Winners and Losers

Elizabeth is surprised when she wins the Science Achievement Award. What happens later at lunch ruins everything.
Elizabeth is caught off-guard when her name is announced during the awards assembly.

“And the winner of the Science Achievement Award is Elizabeth Pontrello!” I was shocked. My jaw dropped open and stayed there. Everyone was clapping and looking at me. Luckily, Dr. Schankz, the principal, leaned into the microphone and added, “Elizabeth, come on up here and accept your award.” Otherwise, I was sure I’d still be sitting there in the bleachers with the applause ringing in my ears.

I was careful to shake Dr. S’s hand with my right hand and take the plaque with my left. Someone made me stop to pose for a photo. Augh. I hated how I looked in pictures. At least I’m wearing my new low-rise jeans from Old Navy, I thought, as I tried to recover from the camera’s blinding flash and make my way back to my seat.

Marty poked me with his elbow and grinned when I sat back down next to him, heart pounding. “That was embarrassing,” I whispered and tried to figure out what to do with the shiny plaque in my lap.

Just then, Marty’s stomach growled loud enough for everyone to hear, and giggles spread through the stands. Marty pointed to his watch. Ten minutes until lunch. “Just in time!”

Since it was Friday, we got to sit wherever we wanted in the cafeteria. Marty and I were the only ones at our table, so far. Marty had pizza sauce on the side of his face, and I was just about to give him the signal when Joey – who’s only, like, the most popular boy in school – walked by and said, “Hey, look! Pizza Face is sitting with his brainiac girlfriend!”

Everybody looked up. Joey looked around and made kissy noises all the way to his seat. There was so much laughing and commotion that the principal had to turn the lights out to quiet everyone down. Only I wasn’t laughing, and neither was Marty. I looked at the clock, but I couldn’t look at Marty. Three minutes until recess. Sigh.