->Hey people. I know I had a story on here and I deleted it after three chapters. And I know people read it and liked it and probably hoped I'd update it again. Yeah, well, sorry, it got to be a bit much with all the things I had going on at the time. WELL THERE'S GOOD NEWS. This story is actually done already. I'm just going to post little bits of it at a time and then work on something else. I'm not going to post anything unless it's already done. This way I won't have to rush through writing and trying to keep people satisfied. Oh, and this is actually kind of a true story. Okay, it's totally a true story... things are changed and all that fun stuff, but let's just say this really was my reality for a little while... and it still kind of is. Maybe I'll answer specific questions if people ask. So, yeah, enjoy!

Chapter One
I could be at Dunkin' Donuts right now. I could be wearing one of those really neat visors and a pinstriped shirt. I could be standing behind a polished counter—coffee pot in one hand, nothing in the other—saying, "How can I help you?" to the customer next in line, just like I practiced in the mirror.

But I'm not.

Instead of standing in the air conditioned, sanitary, clean Dunkin' Donuts facility, I'm sitting in a log cabin in the woods. It is dreadfully hot—and I am wearing wear more clothing than is considered normal for a humid July morning. Instead of a visor, I'm wearing a day cap. Instead of a pinstriped shirt, I'm wearing a floral-print dress. And under the dress I'm wearing a tank top, kerchief, and three petticoats. There are also the knee-high wool socks and black boots to remember.

I will never buy another Dunkin' Donut for the rest of my life. I passed their building on my way home from school every afternoon, and they always had their "Help Needed" sign in the front window. With each passing day, I worked up the courage to walk in and offer my services. When I finally decided, today's the day, I saw a new recruit—in the aforementioned uniform—on a ladder, taking down the sign.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to hit someone. I wanted to casually walk by and knock the ladder over, sending the newly-hired girl flying to her death. I wanted to knock on the door of the Dunkin' Donuts, point out the dead girl to the manager and say, "sir, I know this is a tragedy, but business must go on. I'll take her place starting today, to save you trouble."

Instead, I bought a chocolate-frosted doughnut with sprinkles and ate it in three bites.

"Hey, Jodie, it's your turn."

I'm disrupted from my thoughts. "What?" I ask stupidly. Then I remember where I am. I see the visitors looking at me curiously. "Sorry," I whisper to Amy before clearing my throat. "You're now standing in the foyer of the home belonging to Mr. Smith in the 1750s. He was a well-respected businessman, the manager of this facility in fact, so his home is a little bigger than many others on the property."

"This is bigger?" a snotty teenage girl asks me while wrinkling her nose. "My bedroom is larger than this shack!"

I fake a laugh, all the while jealous of her spaghetti strap tank top. "Yes, well, back in the 1750s, things were different. This home is a luxury."

"Aren't you hot?" her mother, I presume, asks Amy and I.

We nod anxiously. "Uh, yeah," I admit. I hate it when they ask that. Can't they see we're dying?

"Have a nice day," Amy calls as they exit the building.

They barely mutter a good bye.

"What were you thinking about?" Amy asks. "You totally spaced out for, like, ten minutes."

I smile sheepishly. "Sorry," I sigh. "I was thinking about all the other jobs I could have taken instead of resorting to this one."

"Oh come on," she smiles, "you know being a tour guide at this historic park is better than working at a coffee shop."

"No," I insist, "no." I debate telling her my tragic Dunkin' Donuts reverie about killing their new hired help, but figure it wouldn't give her a good impression of me. She might fear for her life next time we show the visitors the historic tools.

"You'll get used to it in time," she tells me. "But you're getting paid," she says. "Surely that's a plus."

"Wait," I say, a horrified expression growing on my face. "You don't get paid?"

"I wish!" she exclaims, confirming my nightmare. "I'm a volunteer!"

I look at the cheery girl next to me and wonder what I have done to deserve such a punishment. She voluntarily comes here every weekend? I ask myself miserably. Yes, I answer my own question internally, thus the word "volunteer."

There is an awkward silence that follows, causing me to pick up the fabric scraps from my basket and attempt to finish my quilt. It's busy work, strictly, but at the moment, it's distraction work. I'm trying to distract myself from the obvious: Amy is some sort of deranged, misguided high school freshman who chooses to come to this hell hole.

Honestly, though, Norwood National Historic Center isn't really that bad. In fact, before I worked here, I used to visit quite often and just walk around the park. There's a decent-sized lake and many trails through the forest. When it's a nice day, it's such a pleasant place to visit.

But that's it. It's pleasant to v-i-s-i-t. On a nice day, it is not so pleasant to be on the opposite side of the spectrum. It's mandatory that we wear the costumes when we're giving tours. The fashions in the 1750s were ridiculous… I feel quite sorry for the women living back then. They had to wear seven petticoats, or cotton underskirts, to help maintain their figures. Thankfully, Leah, our boss, only makes us wear three. And back then, women had to wear long, modest, cotton dresses that are lined and heavy and downright impractical for summer use. And I would know.

"So where do you go to school?" Amy asks. I almost stab myself with the needle.

"Norwood High," I manage to sputter.

"Really?" she asks, excitement growing evident in her tone. I flinch, preparing myself for what I know is sure to follow. "Me too!"

I fake a smile. "You're going to be a freshman, right?" I ask, knowing the answer but taking the opportunity to let her know how much older I am than her. Maybe she'll stop being such a pest.

"Yep," she nods. "And you're going to be a junior, no?"

I silently curse. She already knows. I nod, wondering why she isn't intimidated by my upperclassman status. All of the other freshmen hide whenever a group of older students walk past. Last year, one managed to squeeze himself into his locker while pitifully crying, "Please don't hurt me!" when Bo Anderson and his crowd walked past. Actually, I hardly blame the kid. Bo is the type who would beat on freshmen.

"I've read all about you online," she says, scaring me so much that I stop quilting.

"What?" I breathe, wondering what on earth she's talking about.

"Oh, you know," she giggles in that annoying way only underclassmen can. "There's the school paper online, first of all, and I've read about your track and field wins," she says, making it seem like the greatest accomplishment one could make. "And," she presses on, ignoring the fact that I was about to speak, "there's Laurie LaRue's website to check on, of course."

Of course. I cringed, wondering what Laurie wrote about me on her website. She had a list of everyone she knew… and comments about each of them. It was cruel, petty, and yet, everyone knew it was there and everyone visited it. She was so flooded with hits that she started getting Google ads put on, causing her to earn money with each click to her site. It was lower than low. I'd been curious what she wrote about everyone, but I didn't want to give her another hit on her counter.

"What did...?" I faltered, and then regained composure. "What did Laurie write… about me?"

"Oh, not really anything good, you know," she said nonchalantly, worrying me even more. "Just that you're too skinny for your own good and that you run really fast and that your grades are outstanding and that you're very outspoken."

"That's all?" I asked, dumbfounded.

"That's all," she insisted.

I was shocked. Surely the Laurie I knew, the one who was my best friend in middle school and who changed over the summer, casting me away like last season's swimsuit, surely that Laurie had worse things to say about me. Surely she wouldn't joke about my weight like she used to… Jodie, you're freaking anorexic… eat a damn cookie, will you?

Maybe Laurie wasn't as horrid as she once was. Maybe she felt bad about ignoring me like that… maybe… No. I told myself firmly. This is the social ladder. When it comes to that, Laurie will do anything to maintain her spot on the very top rung. She'll do worse things than what I imagined I'd do to the new Dunkin Donut's girl. She'll never even consider the thought that maybe I was the best friend she ever had at one point. But none of that mattered, anyway. I had a whole new group of friends, ones who loved me and wouldn't forget about me over the summer. Though, if they knew I was working here, maybe they would think twice about my sanity.

"I don't believe I've ever me you before," a voice says, making me look up from the floor.

"Hi Luke," Amy smiles brightly.

"Hi," he mutters incoherently.

"I take it you're Luke, then?" I ask stupidly. I silently wish he's not another volunteer. I've decided, by this point, that anyone who would want to come here is a freak and needs to be avoided.

"Yeah," he says, "and your name's Jodie, right?"


"Are you a volunteer?" he asks.

"No," I say quickly. "I get paid for this torture!"

"It's hardly torture," he says. "I've been getting paid since I was fourteen. I love it here." He sits down at the table across from me, looking at something over my shoulder. I turn around and see that it's a water pitcher.

"I suppose it takes some getting used to," I admit, all the while relieved he's not a freak who would want to spend all his time here. Maybe I'll make a new friend who will save me from listening to Amy all day.

"See! That's what I've been saying!" Amy adds.

"I guess she's right," Luke says. "Not that you're ever right about anything else," he adds, glaring at Amy.

She rolls her eyes.

I say nothing, but I pick up my quilting and attempt to sew another star onto the base fabric. "So, Luke," I finally say, "what do you do around here?"

"I'm a carpenter," he says, holding up a wooden iron.

"Wouldn't that burn?" I ask stupidly, looking at the useless object.

"This is only the mold," he explains patiently. "You would put this in sand and pour iron on it."

"Oh," I nod, showing that I understand. The technical side of the village doesn't really appeal to me as much as the romantic side does. I can tell you all about the families and their homes, but the carpentry and blacksmith trades are baffling to me.

"Well, I just came by to introduce myself," he says, rising from his seat.

"Don't go!" Amy says quickly. I feel embarrassed for her.

"Leah will be looking for me. I can't skip out on a days work again," he says.

"See you later," I call.

"Bye," he walks back toward his shop and I look at Amy who's gazing after him out the window.

"He seems nice," I bait, trying to get her to admit she likes him or something.

"What? Oh, yeah, Luke's totally cool."

I smirk.

"Promise you won't tell anyone?" she asks quickly. I nod. "I have a huge crush on him."

I KNEW IT! I wanted to point and laugh, but instead I smile sympathetically.

I want to say that she doesn't have a chance… that she's a freshman and he's a junior… that he won't even consider it. But I refrain.

"He's so wonderful…" she sighs, looking dreamily out the window.

I shake my head and look back at my quilt. It looks like crap. I decide it's time to go eat lunch.