Maybe now I'm stuck on swivel. Who knows? When Lila walks down the street, men's eyes get glued to her junk. Even bus drivers slow down to see. Ma says she's a human traffic hazard.
Darlene finishes nibbling down to her crusts and tosses them inside her paper lunch bag.
"Maybe you could practice walking normal," she suggests with a shrug. "You know, a little less wiggly. Like me."
I try not to choke. Darlene does not walk normal. She leans forward as if she's being led by her nose with an invisible rope. I'd say she scurries.
"I think I walk just fine," I tell her.
"Suit yourself, then," she says. "All I know is that Yaqui Delgado is gonna crush you." She demonstrates by balling up her lunch bag and casting a knowing glance at the table across the lunchroom. That's where the Latin kids sit.
The first day I got here, I stood with my tray, just sizing up the neighborhood. The Asian kids were clustered near the middle. The black kids had a bunch of tables to them-selves. I spotted the Latin zone right away, but I didn't know a single one of them from any of my classes. As I got closer, a few of the guys grinned and elbowed each other, but none of the girls looked like they were going to make room. In fact, it was downright chilly how they stared at me. Darlene was the one who waved me over.
So here I am at the corner table near the trash cans the worst real estate in the cafeteria. Since we moved, I've had to start over. Our table is all the kids from our fourth- period science class, like Sally Ngyuen and Rob Allen. They're both in the tenth- grade physics class with Darlene and me, which I'm finding out is an international breeding ground for outcasts here at Daniel Jones High School.
Right now Rob is looking scared even for him. He's not an ugly guy, but he's skinny and pale. The knot in his neck is bobbing, and the rims of his eyes look as pink as a hamster's. He's crazy smart, which I like, though he might be more popular if his brain came in a more attractive package. He can solve a physics problem even faster than I can, but what does that get him around here? Not a single friend that I can see and I would know. His locker is next to mine.
"Who's going to crush you?" His voice cracks a little as he stares at the balled- up paper bag.
"No one," I say.
"Mind your own business, Rob," Darlene snaps. She turns back to me and rolls her eyes. Even in a group of geeks, there's a pecking order, and Darlene's on top. Rob glares at her, but he shuts up.
"I don't even know Yaqui Delgado, Darlene," I tell her with a shrug. "I'm not worried."
"Well, she knows you. And she hates your guts. You're new here, Piddy, so take my word for it. You're as good as dead. These Latin girls mean business. If I were you, I'd stay home tomorrow."
I stop chewing and give her a look.
"In case you haven't noticed, I'm a Latin girl, too, Darlene."
Darlene rolls her eyes again like I'm the stupid one. White- skinned. No accent. Good in school. I'm not her idea of a Latina at all. I could point out that Cameron Diaz is Latina, too, but why bother? It won't change Darlene's mind.
"Yeah? Then why aren't you sitting with them?" she asks.
The color rises in my cheeks as my eyes flit across the room. It's because those girls are a rougher bunch nothing at all like Mitzi and me. Still, I won't give Darlene the satisfaction of knowing that. It's bad enough when Coach Malone read out my last name in PE and the Guatemalan girls in back gave me weird looks, even though they should know better. "Yon Spanish?" they asked. I ignored them.
"My last name is Sanchez, remember?" I finally say to Darlene. "My mother is from Cuba, and my dad is from the Dominican Republic. I'm just as Latin as they are."
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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