This is a Clilstore unit. You can link all words to dictionaries.



I don't even say hi to Dad when I come into the house. I go straight to my room and yank a clean sheet of paper out of my desk. 

Dear Mom, 

Hi! I hope you are safe and having a good week, because I am having the absolutely WORST week of my whole, entire life. First of all, Sydney shows up and tells us she's fluking out of college so I drop everything to entertain her and make her smile because I think, sometimes, I love my sisters too much. Then it turns out she's not really fluking out - she just got a C-plus on one paper. A C-plus! That means she's a little better than average, which, of you ak me, should be fine with anybody. 

And, because of all the time I spent cheering up Sydney, the one teacher at shcool I sort of like, Ms. O'Mara, definitely doesn't like me anymore. She's the director of the shcool play and I didn't have my lines in the You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown script memorized on the day I was supposed to have them memorized. Also, I tried to joke my way through the first draft of this stupid American Legion speech I have to give because Mrs. Turner thinks it'll magically cure my stutter. 

Mr. O'Mara is helping me on the speech thing, too, and when she read what I wrote, I think she realized she's been wasting her time caring about me. I'm not Jacky Ha-Ha. I'm Jacky Hopeless. 

But all of this is nothing compared to what Dad's been up to while you've been away from home. First of all, he's never here. He says he's "working". Seriously? How much work is there for a lifeguard - even the head lifeguard- in the middle of October? Do his duties include protecting trick-or-treaters on Halloween? Dad is never home for dinner, so all we ever eat nowadays is cheese pizza because Emma does the ordering. I'm thinking of changing my name to Jacky Cheeseball. 

And the real reason Dad isn't ever home at night? Brace yourself, Mom. And put down any weapons or grenades you might have in your hands. Because I'm pretty sure Dad has a new girlfriend. Jenny Cornwall. You remember her... blond, body like a Barbie doll, lifeguards with Dad (which gives her an excuse to wear nothing but a swimsuit all day, every day). Ms. Cornwall is also known here in Seaside as the prettiest girl on the beach. 

Anyway, if I were you, I'd tell your general and President Bush that you can't stay in Saudi Arabia any longer. Forget Saddam Hussein, you need to come home and take care of us. And Dad. Before it's too late!

I write my letter in a blinding blaze of fury. And then I go back and reread it. No way can I send that to Mom. So I fold it up, seal it in an envelope, and tuck it into a drawer. Then I write another letter. Like the others I send, it's all very Ha-Ha. 

My second letter is all about how cute Emma is when she insists we only eat plain pizza. How great it was to see Sydney, who came home from Princeton for the long Columbus Day weekend. How hard Dad is working to take good care of us. How much I'm praying for Mom in church. How Nonna is doing better. How Sandfleas is the cutest dog in the whole world. Finally, I write tow or three paragraphs about how much fun I'm having "starring" in the school play and working on a speech about every American citizen's duty. When I'm finished writing the happy letter, I doodle some smiley faces all over the envelope. 


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