“Social deductions? What is that?” Evan asks me.
I finish taping the sign to the wall. “My mom wants me to join a club, but I’m not interested in any of them. So I got permission to make one.”
Evan raises his eyebrows. “Ooh. Can I join?”
I shake my head. “No. It’s a club of one.”
“What? Why? I wanna join!”
I roll my eyes. “Don’t act like you’re five, Evan. It’s not becoming.”
He sighs. “But it sounds like fun, Sage…”
“Meh. I dunno. I’m just doing it ‘cause I have to.”
Evan points his finger at me. “Sage Lux, you are so annoying sometimes…”
He smirks. “But we could be the Holmes and Watson team of Cedar High. Don’t you think that’d be cool?”
I sniff. “Heck no. Don’t you realize that most of the Holmes and Watson teams in fiction end up shipped together by the fans? John and Sherlock, House and Wilson, Frost and Yoon?”
Evan starts to get it now. “Oh… I get it now. You don’t want people to think we’re a couple.”
“Yeah. Kinda. A lot of people already think that, but being a Holmes and Watson team would just add to that stupid rumor.”
“Who did start that rumor anyway?”
“Probably an idiot who thinks that two close friends can’t be just friends anymore.”
“But Sage, all of those teams are fictional…”
“Doesn’t stop some of my other friends from shipping. They ship some of their friends together. It’s worrisome. Heck, even Taryn shipped us for a bit.”
“Wait, Taryn did what?”
I smirk. “You heard me.” I check my watch. “I’ll talk to you later, I gotta go to the club room.”
He nods. “Ok, see you later.”
I’m already walking down the hall. “Yeah, see you.”
Two weeks pass, and not one client. Really? Really? Doesn’t anyone have any social problems anymore…?
I chose social mysteries as my main focus, because, let’s face it, there really aren’t any other mysteries at Cedar High. No pickpockets, graffiti, revenge plots. Mainly it’s stuff like, is my boyfriend/girlfriend cheating? What did I do to deserve that rumor? There really aren’t any mysteries here that don’t involve social stuff, otherwise I’d be investigating other mysteries. But Cedar is pretty quiet when it comes to crimes.
Except, on September 13, I finally get a client.
As she walks in, I try to observe her. Female, 5’2. At least half Hispanic or Polynesian. PIxie cut black hair. Overweight. Is part of the soccer team.
As she sits down, I notice even more about her. Favorite color seems to be red, because her watch, shoes, and nail polish are the same color. She doesn’t wear enough deodorant, but also smells of…. Apples? Not just juice. So, she seems to be athletic and a healthy eater. Means that the overweight factor is genetics.
She coughs a little. “Hello. Um, I’m Becca Mackerly.”
I nod. “Okay. What’s the problem?”
She looks confused. “I haven’t told you about a problem.”
“The fact that you’re here tells me that you have a social problem you need help with.”
She purses her lips together. “Ah. I guess that is a giveaway.”
“So, can you tell me?”
She nods, but then blinks rapidly. “I’m sorry, just one moment…” She turns around and opens her backpack. Ah. The haircut’s new.
She puts a small pack of tissues on the desk. “Sorry if I’m a crybaby, I just…” She trails off.
I nod. “I get it, just tell me the details.”
She blinks before speaking again. “Ok, so… I’m overweight, you see.”
I nod. “That isn’t your fault, y’know.”
“How d’you mean? When I talk to a few church friends, they tell me to exercise and eat better.”
“You’re already doing that. You’re part of the soccer team, which meets two or three practices a week and a game once a week. Also, you came in here smelling like apples. Not juice, the fruit. Most kids would be chugging Gatorade or chewing gum before or after practice.”
Relief shines on her face. “Whew. I thought that I’d have to explain all that.”
I smile a little. “Not at all.”
Her eyes flicker down again. “Anyway, I know what everybody says about my weight.”
I’m a little confused. “Weight really isn’t a social problem, though. Look at Jake Webber, he’s much bigger than you, and he’s one of the most popular people at school.”
She presses her lips together again. “No, there’s another reason… I know that I don’t smell great. All the deodorants I’ve tried have failed.”
Oh. “Hm.” I say.
“So, any advice?”
I put my finger up for a moment. “Shh. I’m thinking.” Hmm. So a lot of the deodorants aren’t working. Maybe she just isn’t washing well? That may be it. “D’you take a shower right after practice, Becca?”
She looks surprised. “No.”
“I suggest you do. It may help to shower right after, could help get rid of extra sweat.”
She turns a little red. “I don’t want to show off my body here, though.”
I nod. “Okay, that’s fine. D’you live close by the school?”
“Walking distance. That’s why I stopped by here right after practice.”
I lean forward a little. “Then, once you get home, I suggest showering. That’s my advice; shower right after practice, but also before school. Come back on Monday and tell me how it’s been.”
She rises from her chair. “Okay. Thank you, Sage.”
Tick, tock. I keep looking at the clock. Becca was supposed to be here five minutes ago. She better not have flaked out, or I’ll be really mad.
The door finally swings open. “Hello?” Becca asks tremulously.
“Hey!” I call from my desk.
Becca hurries and sits down. “So? How’d it go?”
She fidgets for a moment. “A little better. But I still smell; just not as much.”
I open my backpack. “‘Kay. It wasn’t a permanent solution, by the way. I just needed a week to look up some articles.” I hand them to her. “Some of the solutions may work.”
Her eyes flick over them. “All right.”
“I have a quick question; do weight problems exist in your family, too?”
She nods. “My mom.”
“Does she smell, too?” Becca shakes her head. “Have you asked her for help?” She shakes her head again. “Why not?” I demand.
“I’m too embarrassed.”
“It’s probably natural for her to smell okay. It’s just me.”
I resist the urge to groan and slam my head against the table. “No, it probably isn’t! She may’ve gone through the same thing as a teen! Ask her for help, like what she did when she was your age. She’d be so much more helpful than me, Becca.”
Becca blinks back tears. “Okay, Sage. I will.”
I sigh a little. “Okay. Anything else you want to ask?”
She nods. “Yeah. How do I get people to notice something other than my weight?”
I think for a moment. “Remember when I mentioned Jake Webber?” She nods. “What does he do differently than you?”
“He’s a boy.”
I groan inwardly. “Besides that.”
She thinks a little. “He’s loud. He laughs more, and doesn’t take himself so seriously.”
“There we go. Don’t criticize yourself so much, Becca. Try to be more confident. Confidence is kinda like charisma. However, it’s difficult to just become confident.But I’ve read that if you look more confident, you become more confident. Maybe straighten your posture. Look people in the eyes; you have a tendency to look away.”
She rises from her chair. “Okay, Sage. I’ll try that.”
“Cool. By the way, just lemme know how it goes. You don’t need to come back to the Social Deductions room.”
“Okay, I will. Thanks, Sage.”
Another week goes by before Becca shows up again. I’m ‘arguing’ with Evan about his choice of shoes for homecoming when she shows up.
“No, you are not wearing Converse! Your poor date will be shocked that you’re acting so casual!”
He shakes his head. “You don’t even know who my date is, Sage!”
“So? Most girls would be horrified!”
“Let’s make a deal; once I get a date, I’ll just ask about her opinion.”
“Okay! I look forward to seeing-” I feel a tap on my shoulder. “What-? Oh, Becca! What’s been happening?”
I notice that her posture has improved, and she looks me right in the eyes. She smiles a little as she says, “My mom had good advice. She told me a better brand of deodorant, and also told me I should wear a little perfume. Your articles helped, too! So did your confidence talk.” She almost jumps a little. “I even got a date for homecoming, Sage!”
I smile a little. “That’s great, Becca! Congratulations!”
She smiles back. “Okay, Sage. I hope you don’t mind that I told a few friends about Social Deductions. You may have more clients on the way.”
My smile wavers a little. I haven’t had one client since Becca. “Er, how many clients?”
She thinks a little. “Well, I told two, but then they told even more people. I’d say maybe ten.”
Ten?! I keep my poker face up. “Okay, thanks for the tip, Becca.”
“No problem. See you!” She walks off.
I turns towards Evan. “Still interested in Social Deductions?”
He nods. “Yeah. Why?”
I take a breath. “Would you like to join? I have a feeling that I’m gonna need a lot more help.”