Chapter 1

"Alright, class, we're going to do a class assignment." Groans. "I have 12 potatoes. Let me explain. Girls, you will come and get a potato. Boys, come and draw a name from the bowl, and PLEASE don't look at them. When you're done, go stand next to the person whose name you drew." She waited till we were ready. "You will have 1 month. Take care of your potato like it's a child while pretending you two are married. Document what you do everyday. You have to be together every day, though, because you ARE married. At the end of the month, you will write me an essay on what you did. Does everyone understand?" Mrs. Carmichael glared at us. "And no funny business, you hear?" More groans.

"Mrs. Carmichael?" I said as I walked towards her desk. "I have a potato baby, but no 'husband.'"

"Well, Adelaide, Chase is absent today. You'll have to be with him. Call him tonight and explain everything, okay?" Mrs. Carmichael said.

"Yeah, sure," I said very faintly. I have had a crush on Chase (my best friend's brother) since 4th grade. Bearing in mind that now I'm in 10th grade. He's in 12th. We got to choose our classes, so we got this one together. Well, I mean, you can't blame me for only choosing it because I saw his name on the list, can you?

Mrs. Carmichael wrote me a pass to go to the office to call Chase. "Do you need his number?" she asked.

"No. I've got it memorized." She looked at me strangely. "He's my best friend's brother," I added quickly. She looked relieved.

I walked towards the office. 'Why, why, why, why, WHY???' I thought to myself as I walked down the hallway. 'I've waited so long to finally be forced to be around him, but not THIS!!!!!! I DON'T want to marry him for goodness sakes!' Slowly I turned towards the office and walked in.

I showed the secretary, Mrs. Rainer, my pass. She sort of half smiled, half glared at me. I picked up the phone and dialed Chase's number. Ring… ring… ring… Jeez! It won't end!

Finally someone picked up. "Hello?" they croaked. I sucked in my breath. It's him!

"Hi, Chase. It's Adelaide. I-"

"Amy isn't here. She's at school… you should know that by now."

"No, Chase. I got a pass from Mrs. Carmichael to come call you. We're partners for the egg baby project." Oh my god, oh my god… then HE sucked in HIS breath. "Well… um… yeah…"

"So… um… yeah… I gotta go… chicken soup…" he stammered.

"Oh, yeah, sorry to bother you when you're sick and all. Um… see you later."

"Yeah. Bye." Click. I let my breath out. I never realized that I was holding it.

"Is that all?" Mrs. Rainer asked. She gave me another of her half smile, half glare things again.

"Yeah…" I mumbled as I raced out of the office.

Chapter 2

I walked very swiftly back to class. Mrs. Carmichael had left the room to answer a phone call. I heard some kids talking about the project. "I'm just gonna get a divorced and give Tracey cust-o-dy," I heard a kid named Marco say. He has a southern drawl. Tracey heard him.

"Ex-SCUSE me? You can NOT just dump OUR kid onto me! I won't sign the papers." Tracey has been in live with Marco since PRE-SCHOOL. Well, actually, before pre-school, because she saw him in the sandbox at the park, where he was building a tower out of sand and then crushing it with his shovel. She said, 'I like you,' giggled, and gave him a hug. Then, he ran away screaming to his mother. She wasn't very happy. I don't know why she likes him. He's really idiotic… unintentionally. Anyways…

"Yes I ca-an. You- uh… I mean… you're right." He slung his arm around her shoulder as Mrs. C walked in. Tracey didn't know, though, and beamed. I cleared my throat, causing her to turn and see Mrs. C… not a moment too soon. She hung her head and nudged Marco away.

"Children, may I remind you that this is an ASSIGNMENT, not to be taken literally! Please, no… unsuitable… things. Do NOT do anything against school conduct," Mrs. C. said. She turned to glare at Kandy, one of the biggest rule-breaker in the whole school, then at Jack, another. They were paired off together. Most of the class snickered.

"This is no laughing matter," Mrs. C. said, her voice rising. "This is an easy A, a chance for some of you," (she glared at Marco as she said this) "to pull your grade up. Please, take it seriously. I expect each and every on of you to spend 1 hour every day with your partner. Even if they're sick," she glanced at me, "or if you can't stand them. I have printed a list of the requirements and directions to do this. At the end, you will type a 1-page, size 12 font, Times New Roman, double-spaced paper written in paragraph form on the results of this assignment. That is all. Class dismissed." The bell rang right after she said 'missed'. Weird.

Some people shivered, others looked on in awe, just as they did every other day. I concentrated on breathing as I left the room. I could not believe my luck! Bad luck, but still, luck! I went to my locker and opened the door. There was a note from Amy.

Adelaide:

Imagine, you getting Chase for your partner! That's a riot. I got HARRY!!! I'm so HAPPY!!! Except, you know, I'll be spending 30 hours with him, but still… After all, I've liked him since 6th grade! Anyways, you'll have to come over after school, and Harry'll be too. God, I can barely breathe! Imagine him, in my house, in my ROOM!!! But I won't do anything 'against conduct'. Love ya!

Amy

I quickly scribbled back:

Amy:

Doesn't it strike you as odd that you got your crush, I got mine, Tracey got hers, and Jack got his? Do you think Mrs. C. is psychic? It's WEIRD!!! And, by the way, I will be spending 30 hours with CHASE, and I can barely breathe around him, let alone talk or name and dress a potato that'll be our KID!!! See ya later,

Adelaide

Suddenly, the bell rang. I raced to my next class. The next few hours passed in a haze, and finally school ended. I got on my bus and headed home.

My mom wasn't there. As usual. I scribbled a note and put it on the fridge.

Mom:

I'll be at Amy's doing a report. I had a few carrot sticks.

Adelaide

Not that she'd care what I ate or where I was. She just doesn't want me to run off and have to hire detectives and call police to find me. It would be 'irresponsible'. Not that she isn't already. I walked over to Amy (and Chase's) house. Standing on the porch, I debated with myself as Harry walked up behind me.

Chapter 3

"Hey, Hippie Lady! Wuz up?" I jumped when Harry said those words. See, there's a tiny detail I left out. I never- well, almost never- match. I wear ties and scarves, skirts past my ankles, SAVE THE ANIMALS tee shirts, and two different shoes and socks. One day I wore a purple converse all-star with darker purple flowers on it with a yellow soccer sock on one foot and a slip-on Earth Shoe with a blue soccer sock. Yeah. There's not much to do with a dress, except the shoe-sock thing, and accessorize. Today, I had on a violet, cream, and coral crinkled skirt with a yellow WE ARE NOT NUGGETS tee, a rainbow sweater, a lime green airtight container and piece of mirror on a necklace, and a lot of mood rings.

"Hey, Harry. Look that way," I said as I pointed towards the sky. "Enjoying yourself?" I said insolently, though I doubt he noticed.

"Oh, yeah, though I'm… well, nevermind," he said, smiling hugely. "Why are you here?"

"Well, Chase is my partner for the assignment. And now, if you don't mind, we kinda have to start."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." He reached out and touched the doorbell. Suddenly, It opened.

Chapter 4

"Hey, Adelaide, Harry, come on in," Chase said. "AMY! TIME TO-" Amy rushed downstairs from her bedroom.

"Hey, Harry," she said, smiling like a fool. She had her inhaler in her hand. I almost laughed, except that, you know, I could barely breathe.

Odd… "Chase, you don't sound sick anymore," I said. He smiled.

"Wanna know why?" I nodded. He leaned in towards me, put his hands on my shoulders, and in my ear whispered, "I faked it. In P.E. we had to run the mile. I skipped." He leaned away and smiled. Amy gaze was fixated on Harry, but he was glaring at Chase and me. I raised my eyebrow, and he looked away, towards Amy. He raised his eyebrow at her, but she paid no attention.

"Um… let's go… um… work?" I suggested. Amy nodded, still staring at Harry, Chase smiled, and Harry suddenly developed a sullen look.

"Yeah. We have a lot of work to do. We have to deco- I mean, dress and name the pota- I mean, baby. And we have to work out when we'll see each other," Chase instructed. Amy nodded, still staring, Harry looked even more sullen, and we all walked upstairs. Amy and Harry went to Amy's room, and Chase and I went to his.

Chapter 5

"So… uh… is it a boy or a girl?" Chase asked.

"Well… I don't know, so we could… uh… think up two lists, one of boys and one of girls, and pick our favorite from each, then overall." I said. I took my sweater off and dropped it on the bed, then messed with my hair- because I was nervous. It got a little… messed up.

"Yeah, that's a great idea! You're really good at this, you know." He smiled at me.

"Yeah, well, I write a lot of stories." We each came up with 5 boys names and 5 girls. They were:

Girls:Boys:

Sandi1) Scott

Andi2) Aaron

Elizabeth (Liz) 3) Joe

Chloe4) Danny

Cali5) Iggy

Jody6) Jake

Amy7) Jesse

Nell8) Parker

Sara9) Wez

Emily 10) Yoni

"Hmm… What're your favorites?" I asked Chase.

"I like… Chloe and Scott. You?

"Well… I'm torn between Scott, Jake, and Chloe." I said.

"I kinda like Scott better."

"Yeah… Scott is better… for a potato," I said jokingly.

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah, although, Chase would fit him much better."

"Oh. You did not. You did not… you're gonna get it!" I stuck my tongue out at him. He threw a pillow at my head. I threw it back. Pretty soon, we were on the floor, laughing. Amy and Harry came in to see what was wrong.

Chapter 6

"OH MY GOD!!! Adelaide, can I talk to you a sec? Alone?" Amy practically screamed. I nodded, helpless with laughter. She led me to her room. Harry and Chase stayed in his. "What was going on? You'd better tell me the truth, Adelaide Ceridwen Smith." She glared at me.

"Okay! We were trying to come up with a name and a gender, and I teased that the perfect name for a potato was Chase. He pretended to be insulted, and it escalated into a pillow fight war. Honest!" I added after she scowled at me. "You can even ask him."

"Well, I just might. What'd you choose, anyhow? We picked Harold. Harry wanted Petunia, but I said no. It's not funny!" she added when I started laughing.

"We chose Scott… together. Obviously, it's a boy. I think you'd have been better off with Pe-tu-ni-whatsit." She grimaced at me… again.

"Fine. Anyways… We dressed our baby! See?" She held up something that looked nothing like anything I'd seen before. It was now pink, with a blue bow in the middle holding up two bubble blowers (arms). It was wrapped in a blanket. I started laughing… again. This time Chase and Harry burst in.

"Everything all right?" Chase asked before he erupted in uncontainable laughter.

"Hey, it was all her idea," Harry said, pointing at Amy. She looked like she was a- bout to cry, so I walked over to her. I glared at the guys with a you'd-better-leave-this-room-now-or-else stare, and Chase raised his hands in an I'm-sorry-we're-leaving-now fashion. He grabbed Harry's arm and walked out.

"Amy? Amy, don't cry," I said as the first tear rolled down her cheek. "It's actually really cute! Look, we laughed because it looks more like a Petunia, you know, a girl, then a male Harold. I'm sorry. I don't see why everyone surges in when I laugh! Amy?"

She looked up, then walked over to me and hugged me. "It's okay, Adelaide. I shouldn't have been so huffy."

"Well, at least you're finished that section! I'll go send Harry in."

"Harry," she sighed. I rolled my eyes. She stuck her tongue out at me. I laughed. She laughed. I left. She stayed.

"Harry, Amy needs you," I said, gesturing towards the door. He groaned as he walked out the door. Chase and I laughed. "Anyways… we need to dress our 'baby.'"

"Got it covered," he replied, and smiling, he held out a cloth napkin, safety pin, paint, and paintbrushes.

We got to work quickly. I wrapped the cloth around the potato, Chase pinned it in place, and we painted on eyes, hair, a mouth, and all other facial features with time to spare. 45 minutes, to be more precise. I pulled out a sheet of paper, and Chase pulled out a pen. Together, we documented what we did (with the potato) that day.

"Chase, who's gonna to keep the baby? I'm kinda… well… I'd probably lose him."

"Well," he said, "I will. I've even got a cradle! True, it once belonged to one of Amy's dolls, but still, I have it!" We both laughed.

"Harry, Adelaide, time to go!" Amy and Chase's mother called up to us.

"I'll escort you to the door," Chase said, winking and holding out his arm.

"Why thank you, you're quite the gentleman, if I do say so myself," I said, smiling as I took his arm. We walked down that way.

When we got to the door, Amy was gazing at Harry, Harry glaring at Chase and I, raise eyebrow, turn, raise eyebrow, ignore. We said our good-byes, then departed. I completely forgot about my sweater… and hair.

Chapter 7

"Mom? Mom, I'm home!" I called when I walked in. She wasn't there. Figures. "Probably out getting wasted," I scoffed.

Suddenly, she loomed above me- if that's possible (she's only 1 inch taller than me)- and said, "Where's your sweater?" Her voice sounded muddled.

Now she cares. "I left it a Amy's. It's warm in her house."

"Why's your hair messy?"

"Well, I was bored so I messed with my hair." She squinted down at me, then passed out. "Mom? Mom?" I poured water on her, but she wouldn't wake. I ran to the phone and called the hospital.

"Hello, this is the Ambarch Hospital, how may I help you?" a bored, nasally voice said.

"Um… my mom passed out. She was out drinking. I'm only 15, with a permit, so I can't drive her. My dad doesn't live with me. Can you send an ambulanceto 1928 Ambarch Lane? It's right off of Ambarch Road. My phone number is 555-6983."

"All right. An ambulance will be there immediately." She mumbled indistinctly, then hung up. I decided to call Amy.

Ring... ring… again, the ringing! Click. "Hello, Manfeld residence, Chase speaking. "

"Hey, is Amy there? It's Adelaide."
"No, she's… somewhere… I don't know. Can I help you?"

"Well… I just called to tell her that my mom passed out, and an ambulance will be here to pick her up. I may or may not be in school tomorrow, so I was wondering, if I'm not there, if she could tell our homeroom teacher, Ms. Ursula, that I wasn't there. If I'm not."

"Yeah, sure. Um… you can always stay here tonight… if you want…"

"Oh… uh…"

"Just stay here, Adelaide! I'll drive you once I drop off the kids!"

"Mo-om!" Chase shouted

"What? She needs a place to stay for the night, and I can drop her off."
"Well, you were listening! How many of my conversations do you listen to?"

"Um, I hate to interrupt, but the ambulance is here and I need to help them, so I'll be over in about 15 minutes, okay?"

"Excellent, dear! We'll be waiting!" Click.

"She can be SO annoying. Well, see you… later!"

Yeah… bye." I hung up and ran down the hall and opened the door for the men with the stretcher.

"So… where is she?" one of the men asked.

"Right this way." I led them to the kitchen where she was lying. They lifted her onto the stretcher. "I'll be at my friend's house, 1930 Ambarch Lane. The number is 555-6985."

"Okay. We'll call you if we have any developments." They left. I ran up to my room and packed some clothes for the next day, some pajamas, a hairbrush, toothbrush, and some toothpaste; then I ran out the door and rushed to Amy's. Mrs. Manfeld answered the door.

"Darling! How are you? Oh, I hope your mother will be okay. You're welcome to stay here as long as she's in the hospital."

"Mom. Shut. Up. Please." Amy, of course. "So… I'll show you to your bed." I followed her down the hall and into her room. It was a cot.

"Oh, I hope you like it! It's just with three kids, each with there own room, plus my room, my husband's workshop… no one wanted to share rooms… so we had to break out the cot."

"Mom?" Chase. "I'll sleep on the couch downstairs, or the cot in your room. Adelaide can have my bed."

"NO! I'll be fine. I like cots, anyways. I really don't mind," I said. Chase looked at me with an are-you-crazy-you-like-cots-better-than-beds stare. I replied with an I-dunno-whadda-you-think shrug.

"Alright… I'll go and get the sleeping bag. You should call the hospital and see how your mother is, Adelaide," Mrs. Manfeld said. She left, followed by Chase, who looked at me with an are-you-gonna-be-okay glance. I just looked down. Amy looked at me with a what-the-heck-just-happened-here glare. I turned and left the room towards the phone.

5…5…5…4…3…0…6…ring…ring… "Hello, Ambarch Hospital, how may I help you?" a cheery voice sang out. Must be a candy striper. Whatever.

"Yeah, hi… my mom, Eleanor Smith, is in the hospital right now. She was brought in about 30 minutes ago…probably for a drinking or drug overdose. May I talk to the doctor in charge of her care, please?"

"Of course. Hang on…" Then, muffled, came, "Paging Doctor Parker. Doctor Parker, you have a call on line one."

"Hello?"

"Hi, this is Adelaide Smith, Eleanor Smith's daughter. I was wondering how she was doing and exactly what happened to her."

"Oh… she has traces of alcohol in her blood, and it appears she had been smoking marijuana. She had had too much, so she fainted. She appears to be in a coma. There is also damage to the identification section of her brain. The effects could be as simple as short-term memory loss to amnesia. Could you maybe come by tomorrow, after your school lets out, to talk to her? I think that the presence of a loved one helps an ill member either get well or live a little longer." Yeah. I'm a loved one.

"Sure… What room is she in?"

"Floor 3, room 326."

"Thanks… I really appreciate this. Bye." Click. I hate clicks. They annoy me so…

"So… how is she?" I turned around, and leaning against the doorframe was Chase, staring at me, cradling and clutching the phone.

"Well… she could end up with amnesia or short-term memory loss. I…" Chase walked over to me and wrapped his arms around my waist.

"She'll be okay," he said. "She's gonna be okay." I was still holding the phone. He looked at me, leaned forward, and kissed me.

"Oh. My. GOSH!!!!!!!!!!! I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!!!!!!!! ADELAIDE? HOW COULD YOU?" Amy asked as she burst in the room. She erupted in tears.