Defending Irene

Defending Irene by Kristin Wolden; Nitz Read Free Book Online

Book: Defending Irene by Kristin Wolden; Nitz Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kristin Wolden; Nitz
Tags: JUVENILE FICTION / Sports & Recreation / Soccer
help you. Like a dream in a box.”
    A daydream? More like a nightmare. But luckily, before I could say that, I remembered how Giulia’s dad was less than enthusiastic about her playing. So I said, “But it is a bit strange, isn’t it?”
    â€œMore than a bit,” Giulia said. “No one has ever done it. Never.”
    I groaned.
    â€œBut you are an Americana . The people do not expect normal things from you.”
    â€œMy papá is Italian.”
    Giulia shrugged. “ Sí. But how many years has he lived in the United States? This is very good. Matteo and his friends will not find it so easy to push you off the team.”
    â€œWere you pushed off the team?”
    She shrugged her shoulders. “No, not really. I made the decision to quit.”
    Not really? There was a story there. I was sure of it. Giulia was gazing over my shoulder, a look of indecision on her face. Then her expression brightened. “Look! Barbara has arrived. Bar-bah-ra! Ciao! Over here!”
    Barbara waved frantically at us before weaving her bicycle through the crowded racks.
    I smiled and waved back, still nervous despite the girl’s enthusiasm. I could tell from the way that Giulia spoke about her that Barbara was her amica del cuore , her friend of the heart, her best friend. Giulia said that the two of them had been in the same class together since preschool. Their families even went on vacation together.
    â€œCiao,” I said to Barbara after Giulia introduced us. “A pleasure.”
    Barbara grinned. “A great pleasure, Irene! Uaou. So tall. Too bad that you don’t wish to play at volleyball. We have need of another spiker. Giulia sets, you know.”
    â€œBut I haven’t played very often.”
    â€œ Sí. But you are the sporting type. For you, it would be very simple to learn. I used to do gymnastics. Now I am too tall to be a serious gymnast.”
    â€œSo Barbara makes somersaults whenever possible at volleyball,” Giulia murmured.
    Barbara rolled her eyes. “Giulia is so jealous. Let’s go.”
    We paid at the window and walked through the brown stucco bathhouse before stepping back into the sunshine. Barbara led the way around the Olympic-sized pool to a set of three empty wooden deck chairs on the other side. As we walked, I looked around. A pair of gigantic water slides emptied into smaller pool. Down the hill and past some trees, there was a big wading pool.
    The atmosphere seemed much more laid-back than an American pool. Lifeguards chatted instead of gazing intently into the water. The shallow end wasn’t roped off. People swam just about anywhere they wanted except in an unmarked, open spot in front of the three diving boards. One lifeguard supervised at the top of the slide; no one watched at the bottom.
    Following Giulia’s example, I kicked off my shoes and spread my towel on the deck chair.
    â€œFirst the trampolino ?” Barbara asked, waving at the diving boards.
    Giulia squinted. “The lines are not too long. Okay.”
    Barbara headed right for the three-meter springboard. When Giulia and I fell into line behind her, she turned to me.
    â€œAll right, Irene. Giulia tells me that in the United States you have parties at school during the evening. It’s true?”
    â€œSí.”
    â€œWith music and dancing and lights? Like a disco?”
    I wrinkled my nose. “A little. Except it’s in the school cafeteria.”
    â€œBut there are lights and dancing and ragazzi all the same. Right?”
    I nodded.
    â€œ Bello. And a DJ?”
    â€œSí.”
    â€œ Uaou! You have danced with boys at the party?”
    â€œA few.” I blushed, remembering the way my friend Lindy used to pressure one of the boys I liked into asking me to dance. It had been very embarrassing.
    â€œReally? Tell me everything. Oh, wait. It’s my turn.” Barbara bounced up the ladder.
    â€œI’m sorry, Irene,”

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