"Forget smelling flowers," Lila said. "A pretty girl like you? Boys will be sending you roses of your own!" Then she wiggled her eyebrows. "The good news is you'll have your own room. Just think, now you'll have privacy. Every sixteen- year- old girl needs that."
"She's not sixteen yet," Ma muttered.
"A few weeks . . ." Lila said, winking.
I looked around at the packed boxes and felt my throat go dry. I already hated the new apartment and Daniel Jones High School. I hadn't felt this bad since Mitzi's moving van pulled away from our street.
But I held my tongue. Getting my own room was the only shining piece of good news in this whole thing. It meant I wouldn't have to share a sofa bed with Ma, who snores and takes my covers. Still, the "pretty" part was ridiculous. I've never been one of the pretty girls. Mitzi's the good- looking one, all curvy like a guitar. I'm tall and skinny. My eyes are wide set and the color of mud. Joey Halper says I look like a toad, presumably now one with a booty. Sometimes he croaks ribbit from his window when he sees me outside and wants to say hello.
"That's right," Ma said. "Your own room. No more lumpy sofa bed." She paused over a bowl with a melted rim. " Maybe now you won't slouch."
Through the window, I could see the empty lot next door and the bowl of milk I had left there that morning. I moved the jade elephant on my chain back and forth nervously. Sometimes the sound of my necklace makes me feel calm.
"What's going to happen to the kittens?" I asked. The mother tabby I'd been feeding near the cellar had been roaming with a low belly for days. She'd grown to the size of a raccoon. The litter would come any day. I thought of what could happen without me: dogs, the cold, rotten kids, even the super with a shovel. He's an idiot that way.
"Cats are wild at heart, mi amor. They figure out how to survive." Lila came to the window and closed her hand around my cold fingers. "Now, give me a hug. Good things are waiting for you, Piddy. I promise.
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.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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