The morning after the Survival challenge started with dancing.
Rhythmical thumps and shallow breaths sounded in time to classical music.
I sat up on my elbows and saw Jules doing ballet in the early morning light. She moved in perfect time to the music and the blanket draped across her shoulders shimmied as she twirled.
I crawled out of bed, my blanket wrapped around me tightly, and perched on the edge of Jules’s bunk-bed, watching in awe as she danced. It was almost like old times — me staring in amazement as she spun and leaped across the floor. The only thing different was that before Venus came along, Jules would try to get me to dance with her.
As Jules pirouetted in front of me, her “cape,” the rainbow-striped blanket, fell off her shoulders.
I picked it up off the floor and handed it to her when she came out of her spin. We smiled at each other.
I worked up enough courage to ask her about what had happened two days ago.
“Jules?” I began.
She looked at me, still smiling. “Yeah, Tori?”
“Well, two days ago, I saw you sitting outside. You were looking at a picture of us. It was from that day in the park when you gave me my best friend necklace.” I tried to keep emotion out of my voice, but soon gave up. I finally asked her what had been on my mind since the day this mess had started — the day Jules showed Venus our secret handshake. It had all gone down hill from that day. “Why?” Tears started to trickle down my cheeks. “As soon as Venus came to our school, it was like you had forgotten about me. You acted like you were her best friend; you wouldn’t talk to me. One day we were Best-Friends-for-Life-No-Matter-What, and then the next, you pretended that I didn’t exist! And I don’t know why!”
I thought I saw a tear form in the corner of Jules’s eye, but it could have just been the rising sun. Her lip trembled. It was like she had just realized how horrible and unfair she had been to me. “Tori, I –“
“Would someone please turn that hideous classical music off!” Venus whined from above us, interrupting Jules.
Jules turned away from me and switched off her radio. Our almost one-sided conversation was over.
Swiping at my eyes with my blanket, I walked over to Team Tori’s bunk-beds to wake Charlotte.
“Charlotte, get up.”
“Ermgh,” she protested.
I shook her. “Come on, Charlotte! Get up! Today’s the Art challenge.”
When both teams were ready, we went out to where the Art challenge was being held.
Ashley and Sianne seemed to be dressed up: Ashley as a dancer and Sianne, with her beret, an artist. If Teresa was pretending along with them, my guess was that she was a writer — she looked pretty normal.
“You have sixty minutes to create a piece of art — writing, drawing, painting, blah, blah, blah, along those line.” Sianne glared at me as she spoke; she hadn’t forgotten that I’d made fun of her outfit during the Academics challenge. “I’ll start giving you time warnings at thirty minutes. Go!”
We all rushed off to different stations in the room. Charlotte went to a writing nook, Venus and I to a table of art supplies. Jules started stretching in a large, empty space of floor that served as a stage.
I set a canvas up on an easel, wondering what to draw. I liked horse and art, so why not draw a horse? I decided to draw an Arabian.
I picked up a pencil and began to sketch.
~ 30 minutes later ~
Sianne had just announced that we had half an hour left. I’d finally finished drawing the horse; now all I needed was to paint it, and I’d be done! I got some brown paint on a brush and started to add to color to my drawing.
I glanced over to see what Venus was doing. She was working in a drawing pad and had colored pencils, crayons, and markers spread out around her.
“Fifteen minutes!” Sianne called. I turned away from Venus and got back to work.
Soon we were out of time. Luckily, I had finished my horse — I thought it was a good drawing. Hopefully Teresa, Ashley and Sianne would think the same.
“Please bring your art up to the judges: us!” Sianne said.
Jules went first. She was doing a ballet routine she had made up. (The BFF Wars considered dance an art, not a sport, or else Jules would have danced during the Sports challenges.)
The song Counting Stars swelled around the room, and Jules began to dance.
Jules finished her routine and was met by a thunderous applause. Her dancing, as always, had been spectacular.
Charlotte presented her work to the judges next.
“This is the start of a story,” she said, pushing a couple of papers toward them.
Teresa, Ashley and Sianne crowded together and started to read.
I squeezed Charlotte’s arm as we waited. What would the judges think of her writing?
“This is amazing!” Teresa exclaimed.
“Totally!” Sianne and Ashley agreed.
Charlotte smiled at me.
Venus showed the judges her art.
“This is what I’ve been working on,” she said.
The judges — Sianne and Ashley, at least — loved her drawing.
“Woah!” Ashley said. “This is fabulous!”
“I’d totally wear that!” Sianne gushed.
Venus beamed at their praise.
Finally it was my turn to show the judges what I had made. I suddenly didn’t feel like sharing my art with them — what if they didn’t like it?
But I had to present my drawing. It was the only way Team Tori could win!
I laid my drawing on the table in front of the judges.
“Wow, Tori, this is amazing!” Teresa praised. “Just, wow . . .” She trailed off.
Ashley and Sianne stared at the paper in silence.
I fidgeted nervously. They didn’t like it! How could they drool over an outfit with shoes that didn’t match the dress, but not like my drawing? I wanted to cry.
I grabbed my drawing and slunk back to Charlotte.
Two out three judges didn’t like my art. All of the judges liked Jules’s dance and Charlotte’s writing. Sianne and Ashley liked Venus’s sketch, but Teresa was the only one who liked my art. Team Jules was going to win again!
“The winner of the Art challenge is . . .” Ashley paused, making us wait. “. . . Team Jules!”
Team Jules: 3
Team Tori: 2