The Lipstick Laws
Amy Holder
Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Sitting near Darci Madison on the school bus is enough to put anyone with woman-sprout
issues over the edge. Sure, she might wear a push-up bra, but the point is that she has more
than enough there to push up. I, on the other hand, don’t. I glance down to critique my
Kleenex sculpture...and can’t help but compare her jiggle to my stationary tissue wads.
 Tormented by the abundant boobage sitting across from me, I hesitatingly admit to
myself that yes, I am an addict. I’m not a drug addict—no, too risky and expensive. I’m
not a sex addict—please, I haven’t even had a decent make-out session sans drool and
cheap cologne. Something that others blow their noses into happens to be my addiction
of choice. I, April Bowers, am a tissue-wasting, size-34C-obsessed bosom sculptor. Yes, I
confess...I am a bra stuffer.
 As I ponder the injustice of having a bellybutton that sticks out farther than my
34AA chest, I begin to wonder if instead of growing out, my boobage is growing inward.
Maybe if I were inside out I’d have the body of a goddess.
 What a fantastic theory.
 My brief smile is abruptly halted by a speed bump that makes Darci’s ginormous
boobs heave from her chest. A panic bubble lodges in my throat as the bus slows to a
stop. The bus driver opens the door with a shrewd grin. She watches me in the rearview
mirror as I approach the exit.
 “First-day jitters?” she says.
 I glance down at my chewed fingernails, smiling passively. First-day jitters doesn’t
quite describe where I’m at right now. Early-life crisis is more like it.
 With heavy feet, I slowly slink down the steps to emerge onto the hazardous war
zone that most refer to as Penford High School. The ominous sand-colored building
stands before me like a large enemy barrack. Déjà vu hits me at warp speed. It seems like
just yesterday I was making the same brutal walk of shame as a brand-new freshman with
no friends. This year two things have changed: I’m a sophomore, and I’m not new
anymore. But one thing remains the same: I have no friends.
 I feel vulnerably alone making my way through the groups of bubbly girls conversing
about their summer hookups, vacations, and shopping sprees. This is the moment I’ve
been dreading since Haley Lucas, the one good friend I made last year, moved to
Dorothy’s wonderland in July.
 Delaying the inevitable, I stop to pull out my compact to make sure my war paint is
still intact. A wave of relief comes over me. My makeup still looks okay. It’s amazing what
superficial reassurance can do for someone marching to her social death.
 Just as I’m shutting my compact, I notice a reflection that I’m not at all happy to
see—Delvin McGerk. Also known as King Stalker McGerk of Loserhood. I walk briskly,
hoping to slip into the sea of students unseen by his radar eyes. My hopes are smashed
when he catches up to me, waving excitedly. Frustration floods my body as I glance over
at him. His creepy eyes look like huge silver dollars lurking behind his thick magnifying
glasses.
 “April Bowers, you’re looking rather illustrious today,” he says.
 Why does he talk like that? More important, why does he talk to me?
 “Thanks, Delvin,” I mumble, looking to the left to avoid eye contact.
 “Guess what?”
 “What?” I huff irritably.
 Predictably, he grins and croaks, “My mom talked to your mom yesterday.”
 Bingo. I knew he was gonna say that. After all, it’s the only thing we have in
common. Yes, we both have moms...and yes, they know each other.
 “No way, McGerk. I don’t believe it.” My sarcasm is so thick, I could spoonfeed it
to a baby.
 “It’s true,” he insists, adjusting his lopsided glasses.
 I stare at his ruler-parted floppy brown hair, wondering what planet he came from.
 An uncomfortable silence ensues.
 It just so happens that my mom and Delvin’s mom are old sorority sisters. Before the
move here last year, I had high hopes that Delvin would have movie star looks and a
playboy reputation that would skyrocket me to popularity as soon as I stepped foot in
the school. Having heard stories about how pretty and popular Patty McGerk was in
college, I couldn’t help but believe her attractiveness and social skills would be passed
down to her only son. My disappointment was monumental when during our first
introduction, Delvin spent a half hour explaining aeronautics while obsessively adjusting
his lopsided glasses. Lucky me. Since then, he has convinced himself that our mothers’
friendship gives him the right to be a total stalker.
 “Sooo....” He chuckles, nervously twisting his backpack straps. If I were up for it,
he’d spend the whole day exchanging awkward glances.
 “Delvin, I’ve gotta go,” I say sharply, leaving no room for mixed signals.
 He winks, like he’s about to say something über suave. “Well then, I guess I’ll see ya
later.”
 I pray he’s wrong.
 His chapped lips curl into a ridiculously cheesy smile before we part ways. I’m
blinded by the sheen of ten pounds of metal securely fastened to his teeth. Why couldn’t
my mom be old friends with Troy Hoffman’s mom? Probably the same reason I have
boobs the size of sesame seeds.
 I clutch my class schedule tightly and continue my march through the double doors
of doom. The hall is bustling with all the personalities one would expect to find in a
recipe for teenage stew:

Deliciously Dramatic Teenage Stew

Ingredients:

– Athletic muscle-head beef types
– Tall, gangly carrot types
–  Self-conscious round potato types
–  Angst-ridden emotional onion types (with too many layers to peel)
– Bully shredded-cabbage types who leave you with stomach cramps and gas
– Shy bouillon cube types who dissolve into obscurity
– Social butterfly bean types—beans, beans, the magical fruit; the more you eat, the more you toot...or in this case, talk
– And finally (drumroll, please), stuck-up acidic tomato juice types who cover all the abovementioned with their gossiping slime

Cooking Directions:
Stir together until uncomfortably blended under the high heat pressure of a social nightmare. Let simmer for nine months out of the year, but please don’t overcook...Rumors have the tendency to become vile if cooked too long. Remember to store in an airtight container to ensure drama does not become stale.

 In my former life, I was a social butterfly bean type. However, upon transferring
schools, I immediately transformed into a shy bouillon cube type. Being comparable to a
cube of evaporated meat extract is disheartening to say the least.
 After hustling through the strong whiff of simmering personalities, I find my
homeroom. I beeline it for the first empty desk I see to sit my socially suffering butt down.
 “Pssst—April,” an annoying voice calls out from the back of the classroom.
 I look back at my older brother. He loves to humiliate me in groups. Sadly for me,
homerooms are alphabetized, not separated by grade level. Apparently living with him isn’t
punishment enough.
 “Hi, Aaden.” I cringe.
 “How was your ride on the yellow honker?” He gestures his scrawny arm like he’s
honking a horn. “Honk! Honk!”
 Obviously he feels totally superior because Jeffrey Higgins drives him to school every
 day. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not jealous that my brother doesn’t have to put up with
the tortures of the school bus...mainly because Jeffrey laughs like a goat. And really,
would I want to be stuck in a car every morning with a goat? No, probably not.
 “Fabulous,” I say listlessly, refusing to indulge my brother’s humiliation attempt.
With a swift flip of my long curls, I turn to face forward again. I stare at the clock on the
front wall counting down the seconds until school is out, while the rest of my homeroom
fills with gossip and hearsay.
“Settle down, kids, settle down!”
 Holy crapoli! Why is Mr. Stuart in my homeroom? My stomach lunges to my feet at
the sight of him. Where is Mrs. Clark? Did he lock her in a janitor’s closet? God, please let
this be a joke.
 “Mrs. Clark is on maternity leave. I’m your new homeroom teacher,” he says,
looking like a constipated Marine general set on going to the bathroom.
 “Another year, fresh faces, and plenty of learning to fill those hungry, young, partially
 corrupted minds...”
 Muffled laughter comes from the middle of the group.
 “Something funny, Mr. Baker?” his voice booms.
 “No, sir. Sorry, sir.” The husky jock slouches in his chair.
 “Don’t let those girly giggles follow you to football practice, or you’ll be doing extra
sets!” He glowers at the jock.
 Mr. Stuart puts the scar in scary. I find myself staring at the graffiti on my desk that’s
immortalized teen POWs from years past. I’m pretty sure that eye contact with this
beast may result in physical harm.
 “As many of you know, I am Mr. Stuart.”
 By the way, he so does not look like a Mr. Stuart...maybe a Mr. Gladiator
Man, Mr. Warlord, Mr. Roid Rage, or even a Mr. I Want to Eat Your New Puppy for
Lunch...but not a Mr. Stuart.
 He paces the front of the classroom with his brawny arms crossed against his inflated
chest. A large vein bulges from his forehead as he lectures. “I’m a champion on the field
and in the classroom. This is my show, and if any of you think otherwise, you’ll be cast in
a little reality show that I like to call detention!”
 Mr. Stuart pauses to scan the room for victims.
 “If any of you are lucky enough to have me as your history teacher too, well, kudos
to you.” He claps his enormous hands contemptuously. I marvel at the huge meat hooks,
imagining their past casualties. Images of broken bones and ripped flesh twirl around my
mind like a carousel.
 Mr. Roid Rage sits in a chair at least four sizes too small behind a desk that is
comparatively tiny against his massively muscular frame. His right hand engulfs a red pen.
Silence gags the room.
 “Time for attendance,” he grumbles through gritted teeth.
 One by one, names are announced and acknowledged by their owners with a “here,”
 “present,” or a trembling raised finger. I start sweating the closer he gets to my name.
 “Aaden Bowers.”
 “He-re.” My brother’s voice quivers with fear.
 “April Bowers.”
 Gulp! Dear Lord, save me. I raise my hand in recognition since my mouth is paralyzed
 with anxiety.
 “Siblings, I presume. Double the Bowerses, double the fun. I’ll have to keep an eye
on you two.” Mr. Stuart cracks his knuckles.
 My gosh, this year is going so much worse than I had predicted. So much worse until
...
 “Matthew Brentwood.”
 Silence.
 “Second chance—Matthew Brentwood,” Mr. Warlord repeats, looking up from the
sheet of names.
 A couple seconds later the door swings open and the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever
seen in my life walks in...looking rather perplexed, I might add.
 “I went to the wrong room.” His words are like melted chocolate. His smile is to die
for. His model face tops off his perfectly tall, lean, tanned body...like frosting on a
delectable cupcake. He is purr-r-r-r-r-fect!
 “Let me guess. Matthew Brentwood?”
 Surprised by the nasty tone of Mr. Gladiator Man’s voice, he mutters, “Yeah.”
 “You’re late!” Mr. Stuart snaps.
 “Sorry. I’m new here.” Matthew’s sparkling green eyes become tense with worry.
 “Well, take a seat already! What do you think, Brentwood, you’re on stage or
something? This isn’t the drama club!”
 Matthew hurries to the first seat he finds. His delicious hot-guy aroma overwhelms
my nostrils as he speeds past me. I can’t help but look back at him. He looks like an
Abercrombie model. Sure, after walking into the flames of wrath in homeroom 119, he
looks a little like he’s just choked on a corkscrew. Nevertheless, he is BEEEE-
YOOOOU-TI-FUL!
 Mr. Stuart continues taking attendance. However, in my mind, his booming voice
slowly drones and morphs into a symphony of sappy love songs. The next ten minutes fly
by with thoughts of Matthew grabbing me in a passionate embrace of lust. By the time the
bell rings for first period, I’ve planned steamy make-out sessions, the spring formal, a
wedding, children, and the rest of my natural life with Mr. Hottie-Body Brentwood.
Then, reality strikes. I have gym class first period, and I’d rather drill a screw through my big
toe.