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"Pick up your feet," scolded Janice. "Mark paid good money for this carpet. It's a StainMaster, you know," she added, as if that made all the difference. "Don't slouch! Look at me when I'm talking to you!" ordered Janice, wagging her finger in Charlotte's direction. "Martha always obeyed me the first time," she continued. "I never had any cause to be ashamed of her. The only time her good sense failed her was when she didn't listen to me and went off and married that man! I told her she was making a grievous mistake, but he told her so many lies, poor Martha didn't stand a chance. If only she had listened to me," mourned Janice, her knitting needles clacking away, "my Martha would still be alive to this day." Charlotte hated her grandmother for what she had just said. Her grandmother had not only blamed her father for Martha's death, but also herself. If Charlton hadn't married Martha, Martha wouldn't have died giving birth to Charlotte. "My Martha could've had anyone she wanted," Janice continued, looking up from her knitting and peering at Charlotte from over her bifocals. "When Martha was your age, she had a long string of boyfriends. She had boys calling her every night-- she was that popular." Charlotte understood what her grandmother was driving at. Where were her boyfriends? Charlotte silently despaired. How could she ever hope to live up to these expectations? Martha did. Martha was perfect but she was not.

"What is wrong with me?" thought Charlotte, desperately digging her foot into the StainMaster carpet. Suddenly, she remembered Darren. He wasn't popular, but Janice wouldn't know that. "You don't have anything planned for Friday, do you?" asked Charlotte, as if her life was so busy with social events that she barely could spare the time to talk with her grandmother. Janice looked up suspiciously.

"Why?" she asked, holding the knitting needles in suspended animation.

"Oh," replied Charlotte, carelessly batting her eyes, "it's nothing. This boy asked me out on a date for Friday night, and I hate to disappoint him if you have other plans." Charlotte's little performance was skeptically received by Janice.

"There's no plans, and you know it," said Janice flatly. "You're just making this story up to prove me wrong. But I know better. You're just like him! Both liars!" As if to affirm this truth, she rapidly knitted five more rows in one minute flat. As Charlotte stormed from the living room, she heard Janice mutter, "Ungrateful child!" Charlotte spent the next hour and a half, drowning her hurt feeling in tears.

Angela, Charlotte's aunt, was the first to arrive home from work. After Janice caught her daughter and repeated everything that had happened while she was away, Angela appeared in the girls' bedroom door. She did not look happy.

"What's this I hear about you telling lies to your grandma?" demanded Angela, placing a hand on her hip. Charlotte looked up from her pillow, her face wet with tears.

"It wasn't a lie, Aunt Angela!" Charlotte cried. "Darren Hayes asked me out on a date for Friday night! Honest, he did!"

"He did?" repeated Angela, her face brightening. "Now, now, Charlotte," she said, wiping the tears from Charlotte's face with a tissue, "Grandma just misunderstood you, that's all. There's no need to get so worked up about it. Gracious me!" Angela patted Charlotte on the back proudly. "I was telling Mrs. Horace across the street, just yesterday, that my niece was popular with the boys. I told her you were just waiting to pick out one you really liked, instead of wasting your time on a nobody," laughed Angela, triumphantly. "Who is he? Do I know his parents?" she inquired. Just then, Reggie, Angela's nine year old son, came bounding through the front door, dressed in his little league uniform, covered with sweat and dirt. Angela, forgetting that she was in the midst of interrogating Charlotte, ran after Reggie, pleading with him not to shake the dirt all over the clean carpet. Charlotte breathed a sigh of relief. She didn't think her aunt would like Darren, even if he was the only boy who ever asked her out since arriving in North Carolina.
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