"Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass."
A kid named Vanesa tells me this in the morning before school. She springs out with no warning and blocks my way, her textbook held at her chest like a shield. She's tall like me and caramel. I've seen her in the lunchroom, I think. Or maybe just in the halls. It's hard to remember.
Then, just like that, Vanesa disappears into the swell of bodies all around.
Wait, I want to tell her as she's swallowed up. Who is Yaqui Delgado?But instead, I stand there blinking as kids jostle for the doors. The bell has rung, but I'm not sure if it's only the warning or if I'm late for first period. Not that it matters. I've been at this school for five weeks, and Mr. Fink hasn't remembered to take attendance once. A girl near his desk just sort of scans the room and marks who's out.
"Move, idiot!" somebody grunts, and I follow the crowd inside.
It's Darlene Jackson who explains the trouble I'm really in. She's a student aide in the guidance office, and she knows all about Yaqui Delgado. "She was suspended last year for fighting." We're in the lunchroom, so Darlene has to shout for me to hear.
"Twice." I've only known Darlene a few weeks, but already I can see she loves drama, especially if she has a front- row seat and it's someone else's catastrophe. Her mother is one of those nosy PTA types, too, so Darlene always seems to know whose parents are getting divorced, who failed last semester, or what teacher will be fired at the end of the year. Don't ask me how, but that little spy even knew that our science teacher's husband had dumped her. Before Ms. O' Donnell got past her swollen eyes to teach us about Newton's laws last week, the whole class knew her love life was in shambles.
Darlene pushes up her glasses and tells me the whole rumor: " Yaqui Delgado hates you. She says you're stuck- up for somebody who just showed up out of nowhere. Oh! And she wants to know who the hell you think you are, shaking your ass the way you do." Darlene lowers her voice. "She even called you a skank .Sorry."
"I shake my ass?"
Darlene studies her egg- salad sandwich for a second.
Interesting. I've only had an ass for about six months, and now it seems it has a mind of its own. If only my friend Mitzi were here to see this! Last year in ninth grade at my old school, I was a late bloomer. Planchadita ironed out and hipless nothing at all like Mitzi, who got her curves in fifth grade.
It was Ma who first noticed my body changing, but she wasn't exactly tactful about my getting cuerpo. "Put on a bra already, Piddy," she said after she noticed a man on the bus gawking at my chest one day. "You can't go around with two loose onions in your shirt for all the boys to stare at," she snapped, like it was my fault that man had helped himself to the show.
Lila that's Ma's best friend in the whole world is the one who took me shopping for lacy bras the next day.
"Be proud, mi vida," Lila whispered to me in the bra section of the store as I stared, shocked, at all the red lace and bows. "And keep your shoulders back."
This ass shaking is probably Lila's fault, too, now that I think about it. It's all the dancing we do. She's been teaching me to merengue the way they do in her favorite clubs. Right before school started, she introduced me to her collection of old Héctor Lavoe records. We've listened to them so much that I've got the tunes stuck in my head.
"Move your feet small, like you're on a brick," she said when we danced across her apartment. "But the hips? Shake them big, mami." She gave her bottom a good one- two to show me. "Así."
Excerpted from Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina. Copyright © 2013 by Meg Medina. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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