Two rival schools plus two dog mascots equals one crazy prank night.
“Paloma!” My name echoes off the lockers and down the nearly empty hallway. My teammate Sadie catches up to me and hooks her arm into mine. “You in for Dog Day Eve?”
“Huh?” I say. English may be my second language, but I’m pretty sure Sadie isn’t speaking it right now, or maybe she’s referring to some American holiday I don’t know about.
“Dog Day Eve,” she repeats, not making any more sense than the first time she said it. “The night before the football game against Valley High.”
“We don’t have a game tomorrow.” Moving to a new country the summer before sophomore year has left my social calendar very light, so I memorized the game and practice schedules after I made the varsity team at Central High School. We’ve already played our rivals, Valley High, and aren’t scheduled to play them again.
“Not futbol,” she corrects me, “American football.”
I suppose I’ll never get used to calling the sport I play soccer and a sport in which the foot is hardly used football.
“Yes, of course, football.” I’m careful to adjust my pronunciation of the last word. “Why does that involve a dog?” The term “pigskin” gave me some confusion the first time I watched a football game until someone told me it referred to the ball, so perhaps there is some kind of dog term in the game as well.
She giggles and arm-in-arm pulls me down the hallway toward her locker.
“It doesn’t. Well, it might this year.” A mischievous grin lights up her face as she looks sideways at me. “The day of the Central/Valley game is called Dog Day. You know, because we’re the huskies and they’re the bulldogs,” she explains because clearly I don’t know. “It’s a tradition the night before the big football game to pull a prank on Valley, and they always pull one on us.”
We stop at her locker and she quickly spins the dial and opens it. School has been out for hours, but after practice I had to come back to my locker for a book. I guess Sadie forgot something, too.
“So this year Megan and Malcolm,” she looks over at me and adds, “he’s the captain of the guys’ team, the soccer team, not football.” I’m from Spain, not stupid, but given my earlier confusion, I forgive her for over-explaining in this case. “Anyway, they decided we’re going to pull the best prank ever on Valley High.”
My eyes widen. “What are you going to do?” That doesn't sound anything like what my friends and I would do for fun back home.
For a moment, I’m lost in a memory from about a month before we moved. I was riding the metro with my friends to the stadium to watch FC Barcelona play. We were munching on strawberry-flavored candy and laughing—I remember lots of laughing, but not much about the match.
“We,” Sadie interrupts my thoughts. Her locker is shut and a black jacket is draped across her arm. “You’re coming, right?”
“I don’t know.” I’m eager for a night out that doesn’t involve a long dinner with my parents. I don’t think my father will give me a ride anywhere tonight, and my mother doesn’t have a license—she didn’t need one when we lived in Barcelona.
“Mac’s got room in her car. We’ll come and get you. Be ready by seven.”
Pranking sounds fun but possibly dangerous, and certainly not an activity my father would approve of. “I’m not sure my parents will let me.”
“Tell them it’s a team thing. Trust me, this is going to be epic. You don’t want to miss it.” I nod hesitantly. She checks her phone. “I gotta run.” Heading down the hallway, she yells over her shoulder, “Make sure to wear black!”
A couple of hours later, I’m in the living room with my parents, all of us anxiously awaiting the arrival of my teammates. My mom sits on the edge of the couch, and my dad stands at the big front window, staring out into the night.
I’m clad in black jeans and my FC Barcelona jersey. To avoid raising my parents’ suspicions, I keep my black hooded sweatshirt on my lap, ready to be zipped over the bright shirt once I leave. On my feet are my indoor soccer shoes, which I hate to wear outside, but they’re the only black shoes I own besides my boots—cleats here in America.
My mother glances at the clock. “They’re late.” It’s 7:05 p.m., but being even a minute late is rude according to her.
“They’ll be here.” I hope.
It’s silent except for the tick-tock of the antique clock my mom brought on her carry-on, not trusting anyone else to transport the family heirloom and relic from pre World War II. The honk of a horn sounds outside.
I hop out of my seat and stand beside my dad to look out the window. A black SUV sits at the curb, and I recognize it as Mac’s mom’s car. “That’s them,” I say to him.
“They’re not coming to the door,” he says like he can’t believe it. “I don’t like this, Paloma.”
Of all my friends back in Spain, I had the strictest parents, but they’ve lightened up slightly since moving me across the world.
“They don’t do that here. Please,” I beg, “just let me go. They’re my teammates. You know them.”
He looks to my mother, who waves her hand and says, “Let her go. I suppose we’ll have to get used to this.”
“You may go,” he relents. “But don’t forget your toque de queda.”
“I won’t forget my curfew,” I say. “Ten o’ clock.”
I run out the front door before he changes his mind. The SUV is packed. Mac, of course, is driving, and Addison Hunter, who has a broken ankle, is in the front passenger seat. Megan and our goalie Olivia take up the middle seats. I squeeze into the very back with Sadie and Denise, a fellow defender for the team.
My parents’ stern figures are silhouetted in the window as Mac squeals away from the house. I swallow and quickly buckle my seatbelt. She turns up the music, a night-club type base rumbling through the car.
“Where are we going?” I yell to Sadie.
She bounces her head to the music, a crazy grin on her face. “Valley High!” She pumps a fist in the air.
“Why?” I ask.
Megan turns in her seat. “We’re kidnapping Benji the Bulldog!”
Mac drives onto the entrance ramp and guns it up to the highway. Back pressed against the leather seat, a chill of excitement shoots through me. Like Sadie said, Dog Day Eve is going to be epic!
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Katie L. Carroll is a mother, writer, editor, and soccer player. She began writing at a very sad time in her life after her 16-year-old sister, Kylene, unexpectedly passed away. Since then writing has taken her to many wonderful places, real and imagined. She wrote her YA fantasy ELIXIR BOUND so Kylene could live on in the pages of a book. Katie is also the author of the picture app THE BEDTIME KNIGHT and a contributor to THE GREAT CT CAPER, a serialized mystery for young readers. She lives not too far from the beach in a small Connecticut city with her husband and sons. For more about Katie, visit her website at www.katielcarroll.com.