It seemed innocent at first, but before I knew it, I was up to my nose in trouble. I was hanging out in my bedroom after school with Janine and Tamara, minding my own business, when the two of them started an argument over the dumbest thing.
‘What rhymes with the word ‘stuff’?’ Janine asked, pausing over her blank page and resting her pink gel pen on her lower lip.
‘Buff, gruff, tough, enough . . .’ Tamara chanted in a monotone.
‘OK. What rhymes with ‘keep’?’ Janine asked, scribbling furiously.
I joined in. ‘Beep, deep, peep, reap . . .’
‘Cool. Thanks,’ Janine said, still writing. ‘What rhymes with ‘pop’?’
Tamara sighed and rolled her eyes. ‘How about ‘stop,’ as in ‘stop asking’? I’m sick of you asking for rhyming words all the time. You want to be a poet, but you can’t even think of your own words.’
Janine stopped writing and looked up. ‘Someday I’m going to be famous, and you’re going to be honored that I even asked for your worthless opinion.’
‘My ‘worthless opinion,’ huh?’ Tamara was obviously offended. ‘The only thing you’ll ever be famous for is stealing other people’s poetry.’
Janine looked so mad that I thought her freckles were going to pop right off her face. ‘That’s it,’ she said, shoving her papers into her backpack. ‘I’m going home. And I won’t be speaking to you again until you apologize, Tamara. ‘Bye, Melanie.’
Janine shut the door behind her so hard that it rattled my bedroom window. I looked at Tamara, who shook her head. ‘Her poetry is so bad. She really should give up on it and move on to an art form that matches her IQ better’such as painting by numbers.’
Later, after Tamara had gone home, the phone rang. It was Janine. ‘So did Tamara feel bad for what she said after I left?’ Janine asked me.
‘Uh, I wouldn’t say that,’ I answered, wrapping the phone cord around my thumb. ‘What did she say?’ Janine persisted.
‘She said . . .’ I paused. ‘Well, she said your poetry is really bad, and you should give up on it. She also said something about your IQ.’
‘Oooooh!’ I could hear Janine fuming over the phone. ‘Tell her something for me since I’m not speaking to her, OK? Tell her . . . that with her frizzed-out hair, she could win first prize in a poodle dog contest.’
‘She said that?’ Tamara said the next morning at school after I had delivered the message. She slid into her desk next to me just as the bell rang. ‘That’s it. I’m not speaking to her either. And she can forget an apology. In fact, you can tell her I said that I hope she steps on a rusty nail and gets lockjaw, so no one has to listen to her talk anymore.’
Later that day I reported Tamara’s comment as Janine listened with a scowl. Janine took a CD out of her backpack, put it on the floor, and smashed it with her foot before handing me the pieces. ‘Here,’ she huffed. ‘Tell her that I’m returning the CD she lent me. I don’t want to listen to it anymore because it reminds me of her.’
I looked at the shards of plastic in my hand and then stared at Janine with wide eyes. ‘Janine, that’s the meanest thing”
‘Oops’it broke.’ She smirked. I shrugged. It was actually kind of exciting to be the messenger, and the drama was getting thicker each time I delivered another barbed reply. Emotions ran hot, and the stakes kept rising.
A couple of days later, however, what had started as a spat turned into a mortal disaster. The phone rang, and this time it was for my mom.
‘What in the world is going on between you and Janine and Tamara?’ Mom asked after hanging up the phone.
‘Oh, it’s between Janine and Tamara,’ I corrected her. ‘I’m not really involved. I’m just the messenger.’
‘The messenger?’ Mom asked, folding her arms across her chest.
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘I’m just delivering messages back and forth between them since they’re not speaking’you know, keeping the lines of communication open.’
The look on my mom’s face told me she wasn’t buying it. ‘So you don’t think you’re doing anything wrong?’ she asked.
‘What am I doing wrong?’ I said. ‘Everything I’ve repeated is the truth, word for word.’ Mom was quiet for a minute, and I was having a hard time looking into her eyes.
‘The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:8 that ‘truth’ is only one of the qualifications,’ Mom stated. ‘If you’re going to repeat something, it should also be honest, just, pure, lovely’and you might be interested in this one’of good report.’ I stood there, quietly thinking about the words I had been passing back and forth. It was obvious that they were not ‘of good report.’
‘While you’re pondering that,’ my mom continued, ‘I want you to know that I just got off the phone with Janine’s dad. Apparently she is so upset over this that he’s going to let her switch to a different school’unless something changes. Soon.’
That afternoon I devised a plan. I decided I wasn’t going to stop being the messenger; I was just going to take Paul’s advice and deliver only the ‘good report’ stuff. Tamara called me first. ‘I have another message for Janine,’ she said. ‘Tell her I called her a ‘metal mouth,’ and that her braces are uglier than the grill on my dad’s old pickup truck.’
‘That’s not going to be very effective, Tamara,’ I sighed into the receiver.
‘Why not?’ she asked.
‘Because you have braces, too,’ I answered. ‘Besides, don’t you miss hanging out with her, even a little bit?’
‘I kind of do,’ Tamara answered. ‘But she’s still annoying.’
I talked with Janine next. ‘What did Tamara say about me this time?’ Janine wanted to know.
‘Actually, she said she, well, kind of misses you.’ I said the last few words into the phone and held my breath for her reply.
‘That was uncharacteristically nice of her,’ Janine answered. ‘Did she fall and get a concussion or something?’
‘Don’t you miss hanging out with her, too?’ I asked.
‘Yeah, I suppose,’ Janine responded.
Tamara was surprised to hear that Janine missed her. ‘I do feel kinda bad about what I said about her poetry. I wasn’t trying to hurt her feelings. I was just irritated.’
Janine softened quite a bit when she heard what Tamara had said. The next day I was there when they ran into each other in the hall.
‘Did you really say you miss hanging out with me?’ Tamara asked.
Janine nodded. ‘Are you really sorry for hurting my feelings?’
‘Yeah,’ Tamara said. ‘Do you want to come over after school?’
I couldn’t help grinning. The ‘good report’ had worked! I decided that my short-lived reign as go-between queen was over. I would much rather be the peacemaker princess.
Written by Melanie Scherencel Bockmann
1 thought on “Go-between Queen”
I love this story! Thanks for sharing.