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Say What?

By Margaret Peterson Haddix, James Bernardin

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Chapter 1

Sukie Rose Robinson was running through the living room with a big plastic tub of glitter in each hand.

All right, Sukie knew she was doing something wrong. She was only six years old, but Mom and Dad had already told her at least ten billion times, "No running in the house. This isn't a playground." And they'd told her at least five billion times, "You have to ask before you use glitter. And only at the kitchen table."

But Sukie wasn't trying to be bad. She was just in a hurry. She'd been making tissue-paper flowers in her room, and she'd thought of a cool way to put glitter on all the petals. She didn't have time to hunt up Mom or Dad and ask permission, or to move all her flowers to the kitchen. She had to get the glitter before she forgot her great idea --

Oh, no! Dad saw her!

Busted!

Dad was walking from the kitchen to the family room, a coffee cup in his hand. His eyebrows went up when his eyes met Sukie's. Sukie tried to slow down, to make it look like she'd just been strolling along, no faster than a snail. She tried to hide the tubs of glitter behind her back, real fast. But her shoulders were bent forward, her legs were kicked straight out. It wasn't like she could just stop. She braced herself for the usual, "Sukie! How many times have we told you not to run in the house? And what's that in your hands?"

But instead, Dad frowned at her and said, "If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?"

Huh?

Confused, Sukie skidded to a halt. The two tubs of glitter crashed into each other behind her back. Sukie tried to hold her hands steady, but the tubs tilted and the lids slipped off. The tops on the individual shakers of glitter inside the tubs must have been loose. Sukie looked over her shoulder and saw a whole waterfall of green and gold and red and purple and orange glitter streaming down to the carpet.

Sukie hunched over. Now Dad was really going to yell. "What do you think you're doing, young lady?" he was going to say. "Why do you have glitter in the living room? Do you know how long it's going to take you to clean that up?"

But Dad didn't yell. Not right away.

Sukie looked up at him, waiting.

Dad was taking a deep breath. Then he looked her straight in the eye and said, "Don't pick your nose. That's a gross habit."

And then he walked on, into the family room, sipping his coffee.

Sukie hadn't been picking her nose. Who would pick their nose with their hands full of glitter?

Sukie stared after Dad. She dropped the tubs of glitter, and even more spilled out on the carpet. Sukie stepped over it and peeked in at Dad in the family room. He was reading the newspaper and drinking his coffee, just like nothing had happened.

Sukie tiptoed back to the living room. She tugged and pulled and shoved the rocking chair over the pile of glitter on the carpet. Then she hid the glitter tubs under the couch. She didn't feel like making glitter-flowers anymore.

This was too weird. What was wrong with Dad?

Copyright © 2004 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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