Third Marking Period Summary

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One morning, Melinda misses the bus. Her mom tells her to walk to school. On the way, Melinda stops at a bakery to buy a doughnut. She runs into IT and bolts like a rabbit.

Melinda decides to skip school. She wanders around town, takes the bus to the mall, and ends up just waiting for school to get out so she will be safe to go home. By the end of the day, Melinda decides skipping school is not much different from going.

In English, Melinda’s class is reading The Scarlet Letter. Melinda relates to Hester, the main character in the book, who has to wear an A for “adultery” on her chest. Melinda thinks she should wear a letter too: S for “silent” or “stupid” or “shame.” Like the rest of the class, Melinda gets impatient with the teacher’s search for symbolism in the story. Rachel, Melinda’s ex-best-friend, speaks up and says she does not believe the symbolism. In response, the teacher assigns everyone an essay for homework. Melinda reflects that speaking up always results in punishment.

One day at lunch, Heather takes Melinda to a corner of the cafeteria, away from the Marthas, and delivers a break-up speech: “I think it’s time for us both to admit that we . . . just . . . are . . . very . . . different.” Although Melinda has never been very enthusiastic about Heather, she is desperate to keep her only friend. Heather is unsympathetic. She tells Melinda they cannot eat lunch together anymore.

On Valentine’s Day, Melinda sees a heart-shaped note taped to her locker. She thinks it might be from David Petrakis, but she is afraid to open it. Thrilled with the idea that somebody may actually like her, she draws pictures with David in biology. Later, when Melinda works up the courage to open the note, she finds out it is not from David at all. It is a note from Heather, thanking Melinda for understanding that they cannot be friends anymore. Melinda runs to her broom closet hideout and cries.

Melinda continues skipping school. Soon she is called in for a conference with her parents, the principal, and the guidance counselor. At the meeting, Melinda refuses to speak. She continues to cut class and shrug off work, and eventually, her behavior earns her an in-school suspension. One of the other suspended students is Andy Evans. When the teacher in charge is not looking, Andy blows in Melinda’s ear.

In art class, Melinda is still having trouble with her tree project. Mr. Freeman introduces her to Picasso, and she is amazed. She begins sketching cubist trees. Mr. Freeman tells her she is doing very well in art. He also says, “I think you have a lot to say. I’d like to hear it.”

Melinda begins making more effort in school, studying for tests and observing the other students in the lunchroom. After school, she sneaks into her closet to be alone. One afternoon she falls asleep there and wakes up to the sound of cheerleaders shouting, “Be Aggressive! BE BE Aggressive!” It is late evening, and they are cheering at a basketball game.

Melinda watches the end of the game. When the team wins, she claps and cheers with the other kids. David Petrakis stops to chat with her. He invites her to a party at his house. Melinda lies and says she cannot go. On the way home, she feels sorry that she had to miss the party, but she tells herself that David could have been lying, trying to get her alone. After her bad experience at last summer’s party, she never wants to go to another party.

That night Melinda is sleepless. She looks out the window and relives her traumatic night.

It was Melinda’s first high school party. Rachel had secured them an invitation. Upon arriving, Rachel found people to talk to and left Melinda alone. Melinda walked around feeling like a little kid. In her self-consciousness, she gulped down three beers. Then, worried she would throw up, she went out for some air.

Under the trees, a stunningly handsome senior boy—a boy Melinda now knows as Andy Evans—approached her and told her she was beautiful. He danced with her. He kissed her, and she thought for a moment she would start high school with a boyfriend. “Do you want to?” the boy asked. Melinda, unsure what to say, did not speak.

The next thing Melinda knew, she was on the ground. She said no and drew in her breath to scream, but the boy covered her mouth with his hand. She tried to shout, “No, I don’t want to!” but she could not get the words out. The boy pulled down her shorts and hurt her. Then he got up, zipped up his pants, and smiled.

After that, Melinda found a phone. She knew she needed help, so she called 9-1-1. When someone answered, she was too scared to say what had happened. Someone grabbed the phone and realized what Melinda had done. People shouted that the police were coming. Rachel approached, angry. Somebody slapped Melinda. The lights of police cars approached.

Terrified, Melinda crawled outside and walked home. Her house was empty; her parents were out. She told nobody what had happened to her.

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