddling.

“Yes, I kicked Thaila—for real,” Bamboo Face said.

“Are you still friends?”

“Um…no.”

“Are we friends?”

“Yeah.”

“Good. I was hoping you’d say that.”
Bamboo Face burst out asking: “Where did you learn that flip? Do you take gymnastics?”

“Nah, my family was always poor,” Somanaro said. “I sort of just tried stuff that broke my leg and stuff…and then I actually learned how to do the flip. I kept trying, I guess, and took risks.”

“Hmm, interesting,” Bamboo Face muttered, growing uninterested as she thought more about Thaila.

And then she started to cry.

Thaila slurped on her mush-mush (oatmeal) and her cold porridge. Her body started shaking and her mind turned full of hatred when she thought of Bamboo Face--

Her soul drifting away from her… Bamboo Face…betraying girl…Bamboo Face…violent, a cry-baby… Bamboo Face…fast, flexible…Bamboo Face…an enemy—a predator in the sky.

“Hey, Hector,” she said, tapping the boy next to her. “Do you…do you have a soft spot for me?”

Hector, who had been walking around the break-fast table, stopped in his tracks.

Say what?” he muttered.

“I said: do you have a soft spot for me?” she repeated.

“No,” he muttered under his breath. “Not…not really.”

“No, really, do you?” Thaila asked.

“I guess,” Hector mumbled.

“Hmm…I’ve been wondering. Now I know.”

Bamboo Face was trembling—she was so nervous!!! But she kept peddling because she knew Somanaro was on the handle-bars, Beatrice was standing on the holder thing on the back of her bike clutching her shoulders, and Lee was in the basket of her bike in the front of her bike. What a good sport, eh? And Bamboo Face, of course, was always a great runner, a great, flexible gymnast, and, most of all, a fantastic biker.

Somanaro noticed Bamboo Face trembling, and she grew concerned.

“Um…Bamboo Face?” she spluttered. “Are you…okay?”

“Yeah…yeah,” Bamboo Face replied. “S-sure…I’m good.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Okay, you got me. I’m not okay. I’m growing sick again without my medicine or my cough drop or my tea…I need a bed to rest in…”
“Do we need to get a doctor?” Somanaro asked, all the blood draining out of her face as her face grew white-pale.

Bamboo Face—going to die, again? No, Somanaro couldn’t let it happen!!!

Somanaro voice trembled and she barely could speak. She wiped back some tears and said in between chokes of sobs: “Bamboo Face, are you going to die?”

“Sure I am,” Bamboo Face replied calmly. “But I’ve got a good life. Nice long years of being a kid.”

“When are you going to die?”

“Today, in a few minutes,” Bamboo Face replied.

Somanaro’s brow furrowed, and her jaw tightened in anger. She lunged at Bamboo Face and shouted: “No, no you’re not! You’re not going to die!”

She hissed as loud as she could.

“Lizard—Lizard—Lizard would help if she was here!” Somanaro yelled, and then she started sobbing at the top of her lungs as she thought of Lizard.

Lizard—her sister—had gotten lost in a forest by a river when they were on a boat ride to a shelter. But she hadn’t died—she was probably in some shelter. But Somanaro still missed her, either way.

One fine day, a girl of four swam in a river. She was doing the doggy paddle. She had dark hair and dark skin, like her big sister.

“Som!” she shouted. “Help! I’m gonna drown!”

The big sister helped the four-year-old girl out of the river.

“Thanks, Som,” the little sister said, sucking on her thumb with her soaked blankie in one hand.

Somanaro, the big sister, made a boat out of reeds and picked up her sister and put her in the reed boat. It floated down the river. It was a nice ride, actually.

When the two sisters got off the boat, there was a shack surrounded by monkeys that they made friends with. They ended up liking the shack and lived there for one more year, so the four-year-old little sister was five now.

One night, Somanaro tucked her little sister in and kissed her fore-head. “Good night,” Som said.

But then the little girl woke up in the middle of the night, saying: “Som! Som! I had another nightmare! Come and sleep with me!”

“Shh, Liz, go back to sleep,” Som shushed. “You’ll wake up Zen.”

Zen was their pet monkey.

So the little girl quietly now whispered: “Som, come snuggle with me in my bed and with blankie! It’ll be better!”

So Som came in the bed with the five-year-old girl and they snuggled and she fell asleep—both of them.

In the morning, Zen was outside already with his fellow monkey friends.

Then Som realized her little sis was gone.

“Liz!!!” she shouted. “Liz, where are you?! Liz, where are you? LIZARD, WHERE ARE YOU, GIRL?!”

Lizard!” she called again.

No answer.

“LIZARD?!”
“Blankie, I think its Som calling!!!”

Somanaro heard Lizard’s voice. Hip, hip hooray!!!! She thought. She ran towards the sound of Lizard’s voice.

But then Lizard ran away from her, giggling and thinking the whole thing was a game.

But it wasn’t.

And then they both lost each other and Som was sent to “Miss Bellie’s Orphanage.”

“Really?” Bamboo Face said. “T-that’s…I’m s-so s-sorry. I’m s-sorry I-I’m s-sick. And I’m s-so s-sorry i-if I d-die.”

“Did you like my story, though?” Somanaro asked.
“Yeah,” Bamboo Face said. “I wish I could have met Lizard.”

“Yeah, I wish so too,” Somanaro said. “But…sometimes…she’s a little devil, I can tell ya’ that.”

Bamboo Face laughed. “All siblings can be like that…”
But then an image darkened into her mind: her brother: Ulysses. Her dead, sick brother. The one who had died of a bad, bad fever. Her poor, dear brother Ulysses…he was only six years old…

She started crying.

One cold winter day, a girl with brown hair like tan skin and cream-colored skin was in her house fetching a pail of water for her brother, Ulysses. He was sick, sick as a doorknob. He had a bad, bad fever. And in those days, there wasn’t a good cure for it. Ulysses’ big sister brought back the pail of water briskly and gave it to him. He was lying in bed. His eyes sparkled as they met each other’s eyes. The big sister laid a hand on his lap.
Be strong,” she whispered. “Be strong and live, and everything will be okay. Everything. I promise, sweetie.”

She was determined to find a cure and to keep her brother alive.

Ulysses’ voice was painful but he could still manage to speak.

“Yes, I will try to live, Cassie,” he said. “I can only try.”

So Cassie, over the days, kept Ulysses’ alive, and she was convinced that he would live but then one day…

He died.

Cassie’s other sibling, Bamboo Face, was the most upset. She cried so much about him that her room had puddles of tears still, and you could feel the tear-drops soaked into her carpet.

Cassie tried to comfort her little sister; but it never worked.

Bamboo Face loved her brother more than anything or anyone.

 

“Wow…” Somanaro said. “I’m…I’m so sorry about it. Want some gum?”

Som pulled out some gum from her pocket and handed Bamboo Face a piece.

“Wait—let me get something straight,” Somanaro said. “You had 2 siblings—Cassie, your big sister, and Ulysses?”

“Yeah,” Bamboo Face answered, choking back sobs. “But Cassie is still alive. She’s at a fancy boarding school in London. She was always a fake—not really a part of my family. A girly-girl. I always loved Ulysses the most. I wish Cassie had died instead of Ulysses. He was my favorite thing in the whole, wide world. I loved him more than my dead dad, mom, or sister… no matter what.”

Somanaro’s face darkened sadly. “Well, we both have pretty sad stories. I only have Lizard—my other sibling, Angela, was my twin and she passed away 90 years ago so of course I never got to meet her!”

“Hmm,” Bamboo Face said, which is what she said if she didn’t know what to say. “Interesting. But…you see…in the beginning of my story—I said, brown short hair the color of tan skin—exactly my hair—and cream colored dark skin. That’s me, right? But then you find out its Cassie, not me. But Cassie was my twin, just not my height. I was real annoyed because I would have preferred if my perfect little angel Ulysses was my twin.”

“Yeah, I understand,” Somanaro said.

Lee barked in between, as usual.

Beatrice spoke up; she hadn’t said a word in 4 hours, but she finally spoke.

My sister, Primrose, and my brother, Buddy was with me. We were looking for lizards in our garden in India—where I was born, see, but I’ve always had peach skin from my dada. So, anyway, I got my blond hair and light skin from Dada, but I was born in India. So Primrose, who was 10, said: “Hey, Bee, you know what? Buddy…he…um…”

“What, Prim?” I looked up.

Primrose was biting her fingernails, which she never did. Buddy was sleeping in a flowerbed, with his eyes fluttering and his nose and his chest heaving up and down; he must have loved the smell of that marigold flowerbed he was in, huh? Someone must have given him a drug…or maybe something in the marigolds…he must have fainted or…or…or maybe got hypnotized by the smell or something…”
So anyway, it was weird. He had passed out.

2 years later, when Primrose was 12 and Buddy was 17, I was sent to this orphanage. Buddy is still alive; in some garden place in India; as a boy he LOVED flowers; and Primrose…she…well, I never heard from her again.”

“Wow—that’s one grand story,” Bamboo Face said. “Now we’ve all said our stories about our siblings. No one else. Silence. Lee does not have story to tell.”

They all laughed for the first time.

“Where’s Prim?” Somanaro asked, greatly interested. “Maybe we should find her—after we find the Day-Care Center, I mean.”

“Well—what do you know—a grand idea!” Beatrice said. “But, guys, I’m so sure. Because…there’s one thing about Primrose that I didn’t tell you…”

“What is it?” Bamboo Face urged Beatrice.

Primrose slurped on her

Pail of water. Hey, somebody, she thought, come out here and save me…I got sweat drenched on my face!!!
Primrose, by now, was about 12 and a half.

She was in India; although she looked like her sister, Beatrice.

“BEATRICE!” she shouted. “BUDDY! 2 B’s! Come and save me!”

Suddenly, Beatrice felt a strange communication feeling prickle through her body. And the message flashed in her mind:
BEATRICE! 2 B’s! COME AND SAVE ME!

Primrose? No, it couldn’t be her—but who else could it be? Beatrice would recognize that voice from anywhere--especially when it’s shouting “help” in your mind!!!
Beatrice sent back her communication message in her mind to Primrose: “Where are you? I thought you were lost for good! I can’t come and get you right now!”

Primrose: “YES YOU CAN! YOU HAVE TO!”

Beatrice: “Sorry, Prim. ‘Can’t.”

Primrose: “Why not?”

Beatrice: “I’m on an important mystery right now. Good-bye. Love you. See you later.

END>OF COMMUNICATION MESSAGES

Thaila and Hector went up to Miss Bellie’s room.

“Miss Bellie,” Hector said, “when are Bamboo Face, Lee, Beatrice, and Somanaro going to be back?”

“I really don’t know, dear,” Miss Bellie said. “But go back and eat your mush-mush (oatmeal). It’s good today. I sprinkled some spicy stuff on it.”

“Eww!” Thaila burst out.

“It’ll be yummy, trust me,” Miss Bellie said, smiling mysteriously.

Thaila and Hector raised each other down Miss Bellie’s stairs and enjoyed their spicy mush-mush. It was actually pretty good, for Orphanage food, anyway.

Somanaro,” Bamboo Face said, “Quick! Get off the handle-bars! Look—look—look—at—that—”

“Look at what?” Somanaro demanded, getting off the handle-bars.

Beatrice got off the back.

“It’s…it’s a figure of a girl! C’mon, let’s go see who it is!” Bamboo Face said.

Indeed, there was a figure of a girl—but she was, like, sixteen.

She looked exhausted; as if she’d just gotten off an airplane from some fancy place. Girls surrounded her.

The familiar girl in the middle turned around to look at all of them—but especially Bamboo Face.

“BAMBOO FACE!” she shouted. “Bamboo Face, oh, dear…”

She ran to hug her little sister.

“Cassie,” growled Bamboo Face. “Are you visiting with your friends from your fancy boarding school in London?”

“Indeed I am,” Cassie said. “By the way; how did you get that long scar across your face?”

“Thaila did it,” Bamboo Face said. “Just a girl at Miss Bellie’s Orphanage.”
“Oh, you’re living at an Orphanage?” Cassie demanded. “That sucks. I get to live in this fancy building with king beds and a big screen TV—”

“Well, this is a family reunion, isn’t it?” Bamboo Face interrupted, ignoring Cassie. “What a perfect time to meet up. But sorry, I have a more important mission to go on right here than babbling about what’s better: an Orphanage or a dumb Boarding School. Good-bye. PS, I wish Ulysses had stayed alive in stead of you!”

Cassie waved good-bye happily and turned to talk to her friends again and brag about Bamboo Face.

“She was always a perfect, pretty girl…” she boasted.

Thaila cursed under her breath. “I hope Bamboo Face is having a bad time,” she muttered.

“I hope she’s having a great time,” Hector shot back.

“Oh, really?” Thaila said. “That’s nice…but I don’t care.”

“C’mon, please, can we just get along this once?” Hector said. “We need each other—as friends.”

“Okay, okay,” Thaila said. “If you insist.”

Thaila coughed loudly and her voice was soft.

“Are you okay, Thaila?” Hector asked.
“Just got a bad cold, that’s all,” Thaila replied.

“Well, uh…”

“Yeah, I know. That’s what I say when I don’t know WHAT to say.”

Bamboo Face, Beatrice, Lee, and Somanaro found an old cave for the night to rest in. They set down the sleeping bags from Bamboo Face’s basket on her silver bike.

Somanaro fell asleep first—then Beatrice, then Bamboo Face. Lee stayed on guard and barked if anyone came near.

In the morning, the cave wasn’t pitch black anymore; it wasn’t as creepy. Now it was sunny; but they were relieved to get out of the cold, slimy cave still.

They hopped back on Bamboo Face’s silver bike and set off on a bike route where they thought maybe it could be.

Bamboo Face stepped on the brakes and almost fell off the edge of the cliff she was riding on.

“L-look,” she stuttered, barely able to speak. “It’s a giant…it’s a giant…it’s a giant duck!”

Indeed it was. A giant duck was stomping around on its webbed feet carrying some sort of shack that read: “THE DAY-CARE CENTER.”

Bamboo Face recovered from her surprise and peddled as fast as ever after the giant duck. It was might have been a kind giant duck; but she wanted the Day-Care Center back!!!

“What is that thing?” Beatrice wondered aloud. “A giant duck or what?”
“No time for questions,” Bamboo Face muttered.

Then she got a rope out of her backpack and tried to tie herself to the big duck, but it was no use.

“Come back here, you sinister thing!” she shouted.

That night, they stopped for a break and Beatrice said: “We’ve lost him.”

“I know,” Bamboo Face said.

“How are we going to catch him?” Somanaro asked. “We have to make up a plan, don’t we?”

Beatrice fixed up a bon-fire.

“Yes, yes we do need a plan,” Bamboo Face said. “Good idea…Somanaro…but what should the plan be? I could chase after him with my rope while some-one else rode my bike and they keep throw me my supplies if I needed them…yeah. Let’s try that. Beatrice peddling, Somanaro on the handle-bars. Som, you’re in charge of throwing me the stuff I need, got it?”

Somanaro nodded obediently.

Bamboo Face ran at full speed, her long legs sprinting down the road as fast as they could carry her.

Bamboo Face swung her rope once and caught onto the giant duck’s webbed feet!

She hung on as long as she could and soon she was riding on the giant duck’s feathered shoulder.

“Hey, Duckie,” she said. “How’re you doing?”

The giant duck squawked in surprise, and Bamboo Face threw her head back and laughed.

Then Bamboo Face jumped into the Day-Care Center he was carrying. She was inside it, carried by a giant duck.

There was no one in there. The Duck must have been hiding Karri and Lizzie and everyone else somewhere else.

Bamboo Face turned around, still sitting on The Duck’s shoulders, and gave a thumbs’ up sign to Somanaro and Beatrice (and Lee, who was riding in the basket.)

Somanaro gave a thumbs’ up sign back so she knew that they were doing good, too. Beatrice was a strong peddler so it was easy for her to keep up with The Duck and Bamboo Face and the Day-Care Center he was carrying.

Bamboo Face flicked The Duck’s beak and he squawked and she exploded laughing again.

“Hey, Duckie,” she said. “Thanks for the duckie-back ride today.”

She cracked up.

The Duck squawked back, as if he sort of understood her.

“Now, Duckie,” Bamboo Face said. “Where are you planning to take the Day-Care Center? Because I’m not gonna let you take it anywhere! I am your Master, now, so you have to listen to me! Bring the Day-Care Center back to where it was before—across from the Church and The Garden that Thaila likes so much!”

The Duck considered this for a moment, actually. Then he said: “Maybe.”

Bamboo Face gasped. The Duck could talk—or maybe Bamboo Face had a talent of understanding Duck. Probably choice b, the 2nd one.

“I AM YOUR MASTER,” Bamboo Face repeated in a booming voice. “SO YOU MUST DO WHAT I SAY.”

The Duck looked at her, his eyes’ wild with fear. Suddenly Bamboo Face felt bad. “I’m sorry,” she said to the Duck. “I’m not the boss of you—but please--the Day-Care Center is really important to me. Maybe after you’re done with it you could just return it?”

The Duck looked at her in surprise; he probably wasn’t used to being talked to so nicely.

“Yes,” he said. “Yes. I will. I will return it after I’m done.”

Now it was Bamboo Face’s turn to look at him in surprise; maybe it was because how nice she had talked that now the Duck was obeying her! Hooray!

“Okay,” Bamboo Face replied. “Thanks. That would be very kind of you.”

She added: “I know you probably won’t tell me, but where exactly are you taking the Day-Care Center?”

“To a mountain place where you can over-look the whole sparkling town/city,” the Duck said.

“And how far is that, exactly?”

“2 miles,” he replied.

“Okay, I’m good,” Bamboo Face said. “As long as I get to keep riding on your back…right?”

“Yeah,” the Duck said. “You can keep riding. What is your name?”

“Bamboo Face,” she said.

“That is an interesting name,” he observed. “My name is loop. With no Capital L.”

“loop…” Bamboo Face said. “That’s interesting.”

“Thanks.”

“Your welcome.”

Soon it grew dark and night started. Bamboo Face fell asleep on loop’s back as he kept waddling with his webbed feet towards this mountain place that he spoke of.

Finally it was morning again and loop said: “Here’s the Mountain Place of which I had spoke of.”

Bamboo Face hopped off the Duck’s back and gestured for Beatrice and Somanaro to come. They parked Bamboo Face’s silver bike against a cave wall. Lee followed behind Beatrice, wagging his tail.

“He’s friendly,” Bamboo Face whispered to Somanaro. “He is. Pass it on. His name is loop.”

Somanaro said to Beatrice: “Bamboo Face say’s the duck is very friendly and that he’ll give the Day-Care Center back as soon as he’s done. His name is loop.”

Beatrice rolled her eyes. “Okay…” she said. “Weird.”

Somanaro scolded her. “No, Bee, it’s not weird.”

“Yes, Som, it is weird!!” exclaimed Beatrice.

“Oh, Beatrice, whatever,” Som said.

loop waddled around on his webbed feet and finally lay down on the mountain top. Bamboo Face gave him her blanket, and he took it and now he slept on it; exhausted from the trip.

He put the Day-Care Center next to him, and he covered it with a giant sheet so no one could steal it.

“Can I snuggle with you?” Bamboo Face asked.

“Sure,” loop said sleepily.

So Bamboo Face tucked herself under The Duck’s wing and fell fast asleep, even though it was day—and then Beatrice slept under the Duck’s other wing; and Somanaro slept next to his feathery stomach, and Lee snuggled on Beatrice’s back, of course; even though Lee was Bamboo Face’s dog.

It was all very cozy. The sun shone down on all 5 of them as they slept. Then they woke up on the blanket on the high mountain top in time for lunch. Bamboo Face climbed down the steep cliff (she was very experienced from her child memories), and went into the cave and got the picnic bag from her bike basket and climbed back up to the mountain top with it.
“Here,” she said. “Everybody have one! There are 4 sandwiches—Lee, here you go. Beatrice, help him. I’ll split my sandwich with loop.”

So Bamboo Face sliced her tomato sandwich in half, and gave the bigger half to the Duck.

“Why, thanks,” The Duck said.

“No problem,” Bamboo Face replied.

“How many days are we going to spend here?” she added.

“Hmm…” the Duck said. “How about just today…then tomorrow…then the next day? Only 3 days? Does that sound good to you?”

“Yeah, it sounds fine,” Bamboo Face said. “But…once you haul the Day-Care Center back to where it normally was for us, where will you go? I care about you!”

“I do not know, Bamboo Face,” he said. “I have tried searching for my giant duck family but I have not succeeded. So I am glad to have such a great friend like you. I will be sure to give you the Day-Care Center back.”

“I know that…and I trust you and all,” Bamboo Face said, “but maybe you could come back with me and we could spend a life together! Because I know a Garden that my ex-friend Thaila loves…and all sorts of wonderful animals roam there and I’m sure you could make some friends and we could walk across the bridge together and you could make an animal friend!”

“That sounds very, very delightful,” the Duck said.

“So…will you come with me? Like, for real?” Bamboo Face insisted.

“Yes…sure I will,” he said. “But you must protect me from some people. Because they might try to put me in a zoo since there are only a few of my type left in the world and they might try to capture me!”

“Yes, I promise I’ll try to protect you as best I can,” Bamboo Face said.

“Good; then I might be able to come,” the Duck said hopefully. “Where do you live?”

“I live in an Orphanage,” Bamboo Face said sadly. “But…it’s a nice place, really. I have friends, and you know… but Miss Bellie is pretty nice.”

“I am glad to here it,” loop said.

“Yeah…” Bamboo Face said.

That night, The Duck, Bamboo Face, Som, Bee, and Lee went to sleep. The 1st day was over. 2 more days to go.

Thaila tucked herself into bed that night. Her bed was next to Hector’s. But the strangest thing happened: she fell asleep thinking:

Bamboo Face…my best friend. I know I can forgive her.

FORGIVE BAMBOO FACE?! Thaila thought. What…? How could she do that?

But…but maybe… Thaila thought. Maybe I could forgive Bamboo Face and then I’d have a friend again that’s a girl…and then Hector wouldn’t be my only friend…

That’s a great idea, Thaila, Thaila thought to herself that night.

So she forgave her.

In the morning, Bamboo Face woke up snuggled under loop’s wing. It was the 2nd day—the 3rd day was the day!!

“Mornin’,” she mumbled sleepily to everybody.

“Morning,” The Duck replied. “Nice sunny day, isn’t it?”

He was only joking. It was as cloudy as could be!

“Um…no,” Bamboo Face said. “It’s a cloudy day. It looks like it’s going to rain.”

“I’m only trying to make you laugh!!” The Duck said.
“Oh—sorry,” Bamboo Face replied. “I’m…I’m just…tired.”

“I understand.”

“Thanks.”

Somanaro woke up thinking about Lizard—she had had a dream about her last night. Somanaro got her purple glasses out of her pocket and put them on. She rarely wore her glasses; they were embarrassing, but sometimes, when she was tired like this, she needed them or else she just saw blurs.

Beatrice woke up that morning, filled with snot and a cold. Her blond hair was bouncy and messy all over her head. Her wide blue eyes were squinty and had crust on all over them.

“I think someone’s sleepy,” Bamboo Face said, and everyone giggled a little bit; even Bee.

Somanaro patted Beatrice on that back. “Hey, Bee,” she said. “Have good dreams? Sleep well?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Bee replied. “I dreamt about…about something weird. It was about that lovely Garden that Bamboo Face rarely mentioned…the one that Thaila loves, you know? I had a dream I was there with…with Thaila.”

With Thaila?” Somanaro asked. “That’s funny. Thaila’s your friend, right?”
Beatrice nodded. “Yeah. You’re friends with her, too, right? She was the first one to introduce herself. She was real nice to you…right?”

“That’s right,” Som said. “You have a good memory, Bee.”

“I know I do,” Beatrice replied.

She turned to Bamboo Face. “Bamboo Face…do you have some cereal in your picnic bag that I could have?”

“I happen to, yes,” Bamboo Face said.

She pulled out a box of Corn Flakes and handed them to sleepy Bee.

“Thanks,” Beatrice said gratefully.

“Well?” Bamboo Face said. “Gobble ‘em up!! Enjoy them—no need to thank me!”

Beatrice laughed and stuffed them in her mouth.

“Greedy,” Bamboo Face muttered.

Bee looked at her in surprise.

“I’m just kidding!” Bamboo Face said, cracking up.

“Oh, ‘cause I was gonna say…” Beatrice said, her eyebrows lowering as she realized Bamboo Face was joking around.

Just then—Bamboo Face did something to everyone around her that was unexpected.

She hugged every single one: The Duck, Bee, Som, and Lee. And they hugged her back.

That afternoon, 2 minutes after breakfast at Miss Bellie’s Orphanage, Thaila called Hector for a meeting outside in secret next to the empty bike rack (Bamboo Face was the only one with a bike, and Bamboo Face was gone.) She rolled her eyes at that and looked Hector seriously in the eyes.

“Okay, Hector,” she said. “The thing is, I want to find Bamboo Face, Beatrice, and Somanaro and Lee. I really do.”

Hector immediately shook his head. “Thaila, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said. “You know that it was her quest and she needs to do it—sort of like a prophecy, yes, there’s no prophecy, but as if there was—because she was determined to do it. She wanted to find the Day-Care Center the most, and she picked the ones she knew she needed because she could not risk more. And…and…you’ll see her after, besides. Okay; picture it like this. Say he Garden is taken away—you would be determined to find it and you’d pick some peeps, right? Well, the Day-Care Center to Bamboo Face is what the Garden is to you, see? Do you get it now?”

Thaila, bewildered, looked at Hector, shocked. Hector had never talked this much!
“Do you, like, have a habit of defending Bamboo Face or something or what?” Thaila said.

Hector didn’t answer and they stared at each other for a long time. Then they just threw their heads back and started laughing.

They put their arms around each other: a sign for best friends.

No. I mean definitely best friends. For real.

That night, as Bamboo Face nested under loop’s wing, she thought: “Tomorrow’s the day, tomorrow’s the day!!!”

She whispered something in loop’s ear before she went to sleep (not bed because she didn’t have a bed): “Why did you steal the Day-Care Center? For what reason?”
The Duck thought for a moment and whispered back: “I have lots of phobias, you see? But they are strange phobias. And holding a shack sort of thing called “The Day-Care Center” comforts me. Do you understand now, B. F.?”

Bamboo Face suddenly felt confused. No, no; she understood what he had said; yes, so he had phobias and the Day-Care Center comforted him like it comforted her: but, one thing: B. F. He’d called her “B. F”. Somanaro had a nick-name: Som. Beatrice had a nick-name: Bee. loop had a nickname: “The Duck”. Lizard had a nick-name: Liz. And Primrose had a nick-name: Prim. Weren’t those all simple names that didn’t really need nick-names?
Well, what do you know, here’s Bamboo Face: two-words, a silly, weirdo kind of name that is always just a nickname that few people call you. But her birth certificate said:

Bamboo Face Rendez-Vous

Who knew? The weirdo-ist name in town: and it was her real name. And she had no nick-name: not B. F., or Bina, or BAM! BOO! IN YOUR FACE! HAPPY HALLOWEEN” or Blanca or Bianca.

Everybody called her Bamboo Face. And here the Duck had called her B. F.! There! She had her first nick-name.

Bamboo Face hadn’t spoken for about 3 minutes. The Duck cleared his throat. “Ahem,” he said.

“Oh, sorry, sorry!” Bamboo Face said. “It’s just that: no one’s ever called me “B. F.” before. I’m sorry. I just was…shocked.”

“Everybody has to have a nick-name!” the Duck said, laughing. “Why—you have never had a nick name before? That is extremely funny that it makes me laugh.”

The way the Duck talked: “that is extremely funny”—like a robot—was very funny. It wanted to make Bamboo Face laugh.

“Shh!” Bamboo Face suddenly said. “We have to go to sleep or we’ll be too tired to wake up tomorrow morning.”

So they went to sleep, dreaming of dangerous quests, Ulysses and siblings, karate, and fire and the day that was ahead of them.

“For heaven’s sake, what make’s you say that?” Hector asked Thaila. “Bamboo Face didn’t do this to make you jealous, you silly! You were best friends for life before that terrible, ghastly fight. You still have that bruise on your left cheek!”

“And Bamboo Face, I bet, still has that scar across her face,” Thaila guessed.

“I hope she comes back today,” she added.

“Me, too,” Hector said.

“No—I mean, so I can beat her up,” Thaila explained.

Hector’s face darkened and he said: “No, Thaila. No. You know what? I think you should hug her and apologize greatly about that fight and then just say “best friends no matter what” and give her a hug.”

“That…that sounds nice,” Thaila muttered and grumbled under her breath. “Sure. Maybe I will. I guess that’s a pretty good idea for a boy.”

“Why thank you,” Hector said. “That’s a big thing to say for a girl.”

They chuckled at each other.

The Duck got up and everyone got up, too. Lee was barking and Somanaro was all panicky. Her cream colored skin was sort of pale—but not white, because her skin was dark.

“Today is the day!” Somanaro said. “We must get back!”

“Hey, calm down, it’s O.K., Som!” Bamboo Face shouted.

When Beatrice woke up, Bamboo Face wanted to laugh again. Her wavy sort of curly blond hair was piled on top of her head and her eyes were almost stuck shut with crust.

“Mornin’, Bee,” Bamboo Face greeted, giggling to herself as she watched Bee walk in circles, confused, in her awesome green penguin pajamas which she wore all day.

The Duck picked up the Day-Care Center, which wasn’t very heavy for him. He hauled it back down the cliff path (the cliff path was narrow, and it was SOOOOOOOOOOOO unsafe that your mother would say: ‘that is making my heart leap and if you go near that path I will ground you for 7 months’!) with Beatrice on the handle-bars this time, and Somanaro peddling (she was pretty fast at this, too), Lee in the bike basket, and the picnic basket strapped to back of the bike.

Bamboo Face of course was riding up on the Duck’s snowy white feathery duck shoulder. She kept him amused the whole way back to the Orphanage/Garden/Timothy Street, the Street where the Day-Care Center was on and was about to be on again.

Soon Timothy Street came into view: a narrow pavement, with few lamp-posts on some sidewalks, and the Garden up in the North: a little Japanese beautiful garden with a bridge and river and animals roaming.

And on the west: to the left of the Garden, was the Orphanage, a big yellowish building with an entrance door that opened into a little hallway with a fancy red-velvet-carpet stair-case right next to it, a coat rack and a mat and muddy brown boots, and then straight ahead of you would be the gigantic lunch-room, as big as a church room.

The Duck put the Day-Care Center back in its place.

“It is back!” Bamboo Face shouted, happy.

“Indeed it is, and thank you,” the Duck said. “The Garden looks beautiful—so does the Orphanage and Timothy St.”

Suddenly Bamboo Face’s eyes swelled up with tears and she started bawling. She hugged loop and fell onto his feathery belly and stayed there.

They went across the street and parked her silver bike on the bike rack next to the Orphanage.

Then loop hugged her back. They hugged each other for a long time.

The Duck and Bamboo Face=BEST FRIENDS FOR LIFE NO MATTER WHAT.

Miss Bellie looked out her window with her telescope. She saw Bamboo Face, Somanaro, Beatrice, Lee the Dog, and a giant bird.

What was the giant bird about? She wondered.

Then she looked at the Day-Care Center. It was back!

She ran to the lunch-room, where all the orphans were munching on mush-mush (oatmeal) with spice added in on top.

“I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT TO MAKE, ORPHANS,” she said. “LISTEN CLEARLY. BAMBOO FACE RENDEZ-VOUS IS BACK!!! AND SOMANARO, BEATRICE, AND LEE ARE WITH HER! BUT SOME BIG BIRD IS WITH HER, TOO. AND THE DAY-CARE CENTER OF WHICH BAMBOO FACE SPEAKS OF IS BACK!!!”

Everyone cheered, even Thaila.

Then Miss Bellie, happy and relieved and confused of the gigantic bird, rocked Kelly and Tom in her arms and said: “You two twins; the team is back! Everything is okay! The Day-Care Center is back and soon you will be back there!”

Miss Bellie was pretty sure she saw a little baby smile and giggle on both Kelly and Tom’s faces.

Thaila and Hector asked Miss Bellie if they could go outside, and she said yes, so they did.

Indeed the Day-Care Center was back. Hector went back to the Orphanage while Thaila went into her favorite Garden. The roaring fox was still there, playing with the other animals.

“Hi, Garden,” she said. “Hi, Animals! Hi, Fox! Hi, Bridge!”

The roaring fox roared back at her in greeting and his ears sort of stood up more—he loved when Thaila visited. He thought of her as the “Animal Charmer” or “The Queen of Animals” or something. Thaila liked that.

2 hours later, she left the Garden and as she was crossing the street to go back to the Orphanage, she saw Bamboo Face: just by herself, walking around with some big duck thing.

Suddenly Thaila remembered what Hector had told her, and she waved.

“Hi, Bamboo Face!” she said. “How are you? I missed you! How did the trip go? You must be very brave to complete it! Are you relieved…?”

Enough,” Bamboo Face said. “Do you have, like, a pattern or something? You’re all like exclamation mark, question, exclamation mark, question…”

“I know,” Thaila mumbled. “I know what I said. Want to come to the Garden with me?”

“Well, Som and Bee and Lee went back to the Orphanage to see Hector and Miss Bellie and Kelly and Tom and stuff; so I decided I could just spend some alone time with my best friend, loop.”

“Who’s “loop”?” Thaila asked.

“This big duck right here,” Bamboo Face replied. “He had the Day-Care Center—but he gave it back, all thanks to him!! So he’s going to live with me, you know, make friends in the Garden and things and I’m going to protect him so no one can capture or hurt him.”

“Whoa,” Thaila said. “Well, it looks like some introducing needs to be done.”

She put out her right hand. “Hi, loop, welcome to Tim Street! I’m Thaila—and Bamboo Face and I go to Miss Bellie’s Orphanage together. The Garden is my favorite place.”

“Oh yes—Bamboo Face told me that the Garden, you like,” The Duck said. “She told me you were her “ex-friend”.”

Bamboo Face shot loop a look but didn’t get mad at him because she knew he didn’t know any better.

Yeah…” Thaila said, trying to change the subject, “Well, it was nice meeting you, loop, and welcome back, Bamboo Face!”

“Thanks,” she muttered and she swept off with The Duck.

“So?” Hector said at the lunch-table (it was lunch.) “Were you super nice to her, Thaila?”

“Yeah, I was SUPER nice, you can trust me on that,” Thaila said. “But she seems to think I’m her ex-friend and she has a new friend: this giant duck named loop.”

“Cool,” Hector replied. “So you’re friends again…right?”

“Sure,” Thaila muttered.

“Good, I’m glad,” Hector said cheerfully. “So my technique worked, huh? Maybe you should try it again if it happens again.”

“Yeah, sure,” Thaila said—her tongue flickering like lightning as she said the lie.

Bamboo Face and the Duck walked across the bridge in the Garden.

“So do you like it?” she asked.

“I do.”

“Great!!! I’m so glad. Will you…will you stay?”

“Yeah, I will,” the Duck said. “Just one thing…Lizzie and Karri and everyone else. We must find them, eh?”

“You’re right,” Bamboo Face realized aloud. “But…don’t you know where they are? You’re the one who took the Day-Care Center; not that that’s bad—I’m just saying. So don’t you know?”

“Well…sort of,” the Duck explained. “It’s just that when I took the Day-Care Center they must have been outside…oh, I just don’t know. But either way, we should go on a hunt for all of them…especially Lizzie and Karri.”

“Yes….yes we should,” Bamboo Face said.

Just then—someone called her name.

BAMBOO FACE!” the teenage voice called. “I’M VISITING AGAIN! COME SAY HI TO ME, SWEETIE!”
“Ugh,” Bamboo Face said. “Cassie, my big sister, is here again! She always liked me as much as I loved Ulysses; but I like Ulysses a hundred more times than her. She always calls me “Sweetie” and is always so gentle and nice. It is SO annoying!”

Either way, Bamboo Face told loop to stay in the Garden while she went out to meet Cassie.

She was there, with her group of party friends.

“You all look like a bunch of teenage Barbies,” Bamboo Face observed. “What do you want, Cassie? I don’t want to see you!!!”

Yeah, but I want to see you,” the big sister said. “Get it? Huh? Now come over here and hug your beloved big sister from London.”

“You’re not from London,” Bamboo Face growled, not even moving the slightest to go hug Cassie. “You just have your stupid Boarding School there. Bye.”

And before Cassie could say anything, Bamboo Face stormed on back to the Garden.

“Stupid Cassie,” she told her friend the Duck. “I hate her! Oh, I’d just about do anything to give her to the dead and bring Ulysses well and alive again! The poor rasping fever-sickness was overwhelming him! And if he had it again, now, we’d have a cure for a fever! That’s one of the least bad sicknesses!”

“No comment,” the Duck said.

“No comment?” Bamboo Face demanded. “What does that mean? I’m just curious.”

“It means I do not know what to say.”

“Oh—I didn’t know.”

“That is okay.”

“Where could Lizzie and Karri be?”

“Maybe on Jessica St., the next street after this one—Timothy St. Or on the next one—Samuel Street and so on! I do not know!”

“I’ll go look,” Bamboo Face decided. “Stay here.”

She jumped onto her silver bike, as usual, and sped away to Jessica Street and Samuel Street. She liked Samuel Street best because of her Uncle Samuel—he was a great person. But then, suddenly--

Z

Bamboo Face got a great idea. Her mommy and daddy were dead—Uncle Samuel wasn’t. Uncle Sam was her favorite person.

Uncle Sam could live with her at the Orphanage—Bamboo Face wouldn’t have to leave. They could go on outings together every Tuesday night. She could give him a tour of the Orphanage--

I have to find Lizzie and Karri, Bamboo Face reminded herself. I have to find Lizzie and Karri. I must remember! I must remember!

She strolled down Jessica Street. She saw a friend of hers, Martha, who was an old lady who was in many plays. She had short black curly hair (shorter than a boy’s, basically on top of her head) with a greenish brownish head-band.

Martha was a widow of a man named Hiaalcacké, who was from Germany. He had passed away of old age. He fought in the Military and the War. He was soldier. He had a peg leg, like a pirate, sort of. Bamboo Face knew him; she met him when she was 7, and knew him still until she was 9—when he passed away. And now Bamboo Face was eleven; and Hiaalcacké was dead, but she still knew his wife, Martha.

Just then Bamboo Face got another good idea. She could take Martha out to tea in the afternoon sometimes. Yes, she agreed to herself: that sounds fun.

Also, as she strolled down Jessica Street, she met up with a good, good best friend of hers: Glen. He was an old man with white hair and a little mustache and big eyes. He was very nice.

“Hi, Glen!” she said cheerfully. “I’m so glad you’re here! I was wondering if you wanted to join me at Papa Pizzeria at 2:00 on Saturday—today is Thursday.”

“Hmm…” Glen replied, stroking his mustache. “I don’t know, Bamboo Face. I probably could…can Martha come, too? We’ve become very close friends.”

“Yes—Martha could come, too, and we could have tea after!” Bamboo Face suggested.

Glen nodded and walked away as Bamboo Face said: “Bye! See you Saturday!”

So, she thought to herself, Saturday: taking Glen and Martha to tea and to Papa Pizzeria.

But now she had to find Lizzie and Karri.

She searched up in trees, in shops, she asked random people if they’d seen them, she gave them descriptions…everything. And then she got this great idea. She went back to the Garden and told the Duck.

“Why, that’s a great idea!” the Duck agreed. “When should we start?”

“Tomorrow,” Bamboo Face said. “But, the next day, Saturday, I’m taking my old friends Glen and Martha to tea and to Papa Pizzeria. Would you like to come?”

“Sure,” the Duck said. “I am excited for it. After that we can continue to do your idea…right?”

“That’s right,” Bamboo Face agreed. “You took the words right from my mouth, loop. You’re very smart and nice. You’re a great best friend.”

“Well, you are too. But that was a great idea!”

On Friday, Thaila and Hector went to the Garden. She introduced Hector to the roaring fox, to the squirrel, to the bird, to the chipmunk, to the lizard, to the…

And so on. Hector loved all the animals. He suggested the 2 friends took a walk across the bridge so he could see the view—so Thaila showed him the bridge, too, and the Japanese little flowing river with different colored fish in it.

“Cool…” Hector trailed off.

“I know, right?” Thaila agreed.

They collected twigs (sticks) and plants and more moss and bark and built lots of little houses out of nature for bugs and so on. Soon, when they came back that afternoon, lady-bugs, butterflies, little tiny spiders, and worms and grass-hoppers and praying mantises had taken over it. It was great!

“Hey…you know what?” Hector said suddenly. “Thaila: we should take Bamboo Face here! That would be so fun. And we could show her our little house we made here—she’d love it!”

“And that giant duck,” Thaila agreed, getting more excited. “He’d love it, too! And after all, that duck, loop, is best friends with Bamboo Face so she’d probably agree to come with him to see it!”

So Hector and Thaila went back to the Orphanage and Hector said:

“Hey Bamboo Face, wanna bring loop and come to the Garden with Thaila and I? We made a really cool nature house and butter-flies, grass-hoppers, tiny spiders, praying mantises, worms, and lady-bugs have taken over it. It’s really enchanting and we want you to come see it!”

“How about on Sunday?” Bamboo Face suggested. “Because today I’m booked: I had this great idea and loop and I need to do this project: and then tomorrow I’m taking Glen and Martha, my two old friends, to tea and to Papa Pizzeria. But after that I’d love to!”

“Great, thanks,” Hector said. “See you then—bye.”

Thaila and Hector happily walked back to the Garden.

“Great, she can come on Sunday!” they both said cheerfully.

“Thanks, Hector, for talking for me,” Thaila said.

“Hey…no problem,” he replied.

It was Saturday. It was break-fast time: mush-mush (oatmeal). Bamboo Face went up to Miss Bellie’s room. She explained about EVERYTHING that had happened on the trip AND after that, and what was happening today and everything.

“Yes…I was wondering what that big bird was,” Miss Bellie laughed. “But…dear…let me test something.”

Miss Bellie tested if Bamboo Face was sick. She was sick.

“I’m afraid you are very sick,” she said sadly.

“What do I have?” Bamboo Face asked.

“Um… I think you have a high fever and a barking bad cough,” she replied.

“Oh,” Bamboo Face said quietly. “I sure hope I don’t die again.”

“Oh, you won’t die, but you sure will be throwing up and you’ll sit at the “Sick” Table and you’ll sleep in my bed at night,” Miss Bellie said. “You’ll also be coughing. You’ll have a thermometer in your mouth. But who cares? It’s okay to be sick sometimes.”

“Yeah…not when your six-year-old favorite person in the world brother Ulysses dies,” Bamboo Face said.

“What?”

So Bamboo Face told her the story—about Cassie and Ulysses.

“Wow!” she said. “So Ulysses sure was important to you, huh?”

“Totally,” Bamboo Face replied. “I hate Cassie. She is the most annoying ever.”

“That’s too bad. Now go have your mush-mush. It has spice in it!”

Miss Bellie always added “it has spice in it”! at the end because she knew Bamboo Face LOVED the spice she sprinkled on top. At that Bamboo Face panted with her tongue out, like a dog, and ran downstairs to the gigantic break-fast/lunch/dinner/snack-room.

After she ate her mush-mush with spice at the “Sick” Table, she went to the bathroom in the normal All Orphan Bedroom. It was the bedroom that Somanaro, Beatrice, Hector, and Thaila slept in if they weren’t sick.

She didn’t have to go to the bathroom—she just turned on the sink, letting the cold-water run over her hands and her face. (She was dunking her face in the sink.) Her face under the faucet felt very nice. The dead-skin and mosquito bites on her face washed off and she felt MUCH better. You know what? Bamboo Face was smart sometimes. Even though just randomly going to the bathroom and running your face under the faucet seems weird; she was smart to do it.

At 2:00 The Duck met Bamboo Face at Papa Pizzeria. It was a nice place—pizza boxes were loaded everywhere, though. After a few minutes of waiting there, Glen arrived. He was wonderfully nice, as usual. When 7 more minutes passed by, Martha finally came.

“Sorry I was late,” she said. “I had a play called “Becoming Jamie Heller” and I was just finishing it off.”

“That’s fine. We totally understand,” Bamboo Face said, and Glen nodded (which Glen liked to do a lot; he loved nodding instead of bothering to say “yes”), and the Duck (loop) nodded, too.

“Well—everybody tell me what they want and I’ll go order it,” Bamboo Face claimed. “Martha: what do you want at Papa Pizzeria, here?”

“How about a sausage pizza?” Martha suggested. “Those are always my favorite.”

“At your service,” Bamboo Face agreed, nodding. “How about you, Glen?”
“I’ll have cheese,” he replied.

“M’kay,” Bamboo Face replied. “And lastly…but not least…loop, what would you like?”

“Cheese,” he replied.

“Okay—Glen and the Duck: Cheese Pizza. Martha: sausage pizza. I got it!”

So Bamboo Face went to the counter and told the woman at the counter: “2 cheese, 1 sausage, 1 pepperoni.”

The lady smiled at Bamboo Face so nicely that she couldn’t help asking: “What’s your name?”

The lady smiled at the question and said: “My name’s Kendra.”

“Well, hi, Kendra,” Bamboo Face said. “I’m Bamboo Face.”

“That is the weirdest name I’ve ever heard!” Kendra exclaimed.

“This is Mack,” Kendra added, pulling out her puppy dog.

“Nice,” Bamboo Face said. “Now…could you please take our order?”

“Yes, honey; I’m working on it,” Kendra said, giving the child a sharp look.

“Okay…bye, Kendra,” Bamboo Face said nervously, backing away. “Thanks for getting our orders. It was nice meeting you and Mack.”

“Bye, B. F.,” she replied.

The second time, Bamboo Face thought! First loop, now Kendra!!!
Bamboo Face headed back to the table at Papa Pizzeria where Glen, Martha, and the Duck sat.

“Okay, loop,” Bamboo Face said in a low voice; the animal and the girl’s heads put together when Glen and Martha started a conversation between the two of them. “Have the posters—my idea—worked yet? I put them up on Friday—how about you? Did anyone call yet?”

“I do not know, Bamboo Face,” the Duck said. “I think we’ll have to take another trip or so or search streets again or get someone to help us that we didn’t take before…someone who has an exceedingly good talent. But if someone does call, that would be wonderfully lucky. But—on the more likely part—we’ll need to find them ourselves!!!”

“That’s right, Duck,” Bamboo Face said. “I know. Lizzie and Karri…wait…they wouldn’t be hiding, would they…? No…they wouldn’t do that. I must be imagining.”

“Yes…you are imagining, my dear girl; do not worry,” the Duck said cheerfully.

Then the two friends turned to Martha and Glen.

“So, Martha, who did you play in Becoming Jamie Heller?” Bamboo Face asked politely, trying to make a conversation.

“I played Pearl—the wife of Jake,” Martha said. “But the thing is…it was a play you wouldn’t like. It took place in a proper place—London, say—and it was about ladies in dresses who join a knitting Club and Mildred, the leader, looks up a knitting queen, and they find Jamie Heller, who’s 106 years old, and is a very talented knitting old woman, see…”

“Interesting,” Bamboo Face said politely. “That’s doesn’t sound that bad.”

“Oh, it is, trust me,” Martha said, laughing.

Glen, Martha, Bamboo Face, and the Duck laughed, too.

Glen played with his slight mustache and said: “Oh my gosh, Martha. I just realized something!! I saw that play when I was a boy! When I was 15 years old, I saw “Becoming Jamie Heller” and it fit the exact same description that you said! Oh my gosh! That is so cool!”
“Well…do you remember Pearl?” Martha demanded. “The lady with the brown hair in rollers and a green dress with ruffles? Of course, it wasn’t me: I was probably about 13 then. But do you remember Pearl and Jake?”

“Actually—I do because Jake was my favorite character!!” Glen exclaimed, getting excited.

Bamboo Face loved seeing Glen get excited because his mustache flared up and down. It looked funny.

“Oh, that’s great,” Martha said, rolling her eyes. “Oh, put your mustache down. It looks ridiculous.”

Glen laughed.

Just then a waiter came to the table. “Papa Pizzeria Orders,” he said. “One sausage, two cheeses….and one pepperoni. Here you are…ladies and man….and duck.”

“Thanks,” Bamboo Face said gratefully. “What is your name?”

“My name’s Cliff,” he said. “How about you, honey?”

“Me…?” Bamboo Face asked. “Oh—I’m Lily Wadeeni.”

“Well, hi, Lily,” Cliff said. “My wife, Paw, who is going to start working at an Orphanage called “Miss Bellie’s” tomorrow, has a child named Lily, and Lily’s sister is Wett.”

Bamboo Face’s mouth hung open. “Paw is going to work at Miss Bellie’s as a maid?”

Cliff nodded.

“Cliff, Miss Bellie’s Orphanage is where I live!” she practically shouted in excitement.

“Really?!” Cliff asked. “That’s great! You’ll get to meet Paw! My wife and I are divorced—Paw lives on Ursula Street and I live on Jessica Street—but Ursula Street is right after Samuel Street…so…we’re pretty close. Lily lives with Paw on Ursula Street in a green big house with a porch-swing and I live on Jessica Street: right by Timothy Street, the street where Miss Bellie’s Orphanage is, and I live with Wett—who’s two years younger than Lily. Lily is 14—Wett is 12. Wett is much more mature than Lily, actually—Wett wears her wavy brown hair back in clips and ponytails and she is very polite and creative and wonderful. Wett and I live in a small, purple house with 1 tiny bathroom.”

“Cute,” Bamboo Face said, smiling. “That’s wonderful! I’ll get to meet Paw!!! I’m sorry that you and her are divorced though….”

“That’s okay.”

“But maybe I could meet Wett sometime! That would be super fun! I’m almost 12—I’m eleven, so she’s only one year older than me!”

“Yes—that would be great!” Cliff, the waiter, said.

Wow, Bamboo Face thought, I just made good friends with a WAITER!!!
“Well, enjoy your pizza and come back soon!!” Cliff said happily. “Lily—Paw will look forward to meeting you. I’ll tell her. And, yes, I’ll arrange for you to definitely meet Wett.”

“Great!” Bamboo Face said. “Bye!”

Glen, Martha, and loop waved good-bye, too, with smiles on their faces. As soon as Cliff disappeared, though, Martha burst out: “Bamboo Face, why did you tell Kendra, the one who wasn’t at nice, at the counter that your name was Bamboo Face, but not this nice trustworthy guy, Cliff! You told him your name was Lily! Why was that?”

“Um…I don’t know,” Bamboo Face chuckled. “I just felt like being a Lily. Maybe when I meet Wett I’ll tell him my real name.”

“Yeah, maybe you will,” Martha said seriously—and then she just couldn’t help bursting out laughing at herself. “Wait—no, little girl, you better!!!”

“Hey, I’m no little girl!” Bamboo Face insisted.

“You are to me—I’m MUCH older than you!” Martha shouted.

But when the old woman saw Bamboo Face’s face, she said: “No dear, I’m just goofing around.”

“I hope so,” Bamboo Face pouted.

The Duck comforted her. “Hey…B. F….don’t take it so seriously. Martha is just joking around, ‘kay? You know she’s an old woman!!! And she’s admitting it!”

Instead of glaring at the Duck, Martha just chuckled to herself and admired her white hair. “Ah…yes…I sure am old.”

Glen nodded.

“Oh my gosh, Glen; you nod so much!!” Martha exclaimed—who always said anything on her mind.

Bamboo Face liked her that way.

When everyone left Papa Pizzeria, Glen paid the check (which was really nice) and they all walked over to “Timothy’s Tea”. It was called “Timothy’s Tea” because it was on Timothy Street, of course.

A group—like a huddle of penguins—huddled together in the cold weather. One girl with black hair and light skin had a puffy white hat on with a pom-pom. And one boy had red hair and a blue sweatshirt on. And one was another girl, and one was another girl, and one was a dog, and one was a woman.

The woman spoke up: “Guys: Bamboo Face has gone out to tea with loop the duck and Glen and Martha, she said. She will be back soon. Do not worry. But she is home from her trip…and…well…let’s just help her. It’s personal, but be supportive of her; alright? DO YOU HEAR ME, ORPHANS?”

“YES!!! WE HEAR YOU,” the 4 kids chanted back, and the dog barked.

Miss Bellie nodded in satisfaction. “Good—that’s all this meeting was about. You can go back to the Orphanage now.”

“Wait—yes?” Miss Bellie called on a girl; she was raising her hand.

“So…my question is,” the girl said, “if Quinn is visiting today…or tomorrow…?”

“Well, Bee,” Miss Bellie said to Beatrice; most people called her Bee now, “Ask Hector about that. Quinn is Hector’s cousin.”

“Okay.” Bee smiled.

“Any other questions?” Miss Bellie asked.

Hector raised his hand. “It’s a comment. And the comment is…hello.”

“Hector…that was goofy,” Miss Bellie remarked. “Now…any other important things, for the last time!”

Somanaro raised her hand. “Well, I just wanted to say: thank you, Miss Bellie, for being such a good owner of the Orphanage. I just really appreciate it! And I’m new—thank you for making me feel welcome.”

“Your welcome, child,” Miss Bellie said.

But then she turned her attention to the first girl with the puffy white hat who had been very quiet.

“Why aren’t you talking, Thaila?” Miss Bellie asked. “You always talk—especially at M. B. O. I. Meetings!”

Thaila stared at the ground, her hands deep into her coat pockets.

“My dad and mom who left me—I got the message.”

Bamboo Face and the Duck said bye to Glen and Martha. Bamboo Face left feeling good; sometime she would meet Paw and Cliff and Wett…

She went back to the Orphanage and dropped loop off in the Garden, where he slept for the nights except for when he got too cold, which rarely because he was covered with so much feathers.

As she entered the orphanage, she saw a blonde-haired freak with dazzling blue eyes that were so blue Bamboo Face knew they were contacts. She had high-heels that clicked on the ground, way too much make-up, and had a pink purse hanging from her hip with a key chain to keep it on her skinny jeans.

Bamboo Face stepped up to her. “Are you Paw?” she asked.

“Um…hello?” she said. “Bonjour. That was just so RUDE!! OMG! You have to say “bonjour”!!! Be polite, for God Sake!! Um, HELLO?! Of course I’m Paw!! I’m the Queen of this Place. The new Queen.”

“You can’t trick me,” Bamboo Face said. “You’re divorced with Cliff…and your daughter is Lily and Cliff’s daughter is Wett. And plus, you’re not the Queen, Silly Billy, you’re the cleaner.”

“You must be the pickiest girl on the planet!” Paw exclaimed. “Can’t you see I’m a fashion model?”

“Yeah…and I don’t really care,” Bamboo Face said, storming away from the blonde-haired freak, Paw.

As Bamboo Face walked into the “dinner” room (right now) in the Orphanage, she spotted Thaila, her head hung low, not talking to anyone. Bamboo Face didn’t care—Thaila used to be her best friend, and Thaila NEVER was like this!! Bamboo Face didn’t care how mean the girl had been to her; she was going to check on her.

“Thaila…are you okay?” Bamboo Face asked severely.

“My mom and dad who left me…” began Thaila.

“Yeah, speak up…?!”
“My mom and dad who left me…well…I got a message from them,” Thaila exclaimed. “It was a letter. I’ve memorized it. It was like this:

Dear Thaila,

You are my daughter. I do not love you—but I know that you are probably at some day-care place that cares for you now. I am coming—I am coming. So be ready.

Sincerely,

Your father and mother,

Sareen and Kiren Smock Smith

 

“That’s weird,” Bamboo Face remarked. “But that’s sad, too!! They’re coming?!”

Thaila nodded sadly.

The next morning, Bamboo Face put up more posters and searched the streets. When nothing happened, she told loop an idea that had just popped into her head.

“I know this is dumb,” Bamboo Face admitted. “But we’ve searched the shops and sidewalks…right? Well how about we check other places—bushes, gardens…and we can catch that yellow bus that takes us to streets a few blocks away. We could check there, too…and on the streets before and behind the bushes and gardens of all the streets!!”

“That’s a great idea,” the Duck said—a smile on his face that she hadn’t seen her for a long time.

And when Bamboo Face saw that smile, she smiled too!!!

“So how about we start Monday?” Bamboo Face suggested. “After all…today is the day of rest.”

“You are right, B. F., it is the day of rest, thanks to God,” the Duck agreed. “So we shall start tomorrow. Do thee like that idea, too?”

“Yes…yes, I do,” Bamboo Face said, laughing. “I said the idea in the first place!”
“Indeed thee are right. Forgive me for my stupid question.”

“S’ Okay,” Bamboo Face replied. “You don’t have to be sorry.”

“Why not?”

“Oh…just forget the question.”

“Come on, what did thee ask?”

“I said, forget it!”

“Okay—must forget it, must I.”

Thaila stood in the bathroom in the bedroom that all the orphans slept in. It was 9:30 in the morning at the Orphanage. It was Monday morning. Thaila brushed her teeth and washed her hands and got dressed in the bathroom. Then she looked into the mirror and brushed her jet black hair and placed it into a braid. See—at first—Thaila had jet black hair that just was on top of her shoulders. But lately: she had been growing it. It was long now. She twisted it into the braid that fell to her belly button. Thaila put her silver spud earrings in and dressed in the Orphanage uniform that almost no one wore because Miss Bellie had provided other clothes, too. But today was important, and Thaila felt like wearing it.

She was twelve!, though Thaila. She finally was!! She was born at 9:30 in the morning on this day and by now it was 9:32. She was twelve!!!
She hadn’t told anyone because she wanted her birthday to be a surprise. After all—Miss Bellie didn’t have any proof or information for Thaila: like her birth certificate or her old address or something except for the letter that she’d gotten recently.

She stepped out of the bathroom and crept back to her bed. She gently tapped on Hector, who was still asleep in bed next to her.

He rubbed his eyes and blinked. He said sleepily: “Wha’?”

“It’s Thaila,” Thaila whispered. “It’s my birthday!! I’m 12!”

Since Thaila almost never put her hair in a braid and it was so long, Hector gasped.
“You look different…it must be the age twelve,” Hector observed. “Happy b-day—”

And he went back to sleep. Wow, thought Thaila, laughing. All I get for turning 12 is “you look different” and “happy b-day”.

Thaila thought: maybe when Hector turns 12, I’ll say “wow, Hector, what’s the deal with 12? Weird number. 1, 2. Well…h-b”.

Yeah, Thaila agreed to herself, that would be funny.

Bamboo Face woke up early that morning. She had some funny feeling…

Like a piece of lightning prickling through inside her…

What was this…?

This was so weird…

She couldn’t stand it…

It was getting worse; and worse…

But it also made her have some sort of happy feeling…

And then it struck her mind. Something wrong was happening…

Something bad, bad, bad…

Something ghastly…

Something creepy…

Something horrible…

Something she couldn’t stand…

Something so terrible she couldn’t think of it…

No, B. F. It was good.

This was her mind talking.

What was the good thing, then???

Bamboo Face talked back to her mind in her mind.

Then some weird, random number popped into her head…

12.

Boom!! It happened just like that.

Twelve.

Twelve was her only clue.

 

BLARE!!! Thaila blew through her party horn and gobbled up her cake. She sat next to Hector, Beatrice, and Somanaro at the breakfast-table on her birthday. (It was Monday.)

She wondered where Bamboo Face was. Her best friend wasn’t sitting next to her; and she wasn’t at the “Sick” Table either.

Miss Bellie was standing by them; and she informed that she hadn’t seen Bamboo Face in her bed or in the Orphan Bedroom.

“That’s strange…” Thaila said. “Because she’s sick; and she should be sleeping…shouldn’t she? Um…we shouldn’t worry too much. I bet she’ll show up. She always does.”

“You’re right,” Miss Bellie said, smiling. “Positive thinking always helps.”

“Yeah,” Thaila agreed.

“O. K., 1, 2, 3, everybody, ORPHANS, SING!!” Miss Bellie shouted.

Miss Bellie and all the Orphans sang: “Happy Birthday to you!! [Cha-Cha-Cha]. Happy birthday to YOU!!! [Cha-Cha-Cha]. Happy bbiiiirthddddayyy dear Bamboo Face…happy bbbiiirrrthhdaayyy to youuu!!!! [And many more…]. [How old are you? How old are YOU? How ollldd are YOOOUUU?! HOW OLD AR E YOU?!”
Thaila shouted: “Twelve years-old!!!” and everyone cheered.

She blew her party horn again at the end of the song.

But when the party was over, Thaila grew worried. Bamboo Face had never missed one of her birthday parties at the Orphanage ONCE!!!

And where could she be, anyway? The Day-Care Center???...no. She never went there anymore because she had more secret business to do with the Duck—loop. Miss Bellie’s Room…??? No, Miss Bellie had said she hadn’t slept in her room. The Orphan Bedroom…??? No, definitely not!!! Thaila or Hector or Bee or Som would have seen her!!!
So where was she?

Bamboo Face woke up; sprawled on the sidewalk right in front of the Orphanage; basically on the mat of the doorway outside next to the bike-rack. She was confused!!! Where was she??? And then it came to her!!! She sleep-walked outside!!!



Suddenly Bamboo Face burst into the room. “Am I late, am I late?” she breathed.

“Yes—very late,” Thaila assured her. “I was worried sick that you weren’t coming because you always do!!! Where were you?! What is the reason?!”

“Well; first of all, I’m sorry I’m late, second, happy 12th birthday and you’re hair looks really nice, but the reason is I accidentally sleep-walked directly in front of the Orphanage; like on the mat next to the bike-rack!!!”

“What?!” Thaila exclaimed. “You, like, never sleepwalk!”

“I know it,” Bamboo Face agreed. “I don’t know why it happened, but…”

“Maybe you were dreaming that you were putting up posters,” Bee suggested.

Bamboo Face stopped in her tracks. “Beatrice Field…how do you know that?”

Bee looked around, uncomfortable in the spotlight. “Well—uh—okay…fine. I’ve been having dreams and I know what’s been going on with you and loop.”

“What…???” Bamboo Face asked, spooked. “But how? That is so…so weird!”
Bee shrugged. “I can’t help what I dream about.”

“You’re right,” Bamboo Face agreed, “so I’m not mad at you.”

“Yea!” Bee said, relief showing on her face.

“Now let’s party since Bamboo Face is here!!!” Thaila declared.

“Yes—totally!” Hector agreed.

Hector was dressed in his red leather jacket and he had his Etnie shoes on. His red hair was very spiky; he was gelled it today.

“Well, Hector, you sure look nice,” Bamboo Face said smoothly. “Spiked the hair today, huh? It sure looks like it. What—a little groovy move for Thaila’s b-day today…right?”

Hector’s cheeks turned bright red and he blushed. “Yeah, sure,” he said, his hands deep in his pockets as he suddenly became very interested in the floor.

Bamboo Face laughed and patted Hector’s back. “Oh, Heck, I’m only messing with ya’. Don’t be too offended. I’m just kidding around, alright? I know you don’t like Thaila.”

Suddenly Hector said something that surprised everyone; even Thaila.

“Well, no, that’s not true,” Hector said. “I do—”

“Yes, I know, but I teased you like you liked liked her; I just know that you’re friends—”

And that’s when he surprised everyone: “No—no, that’s not true. I have a soft spot for her.”

“You do?” Bamboo Face gasped. “Wow…!!!”
“I know, I know,” Hector admitted.

 


Comments

Ann Daniels
07/02/2013 5:44pm

I didn't realize this story was so long, so I only read part of it tonight. I liked the character development of Bamboo Face especially. I feel that I got to know her best through your descriptions. At first, I thought Miss Bellie was mean, but then she did some kind things...and she had saved Bamboo Face! I couldn't figure out why Thaila couldn't have food. That was puzzling. It was sad that the children wanted to get whooping cough so they could tell their story! It was nice that Miss Bellie had the surprise party, but then odd that Bamboo Face had to leave right in the middle of the party. Why did she feel the need to return to the day care place? I am now wondering what will happen to the twins that she brought back to the orphanage. There's a lot of different things happening in your story! Many adventures!! I'll continue reading tomorrow!

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Ann Daniels
07/06/2013 11:59am

I read quite a bit of your story today. As I was reading, I wondered if she may have surgery to correct her scars on her face at the end of the story...and if she'd ever find her birth name before she was Bamboo Face! (I don't know the answers to these questions, because I haven't reached the end yet!) I kept wondering why all of the children didn't have enough food to eat in the orphanage and why they were stealing food to eat. I also wonder if Thaila will find her parents who deserted her...and why did they desert her? Will we find that out? Did they have a good reason? I liked that Bamboo Face's initials stood for a good thing...BFF!! That was clever. Thaila seems to have a jealousy problem. She wasn't chosen to go on the mystery quest! Then, fighting ensued!! Oh dear...trouble!! Now my favorite character that you developed is the GIANT TALKING DUCK! He's a twist to the story. He really carried the Day Care Center off on his back? (I'm not sure why he did that...can you tell me?) You have me guessing...I am very uncertain as to how the story could end! I'll keep reading!! I promise!

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Ann Daniels
07/09/2013 5:35pm

Have you ever eaten porridge for breakfast? (Just wondered) I thought you may have tried it before you wrote it into your story!! I had forgot that Bamboo Face's scar was put there by Thaila. In this final reading, a lot of things became clearer to me. I still love the giant duck, loop, and I loved how he started talking in "Biblical talk with thee and thou"!! You MUST go on with the story because I now wonder when and how Sareen and Kiren Smock Smith are coming and what they will accomplish! This is a delicious and entertaining piece of writing. When will you finish and when will you publish???

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