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Head Over Heels
an SAT/ACT vocabulary novel

February 11: Day Before Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

Nikki just called and woke me up. I was in that deeply relaxed state of half-sleep that comes right after you set your book down but before you’re fully conked out. I looked at the clock—12:47.

Nikki was pretty delirious herself—but in a more energetic way. She was rushing her fragmented thoughts and giving me the events all out of order. The conclusion, which came first, went something like this: “I’m sick of it. This is it. I’ve had enough. I’m through.”

“Through with what?” I responded, blinking awake.

“With him. He’s such an egomaniac. He thinks he’s so much better than everyone else . . . This whole time, I thought things were getting better, and I had no clue. I feel like such an idiot! Fran, I’m so sorry for not trusting you. You were totally right about him.”

“Nikki. Stop. Rewind. Explain.”

“I asked Luke to the dance. At first he kinda laughed and said he’d never been to a dance in his life. So I said yeah they were stupid and we didn’t have to go. We could just hang out that night. That’s when he said that he was having a visitor. And I was like, a girlfriend? And he was like, not exactly. And I was like, what does not exactly mean? And he said that they had been going out when he left California, so even though they broke up he wasn’t sure what it would be like when she comes to see him . . .”

I swallowed, trying to process this latest piece of information. Luke had a girlfriend back home? One he still had ties to? So what was he doing asking Nikki out on a date? Hadn’t he already put her through enough? I felt a sudden surge of appreciation for Jeremy. Sweet, dependable Jeremy. There I was getting annoyed all the time at how jealous he got over me. That was a lot better than being a player like Luke!

“Oh, Nikki,” I said. “I’m so sorry.”

“Can you believe it?”

“What a dog,” I said.

“I know, I know! And he even told me her name.”

I cringed. “Do I want to know?”


“Oh, my God. Like Spears? And Murphy?”


“So wait—is he taking her to the dance?”

“That’s what I asked. And he said he hadn’t planned to, that it was up to her. She only has a few days in town, so everything’s up to her. I asked him what he was doing asking me out when he had this ex-girlfriend coming to town, and he said I’d read it all wrong—that our date was just supposed to be a friends thing or something stupid like that. He said it had been a while, and he thought we could “chill” together now without any weirdness.”

“Nikki, I’m so sorry,” I said again. “What’re you gonna do?”

“I don’t know. You know, I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. I’m sick of the whole thing. I’m sorry I woke you up.”

“Don’t worry about it, Nik. I’m totally gonna rail on him tomorrow at our . . .” I caught myself and stopped. I’d never ended up telling her about the tutoring lesson, because how could I after she said he’d moved their date because of it? I’d hoped that by the time I actually went, everything would be fine because they would have had their date, and she wouldn’t have cared anyway. But now was the worst time possible to give her one more reason to cry herself to sleep. “After class, at school,” I finished lamely.

“Thanks Fran, that’s sweet of you. But it’d probably be better if you didn’t. I don’t want him to know he got to me. I’m gonna go now. You go back to sleep. Sorry I woke you up. Bye, Frannie.”

“Bye,” I said.

I hung up, then lay back in bed, staring at the ceiling. Great. Now I was wide awake and more confused about everything than ever.

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