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Chapter 10
Constance ninth grader Jenny Humphrey silently mouthed the words, sharing with her neighbor the hymnal which Jenny herself had been commissioned to pen in her exceptional calligraphy. It had taken all summer, and the hymnals were beautiful. In three years the Pratt Institute of Art and Design would be knocking her door down. Still, Jenny felt sick with embarrassment every time they used the hymnals, which was why she couldn’t sing out loud. To sing aloud seemed like an act of bravado, as if she were saying, “Look at me, I’m singing along to the hymnals I made! Aren’t I cool?” Jenny preferred to be invisible. She was a curly-haired, tiny little freshman, so invisible wasn’t a hard thing to be. Actually, it would have been easier if her boobs weren’t so incredibly huge. At fourteen, she was a 34D. Can you imagine? “Hark the heavenly host proclaims, Christ i-is born in Beth-le-hem!” Jenny was standing at the end of a row of folding chairs, next to the big auditorium windows overlooking Ninety-third Street. Suddenly a movement out on the street caught her eye. Blond hair flying. Burberry plaid coat. Scuffed brown suede boots. New maroon uniform—odd choice, but she made it work. It looked like . . . it couldn’t be . . . could it possibly . . . No! . . . Was it? Yes, it was. A moment later Serena van der Woodsen pushed open the heavy wooden door of the auditorium and stood in front of it, looking for her class. She was out of breath and her hair was windblown. Her cheeks were rosy and her eyes were bright from running the twelve blocks up Fifth Avenue to school. She looked even more perfect than Jenny had remembered. “Oh. My. God,” Rain whispered to Kati in the back of the room. “Did she like, pick up her clothes at a homeless shelter on the way here?” “She didn’t even brush her hair,” Isabel giggled. “I wonder where she slept last night.” Mrs. Weeds ended the hymn with a crashing chord. Mrs. M cleared her throat. “And now, a moment of silence for those less fortunate than we are. Especially for the Native Americans that were slaughtered in the founding of this country, of whom we ask no hard feelings for celebrating Columbus Day yesterday,” she said. The room fell silent. Well, almost. “Look, see how Serena’s resting her hands on her stomach? She’s probably pregnant,” Isabel Coates whispered to Rain Hoffstetter. “You only do that when you’re pregnant.” “She could have had an abortion this morning. Maybe that’s why she’s late,” Rain whispered back. “My father gives money to Phoenix House,” Kati told Laura Salmon. “I’m going to find out if Serena’s been there. I bet that’s why she came back halfway through term. She’s been in rehab.” “I hear they’re doing this thing in boarding school where they mix Comet and cinnamon and instant coffee and snort it. It’s like speed, but it makes your skin turn green if you do it too long,” Nicki Button piped up. “You go blind, and then you die.” Blair caught snippets of her friends’ chatter, and it made her smile. Mrs. M turned to nod at Serena. “Girls, I’d like you all to welcome back our old friend Serena van der Woodsen. Serena will be rejoining the senior class today.” Mrs. M smiled. “Why don’t you find a seat, Serena?” Serena walked lightly down the center aisle of the auditorium an............
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